Notre Dame Board of Trustees’ Task Force Report on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion


Advancing Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at Notre Dame

A Strategic Framework

June 2021

I. Introduction

Recent events in our nation have led to a national reckoning, to soul-searching and a demand for action with regard to racial and social injustice. The horrific killings of Black Americans, among them George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, and Daunte Wright, as well as hate crimes and acts of violence against others, including Latinos and Asian Americans, have caused many of us to confront the realities of racism and inequality in our nation. There is a widespread sense of urgency to come together, to take meaningful action to achieve a more just and equitable society. Accompanying the urgency is a sense of hope that now is the moment for constructive and lasting change.

These challenges are particularly relevant to the University of Notre Dame because, as a Catholic university, we are committed to defending the dignity of every human person, to promoting a just society in which every person can flourish, and to attending particularly to the needs of the most vulnerable. Through our work of research and teaching, we seek to address racism, inequality, and discrimination. We have a responsibility as the premier Catholic research university in the world to serve church and society in this way and to offer credible witness to true inclusivity. As a community, Notre Dame strives to reflect these values in life on campus and natural extensions of purpose beyond the campus.

The University’s mission statement speaks to these commitments:

The University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice…

In all dimensions of the University, Notre Dame pursues its objectives through the formation of an authentic human community graced by the Spirit of Christ.

On our campus, we must examine the ways in which we can better live the ideals we profess.

The Constitutions of the Congregation of Holy Cross—the document that guides the life and ministry of the Holy Cross order that founded Notre Dame—states: “There are networks of privilege, prejudice, and power so commonplace that often neither oppressors nor victims are aware of them. We must be aware and also understanding by reason of fellowship with the impoverished and by reason of patient learning. For the kingdom to come in this world, disciples must have the competence to see and the courage to act.”

These are the ideals that must guide our aspirations for the University and our decision-making. We must fight against racism and all forms of injustice and inequity in our nation and the world. On our campus, we must examine the ways in which we can better live the ideals we profess. We pride ourselves on being a place of community, where all are welcomed and supported. We must acknowledge the ways in which we have fallen short in this regard and strive to become a better version of ourselves.

In the aftermath of the killing of George Floyd last spring, University President Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., and his leadership team identified the need—even as they continued to work with a sense of urgency on an array of diversity and inclusion initiatives—to take a step back and evaluate in a more comprehensive way the University’s larger efforts. When our Board chair, Jack Brennan, and Fr. Jenkins constituted this group in August 2020, they gave us the following charge:

[This Task Force] is to assist the University in its efforts to become a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community. Its specific tasks include reviewing initiatives currently underway and the data available on the campus climate, with a special focus on racial matters and issues affecting underrepresented minority groups and on the particular challenges faced by low socio-economic status (“LSES”) and FirstGeneration students.

In announcing the Task Force, Fr. Jenkins stated:

We have heard from students, alumni, faculty, and staff, and it is clear that there is much to be done. We must improve the experience of our students from underrepresented groups, enhance the diversity of our faculty and staff, and deepen conversations and understanding about race and justice. We must foster greater cultural, racial, and ethnic awareness among all of us, and particularly among the majority— whether defined by race, religion, socio-economic group, or another characteristic—of the experience and voice of those in the minority. We must do this because only in this way can we live up to our Catholic mission, a mission that demands that we respect the dignity of every person, strive to build a community in which everyone can flourish, and show regard for the most vulnerable.

Our Task Force has discussed at length what Notre Dame’s aspirations should be with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion. During one of our listening sessions, a faculty member captured it well when he offered a beautiful and powerful reflection on the critical difference between welcoming “others” into “our” home as guests, and truly sharing that home as equals. We have returned to this important observation time and time again in the course of our deliberations. While the framework that follows offers a road map for the University’s critical next steps specifically with regard to race and socioeconomic status within the context of the charge we were given, we believe our over-arching aspiration is to act to ensure that EVERY member of the Notre Dame community feels not merely “welcome” here, but rather that this is truly their home.

A historical sketch of two men looking out at South Bend.

II. Context

The University was founded at the site of a Catholic mission on the traditional homelands of Native peoples including the Haudenosauneega, Miami, Peoria, and particularly the Pokégnek Bodéwadmik/Pokagon Potawatomi, who have been using this land for education for thousands of years, and continue to do so. Early European missionaries joined the Pokagon Potawatomi to defend their human rights and dignity against the injustice of forced expulsion from the land. In 1838, one such missionary, Rev. Benjamin Petit, joined the Potawatomi on the infamous Trail of Tears, and, like so many Potawatomi, died because of illness contracted during the ordeal. Fr. Petit’s body is buried in the Log Chapel on campus. In 1841, the founder of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Rev. Basil Moreau, sent Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and several Holy Cross brothers to Indiana from France at the request of the local bishop, to serve as educators. They made their way to the University’s current site in 1842 to found the University.

From its earliest roots, then, Notre Dame has had as its purpose to serve groups who were marginalized. The University prided itself in the late 19th and early 20th centuries on educating the sons of Catholic European immigrants, often excluded from other educational institutions and marginalized in many parts of society. Saint Mary’s College was founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross to give women a college education. Formed by their experiences at the University, generations of Notre Dame graduates devoted themselves to lives of service in their communities, our nation, and the Church.

The presidents of Notre Dame over the last 60 years have played critical roles in shaping the University’s approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Rev. Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., president of Notre Dame for 35 years beginning in 1952, was a member of the U.S. Civil Rights Commission from 1957 to 1972, a key leader at a pivotal time in our nation’s history. Closer to home, Fr. Hesburgh oversaw the University’s decision to admit women and the adoption of a shared governance structure that made room for lay leadership alongside leaders from the Congregation of Holy Cross, and created the University’s Center for Civil and Human Rights. Fr. Hesburgh’s successor, Rev. Edward Malloy, C.S.C., carried forward many of Fr. Hesburgh’s initiatives, redoubling the University’s efforts to welcome students, faculty, and staff of color and forging stronger bonds with the greater South Bend community. During Fr. Jenkins’ tenure, the University’s stature has continued to grow as it is now widely recognized as a top-tier research university with a global presence, attracting diverse, world-class scholars and teachers from around the world and some of our nation’s very best students.

Inspired by the sense of urgency we have seen across the University to engage in this critically important work in new ways, we seek to harness the tremendous dedication, imagination, and innovation of the Notre Dame community, while also drawing on best practices in higher education and other sectors.

Each of these leaders has placed great emphasis on diversity and inclusion, and has been deeply committed to progress. In the foreword to Black Domers, a book which seeks to capture the experiences of African American students at Notre Dame over seven decades, Fr. Hesburgh wrote, “Besides the addition of women, the most dramatic change in the character of Notre Dame’s student body in my lifetime has been the growing racial and ethnic diversity. This change, achieved through great and deliberate efforts, has benefitted not just black students but all of our students… All of these efforts…have been undertaken for the sake of justice.” In the same foreword, Fr. Malloy wrote, “When I was elected president of Notre Dame in 1987, I set, as one of my most important priorities, the racial and ethnic diversification of every aspect of the institution’s life.” And Fr. Jenkins offered the following: “We must go farther and we will…as stated in Notre Dame’s statement on Diversity and Inclusion, it is ‘a moral and intellectual necessity.’”

The University’s student body—particularly in its undergraduate population—for much of the 20th century reflected the demographics of the U.S. Catholic population who attended selective universities. A particular tension for Notre Dame as it sought to become more diverse and inclusive was that this demographic was composed mainly of students of European heritage. We examine the changing demographics of the U.S. Catholic Church later in this report, and consider its connection to the University’s strategic goals with regard to diversity.

It is important that all of our stakeholders understand clearly that this document and the efforts of the Task Force are not intended to offer a comprehensive history of Notre Dame’s achievements and progress in advancing the diversity of our community, nor did we undertake to assemble a full inventory of every program and initiative currently underway. The University has made progress in meaningful ways over the past 30 years, and there is much to be proud of as we assess Notre Dame from a diversity, equity, and inclusion standpoint, even as we acknowledge the journey before us.

