President’s Annual Address to the Faculty
September 26, 2006
Greetings to all of you, and thank you for coming today. I give many addresses in the course of a year, but none is more important than this one to the assembled faculty, who do the University’s central work of teaching and research. No university can be better than its faculty, and the rising recognition of Notre Dame in academic circles is a direct acknowledgment of your talent and accomplishments. It is one of my highest responsibilities as President to help create an environment that allows you to maximize your contributions to the education of our students, to your field of study, to this University community, and the wider society as well. I will do everything, with your help and guidance, to fulfill this duty.
As I travel the country and the world, I am the direct beneficiary of the great regard you and others have created for Notre Dame. In the past year, I met the Pope after an audience at the Vatican. I met with the President in the Oval Office. I have spoken with presidents of some of the leading universities in this country, with leaders of some of the most respected businesses, with governors, members of Congress, and Supreme Court Justices. In every case, I have found that these individuals, all prominent and powerful members of society, express in different ways a special expectation, a special hope, for what Notre Dame can accomplish and contribute in the world. I find a similar expectation and hope when I meet with our alumni, the parents of our students, the many supporters and friends of Notre Dame. All these people expect Notre Dame to be one of the great universities in the nation, but they hope that it will stand for something more, contribute something more, send forth graduates who, grounded in certain spiritual and moral values, can provide leadership that arises not only from their intelligence and expertise, but also from a sense of a higher purpose in their lives.
A striking example came a few months ago with the visit to campus of Harper Lee, the author of To Kill a Mockingbird, whom we recognized at commencement with an honorary degree. We offered her the degree, of course, to honor her for her legendary tale of racial prejudice and social justice in America. Yet—when we made the offer—we understood that she was not Catholic, is known to be very private, travels very little, turns down many honors, and had no previous connection to Notre Dame. There was no reason to expect any particular warmth of feeling on her part for our University. But it was there, and that’s why she came to campus. After her visit, she sent me a handwritten letter. I’d like to read a few words, if I may:
If I live to a ripe old age (and you may say, “What do you call a ripe old age?”), my Notre Dame experience will still be foremost in my thoughts as the greatest event of my later years. . . . Notre Dame is unlike any American university I’ve seen …—and I’ve seen a few. In addition to its ranking for academic excellence, the place seems to proclaim a sense of purpose in life, lacking in other institutions….You are unique.
The same sentiment was expressed by another recent visitor to campus, a distinguished faculty member at Harvard who knows the higher education institutions in this country very well. After discussing some of the responsibilities of a university president, he concluded by saying: “If Harvard should stumble and have to shut its doors, Yale or Princeton could, with time and effort, ramp up and credibly fill the gap. If the University of Michigan or Cal–Berkeley faced some catastrophe, Wisconsin or UCLA could hire their faculty, increase enrollment, and take over research projects without irremediable loss to higher education in America. But if Notre Dame should fail, no other institution could fully take its place.”
These remarks frame the challenge entrusted to us. We are a distinctively Catholic university that strives to be among the pre–eminent universities in the world. We must therefore recognize, cherish, and enhance the distinctive character of Notre Dame, and, at the same time, we must strive to excel in teaching, learning, and research by the standards of truly great institutions of higher learning. These two challenges — promoting truly great teaching and scholarship while preserving and enhancing our Catholic character—are my top priorities as President of Notre Dame.
These are also the two subjects I want to address today. I will speak first about our distinctive Catholic mission, and then about our need to advance as a research institution.
Our distinctive Catholic mission is a great strength for the University. It is part of what accounts for the sense of community on campus. And while a sense of community is a highly subjective thing, comparisons can be made. On a recent survey, Notre Dame students were more than twice as likely as students from other elite universities to say they were very satisfied with the sense of community on campus.
Fr. Malloy tells the story of a Notre Dame freshman who came home after his first three months at Notre Dame to enjoy Thanksgiving with his family. After an enjoyable few days, he began packing for his return to campus and told his mother and father: “I have to go home now.” That sense of community is something we’re famous for here, and that fame is well–deserved.
Along with this sense of community, our Catholic mission gives a moral dimension to the education of our students. We recently conducted an extensive online survey of those who have employed our graduates. When employers were asked about the specific strengths of ND graduates, they cited critical thinking, ability to work with others, and perseverance as distinctive traits of our graduates. Yet the personal quality that survey participants named most frequently was ‘ethical behavior and integrity’, with 87 percent of respondents saying that Notre Dame graduates were above or far above their peers in this regard.
