A few days after the 2007 commencement and a week after The Spirit of Notre Dame fundraising campaign was announced publicly Notre Dame Magazine brought together the University’s three highest ranking officers for a candid conversation about Notre Dame—its strengths and weaknesses, where it wants to go and how it intends to get there.
This roundtable discussion came as this new leadership team concluded its second academic year together, a year in which the trio established themselves as a close-knit and complementary cohort and imprinted their vision on Notre Dame’s mission.
Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC, ’76, ’78M.A., became president July 1, 2005. An Oxford-educated scholar, Jenkins joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1990, has taught ancient and medieval philosophy and the philosophy of religion, and served as vice president and associate provost for the four years prior to his presidency.
Thomas G. Burish ’72 was elected provost a few weeks later, becoming the University’s second ranking officer, exercising overall responsibility for the academic enterprise. Burish, a distinguished scholar in clinical psychology, served as president of Washington and Lee University for three years before returning to Notre Dame. He had been Vanderbilt University’s longest-serving provost (1993-2002) prior to that. The Wisconsin native has taught and written extensively about health-related psychology, most notably coping with chronic disease and cancer.
John Affleck-Graves, who holds the Notre Dame Chair in Finance, was elected executive vice president in April 2004. His responsibilities include the administration of an annual operating budget of more than $650 million, an endowment of more than $3 billion, physical facilities and the human resource activities for more than 4,000 employees. The native of South Africa, who joined the Notre Dame faculty in 1986, has received six Notre Dame teaching awards and written widely in scholarly journals.
Andy Burd ’62, a filmmaker who has produced numerous videos about Notre Dame over the past 30 years, moderated the discussion that took place on the 13th floor of the Hesburgh Library May 23, 2007.
Burd: When I was making the Sesquicentennial film, I got up really early one morning to go to the Grotto to see what the light would be like there early in the morning. I was thinking about the Notre Dame mystique and what it is exactly. How does that mystical sense come to you?
Jenkins: I think the wonderful thing about Notre Dame, and part of its mystique, is an appreciation of the mystery of God, in our lives and in the world, and the presence of the holy places on campus, the Basilica, the Grotto, where ultimately we look to the mystery of God. I think there’s a deep sense of that, and a kind of providential sense that somehow this University and each individual life is guided by that mystery and God’s providence.
Affleck-Graves: I’d say it really comes down to faith and an acceptance that you don’t quite know why God has called you to certain places. But I try to spend all of my life doing the best I can, wherever I am and whatever I’m doing. And then, that God called you to the place He wants you, and being at Notre Dame is just really special for me, that’s the mystery of Notre Dame.
Burd: And Tom, you got called from being president of Washington and Lee to come back. What drew you?
Burish: Notre Dame provides a way of life that I have not experienced anywhere else. It combines an institution which is committed to a distinctive Catholic mission, Catholic character, with the highest level of academic excellence, at the undergraduate level, at the graduate level, in teaching and discovery and research and learning. There’s no other environment that I know of that can provide those things.
Burd: A way of life. That’s the term that “Spirit” campaign chairman Jay Jordan has used, and he also has said, “You know what you get when you’re getting a Domer.” What do you get when you get a Domer?
Burish: I think what Jay was referring to is that in addition to all those individual talents that you would find here, as you’ll find at any other top institution, you find a person who is grounded, who has a moral compass, who lives in an environment, a community, where values matter. I think most of our students come with strong values to begin with. In part, they’re attracted to Notre Dame because of that. But this culture, because of the residential life, because of the commitment of professors, because of the courses they take, because of Campus Ministry, because there’s a chapel in every dorm, because Masses are highlights of their day, this is a culture in which those values grow, virtues develop, grounding occurs, a moral compass becomes stronger. And when that student graduates, that’s what you get from Notre Dame.
Burd: John, you mentioned at the inauguration of the Spirit of Notre Dame campaign that the central driving mission of the previous campaign was to increase the endowment so that no one who was admitted to Notre Dame could not come because they didn’t have the financial wherewithal to do so. For the Spirit of Notre Dame campaign, is there a central, overall goal that you want to accomplish?
Affleck-Graves: I’d say two major goals. The first is financial aid is not done. We would like to move every student who is on one loan to no loan, and every student who’s on two loans to one loan. The worst case for a student in need at Notre Dame at the moment is a two-loan package. But there’s a lot of work still to be done, and we have a $290 million target in this campaign for that. That’s a critical part of the campaign because we have to keep the offer that if you are the right person for Notre Dame, then finances should not stop you from being here.