Notwithstanding this progress, we know, and the data clearly evidence, that we are not yet who we want to be. As is true at many elite universities, race-based and socioeconomic disparities persist at Notre Dame, some because of unjust stereotypes, insensitivity, or ignorance, others because of past policies, practices, and decision-making. In the larger context of American society, inequities in health care, education, housing, policing, and employment place undue additional burdens on many Notre Dame students, faculty, and staff of color.

There is much work to be done for Notre Dame to achieve its aspirations as a truly Catholic, diverse, and inclusive university. Most of this work is not glamorous, and it does not always result in immediate solutions. It requires data-driven insights, a willingness to look at systems and structures, and a commitment to sustained—and sustainable—progress. Our focus in this effort has not been on quick fixes or one-off solutions. While some efforts will result in early gains, we must commit to the long game if we are truly to become the university we aspire to be.

Through this strategic outline, we seek to offer the University’s leaders a framework for substantive and long-term progress. We believe that framing our recommendations in this way, rather than creating a list of specific actions to be implemented, will enable the University to focus on long-term, sustainable change, while also providing University leaders the flexibility to determine the most effective approach to executing a robust plan.

As articulated in our charge, our discussions have been primarily focused on issues of race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, and therefore we have not attempted to address the specific needs and concerns of other underrepresented groups at Notre Dame. However, we are confident that executing against the framework outlined in this document will raise awareness and improve the campus climate for ALL members of the Notre Dame community, including those who may feel marginalized at the University because of gender, sexual orientation, legal status, differences in ability, or other identities.

The elements of this strategic framework, discussed further in Section V of this document, are:

  1. Increase representation
  2. Strengthen a culture of inclusion and belonging
  3. Hold ourselves accountable
  4. Be a force for good in the world
  5. Commit adequate resources

Inspired by the sense of urgency we have seen across the University to engage in this critically important work in new ways, we seek to harness the tremendous dedication, imagination, and innovation of the Notre Dame community, while also drawing on best practices in higher education and other sectors.

University seal on the south entrance to campus at the end of Notre Dame Avenue

III. Process

The members of the Trustee Task Force on Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion are:

  • Headshot Spruell
    Byron O. Spruell (Task Force Chair), President of League Operations, National Basketball Association
  • Headshot Gallo
    Stephanie A. Gallo, Chief of Marketing, E&J Gallo Winery
  • Headshot Dowd
    Rev. Robert A. Dowd, C.S.C., Professor of Political Science, Assistant Provost for Internationalization, Religious Superior of the Holy Cross Community, University of Notre Dame
  • Headshot Liu
    Justin R. Liu, President and CEO, Tireco, Inc.
  • Headshot Rodgers
    Martin W. Rodgers, Market Unit Lead, U.S. South, Accenture
  • Headshot Stone
    Phyllis W. Stone, Stepping Stones Consulting; Pastoral Associate for Liturgy and RCIA, St. Matthias Church
  • Headshot M Tucker
    Sara Martinez Tucker, former Undersecretary for the U.S. Department of Education and former CEO and President of the Hispanic Scholarship Fund
  • Headshot Veihmeyer
    John B. Veihmeyer, KPMG International, Retired Chairman
  • Headshot Williams
    Judge Ann Claire Williams, (Ret.) U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Of Counsel, Jones Day

In short, we attempted, in a concentrated time period, to gain an understanding of systems and practices related to many facets of the University, resulting in data-driven insights, recommendations, and questions for further study.

Since the Task Force was first constituted in August 2020, we have met more than 25 times. In that time, we have engaged in dialogue with many faculty, students, staff, hall rectors, administrators, and alumni through a series of listening and outreach sessions. We have had conversations with the University’s senior leaders, including the University’s Board Chair, Jack Brennan; the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees; and the full membership of the Board of Trustees, as well as University President Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., Provost Marie Lynn Miranda, Executive Vice President Shannon Cullinan, and the deans of the University’s colleges and schools.

Beyond these important conversations with many different constituents, we undertook an extensive process of data collection and analysis, with the invaluable assistance of the Office of Strategic Planning and Institutional Research. We also received and reviewed reports and plans prepared by various University units, as well as written feedback, statements, and petitions offered by members of the University community over the last year. Finally, we conducted benchmarking with peer institutions. In short, we attempted, in a concentrated time period, to gain an understanding of systems and practices related to many facets of the University, resulting in data-driven insights, recommendations, and questions for further study. (Please see the appendix to this document for a listing of Selected Resources reviewed by the Task Force.)

As a task force of Trustees, in keeping with the Board’s governance role, our purpose was to gather information, listen to input, and make recommendations for change. It will fall to the University’s leaders to develop the goals and specific actions to achieve the strategic priorities we have identified, and to drive execution across the University. Put another way, this strategic framework offers a vision and identifies key areas of focus; it is not intended to be the University’s plan for achieving that vision. We have every confidence that Fr. Jenkins and his team will develop a robust and comprehensive plan to do just that. To aid Notre Dame’s leaders in developing such a plan, in addition to publishing this document, the Task Force has catalogued and transmitted all of the information and materials it has collected.

Campus aerial panorama.

IV. Observations

Institutional Diversity Demographics

In this section, we offer a summary of the large volume of data we have reviewed during our work together, data that reflect both the University’s progress with regard to diversity and inclusion as well as numerous areas where improvement is needed.

Over the past decades, under Fr. Malloy’s and Fr. Jenkins’ leadership, Notre Dame has made meaningful progress in some important areas.

The overall percentage of U.S. underrepresented minority undergraduate students has increased, from 10.0 percent in 1990 to 15.3 percent today, a 53 percent increase. Currently, we are on track for a first-year class in fall 2021 that is 21.4 percent underrepresented minorities.

We have had some success in attracting more Hispanic/Latino students. In 1990, 5.0 percent of the undergraduate population was Hispanic/Latino; today, 11.5 percent of our undergraduate population is Hispanic/Latino, placing us at the median of the 27 private institutions in the Association of American Universities (AAU), which is the peer group we most frequently refer to when benchmarking across a broad range of metrics. While the fact that these numbers have increased over the past decade is good news, there is obviously more work to be done.

U.S. Hispanic/Latino Comparison - All Undergraduate FTE/AAU Private

One aspect of diversity where the University has made significant progress in recent years is in attracting a more international student body. Undergraduate international enrollment has almost tripled over the past 30 years from 2.1 percent in 1990 to 5.7 percent in 2020. Although not a primary focus of this Task Force, the presence of our international students clearly contributes to the diversity of campus life and culture.

Diversity among our graduate students is growing as well. In 2010–11, 6 percent of the doctorates awarded by Notre Dame were earned by U.S. underrepresented minorities; in 2019–20 that had risen to 7.5 percent. U.S. minority students earning JDs grew from 21 percent to 27 percent over that same time period. For all business master’s degrees, the change was modest, from 12.3 percent to 13.5 percent, and the percentage for MBAs declined between 2010 and 2020.

Among Tenured and Tenure-Track faculty, we have increased the percentage of Hispanic/Latino faculty from 4.0 percent in 1990 to 5.7 percent today. We have been consistently near the top of AAU private institutions over the past decade.

Since 2010, we have seen the diversity of our management and exempt (non-hourly) staff increase, with U.S. minority staff now making up 15.5 percent of management, up from 11 percent in 2010, and 15.0 percent of exempt employees, compared to 11.9 percent in 2010.

More specifically, we have seen some progress in the percentage of our Hispanic/Latino staff over the past 10 years. Since 2011, our Hispanic/Latino full-time staff increased from 4.4 percent to 6.3 percent today, at the median of the AAU private institutions over the past decade.


Notwithstanding progress in certain areas, the data also clearly evidence areas where significant improvement is essential.

With regard to the recruitment of Black students, 6.6 percent of our undergraduate student body in 2020 was Black or African American if we include all those identifying with two or more races, one of those races being Black. However, only 3.4 percent of our undergraduate students identified solely as Black or African American, placing us in the bottom quartile of the AAU private institutions.

U.S. Black or African American Comparison - All Undergraduate FTE/AAU Private

The percentage of Asian American undergraduates grew from 3.1 percent in 1990 to 7.3 percent in 2009. It has declined since then to 5.0 percent in 2020.