Our Catholic character also gives us a special capacity to undertake a range of inquiries in matters of faith and morals. Whether it is discussion of the doctrine of the Divine Trinity—the doctrine that God is Three Persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—or an interreligious dialogue, or a forum on global health and our moral responsibilities, we can, because of our religious character, easily hold conversations that cannot be readily held, or perhaps not held at all, at other universities. We can do so because, while we are committed to reasoned inquiry, we embrace convictions of faith; while we are open to questioning, we subscribe institutionally to a clear understanding of what a good human life is, and we strive to help our students live such a life.
Lawrence H. Summers, in his installation address as Harvard’s president, said, “The university is open to all ideas, but it is committed to the skepticism that is the hallmark of education.” Because as a Catholic university we are heirs to an understanding of reason that is not only critical but open to the transcendent, one in which faith can exist in harmony with reason in its search for understanding, we can strive to make the hallmark of a Notre Dame education something broader and richer.
Of course, our distinctive character also presents us with challenges not faced by other universities. Last year, as you know, we had a serious, rigorous discussion involving faculty, students, and many outside the University about what the policy of this University should be regarding campus events that may be at odds with our Catholic mission. The exchange was not an easy one, and, though many were pleased with the outcome, others were very disappointed. I communicated with many faculty, students, alumni, and friends of the University on this issue. Setting aside for the moment what one thinks of the discussion and its outcome, I want to acknowledge and thank the many people on both sides of this issue—some Catholic and some non–Catholic—who sincerely care about this institution and its mission, and worked hard to contribute to a constructive result.
We will certainly face difficult issues and controversies in the future. When that time comes, I will do my best to engage the campus in serious discussion, listen to all parties, and make the best decision I can for this institution. And I will count on members of this community to once again discuss issues in a way that respects the mission of this University, and also in a way that shows respect to all our colleagues and students—whatever their views. Conducting these discussions in an atmosphere of respect both for the University’s mission and for one another is essential to being the University community we claim to be, and aspire to become even more fully.
The greater sense of community, the emphasis on ethics and morals, the special capacity to inquire into God, religion, and eternal truth—these are special distinctions and advantages that come from our Catholic identity, but they don’t come automatically, and they don’t come without a corresponding commitment on our part. These advantages come only as we pursue the Catholic mission that distinguishes the work of the University, and sets us—in some ways—on a different course from most other universities. I believe that there are at least three dimensions to that distinctive Catholic mission.
The first dimension of our Catholic mission has to do with the nature and purpose of education itself. As many have noted, including Fr. Bob Sullivan of our History Department in a recent paper, Catholic universities embrace an understanding of education expressed in the Greek word, paideia. In the ancient Hellenic world, such an education consisted not only in the acquisition of knowledge and certain technical and professional skills, but also in the formation of moral character, which would include the virtues needed to govern oneself and to flourish in society. With the advent of Christianity this understanding of education was embraced, but the virtues that were to be passed on included specifically Christian virtues of faith, hope, and love. In American Catholic universities and at Notre Dame in particular, the education we offer undergraduates is guided by this ideal of paideia. Our effort is to pass on not only knowledge, but to cultivate moral and religious virtues in our students. This ideal guides not only our policies and practices in the Office of Student Affairs and Campus Ministry, but also, for example, in the theology and philosophy requirements in our undergraduate curriculum. Even more important, however, this emphasis on moral and religious virtue is reflected not only in our policies and in our curriculum, but also in the lives of our students. 87 percent of our students undertake volunteer service during their time here, and nearly 70 percent of our undergraduate alumni are engaged in volunteer service 10 years after graduation.
The second dimension of our distinctive Catholic mission can be seen in the emphasis we give to certain areas of research, and the contribution we seek to make to the intellectual life of the wider culture. At a Catholic university, theology is a focal point because its reflection is on God, who is the source and end of all things. And even outside of theology, there is a vast, living, and specifically Catholic cultural and intellectual achievement that must be studied and taught in a Catholic university. Moreover, in the philosophy of religion, religious history, sociology of religion, business ethics, sacred music and architecture, peace studies, religion and politics, environmental studies, and research on diseases that afflict poor nations, and many other areas, we try to emphasize those areas where the religious and ethical commitments of the University are highlighted. In an academic world where one often detects an axiomatic secularism and a selective moral neutrality, we strive to offer another perspective.