The second thing is academic, particularly faculty positions. The faculty make a university.
Burd: The Keough-Hesburgh effort to increase the percentage of Catholic faculty—you want Catholics who are pre-eminent in their fields. Are there enough out there?
Burish: There are many Catholic faculty who are pre-eminent in their fields. We have recruited many such faculty to Notre Dame, and because of Mr. Keough’s generosity, we hope to recruit many more. Our first Keough-Hesburgh professor, Bill Evans, is a wonderful example. He is truly pre-eminent in economics, a strong Catholic and highly committed Notre Dame’s mission. We look forward to recruiting more scholars of his caliber.
Let me speak beyond your question. The goal of a university is not to amass a lot of money. It’s not to build a large endowment. It’s to continually improve in quality, consistent with its mission and its vision. Notre Dame academically has probably never been stronger overall. The academic profile of the students entering the University—grades in high school, number of AP classes, SAT scores—has never been higher. Extracurricular involvement has never been broader. Our impact, I think, on the world is growing year by year. We now are among the best universities in the country. I would argue that, as a Catholic university, we are a pre-eminent Catholic university. Maybe the pre-eminent Catholic university. But we can be a lot better than we are.
The people who gave in the campaigns you were talking about didn’t give so we could rest. They gave so we could build on the foundation that they sacrificed to give us and go to another level. To be even better. Our goal isn’t to emulate anyone else. What we want to do is to be a pre-eminent research university with a defining and distinctive commitment to Catholic character and an unsurpassed commitment to undergraduate education. The goal of the campaign is to help provide the resources to achieve in each of those areas.
The vision: a research university
Burd: One thing that has really hit me is that it’s always about the next level, and then the next level. It seems to me that in the past few years that next level has been more specified, that Notre Dame will be a research university and will be officially recognized as such. That’s a major step from the past. Is it not?
Burish: We inherited that part of our vision. We didn’t create that. So, no, it’s not new.
I think what’s new is the realization that to be a pre-eminent research university you must have a pre-eminent graduate program as well as a pre-eminent undergraduate program. Most educators today believe that one of the key ways to learn is to discover. That’s where research, scholarship, creative expression come in. A very good teaching college can help people learn. It can help them discover. But at a research university our commitment also includes teaching those who will teach others to discover. It is to educate the lawyers, the business leaders, the faculty for the future. In the process of providing graduate education, you provide additional opportunities for the undergraduates as well.
Jenkins: Think of this. Father Sorin came in 1842, built that teeny little building that’s now Old College. He had five Holy Cross brothers who basically had a high school education. Sorin had a seminary education and yet he called it L’Universite de Notre Dame du Lac. The boldness to call this institution a university tells me that when Father Sorin, at 28, came here, he may not have been able to articulate it in all the detail that Tom has articulated, but the key principles were there from the start. Precisely what Tom is saying—a place of discovery, a place of learning, a place that can have an influence on this nation and on the world. When I read this of Notre Dame, what amazes me is not the new things that have been undertaken but the consistency of the vision.
Affleck-Graves: I think we’ve reached the level now where we’re academically strong enough, where we are now more confident in saying we will be different, too. So I think there is a slight change where we will no longer try to emulate others. We’re trying to be Notre Dame. And that means competing with the top schools in certain ways to be equally good, but not to be like them. I think that is a subtle difference in the vision that’s come about in the last few years.
Burd: What is the tipping point when Notre Dame is recognized as a research University?
Burish: If your question is, “How will we know when we arrive?” in many ways, Andy, we’ve already arrived. There are more than 4,000 institutions of higher education in this country. We’re one of the best by anyone’s ranking. There are 250 or so research universities in this country. We rank high in that group. Are we at the very highest level? It depends on what part of the University you look at. In some areas, undergraduate education, some of our Ph.D. programs, some of our post-baccalaureate professional programs—we’re at the very highest level. In most programs, we have people who are recognized as truly extraordinary and operate at the very highest level. Can some of our programs improve significantly so that the whole program can be perceived at the very highest level? Absolutely.