U.S. Asian Comparison - All Undergraduate FTE/AAU Private

Similarly, with respect to socioeconomic diversity, the percentage of students receiving Pell Grants attending Notre Dame is lower than at peer institutions, placing us in the bottom quartile of the AAU private institutions.

Pell Grant Recipient Comparison - All Undergraduate FTE/AAU Private

Moreover, there is an overlay of racial and ethnic diversity and low-socioeconomic status, as for incoming students, 52.5 percent of Black students and 31.2 percent of Hispanic/Latino students are LSES, compared with only 5 percent of white students, often making it even more difficult for these students to feel at home at Notre Dame. Similar to other U.S. minority students, Asian American undergraduates are more likely (17.1 percent) to come from LSES households.

Notre Dame First-Time Full-Time Students by Race/Ethnicity and LSES - Percent of Race/Ethnicity Population that is LSES

With respect to student outcomes, between 2013 and 2015, 85 percent of students who were both Pell and First-Generation graduated on time (five years for architecture students and four years for all other disciplines), as compared to 94 percent of students who were neither Pell Grant recipients nor First-Generation college students. Within six years, those who were both Pell and First-Generation had narrowed the gap in graduation rates, compared to their non-Pell, non-First-Generation counterparts, to 6 percentage points from a 9-percentage point differential for on-time graduation.

In 2020, 2.4 percent of Notre Dame’s faculty identified solely as Black or African American (2.8 percent if we include those identifying with two or more races, one of those being Black), up slightly from 1 percent in 1990. This places us in the bottom quartile of the AAU private institutions.

U.S. Black or African American Comparison - Full-Time Instructional Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty

Similarly, we remain below the median of the AAU private institutions with respect to our Asian American faculty, although these numbers have increased significantly from 6.2 percent in 1990 to 11.9 percent in 2020.

We have seen a slight increase in the overall percentage of Black or African American full-time staff since 2011, from 7.2 percent to 7.9 percent in 2020, but we remain in the bottom half of AAU private institutions. Those who identify as Black or African American have increased as a percentage of our management ranks from 5.0 percent to 5.6 percent since 2010. Over the last decade, our Black or African American exempt staff have increased modestly, from 3.1 percent to 4.1 percent.

Campus Culture

Beyond demographics, we also considered data regarding campus culture. Below are some data points from the national Undergraduate Senior Survey, some encouraging, some concerning.

As part of the Senior Survey, over the last 10 years U.S. minority undergraduate students at Notre Dame have consistently rated the sense of community at Notre Dame meaningfully higher than have U.S. minority students at peer institutions. In 2020, for example, 86 percent of Notre Dame U.S. minority seniors were “very satisfied” or “generally satisfied” with sense of community compared to 71 percent of their peers at other private universities.

Comparative: Satisfaction with sense of community on campus - Percent of U.S. Race/Ethnicity Minority senior survey respondents who indicate they are Very Satisfied or Generally Satisfied with the sense of community of campus.

Similarly, from 2010 through 2016, more U.S. minority students at Notre Dame answered affirmatively when asked “would you recommend your institution to others?” than did peers at other institutions. However, this percentage has dropped in the past several years, placing Notre Dame at the average of the private universities in the comparison group.

Comparative: Would you recommend this university to other students? - Percent of U.S. Race/Ethnicity Minority senior survey respondents who indicate they are Definitely Would or Probably Would recommend this university to other students.

Importantly, according to the Senior Survey, Notre Dame’s U.S. minority students are, and have been, less satisfied with the climate for ethnic and racial minorities on campus than are their peers at other private universities: 53 percent at Notre Dame compared to 64 percent at other private universities in 2020.

Comparative: Satisfaction with climate for ethnic/racial minority students on campus - Percent of U.S. Race/Ethnicity Minority senior survey respondents who indicate they are Generally Satisfied or Very Satisfied with the climate for ethnic/racial minority students on campus.

Among graduate and professional students, in response to the statement “I feel a sense of belonging at Notre Dame,” 78 percent of white students responded favorably, as compared to 62 percent of Black or African American students, 67 percent of Hispanic/Latino students, and 75 percent of Asian American students.

Results from a 2019 Faculty Experience survey Notre Dame participated in with six peer institutions showed 90 percent of white faculty at Notre Dame responding favorably to the question “Overall, how satisfied are you being a faculty member at Notre Dame?” compared to 82 percent at the peer institutions, while 85 percent of non-white faculty at Notre Dame responded favorably versus 78 percent at the peer institutions, and 89 percent of non-U.S. citizens at Notre Dame versus 82 percent at the peer institutions.

Among staff, in the 2019 employee satisfaction survey, ND Voice, those who responded favorably to the statement “I recommend the University as a great place to work” was consistently high across racial and ethnic groups, with Asian American employees scoring the highest at 86 percent, white employees at 83 percent, Hispanic/Latino at 82 percent, and Native Americans the lowest at 73 percent. In response to the statement “All people, regardless of race, nationality, gender, age or other individual characteristics, are given fair opportunity to succeed in the University,” 58 percent of Black or African American employees responded favorably compared to the highest scores of 73 percent for white and Native American employees, and 63 percent for Hispanic/Latino employees.


The Task Force has benefited greatly from the many insights and perspectives shared by leaders across campus. While not an exhaustive list of what we have heard, here are some key insights that have shaped our thinking.

Inclusive Culture Matters. As is clear from the data, Notre Dame must increase the number of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff, and ensure there are sufficient cohorts of each underrepresented group. However, increasing numbers is not enough. We will have failed at our efforts to build a more diverse and inclusive community if we do not also break down barriers that can prevent some members of our community from feeling at home at Notre Dame. Culture is about the heart and the mind, and building a more inclusive culture is the single most important task before us, as it is foundational to everything else. Notre Dame has a rich foundation upon which to build—most especially its Catholic mission and identity—in creating a truly vibrant and inclusive community.

Feeling Uninvited. While Notre Dame has made significant progress, there remain alumni, students, faculty, and staff who do not feel enough a part of the University. Black students, faculty, staff, and alumni are the least satisfied with the sense of community at Notre Dame; Hispanic/Latinos are most satisfied among underrepresented groups but are less satisfied than white members of this community. At times, Notre Dame’s intense focus on community exacerbates feelings of loneliness and exclusion for those who feel marginalized. For some students with overlapping identities, such as being an underrepresented minority, having low socioeconomic status, and/or coming to Notre Dame with different cultural and academic experiences than their peers, it can be extremely difficult to flourish and experience a sense of belonging. For Catholics of color, the campus experience may not reflect the diversity of the Church, and those of other faiths—or no faith—can struggle to find their place at the University.

It is abundantly clear that it will take all of us, the engagement and commitment of every member of the Notre Dame community, if we are to achieve our larger goals and truly become the University and community we seek to be.

Uneven Resources. While greater investment over the past decade in programs and initiatives that provide support and mentorship to underrepresented minorities at the University has been a positive development, access and resource allocation can be uneven. There are some excellent student scholarship programs that have proven successful, but what we have learned from the best of these programs has not always been implemented broadly and consistently, to give every student who would benefit the opportunity to participate. For the most part, the many programs are not as coordinated as they might be, and assessment of their efficacy and impact could be more rigorous. These same concerns apply to some of the programs aimed at raising awareness and fostering multicultural competency among majority members of this community.

Closing the Gap between Aspirations and Reality. There are many people of goodwill on this campus who are working tirelessly not only to advance diversity at the University but also through research, teaching, and service to address inequities and social injustice in our communities and in larger society. Notre Dame has long stood for justice, equity, and inclusion, for upholding the dignity and worth of every person. We are, in the words of Fr. Hesburgh, where the Church does its thinking. Together we strive to be a great force for good in the world. As a campus community that seeks to approach issues of equity and inclusion with sincerity, we must consider how to honestly and constructively address the gaps that exist between our shared values and the day-to-day realities of life at Notre Dame. As one of our rectors observed, “We watch what we do to see what we believe.”