A third and final dimension of our Catholic mission is in our commitment to serve the Catholic Church. The University is incorporated under a group of Fellows, who are Trustees with a special responsibility for guarding the Catholic mission of the University, as well as the full Board of Trustees. Under this two–level Board, the University is autonomous in its governance, yet it recognizes that part of its mission is to serve the Catholic Church. Catholics believe that the Church is a community which finds its origin in Jesus Christ and his apostles, is enlivened by the Holy Spirit, and exists for the proclamation of the Gospel message and the sanctification of people. It is difficult to explain such a rich notion in a few words, but it means at least that, for Catholics, the Church is the context in which Christian faith and culture, Christian identity, cease to be simply objects of speculation and controversy, and become human and concrete. The Church is an institutional reality, but for Catholics it is also a theological and a mystical reality, the body of Christ living in time. Because the living Church needs to think and reflect and remember, it relies for its intellectual sustenance on Catholic universities, as places of teaching, learning, and inquiry. There is, I believe, no university in the world that is better able to serve the Church, and it is part of our mission to do so.
The Catholic Church, an institution of over a billion people around the world, needs a university which can pass on its intellectual tradition, educate some of its future leaders, discuss and debate the issues that face it, and assist its various efforts and organizations. The University does this in many ways, globally and domestically. It has, for example, a superb theology department that contributes powerfully to the Church’s thinking. The Master of Divinity program in our theology department trains seminarians and lay and religious ministers for service in the Church. The Institute for Church Life has been a tremendous resource for the Church in many ways, with seminars on campus for bishops and Church leaders, and the Satellite Theological Education Program, an innovative distance learning program for pastoral ministers and adult Catholics around the country. Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute has joined with Catholic Relief Services to cofound The Catholic Peacebuilding Network, which brings together clergy and lay peacebuilders, scholars, and practitioners to facilitate learning from best practices in locations as varied as the Philippines, Burundi, and Colombia. The Alliance for Catholic Education prepares teachers to work in Catholic schools, and the Institute for Educational Initiatives offers support for and reflection on the work of those schools. The Mendoza College of Business has provided for over 50 years a Master in Nonprofit Administration, which has primarily served those who administer religious institutions, and it offers a special six day program for leaders in Catholic Charities, a Catholic organization which serves those in greatest need. And the Program in Sacred Music produces liturgical musicians for churches. In these and many other ways Notre Dame does and will continue to contribute to the life and work of the Catholic Church.
These are, then, three dimensions of our Catholic mission that help define our work: a distinctive moral and spiritual education or paideia, research that arises from the moral and religious character of the University, and service to the Catholic Church. These three dimensions stand as a test of whether we are fulfilling the founding purpose of this University. We can succeed in advancing these aspects of the University’s mission only if we have, among our faculty, a critical number of devoted followers of the Catholic faith. Such faculty members have a contribution to make in passing on the Church’s moral and intellectual tradition, in reflecting on issues of religious belief, and in embracing, as Catholics, a special vocation to serve their Church. I am not saying that Catholics as Catholics are better or smarter or more gifted in pursuing the specific academic aims of our University. This is not the case, and it is not my claim. I am saying that high numbers of Catholic faculty members who are active in the faith are indispensable to this University, if we are to be successful in fulfilling our mission. For this reason we have sought, and will continue to seek, a preponderance of faculty at the University who are Catholic.
Consequently, we must remain vigilant about the percentage of new hires who are Catholic, devise strategies to attract superb Catholic scholars, and explain why we do so. Through a gift from the Don and Mickie Keough family, we have recently created an office under the leadership of Fr. Bob Sullivan to identify Catholic scholars who are academically suitable candidates for positions at Notre Dame. And, again through the generosity of the Keough family, I am very pleased to announce today that we will establish two Keough–Hesburgh chairs for which we will seek truly outstanding Catholic scholars in any field who are committed to and will enhance our Catholic mission.
At the same time, I want to say something that is obvious, but may perhaps need more emphasis: faculty members who are not Catholic are indispensable to the life and success of Notre Dame—in promoting scholarship, in building community, in provoking debate, in pushing for excellence, in ensuring diversity of perspectives. Non–Catholic faculty do exceptional work in teaching, research, and administration. They make us a better university. They also make us a better Catholic university, for they enrich our understanding of God, who is all–inclusive, and our conversations about faith.