When does a university become perceived as a pre-eminent university overall? I don’t think there’s a single definition and I think there’s a danger even in trying to answer the question. Leadership by vision can devolve into management by numbers if you’re not very careful. We look at a lot of things that we can compare university-to-university, but overall we have to be concerned with the special mission of Notre Dame and always keep that as the most important thing we work at.
Burd: Father John, going back to what you said earlier about Father Sorin’s vision. Take it on up through the years of Cavanaugh, Hesburgh, Monk, you. The presence of the CSCs here—in leadership, in faculty, as pastors within the dorms—is a significant element of what Notre Dame is. With the declining number of priests, where are the CSCs? Are they going to be able to permeate this place in the future?
Jenkins: There are two issues. I think it’s partly the decline in the number of CSC priests, but it’s also the expanding number of lay people and faculty. The faculty has grown dramatically and so has the staff of the University, so the percentage is smaller. I’d say a couple things. When Father Moreau founded this community [the Congregation of Holy Cross] he had this idea of a family. That was his guiding image—priests, brothers and sisters. I think one of the strengths of Holy Cross and one of the strengths of Notre Dame is that we’ve always been able to welcome others into that family. Holy Cross will continue to play an essential role as a kind of leaven in the dough to remind us of our mission. We’re not going to be as big of a percentage as the other people who work here. I think that’s okay because there are wonderful people who work here, people who are committed to Notre Dame, people of faith. That’s always been a great thing for Notre Dame. It will be a richer place for that.
Burd: That reminds me, Tom, of things you’ve talked about, the critical role of faculty. What are your top five sales points in recruiting faculty?
Burish: I think, Andy, that faculty who apply to universities are basically seeking the same thing, in a general way, no matter what the university. And for Notre Dame to compete, it has to compete in each of these areas. The first is the terms of employment, your salary and your benefits. The second is to be successful at what you do, at your teaching and your scholarship. Will you be surrounded by other scholars who will challenge, inspire and compliment you? This is where infrastructure comes into play. Do you have a lab? Do you have a library that’s adequate? Are your students capable, intelligent, creative, exciting students with whom to teach and interact and do your work? The third is your fit with the university. I think most faculty consider, will I be happy there? Will I fit?
Now, points one and two determine a good measure of that. But this is where Notre Dame is special. In recruiting faculty, it’s both an obligation on our part and an advantage to stress the nature of Notre Dame. Its Catholic character, spiritual things are discussed openly here. Its size, its mission. That makes us distinctive.
A fourth important concern is South Bend. Faculty live in a community. Their children go to school in the community. They may have a spouse who works in the community. The environment in which they live is important. Because of that, Notre Dame has a stake in making sure South Bend and the Michiana area is as vibrant and successful a city as it can be.
Burd: You just had a very successful recruit of a new VP of research, Robert Bernhard, a practicing Catholic. What turned him on to this place?
Burish: Andy, it was clearly the special nature of Notre Dame. Bob did not apply for this position. We heard about him from a number of individuals. He came strongly recommended. We had a long conversation on a Sunday afternoon about Notre Dame, about its nature. His first questions were not about how many grant dollars we’re bringing in or how many square feet of research space we have. His first questions were, “What’s your vision for Notre Dame? What’s the mission at Notre Dame? Why are you at Notre Dame?” He wanted to get a feeling for the essence of the place because that’s what would attract him.
Affleck-Graves: It’s also why it’s important for us to be a research university. We become a place that the leading Catholic scholars should aspire to be at. And if we are not a great research university, then we’re not as attractive to those people. Bob’s a great case of us being at a point now where we’re very attractive and, in that way, we can influence society even more than we do at the moment.
Burd: John, I’ve tried to put myself in your shoes as you hear about all this—increasing the faculty, increasing the infrastructure, and you’re going with the cash register, “Cha ching!” [All laugh.] This is gonna take billions, right?
Affleck-Graves: It’s going to take whatever it takes, and we’re going to do it. The three of us agree on this very, very strongly. If you believe enough in something, you have to invest in it and you have to have faith in it.
Burd: Well that means you have to have an awful lot of faith, too, in the Notre Dame family, in the alumni, in all the friends.
Affleck-Graves: I do. They believe in what we believe in—a great Catholic university that makes a difference in the world. I’m not daunted by that at all.
The Notre Dame of the future
Burd: Envision Notre Dame in the world. Look ahead 10, 15, 20 years. Where is Notre Dame in the world. How is Notre Dame different? What’s new?