Momentum and Hope. Across the University, we see renewed energy, commitment, and desire for change, a profound shift from diversity, equity, and inclusion being “good to have” to becoming a moral imperative. This has awakened a certain hopefulness, though there is also some trepidation. Some worry Notre Dame will not go far enough, others that we will go too far and propose approaches and strategies that are not right for Notre Dame. At this moment in time, the University has the opportunity to consider what “great” might look like with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion at Notre Dame, and to create a plan and structures to support that vision.

“It’s Everyone’s Responsibility.” It is abundantly clear that it will take all of us, the engagement and commitment of every member of the Notre Dame community, if we are to achieve our larger goals and truly become the University and community we seek to be. This was a theme we heard many times in the course of our discussions with many different groups. While it is certainly the case that the University’s Board of Trustees and senior leadership have a particular responsibility to ensure progress, real change rarely happens only from the top down. It will require shared ownership that is both broad and deep, and rooted in the conviction that diversity and inclusion are foundational to our mission as a Catholic university.

A group of new graduates at Commencement take a selfie together.

V. Strategic Framework

A. Increase representation

Notre Dame seeks to be “a Catholic university for the 21st century, one of the pre-eminent 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.” (Fr. Jenkins’ Inauguration Address, 2005)

We are part of a nation and world that are more diverse than at any time in history. This is true of the Catholic Church as well. According to a 2015 study by the Pew Institute, Catholics in the U.S. are about as diverse as Americans overall, but their specific racial and ethnic composition is somewhat different. Compared with all U.S. adults, Catholics are made up of fewer non-Hispanic whites (59 percent vs. 66 percent) and Blacks (3 percent vs. 12 percent) and more heavily made up of Hispanic/Latinos (34 percent vs. 15 percent).

As we consider the current racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic composition of the University and how it might look in the future, two insights emerge.

First, given Notre Dame’s Catholic character and mission, the demographics of the U.S. Catholic Church play a part in shaping our vision for the future. While we need not and should not look exactly like the Church in the U.S., our distinctive mission may also mean that we will not look like our peer institutions in terms of the composition of our campus community. As our data reflects, we have, thus far, been more successful in recruiting Hispanic/Latino students and faculty than other underrepresented groups—in part, we expect, because 34 percent of the U.S. Catholic Church is Hispanic/ Latino. We raise this point to emphasize that in our setting of goals, we should focus on what success at Notre Dame will look like. While benchmarking against our peers can always be useful in identifying best practices and proven strategies for success, solely framing our goals in the context of comparisons to peer institutions is not advised. The goals we establish must be focused on our aspiration to be a truly Catholic, diverse, and inclusive research university, which makes us relatively unique in higher education and therefore differentiates us from our secular peers.

We cannot prepare our students to be the leaders we hope they will be if our campus does not reflect the richness and multiculturalism of larger society.

This observation is by no means intended to temper our goals, or slow our broader efforts. Our Catholic mission compels us to assemble a more diverse community, reflective of the Church, our nation, and the world. Notre Dame should aspire to be the most successful university in the U.S. in attracting highly talented Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American and Native American Catholic students, faculty, and staff as well as those diverse individuals of other faiths who identify with the University’s distinctive mission. We cannot prepare our students to be the leaders we hope they will be if our campus does not reflect the richness and multiculturalism of larger society. Pope Francis has described the Church as universal, not uniform; it is “the space, the house in which the faith in its entirety is announced, in which the salvation offered by Christ is offered to all. . . . The Church is the house of harmony where unity and diversity know how to come together to create richness. . . . When we seek to make it uniform, we erode the gifts of the Holy Spirit.”

In thinking about the diversity of our campus, it is not enough to reach a certain number of underrepresented members. We must also acknowledge the importance of adequate cohorts, of the visible presence of Black, Hispanic/ Latino, Asian, and Native American members of this community in every aspect of University life. Given the high correlation between supportive peer relationships and student success, the presence of a significant number of other students of the same race or ethnicity is critical. This is true for faculty and staff as well.

Secondly, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of inclusion. We offer a more complete articulation of the various dimensions of inclusion later in the document, but we refer to it here as it is integrally connected to our goal of increasing representation. As we recruit larger numbers of underrepresented students, faculty, and staff, it is essential that we support, mentor, encourage, and embrace these members of our community. We must ensure that the right people, resources, and structures are in place so that every member of our community experiences the sense of belonging which is at heart of this action plan.


Undergraduate Students. Recognizing the importance of increasing the diversity of our undergraduate student body, in October 2019, the University’s Board of Trustees approved an ambitious plan proposed by Fr. Jenkins, including a substantial increase in financial aid funding, to raise the percentage of Pell-eligible first-year students from 10.8 percent for the first-year class that entered that fall to 15 percent for the class that enters in fall of 2024—an increase of 39 percent. Over the same time period, our goal is to increase the percentage of First-Generation first-year students from 3.3 percent in fall 2019 to 5 percent in fall 2024, an increase of more than 50 percent. As a near-term step, these goals will help bring Notre Dame in line with the current median of the AAU private institutions and require a cumulative investment of $200 million for financial aid over the next nine years. It must be noted that significant additional financial resources, beyond the $200 million, will be necessary to provide these students with appropriate programmatic and mentoring support throughout their academic careers. 

As we pursue this goal as well as redouble our efforts to recruit diverse students, we must eliminate both real or perceived obstacles to attendance and raise our profile with top students who would find Notre Dame attractive. Across the nation, research points to the under-placement of these highly competitive students at elite institutions, with many opting for state institutions without applying elsewhere because of a perceived lack of financial support.

We must find new ways for Notre Dame to be part of the consideration set of universities for stellar students of color, and then distinguish ourselves within that set. Undergraduate Admissions has been working to raise our “brand recognition” among these students, recognizing that we may not always be seen as a top-tier university even among students attending Catholic high schools. Underrepresented students often have a strong “equity ethic”—a principled concern for social justice and a commitment to addressing inequality—especially if they have experienced marginalization or racial suffering. Many hope to utilize their educations to challenge societal inequities and injustice. Underscoring the University’s commitment to being a force for good in the world, particularly as it pertains to racial and social justice, and emphasizing from an equity perspective the value of a Notre Dame degree will be important in attracting more diverse students.

While the University has been need-blind for many years, there is still a perception that Notre Dame is not as generous in terms of the financial aid it offers relative to peers. For the students we most wish to recruit, we must ensure that we are seen as truly competitive and that we communicate clearly about we offer in our financial aid materials and in our discussions with prospective students and their families.

Coupled with improved communication and outreach, we must consider new and innovative strategies to recruit Black, Hispanic/Latino, Asian American, Native American, and LSES students and identify students early in their high school careers for whom Notre Dame might be a good fit, especially high-achieving underrepresented Catholic students. The Task Force has discussed whether there are opportunities to recruit more students from Alliance for Catholic Education and Cristo Rey schools, and to collaborate more closely with programs like QuestBridge and Posse. We cite these ideas simply as examples of strategies to consider. 

Given that approximately 80 percent of our undergraduate students identify as Catholic, Notre Dame has a unique and distinctive opportunity as one of the premier Catholic research universities in the world to educate and form young Catholic leaders. Recruiting a broader array of Catholics to Notre Dame is important, as we should reflect the vibrancy and diversity of today’s Church in the U.S. and globally. Again, this will require creativity in recruitment and a recognition not only of what we need to do to get more Catholics of color to come to Notre Dame, but what we must do culturally and liturgically to ensure that these students find a true home at Notre Dame. This need not compete with, and indeed is complementary to, our goal of recruiting diverse students of different faiths who can and must also find a home at Notre Dame.

Graduate Students. Notre Dame has emphasized graduate education in new and important ways in recent years. As we do so, the University should be an important contributor to the national and international pipeline of diverse scholars and researchers, and enhance its stature and reputation as a training ground for such scholars. As noted earlier in the report, we have seen some growth in the diversity of our graduate students and we need to continue to grow in this regard. Not surprisingly, diversifying graduate programs has become a major focus nationally, and the ability to attract the most talented diverse graduate students is now an important indicator of competitiveness among graduate programs, not limited to those disciplines or institutions that have traditionally attracted underrepresented minorities. Creating accountability among academic departments for the diversity of the graduate students they recruit and providing the funding for fellowships and financial support so critical to the recruitment of the best graduate students are essential. So too is the presence of diverse faculty who will serve as advisors and mentors.