The non–Catholic Christian colleagues among us make possible a richer ecumenical dialogue, which works toward Christian unity. As John Paul II said, ecumenism, or the promotion of Christian cooperation and unity, must be the concern of every faithful Catholic, and it must be an integral part of the work of Notre Dame.
Our Jewish colleagues help us make what has been a painful history into a constructive dialogue—helping to create mutual understanding with “our elder brothers and sisters in faith”. Though the work of Michael Signer and many others, Notre Dame enjoys the blessing of fostering fruitful Catholic–Jewish dialogue on a number of issues.
Our Muslim colleagues make possible greater understanding of and discussions with another great Abrahamic faith at a time when such understanding is very badly needed. Our Hindu colleagues, Buddhist colleagues and those of other religious traditions make possible conversations about different quests for the Absolute, which can teach us much about the world and ourselves. As globalization shrinks the world, and religious tensions mount, Notre Dame must be a university that can help people of different faiths understand and respect one another.
And our colleagues who neither embrace religion nor believe in God can help us enhance our dialogue with the significant number of the world’s people who have no particular religious tradition. If Notre Dame is to be a force for understanding and healing in a fractured world, we must not only foster dialogue among people of different faiths, but also between people who seek truth in God and religion and those who seek it elsewhere.
This is why I believe that every member of our faculty, Catholic or not, can contribute to the religious mission of this University. I am particularly grateful to and inspired by the many non–Catholics who take the mission of Notre Dame to heart and assist in it. A special spirit of generosity is required to play an active role in an institution that is committed to a religious tradition that is not your own. You exhibit that generosity. You have my gratitude, and that of the whole University.
A distinguished colleague who is not Catholic recently spoke to me of Pope Benedict’s recent encyclical, his first encyclical letter. Its subject is God and love, and its title is God is Love, Deus caritas est. She described it as a “learned document which carries its learning lightly”, and suggested that it could be a fruitful focus for reflection by students and faculty on campus. I readily agreed—and it was striking to me to hear that a non–Catholic would read it that way as well. Speaking from the Catholic Church, God is Love communicates a more inclusive message about our common humanity grounded in love. One of the great virtues of this first encyclical letter is that it invites us to reflect on the timeless, central beliefs of Christian faith, rather than on hotly contested, but less fundamental issues. I plan to bring together a group of faculty and students who can explore ways that we can make this document a focus for reflection and discussion in the coming calendar year.
I have spoken about three dimensions of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission. There is one more. But this dimension of our mission does not put us on a different course from our secular peers; it puts us in competition with them. For I believe our Catholic identity is not only compatible with striving for the highest levels of academic excellence; it compels it.
If Notre Dame is to be a great force for good, if we are to educate the leaders of the future, if we are to help shape the debates of our day, if we are to serve the Catholic Church, we must aspire to the highest levels of academic excellence. As Fr. Hesburgh said, piety is not a substitute for scholarship. We will attract the top students and faculty we want only if they are not forced to sacrifice academic quality to participate in the distinctive mission of Notre Dame. We will take fullest advantage of Notre Dame’s special opportunity to enlighten, serve, discover, inspire, and heal — only if we commit ourselves to scholarly excellence.
Right now, as we measure ourselves against the highest standards of learning, teaching, and research, we have a great deal to be proud of at Notre Dame. We are a highly respected undergraduate institution. Many students apply, and only a small number of very talented students are admitted. Our graduation rate is regularly among the top three in the nation; our graduates are sought after for jobs and many enter superb graduate programs.
In recent years we have made tremendous advances as a research institution. For example, from 1995 to 2005 our graduate school enrollment grew by 31 percent, while our undergraduate enrollment grew by only 5 percent, and our research expenditures grew by 152 percent, while those of other top twenty universities grew by only 66 percent.
In the last 15 years, the U.S. News ranking of the top 25 national universities, which includes the nation’s best research universities, has seen very little change. Only three universities are in the top 25 today who weren’t there in 1991. Notre Dame is one of them.
Today, we are well positioned to make further advances. But if we’re going to rise higher, we have to take an honest look at where we stand in comparison to the best institutions in the nation and think hard about how we can improve. The effort to look at other institutions and compare our standing with them must not lead us simply to mimic other respected universities. That would not only lead us to lose our distinctive mission, but, in all likelihood would make us an inferior version of those we try to imitate. We must be guided by our mission, and make decisions on the basis of that mission. We must not be afraid to be different, and be proud of that difference. But in those areas of learning, teaching, and research where our mission is to seek excellence, we must take a comparative look at where we stand against the very best institutions.
