Two Themes: Internationality and Diversity

Two themes have grown in prominence since 2005—internationality and diversity. I refer to these as “themes,” because they are not goals wholly distinct from our other major goals; they are, rather, themes present in efforts across the university.


Globalization in its many facets—in markets and business, international politics, culture, and migration—has shaped our lives and our work, and will certainly shape the lives and work of our current students. Notre Dame has tried to respond robustly to these trends. In 2010, Tom Burish created the office of Notre Dame International. Under its first head, Nick Entrikin, appointed Vice President and Associate Provost for Internationalization, the university has devised and implemented a strategic plan for maximizing its global impact in teaching and learning, research and discovery, and service to humanity. 

"More than half of all undergraduates study abroad, which ranks us 12th among research institutions."

This structure has greatly strengthened Notre Dame’s position as a leader among major research universities in providing opportunities outside the borders of the United States and enlarging our Global Gateway presence in locations across the world. More than half of all undergraduates study abroad, which ranks us 12th among research institutions; and this year Notre Dame International will begin implementation of a new financial model for study abroad that will allow even larger numbers of our students to have an international educational experience. Notre Dame International has also helped integrate a more international perspective into the cultural fabric of the university by bringing visiting scholars and students from many different countries to campus and to our growing network of Global Gateways.

The University’s growing international reputation was evident when we were invited in 2014 to partner with Zhejiang University, one of China’s leading national universities, in creating a new liberal arts college that will be part of a new international campus under construction in Haining, China. Ad hoc committees have been formed to consider this potential partnership.

A number of you on the faculty have expressed strong reservations about such a partnership in a nation in which the officially atheist Communist Party exerts so much control, human rights are often violated, freedom of expression is limited, religious worship is restricted, and churches are harassed. At the same time, China is likely to be one of the most influential nations of the 21st century. Many of our students want to learn the Chinese language and understand its culture. Its institutions of higher education are likely to become stronger and provide opportunities for research collaboration, and many on the faculty expressed strong support for a partnership. In addition to these factors, I traveled to the Vatican to discuss with key leaders the situation with the Church in China. It is fair to say that, though all parties recognize the complexity and challenges of a potential partnership between a Catholic university and a Chinese university, we were encouraged to explore this venture as a means of building bridges between the Catholic Church and China. We will continue to weigh all these considerations as we fashion a larger strategy to engage this important nation.

Keough School of Global Affairs

"The Keough School of Global Affairs... will enhance our international character in a manner that expresses Notre Dame's distinctive mission and vision."

The Keough School of Global Affairs, set to open its doors in less than two years, will enhance our international character in a manner that expresses Notre Dame’s distinctive mission and vision. The School, taking as its framework a phrase from Catholic social teaching, is dedicated to integral human development, that is, to conducting research, creating knowledge, and educating students for the purpose of addressing the needs of the whole human person by bringing academic disciplines, best practices, and private and public actors into collaboration for the common good. The research and curricula of the school will address the global need for a safe and sustainable environment for all people, fair and just institutions and laws, access to education and economic opportunity—and also the freedom to practice one's religion, preserve cultural values, and participate in political self-determination.

In order to advance this vision of human flourishing, the Keough School must engage economists and development experts, peace-builders and international human rights scholars, ethicists and theologians, engineers, social scientists, and historians. Beyond the academy the school is already building partnerships with the private sector, government, and the world of international NGOs. Building on a general strength at Notre Dame, the school will also quickly become a leader in the study of religion as both a destabilizing and sometimes violent force in global affairs, but also and especially as a partner in advancing peace, justice, and integral human development.

Diversity and Inclusion

The President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion continues its work in this vital area of setting achievable and measurable goals, monitoring progress and holding ourselves accountable. In coming days I will send a letter to all faculty, staff, and students on initiatives that are under way and we will launch a redesigned website. Rather than go into detail in this address, I urge you to look for that letter and website.