Faculty. Recruitment of diverse faculty is a top University priority, as is retention of those who are already part of the Notre Dame community, addressed later in this document. Providing departments and academic leaders with the resources and tools they need to be successful and creating accountability—both around developing diverse candidate pools and hiring top diverse candidates—is critical. Developing long-term, proactive strategies is key, such as creating a robust data base and expanding our current networks to identify diverse scholars at other institutions who might be strong candidates for faculty positions at Notre Dame. Notre Dame is fortunate to have a leader with considerable experience in “moving the needle” on diverse faculty hiring in its new Provost, Marie Lynn Miranda.

A strategy employed by some of our peers involves identifying a specific area of investment that is aligned with the institution’s strategic priorities, where there are significantly more underrepresented scholars, and hiring a cohort of faculty in a targeted area. This can be an effective strategy, as cohort hiring fosters stronger professional and personal relationships, thus aiding retention. At the same time, cohort hiring should not be seen as a substitute for careful attention and commitment to developing a diverse pool of candidates for each and every faculty position.

Staff and Administrators. Among staff, staff of color represent about 21 percent of Notre Dame’s workforce, and diversity at the management level has grown by 50 percent—from 10 percent to 15 percent in the last five years. This represents progress.

In terms of the University’s most senior leaders, the hiring of Provost Miranda, a Goan woman, is a positive step. In addition to Provost Miranda, there are currently two leaders of color—Hugh Page, vice president and associate provost for undergraduate affairs, and Marcus Cole, the Joseph A. Matson Dean of Notre Dame Law School—and nine women among the President’s Leadership Council and Deans’ Council, out of a group of 34. Hiring more diverse leaders at the most senior levels and cultivating diverse leadership at all levels will continue to be critically important.

Given the critical importance of increased representation, we recommend that University leadership establish appropriate “stretch” goals for increasing the numbers of diverse students, faculty, staff, and administrators, and establish clear accountability for reaching these goals.

Retention. It must be recognized that increasing representation requires not only that we attract more diverse individuals to Notre Dame, but also that we must retain those who have chosen to become part of the University. This reinforces the importance of building an inclusive culture, described below.

B. Strengthen a culture of inclusion and belonging

As we have noted, it is not enough to recruit more diverse and low-socioeconomic-status students and underrepresented faculty and staff. Notre Dame cannot make real progress or be the place it aspires to be unless ALL members of the University community can truly experience that sense of belonging and inclusion—being in their home, not merely being welcomed to another’s home.

The value of inclusion is not just about creating a kinder, warmer, more welcoming community, though this is obviously important. Inclusion and social belonging allow us to perform to our highest capacity, to share our God-given gifts and talents in the fullest sense, for our own benefit and the benefit of all.

We cannot underestimate the task at hand. The goal is not only to improve the experiences of underrepresented minorities on our campus but also to elevate our collective ability—among all members of this community—to talk honestly with one another about race and racism; to develop greater fluency in our thinking and communication about issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion; and to grow more comfortable acknowledging and addressing gaps in our knowledge or understanding. We must also be willing to deepen our capacity to respond to the anger and pain that racist or discriminatory actions—or the failure to address such actions—have caused, and to consistently think, act, and speak in ways that are anti-racist. The responsibility for this evolution in culture does not fall primarily on the underrepresented members of our community, but on the majority, to use the many tools and resources at our disposal.


We outline some specific aspects of building a more inclusive culture below.

Expand programmatic support and mentoring

We must identify and remove the obstacles to full engagement for underrepresented and low-socioeconomic-status students, offering sufficient scholarship and mentoring programs to adequately support—academically, socially, financially—all minority, LSES, and First-Generation students.

Given a wide array of existing programs, we should inventory and assess the current offerings, consolidate where it makes sense to do so, and ensure a reasonable degree of consistency across programs. We know that individualized attention, mentoring, creating a sense of connection, and providing appropriate resources—beginning before their matriculation on campus and continuing throughout their academic careers—can make a dramatic difference, both in terms of their academic success and their sense of belonging and satisfaction. As we envision the future, we can draw upon what has already proven successful at Notre Dame, programs like AnBryce and the Fighting Irish Initiative, and ensure that every student has access to adequate support and to a comprehensive and coordinated set of resources.

Notre Dame cannot make real progress or be the place it aspires to be unless ALL members of the University community can truly experience that sense of belonging and inclusion—being in their home, not merely being welcomed to another’s home.

As part of supporting and mentoring our underrepresented and LSES students, we must ensure that they are able to pursue the fields of greatest interest to them, including STEM. The retention of students, especially Blacks and Hispanic/Latinos from low-resource backgrounds, can be particularly challenging in STEM programs as nationally these students transfer or drop out of such programs at higher rates than their white peers, a trend not observed in other competitive fields and due primarily to different levels of preparation in high school and a lack of access to Advanced Placement courses. The Galvin Scholars program was created to address these concerns among undergraduates in science and engineering at Notre Dame. It is essential we find ways to scale up the best of our existing programs and offer similar programs in other disciplines where needed.

Similar programs and support structures are needed for graduate and professional students of color. The creation of these programs and structures will require close partnership with colleges and schools, as professional and graduate students’ primary identification is generally with their program of study or department, and will need to be tailored accordingly.

As we develop a more coordinated model for support and mentoring, we must also invest the University’s analytical resources, to, for example, identify early indicators that a student is experiencing academic or personal trouble, making these indicators available and actionable. The consistent collection and analysis of such data can be an invaluable tool in helping our students to be successful. We must also regularly evaluate the effectiveness and impact of the programs and structures in place, to ensure that we are offering the resources our students need to flourish and that we are responding to changing needs.

Finally, with regard to faculty, in addition to the structured, formal mentoring and reviews early-career faculty receive within their departments, we may wish to offer a mentoring program for faculty from historically underrepresented groups and those traditionally underrepresented in their fields, that provides mentorship and guidance from seasoned colleagues, given what the research tells us about the importance of mentoring and the harmful impacts of social isolation during the faculty lifecycle.

With respect to staff support and mentoring, we should evaluate the DEI staff training offered through Human Resources to measure impact and efficacy, develop strategies for greater engagement of majority employees as well as metrics to measure success, and consider investing additional resources in Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) as mechanisms of support and advocacy.

Improve the campus experience

For undergraduate students, given the centrality of residential life at Notre Dame, the experience in the residence halls is critical, and our residence halls must be places where all students can experience belonging. For underrepresented students, seeing themselves in the leadership of the hall communities and having trusted mentors and advisors who can help them navigate daily life at Notre Dame is essential. Student Affairs has made some progress in regard to residence hall rectors, 20 percent of whom were racial or ethnic minorities in 2020–21, but there is more work to be done, both in this regard and in the recruitment of diverse assistant rectors and resident assistants (RAs). In the women’s residence halls, about 25 percent of RAs were students of color or international students in 2020; among men, 18 percent. From our conversations with students and alumni, we perceive the experience in the residence halls among underrepresented students is uneven—some report good experiences and feel a sense of belonging, while others do not. Between 2016 and 2020, the University’s annual Hall Life survey shows, on average, 85 percent of U.S. white students answered positively the question “How satisfied are you with the sense of community in your residence hall?” compared to an average of 79 percent for U.S. students of color. Understanding better why some students feel excluded and addressing those aspects of hall life are critically important. 

We also heard from underrepresented students about the need for more mental health resources, as well as more resources for those student clubs and organizations where many of these students experience support and community. Finally, encouraging and supporting the efforts of underrepresented students to take on leadership roles across a breadth of student organizations is important to cultivating a deeper sense of campuswide belonging and ownership. This will include ensuring that these students have the necessary financial resources, as those who need to work many hours a week to support themselves are unlikely to have time to participate in or lead a student club on campus.

A concern voiced frequently by students and alumni relates to the mechanisms in place to properly address instances of discriminatory harassment and micro-aggressions. Students expressed the view that the University does not act decisively when instances of discrimination are reported. It is essential to find ways to address such incidents in a constructive, transparent manner, while also balancing the privacy rights of students within the context of the University’s disciplinary process.