I have asked Tom Burish to undertake a study of how we compare to the best research institutions by the best comparative data he can identify. He has undertaken this task with characteristic intelligence and dedication, and will discuss it in his address to the faculty on October 24. I will anticipate Tom by saying that while we should be proud of how far we have come, we still have a long way to go to take our place among the very top research universities in the country.
In addition to the careful analysis of comparative data that Tom Burish will undertake, we must also consider the perceptions that others have of us. Let me be very clear about my point here. I am not suggesting there we identify the perceptions others have of Notre Dame with the reality, or that we allow the perceptions of others to dictate our decisions and actions. Achieving a strong reputation should never be pursued as an end in itself. It should be pursued as a means for advancing our mission, or come as a byproduct of pursuing our mission. The focus, then, must always remain on our mission. But that focus requires that we frankly acknowledge the public perceptions, be aware of how they can help or hinder us, and use them to assess our strengths and weaknesses.
As we all know, perceptions that leaders in higher education have of Notre Dame will influence which undergraduate and graduate students will come to us, and which faculty may or may not consider joining us. Furthermore, if we really want to know the truth about ourselves and our strengths and weaknesses, it can be useful to hear the views of people outside the community, who likely can give a more objective assessment of our standing than we ourselves can. When these perceptions are combined with a careful assessment of comparative data and with a deep sense of our mission, they can help us see where we are strong and where we must improve.
In order to get a sense of how Notre Dame is perceived by others in the academic world, we recently undertook a small–scale, qualitative survey of leaders in higher education about the standing of Notre Dame as a research institution. The survey was conducted by a highly respected market research firm which has worked with a number of the most distinguished American universities. In the survey, 54 opinion leaders in higher education––among them presidents, provosts, deans, faculty, journalists, and government and NGO leaders––participated in an in–depth interview in June and July of this year. These individuals viewed Notre Dame as a highly selective university, steeped in tradition, financially strong, and geared to providing its students with solid undergraduate education. However, we were not seen as a top research university. Few could cite specifics about the University’s accomplishments in research, or areas where Notre Dame was preeminent in research. Most did think that Notre Dame had the potential to be a strong research university, but it had not achieved this status yet.
This assessment, I think, is largely correct. We have made progress, but we have to make wise strategic investments to help us advance further.
I have spoken about this to John Affleck–Graves, our executive vice president, along with John Sejdinaj, our vice president for finance, and Scott Malpass, our vice president and chief investment officer. One of the great strengths of this University is to have in these three and those who work with them an extremely talented and dedicated team for investment, budgeting, and finance. They have a clear sense of the academic priorities of this institution and a willingness to do all they can to advance them. They are committed to keeping the University financially strong for the future, yet also in providing funding for immediate needs, and making resources available for progress. I am fortunate to have their expertise and their advice about how to use our resources in the most efficient, most strategic way, as we strive to become a great research university.
Working with these University leaders, we are trying to identify additional resources, over and above those made available through the current campaign, which will help us make progress. At his address, Tom Burish will speak further about some plans for strategic investments.
If our quest for academic greatness were simply a matter of drawing on abundant new resources to fund every worthy proposal, my job, and Tom Burish’s, and John Affleck–Graves’s jobs, would be easy, and we would all be more popular than we are. But abundant new resources are not available, and, even if they were, funding new proposals indiscriminately would be wasteful and irresponsible.
There are departments and programs where we are considered among the best in the nation. We need to add to that number. We cannot do that by funding “across the board” increases. We must be ready and willing to make informed, strategic, even painful decisions about which initiatives have the greatest potential to attain true excellence and which do not. We will then reallocate funds from those that do not — to those that do. If we are going to achieve the academic excellence that will give us the greatest capacity to seek God, study the world, and serve humanity, we must be willing to make the difficult choices that will serve that mission.
The challenge for Notre Dame in coming years is complex; we must preserve a unique and beloved heritage, advance the University academically, and fulfill in an even richer way our distinctive Catholic mission. We cannot meet this challenge unless we choose — in all the many guises in which this choice will be offered—the more ambitious, more challenging path over a safer, more comfortable, more familiar one.
