The President is elected by the Board of Trustees from among the members of the Priests Society of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers. With the support of the President's Leadership Council and deans, the President acts as the executive head of the University and is responsible for the general direction of its affairs.
The first president was the founder of the University, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. Since the University received its charter in 1844, there have been 17 presidents, with the current president being Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Elected in 2005 as the University of Notre Dame’s 17th president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., was re-elected by the Board of Trustees to a fourth five-year term, effective July 1, 2020.
As president, he has devoted himself to fostering the University’s unique place in academia, the Church, the United States, and the world.
Father Jenkins has been committed to combining teaching and research excellence with a cultivation of the deeper purposes of Catholic higher education. While pursuing academic distinction, he has brought renewed emphasis to Notre Dame’s distinctive mission, rooted in the tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University’s founding community, to educate the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—to do good in the world.
These commitments have been made manifest in the University’s dedication to excellence in undergraduate education in the classroom and beyond, while simultaneously building a reputation as a preeminent global research institution—all in the context of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity. In his inaugural address in 2005, Father Jenkins articulated the vision that Notre Dame would be “one of the preeminent research institutions in the world, a center for learning whose intellectual and religious traditions converge to make it a healing, unifying, enlightening force for a world deeply in need.”
In 2023, under Father Jenkins’ leadership, the University was invited to join the Association of American Universities, a consortium of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, making it the only religiously-affiliated university in the nation to be so honored. In 2022, the University attracted more than $281 million in external research funding and is among the fastest-growing research universities in the U.S.
Recognizing the high cost of education, the University has dramatically increased financial aid over the past 15 years, meeting 100% of demonstrated financial need for every student. The University provides more than $200 million in aid for undergraduates, a number which has doubled in the past decade, with 60% of all students receiving aid.
Over the last decade, Notre Dame, in partnership with local civic and industry leaders, has played a leading role in a regional strategy that has secured over $130 million in grants for economic development activities, leading to unprecedented investments in research facilities, workforce development programs, new transit connections, cultural amenities, and housing in the region.
Within the University and beyond, Father Jenkins has called for civil discourse— grounded in the Christian view of others as equally made in the image of God—as a way to find common ground rather than demonize those with different opinions. In a speech at Emory University in 2011, he said, “If we choose to attack our opponents before we have taken the time to understand them, if we prefer denunciations to genuine dialogue, if we seek political victory rather than constructive compromise … we will not be able to find solutions to the problems before us.”
The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that sponsors and produces all U.S. presidential and vice presidential debates, cited his leadership on this issue in electing Father Jenkins to its board of directors in 2011, a leadership role he continues to hold.
A philosopher trained in theology and a member of Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy since 1990, Father Jenkins earned undergraduate and advanced degrees from Notre Dame, a doctorate of philosophy from Oxford University, and a master of divinity and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.
He is the author of Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas, and scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and the Journal of Religious Ethics.
Father Jenkins is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A popular teacher, he has taught courses on ancient and medieval philosophy, faith and reason, and Thomas Aquinas.
He has served on the Independent Commission on College Basketball led by Dr. Condoleezza Rice and on the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities board of directors. Father Jenkins has authored numerous op-eds that have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other prominent publications on a wide range of topics, including the importance of civil discourse, the future of college athletics, and the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.