University resources must be brought to bear to increase students’ confidence and sense of belonging, certainly through the more formal programs described above but also in identifying the less visible obstacles and roadblocks they encounter which can impact their experience in very negative ways. Some of the underrepresented students we heard from reported that they struggled with “imposter syndrome,” with a feeling that they “aren’t supposed to be at Notre Dame” or should be “particularly grateful” to have the opportunity to attend the University. While self-doubt is not uncommon among college students, it can hit minority groups harder, as a lack of representation can make them feel like outsiders, and experiences of discrimination can create even more stress and anxiety when coupled with imposter syndrome. Well before these students arrive on campus and throughout their careers at Notre Dame, the University must ensure that in all dimensions of their student experience, these students can see tangible signs that they truly belong at Notre Dame and that our community is enriched by their presence. Borrowing a strategy from the corporate sector, it would be helpful for the University to “map” the student experience, to consider those interactions and experiences common to most students, and to ascertain where gaps in these interactions and experiences exist for our students of color. Having a space on campus where underrepresented students can gather also surfaced as an ongoing concern. 

With regard to retention and a greater sense of inclusion among diverse faculty, we must work to better understand lower satisfaction and retention rates, especially among our Black faculty, and address these factors in a systematic way. At campuses across the nation, underrepresented faculty cite climate issues and a lack of adequate support, as well as service and mentoring demands, that disadvantage them in tenure and promotion processes which do not value such contributions. These same concerns are voiced here at Notre Dame, and must be addressed. There are also, no doubt, particular aspects of Notre Dame that we must re-examine to ensure that underrepresented faculty truly feel at home here. University leaders can foster a greater sense of inclusion by consistently and tangibly demonstrating their investment in the success and flourishing of diverse faculty, and by ensuring accountability at all levels, including within departments, for our collective progress with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

For staff, hiring and promoting more diverse managers and fostering a “speak up” culture is key. In the bi-annual employee satisfaction survey, ND Voice, diversity and inclusion receives the third highest survey score (4.0 out of 5.0), which is positive. But questions around respect and fairness are the lowest (3.7 out of 5.0). “I feel it is safe to speak up” consistently has some of the lowest scores.

C. Hold ourselves accountable

Organizations improve when they acknowledge their shortcomings and areas of growth as well as their strengths. Notre Dame must become more effective at sharing what it already does well with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Communication internally and externally about the many good things that are in place has been inconsistent at best. We must also be clear about the ways we seek to grow and evolve, and acknowledge when we have fallen short of our aspirations. Transparency is an essential component in building trust and fostering the kind of shared ownership we need in order to make real and sustained progress. Finding the right balance in this regard is critically important. 

It is essential for University leaders to articulate clear goals and establish metrics that they will use to objectively and consistently evaluate the impact and efficacy of various initiatives, and to foster a spirit of innovation that invites fresh ideas and an openness to new approaches. In making decisions about key metrics, it will be important to decide what constitutes progress and matters most at this juncture in the University’s evolution with regard to DEI, rather than “measuring everything that moves.”

Effective communication obviously involves both sharing information and receiving it. We heard from constituent groups about the importance of clear and well-established channels for University leaders to receive ongoing, constructive feedback from members of the Notre Dame community, both on campus and beyond. In assessing progress, benchmarking against peers is vitally important—not for the purpose of becoming “just like” another institution, but so that we can learn from the best practices of our colleagues across the country, and apply those learnings in a way that is consonant with Notre Dame’s identity and goals.

Under Fr. Jenkins’ leadership, at present, every division of the University, school, and college has developed a diversity and inclusion plan, which is commendable. The creation of a University-wide diversity plan—building on the framework we offer in this action plan and formulated as part of the University’s upcoming strategic planning process—is an important next step. In formulating such a plan, it will be important to articulate, as we have attempted to do, a clear vision for diversity, equity, and inclusion that is rooted in the University’s Catholic mission. The University’s diversity goals will then become a core component of the University’s next strategic plan.

It is essential for University leaders to articulate clear goals and establish metrics that they will use to objectively and consistently evaluate the impact and efficacy of various initiatives, and to foster a spirit innovation that invites fresh ideas and openness to new approaches.

For each University-wide diversity goal, University leaders should establish appropriate metrics to ensure that there is institution-wide agreement on the measures we will use to hold ourselves accountable and to help drive execution of the goal through that accountability. 

To create greater accountability across the institution, the University’s executive officers must establish a structure that will ensure University-wide oversight and central leadership for the growing number of diversity and inclusion initiatives at the University. While it was effective for a time, the current oversight structure—the President’s Oversight Committee on Diversity and Inclusion—now needs to be re-imagined. The leaders of the University are in the best position to determine the best structure to put into place, but we believe any structure should more effectively span the many initiatives already underway as well as those we will next undertake, provide greater coordination and drive change in new ways, and more efficiently allocate and leverage resources.

As part of moving toward more centralized accountability, we recommend a University-wide inventory of all current diversity programs and initiatives. We are impressed by the array of initiatives we learned about during our discussions, and such an inventory will serve to highlight both the wide-ranging efforts underway and the goodwill and dedication of a great many people across campus. We also expect that there are opportunities for greater collaboration, sharing of best practices and resources, and synergies— as well as the ability to identify gaps that currently exist—that will emerge from a comprehensive inventory. There may well be programs and practices already in place that if scaled up could have transformative impact.

We are confident in the ability of the executive leadership team to arrive at an accountability structure that has the capacity to harness the energy and commitment of leaders across campus and continue to build institution-wide ownership of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We do not see this as an “either-or” proposition. Rather, there are opportunities to both strengthen central oversight and motivate leaders and managers across campus to be accountable “locally” for their investment and engagement. Every leader should know that their diversity, equity, and inclusion goals are an integral part of their annual performance goals and they will be evaluated for the progress they make.

Finally, the University’s Board of Trustees has a critical part to play in ensuring accountability. We recommend that the University’s executive officers offer regular progress reports to the Board focusing on key metrics of success. In addition, we recommend that the Board Chair and the University President identify the most appropriate mechanism to ensure ongoing Board oversight of these critical initiatives.

D. Be a force for good in the world

Notre Dame aspires to be a “leader from the front” with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion, and as one of the premier Catholic research universities in the world, possesses a platform and brand permission to shape in important ways our nation, the Church, and the world. How can we leverage our stature and brand to truly be a force for good on these issues, and a force for social justice?

It is important, we believe, to embrace leadership by looking at our own campus. Many of our students arrive on campus with little awareness of the life experiences of women and men of color and a lack of understanding of structural racism. Notre Dame students are in many ways exceptional in terms of their talent and academic achievements as well as their personal qualities and care for others. It is also the case that many of our low socioeconomic and diverse students report that they encounter a culture of entitlement on campus. While not a unique phenomenon by any means relative to other college campuses at this moment in history, such a culture is antithetical to the values Notre Dame holds dear. As an integral part of the education they receive, Notre Dame graduates must develop the tools we all need as members of society and as leaders to recognize, confront, and address racial, social, and economic bias and injustice—in our respective fields of endeavor, in our communities, and in ourselves. Our students may arrive on campus with differing levels of understanding and experience of racial issues, but they should not leave that way.

There are some excellent efforts already underway that contribute to our students’ formation as leaders in this regard. But there is a need to expand on these efforts to ensure we reach every student, to make this an integral part of being at Notre Dame, and to make education and engagement around diversity, equity, and inclusion a shared goal among faculty, students, and staff institution-wide, not the purview of a particular unit or a small, overextended group. The planned addition of a diversity and equity requirement to the Core Curriculum represents an important step forward in this regard. Beyond this, a comprehensive, multifaceted approach is needed that will require sustained investment and partnership across the University.

As an integral part of the education they receive, Notre Dame graduates must develop the tools we all need as members of society and as leaders to recognize, confront, and address racial, social, and economic bias and injustice—in our respective fields of endeavor, in our communities, and in ourselves.

We reflect on the words of Fr. Hesburgh 50 years ago during the Civil Rights era: “If our lives in education have any meaning or significance, it will be in our reading the signs of the times and in educating the young of our times in the visions and values that will civilize and make for reasonable human progress and lasting peace on earth.”