If we choose the easier path, we can be a very fine, very beloved, university that does significant good in society, but we will be a university that has retreated from its chance to play a special role in the world.
If we choose the more difficult path, we will answer the call to play a critical role in serving the Church, the nation, and the world in the 21st century. I have made my choice, and I am asking you to join me.
To any in the Notre Dame family who would pass up the chance to play a greater role in the world, I would say: “Do not console yourself that if we cease to move forward, we can stay where we are. We cannot. Either we will move ahead, or we will fall behind.”
And do not console yourself that—if Notre Dame chooses not to become a great Catholic university for the 21st century—some other institution will come forward to play that role. There are, indeed, many fine Catholic institutions in the country and the world, and it serves our interest when any of them aspire to academic excellence or embrace their Catholic mission deeply. Yet, in my view, there is no university in the country, or I believe in the world, that combines, better than we do, our rich academic potential with a profound commitment to Catholic mission. For this reason many other individuals and institutions look to us. If we, who have a leadership role, refuse to embrace the burdens and surmount the barriers that keep us from achieving it, how can we expect others to accept this challenge?
This is why I believe that either we will be the university that combines the highest level of disciplinary expertise with the resources of a 2,000–year moral and religious tradition—or no one will. And the world will do without.
Throughout its history, the University of Notre Dame has faced other choices about its role in the world. At the start of the 20th century, the University had paid off the large debt that Fr. Sorin accumulated in founding the school, and was well established as an educational institution. At that time, it accepted students from grade school through college. The question was no longer whether the University would survive, but what kind of school it should be.
One camp in a vigorous debate over the future of Notre Dame centered around Rev. Andrew Morrissey, C.S.C., who became president of Notre Dame in 1893 and served in that capacity for 12 years. Morrissey did not believe that the Catholic population of the U.S. would support a serious college and university, and he wanted Notre Dame to be primarily a college preparatory high school with a small college attached.
An alternative view was held by a group that was centered on Rev. John Zahm, C.S.C. Fr. Zahm was a remarkable man. He grew up on a farm in Indiana, but made himself into a serious scientist and Catholic thinker. Well ahead of his time, he wrote a book arguing for the compatibility of Catholic doctrine and the theory of evolution, and another on women in science. He believed that Notre Dame’s destiny was to be a great university like the great German universities of that time. As provincial of the Holy Cross priests, he controlled the budget, and in this role he allocated funds for Notre Dame’s first art gallery, a library, and for books to fill it.
In the early part of the 20th century, Morrissey got the upper hand in this dispute. He was President of the University, and he used his influence to remove Zahm as provincial. (You may have noticed that Holy Cross priests get into disputes from time to time.) Yet during his service as provincial, Zahm had inspired in a group of younger Holy Cross religious his zeal for higher education, and he sent them off to get strong graduate degrees. He sent Rev. Julius Nieuland, C.S.C., eventually the discoverer of synthetic rubber, to pursue a doctoral degree in chemistry at Catholic university. Another of his protégées, Rev. James A. Burns, C.S.C., served as President from 1919 to 1922, and, despite his brief tenure, was one of the University’s most effective leaders. He studied what the best non–Catholic colleges were doing, and wrote several books on education. Under his leadership, the preparatory high school was closed, and resources and energy were focused on the college. Burns formed a lay Board of Trustees, and began the University’s first comprehensive fund drive. He established deans in the colleges and chairs in each of the departments, and formed the University Council, which is now called the Academic Council. He hired the strongest faculty he could, and in 1921 he boasted in a letter to a friend, “we have a [faculty member] who devotes most of his time to research . . . My ambition is to have this kind of work going on in every department. But money is necessary, and we have to proceed slowly and patiently.” Under Zahm’s influence, Burns dreamed of Notre Dame as a great research university, and he did all he could to make this dream a reality. (quoted in Being Catholic, Being American, (Notre Dame Press, 1999), Robert E. Burns, 109).
Those who came before us remained true to the University’s Catholic mission while they strove to enrich it and expand it. They were heirs of the spirit of Fr. Sorin, for they dreamed big dreams, and refused to be intimidated by challenges. We must do the same. Maintaining and even deepening our fidelity to our Catholic mission, we must excel in training the minds of our students, cultivating the convictions of their hearts, and seeking pre–eminence as a research university. Only in this way can we be the unifying, healing, enlightening place we are called to be, and fulfill the hopes so many have for this University.
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.