More broadly, the University must continue to strive to support and encourage research, teaching, and scholarship that seek to advance human understanding and alleviate racial, social, and economic injustice. As a Catholic university, we draw our inspiration from Christ as the source of wisdom and from the conviction that in God’s creative and inclusive Love, all things can be brought to their completion. The University’s mission statement states that Notre Dame is “dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake” while we also seek to “provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.” The Task Force benefited from thoughtful conversations with faculty who underscored the importance of rooting the University’s response to racism in American culture and society in these larger principles. As such, these efforts should empower inquiry and discussion and reflect our collective commitment to human dignity, human rights, and the preferential option for the poor. The congruence with the University’s Catholic mission and with principles of Catholic Social Teaching provides fertile ground for scholarship directed at understanding and addressing inequities.

While by no means an exhaustive list of those who are doing illuminating research in this regard, the Task Force commends the efforts of the following departments, centers, and institutes:

  • Africana Studies
  • Institute for Educational Initiatives/Alliance for Catholic Education
  • Institute for Latino Studies
  • Kellogg Institute for International Studies
  • Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies
  • McGrath Institute for Church Life
  • Pulte Institute for Global Development
  • Notre Dame Initiative on Race and Resilience
  • Center for Social Concerns
  • Wilson Sheehan Lab for Economic Opportunity

At the same time, we encourage the University’s leadership to consider ways to build on the promising research and teaching already underway and invest in academic/research initiatives that would clearly make Notre Dame an intellectual leader regarding issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion. We cannot help but think that the most promising of such initiatives would accentuate our Catholic identity and mission. Notre Dame must truly become the place where the Church does its thinking with regard to matters of social inclusion and equity.

Being a force for good in the world also has particular meaning with regard to the way the University does business, through supplier spend and support of local women- and minority-owned businesses. The University should look for ways to expand its commitment to ensuring that diverse firms are afforded equitable access to the many purchasing and sourcing needs of the University. We will accomplish this by strengthening our commitment to making purchases through competition and expanding our partnerships with current and prospective diverse suppliers. Developing a robust plan and concrete strategies to accomplish this goal will be important.

Locally and regionally, the University has been engaged as an active, collaborative member of these communities and has established the infrastructure to support and enhance faculty-developed, community-based research, learning, and service. Whether through individual projects or through sustained partnerships and commitments, such as the Robinson Community Learning Center, the University can and should help address racial and social disparities related to education, health care, policing, and urban planning.

Notre Dame is committed to advancing inclusion and belonging throughout our entire community, including among our alumni. One way we do that is through the Alumni Association’s affinity groups, which provide an opportunity for diverse alumni to connect with one another and find community. We acknowledge the critical importance of our diverse alumni —as catalysts for this University’s ongoing self-examination with regard to diversity, equity, and inclusion; as partners in the University’s recruitment of underrepresented students; and as ambassadors for Notre Dame. We encourage the University to develop a plan to foster greater connection and engagement with our diverse alumni.

It is important to both articulate our aspirations with regard to being a leader from the front, and to have a certain humility in doing so. We must acknowledge that Notre Dame has much work to do in this regard. With that said, we have the necessary tools to be a tremendous force for good—among them, our Catholic mission which animates our DEI efforts in powerful and unique ways; leaders who are passionate about equity, inclusion, and advancing the cause of justice; visibility and influence in the media and among thought leaders; and the human and financial resources to make tremendous progress. We must consider carefully how to use the tools at our disposal to advance our goals and to communicate effectively about both our accomplishments and our aspirations. It will be important not to conflate what we have accomplished and what we hope to achieve, as doing so could damage our credibility both internally and externally.

E. Commit adequate resources

To accomplish the priorities described in this action plan will require significant financial commitment. In particular, to recruit and retain more underrepresented faculty across disciplines; to invest more in financial aid and in appropriate support structures for a growing cohort of talented, diverse, low-socioeconomic-status, and First-Generation students; to provide more fellowships to the most promising diverse graduate students; and to do more to support and encourage research, teaching, and scholarship that seeks to advance human understanding and alleviate racial, social, and economic injustice will require a substantial investment of institutional resources. In reflecting on the question of resources, we are not speaking only of the allocation of “new” resources. Rather, we expect the University to first prioritize existing resources to advance these goals, as this demonstrates that these initiatives are in fact among our highest priorities, and to identify incremental funding sources that will be needed. It is also the case that regardless of the specific structure the executive officers choose for central oversight and accountability, a feature of that central oversight must be the ability and capacity to strategically allocate additional resources to target specific areas of opportunity as they arise, offer incentives, or address needs.

Our discussions about resources have focused not only on the institutional but on the personal. The University has made significant strides in its efforts to offer LSES, First-Generation, and middle-class students the opportunity to take full advantage of the remarkable array of opportunities the University offers, and to address those hidden costs that can prevent these students from participating in activities that other students take for granted. We commend the progress that has been made, and urge the University to commit to further improving the student experience for students of color, as well as LSES and First-Generation students, through a broad fund-raising initiative that focuses on student success, with clearly defined metrics that will help us to measure not only the success of the individual students but our institutional success in creating a home for these students.

Our primary point in this regard is that our aspirational goals in building a more diverse, equitable, and inclusive community must be aligned with an assessment of the financial resources that would be required for each initiative, and a commitment to identify the funding source to achieve it. The pace at which we can make progress toward these goals will be dictated, in some respects, by the allocation of funding that is available to be dedicated to these efforts. We are confident the University will prioritize investments in this area.

Sunrise over St. Mary’s Lake.

VI. Conclusion and Next Steps

The Task Force wishes to express its sincere gratitude to the many members of the University community who have contributed to its work. We have been inspired by the depth of the shared commitment we have seen to achieve our aspiration of becoming a truly inclusive community as described in this document. We are confident that if we build our efforts on the foundation of our Catholic mission and the charism of the Congregation of Holy Cross, we will succeed.

Now is the time to build on the good work that has already been done and use the tremendous resources at our disposal to demonstrate in new and concrete ways Notre Dame’s commitment to truly being a home for all, one that we share as equals.

As we have articulated, we must undertake this work—together—with a real sense of urgency. Now is the time to build on the good work that has already been done and use the tremendous resources at our disposal to demonstrate in new and concrete ways Notre Dame’s commitment to truly being a home for all, one that we share as equals.

This framework contemplates that a long-term strategy will be developed and implemented by the leadership of the University, with active oversight from the Board of Trustees. We know that Fr. Jenkins and the leadership team are fully committed to the aspirations described in this document. The Board recognizes its responsibility, given the importance of these strategic priorities for the future of Notre Dame, to hold University leadership accountable for progress in this regard.

We look forward to Fr. Jenkins and his leadership team outlining their plans, to the Board’s support for these efforts, and to ongoing collaboration in the execution of our goals. For, as Fr. Jenkins has said, “Either we walk together in mutual support or we do not walk at all. Either we are all Notre Dame, or none of us are.”

Main Quad fall panorama.


Selected Resources


  • Comparative First-Time Full-Time Student Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Comparative Undergraduate Full-Time Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame First-Time Full-Time Student Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame Undergraduate Student Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Comparative Pell Grant Recipient Data
  • Comparative First-Generation Data
  • Notre Dame Low-Socioeconomic Status Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame First-Generation Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame Pell Grant Recipient Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Retention Rates for Students Receiving Grant-in-Aid
  • Graduation Rates for Students Receiving Grant-in-Aid
  • First-Generation and Pell Grant Recipient Retention Rates
  • First-Generation and Pell Grant Recipient Graduation Rates
  • Comparative 2020 “Senior Survey” Results
  • Comparative 2020 “Senior Survey” Results by U.S. Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame 2020 “Senior Survey” Results by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame 2020 “Senior Survey” Results by First-Generation and Low- Socioeconomic Status
  • Notre Dame 2020 “Senior Survey” Results for Students Receiving Grant-in-Aid
  • Comparative Graduate and Professional Full-Time Equivalent Data by Race/ Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame Graduate and Professional Student Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame Graduate and Professional Students Selecting Black as a Race
  • Comparative Full-Time Instructional Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty by Race/ Ethnicity
  • Comparative Full-Time Instructional Faculty by Race/Ethnicity
  • Comparative Instructional Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty by Gender
  • Comparative Instructional Faculty by Gender
  • Notre Dame Tenured/Tenure-Track Faculty by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame Other Instructional and Advising Faculty by Race/Ethnicity
  • 2019 “Faculty Experience Survey” Results by Race/Ethnicity
  • 2019 “Faculty Experience Survey” Results by College and U.S. Minority Status
  • 2019 “Faculty Experience Survey” Results by Gender
  • Comparative Full-Time Staff Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Notre Dame Full-Time Staff Data by Career Stream and Race/Ethnicity
  • 2019 Staff ND Voice Survey Results by Race/Ethnicity
  • 2020 Inclusive Campus Student Survey—Qualitative Results
  • 2020 Inclusive Campus Student Survey—Quantitative Results
  • Diverse Applicant Trends by Race/Ethnicity
  • Enrollment Trends by Race/Ethnicity
  • Pell Grant Recipient Enrollment Trends
  • First Generation Student Enrollment Trends
  • Low- to Middle-Socioeconomic Status Enrollment Trends
  • Resident Assistant Diversity Statistics
  • Data from 2017 Notre Dame Re-Envisioning Survey of Alumni
  • Notre Dame Athletics Summer Bridge Data by Race/Ethnicity
  • Small Businesses and Supplier Diversity Data
  • Staff Diversity and Inclusion Recruitment Data
  • Course Instructor Feedback Analysis


  • Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion
  • Athletics Department
  • Campus Ministry
  • College of Arts and Letters
  • College of Engineering
  • College of Science
  • Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism
  • Department of Theology
  • Division of Student Affairs
  • Enrollment Division
  • Facilities, Design and Operations
  • Family Resource Center
  • Gender Relations Center
  • Graduate School
  • Human Resources
    • Staff Diversity and Inclusion Initiatives and Recommendations
    • Employee Resource Groups
  • IDEA Center
  • Institute for Educational Initiatives and the Alliance for Catholic Education
  • Investment Office
  • Keough School of Global Affairs
  • Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights
  • Law School
  • McGrath Institute for Church Life
  • Mendoza College of Business
  • Meruelo Family Center for Career Development
  • Multicultural Student Programs and Services
  • Notre Dame International
  • Notre Dame Police Department
  • Notre Dame Research
  • Office of the Executive Vice President
  • Office of Information Technologies
  • Office of Mission Engagement and Church Affairs
  • Office of Student Enrichment
  • Programs and Initiatives Supporting Students: Notre Dame Scholars’ Programs, Balfour-Hesburgh Scholars Program, AnBryce Scholars Initiative, Science and Engineering Scholars Program, Glynn Family Honors Program, Fighting Irish Scholars Program, Posse Program, Sorin Scholars Program, Doan Scholars Program, Notre Dame Institute for Advanced Study Undergraduate Fellows Program, McNeill Leadership Fellows Program, Sorin Fellows Program, Multicultural Student Programs and Services Scholars Programs, Building Bridges Program, Kellogg International Scholars Program, QuestBridge Scholars Program, God and the Good Life Fellows Program
  • Residential Life
  • Sara Bea Accessibility Services
  • School of Architecture
  • Snite Museum of Art
  • Procurement Services
    • Supplier Diversity Efforts from Procurement Services
      • Procurement Services Master Subcontracting Plan
      • City of South Bend Anchor Institution Procurement and Supplier Development
      • Women- and Minority-Owned Businesses in South Bend
  • University Enterprises & Events
  • University Relations


  • Brown University 2020 Diversity and Inclusion Annual Plan
  • Brown University Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board Memo
  • Brown University Response to Diversity and Inclusion Oversight Board Memo
  • California Institute of Technology Center for Diversity 2019 Report
  • Cornell University FY20 Reporting Bias System Annual Report
  • Harvard Business School Action Plan for Advancing Racial Equity and Diversity
  • Harvard University Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging: Pursuing Excellence on a Foundation of Inclusion
  • Johns Hopkins University Roadmap on Diversity and Inclusion: Summer 2020 Progress Report
  • Johns Hopkins University Roadmap Progress Report from President Daniels
  • Letter from Massachusetts Institute of Technology President Reif Addressing Systemic Racism at MIT
  • Northwestern University 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Report
  • Letter from Princeton University’s President Eisgruber on University’s efforts to combat systemic racism.
  • Stanford Graduate School of Business Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Report 2019
  • University of Chicago Summer Quarter 2019 Diversity and Inclusion Update
  • University of Pennsylvania Penn Compact 2022
  • University of Virginia Racial Equity Task Force Report
  • Vanderbilt Law School 2020 Report to the Dean and Law School Community
  • Letter to Washington University in St. Louis Community on Racial Equity
  • Stanford University Inclusion, Diversity, Equity & Access in a Learning Environment Dashboard
  • Review of Universities with Diversity Officers
  • Mid-States Minority Supplier Development Council: Power in Numbers, Fueling Economic Growth


  • A Letter to Fr. Jenkins on Denouncing Anti-Asian Violence and Racism
  • Background on Socially Responsible Investing
  • Black Lives Matter Response to Student Concern About Private Prisons
  • Elements of a Catholic University’s Response to Racism
  • Guide to the Student Strike for Black Lives
  • Notre Dame Black Alumni Appeal
  • Notre Dame Alumni Association Diversity Council & Boards Request for Creation of Office of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
  • Notre Dame Police Department Report on Equity in Policing
  • Student Government Statement on Racial Justice and the Murder of George Floyd
  • Statement from Wabruda community addressing the Pursuit of Racial Justice and Equality on Notre Dame’s campus
  • Statement from the African Students Association of Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s College
  • Statement and Call to Action from the Black Student Association
  • Statement on Virtual Student Strike for Racial Justice
  • Virtual Student Strike for Racial Justice Resources


  • Fund Black Scientists—Cell Press
  • Even ‘Valid’ Student Evaluations Are ‘Unfair’—Inside Higher Ed
  • The Skinny on Teaching Evals and Bias—Inside Higher Ed
  • Diversifying your Campus: Key Insights and Models for Change—The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • Faculty Diversity: What colleges need to do now—The Chronicle of Higher Education
  • An update and overview of Princeton University’s ongoing efforts to combat systemic racism—Princeton University
  • $1.M gift launches Collins Fellowship supporting diversity—Cornell Chronicle
  • Alliance for Science expands mission with $10M reinvestment—Cornell Chronicle
  • FYSEP: Building Confidence and a Sense of Belonging—Dartmouth News
  • Trustees Address University Efforts on Equity, Inclusion and Anti-Racism—Duke Today
  • Statement from President Price on Juneteenth Celebration and Next Steps on Addressing Racism—Duke Today
  • NAE Announces Committee on Racial Justice and Equity—National Academy of Engineering
  • An update and overview of Princeton University’s ongoing efforts to combat systemic racism—Princeton University’s Office of Communications
  • Alexander Byrd appointed Rice’s first Vice Provost for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion—Rice University News and Media Relations
  • Rice announces plans to improve diversity, equity and inclusivity on campus, in community—Rice University News and Media Relations
  • Statement from Chancellor Block and Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost Carter: Rising to the Challenge—UCLA Equity, Diversity and Inclusion
  • Board Votes on 5 renaming, Landscape Recommendations—UVA Today
  • Our commitment to an inclusive Vanderbilt—Vanderbilt University
  • $100 million ‘Destination Vanderbilt’ initiative launched to recruit top faculty, address essential challenges—Vanderbilt University
  • New Equity and Inclusion Council to begin work—The Source, Washington University in St. Louis


  • Undergraduate Students
  • Graduate Students
  • Faculty
  • College and School Deans
  • Residential Life Staff
  • Leaders of the Alumni Association Diversity Council
  • Staff Representatives, Executive Vice President’s Diversity and Inclusion Advisory Council
  • Notre Dame’s Diversity and Inclusion Practitioners Group
  • University Leaders from the Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion, Campus Ministry, Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, Division of Student Affairs, Enrollment Division, Klau Center for Civil and Human Rights, McGrath Institute for Church Life