Jenkins: I think it must first be said that I want people to come back and say, “That’s Notre Dame.” I don’t want people to say, “Boy, this place. I don’t recognize this place.” I want people to say, “This is what Notre Dame is, this is what it’s always been.” So that continuity is important in terms of our mission and in terms of the deep values that shape the education here and in terms of the kind of community that’s here, in terms of the way that people feel about Notre Dame, in terms of the kinds of graduates se send out.
I’d also like to see Notre Dame have an even bigger impact on the world at large because I think it’s a special mission, a set of values, a place of faith. That’s what the world needs. It needs a place that can combine the highest level of intellectual inquiry and teaching with a sense of faith, with a sense of mystery, with a sense of moral purpose. And so that, in Washington, D.C., or in the capitals of the world, and in the Church, we can inform those discussions and elevate those discussions in important ways.
Affleck-Graves: I think this is something we all feel so passionately about. If you said where’s Notre Dame 15, 20 years from now, there are Notre Dame graduates everywhere around the world. We will be everywhere. And we are the only major university where we talk about faith and reason. And so we can address special problems, problems that everybody has today. I honestly believe the world is recognizing that there’s more than just reason in dealing with a problem. So I think that the potential for Notre Dame to influence the world in many, many places is just unimaginable.
Burish: As Father John pointed out, the first notable thing about Notre Dame would be its consistency, would be what hasn’t changed 10 or 20 years from now. Notre Dame has to stay Notre Dame. It cannot try to emulate or become a secular institution. It can’t be driven by rankings. It can’t simply try to be pre-eminent without holding on to its distinctive character. It has to be wholly, proudly, inspiringly Notre Dame. In the area of academics, it must improve or it will fall. If it doesn’t improve, we will not be able to recruit students and tell them honestly that they’ll get a first class education. And the last thing we want is to recruit students and not provide them a first-class education so they can compete with anyone.
Burd: Is part of the goal to get to the point where students who might go elsewhere—Princeton, Stanford, Yale, Harvard—pick Notre Dame over those?
Burish: In some ways, yes. In some ways, no. Our goal is to be able to attract and support the strongest possible student body—strong in the sense that each student can be successful academically, socially and spiritually, that each one is able and willing to contribute his or her talents and experiences to the conversation that makes a Catholic university education an enriching and transformative experience. Unfortunately there are more students than there are places in the class. This makes the admissions process an increasingly difficult one each year.
Academically, there will always be institutions as strong as Notre Dame. There will always be some places stronger in some areas than Notre Dame. Students attend a university for a lot more than to major in a certain discipline. They go for an educational experience, formation of character. Many years ago, many, if not most colleges and universities were concerned with character, with formation of values and virtues. We want students to come here who seek that and could contribute to that.
Jenkins: The thing to say is not that we want to win every head-to-head competition, because if someone doesn’t want what Notre Dame offers, they shouldn’t come to Notre Dame.
Affleck-Graves: Exactly, exactly.
Jenkins: What we want is that no one should decide not to go to Notre Dame because at Notre Dame you get an education that’s second rate to those schools. We want to take that off the table. We’ll take the student who wants the Notre Dame experience.
Affleck-Graves: Wants spirituality, community and the highest level of academics. That’s the Notre Dame student.
Notre Dame and the Church
Burd: Notre Dame is often called a place where the Church can do its thinking. And Father John, you mentioned that you see Notre Dame continue and even to a greater extent to influence much of the thinking in the world. On the other hand, I’ve had some alumni friends and family members say, “Geez, where is Notre Dame speaking out on human embryonic stem cell research and issues like that?”
Jenkins: A university is a sort of ongoing conversation. It invites different perspectives. Now at Notre Dame we have that conversation informed by a tradition, a religious tradition, a moral tradition, so that should always give shape to the conversation. I don’t think a university should be in the business of delivering manifestos, but we should be in the business of having conversations. For instance, we have a forum coming up on immigration. Very divisive issue, hot button issue in this country. What could we do? We can invite here various perspectives and infuse that with the rich social teaching of the Catholic Church, which requires us to understand all the complexities of economics and politics and, at the same time, see that these are human beings, right? And we must treat them as human beings, and justice must be our goal.
We’d probably be falling short if we say, “Okay, here’s the manifesto, here’s the position paper this week from Notre Dame.” That’s what a political party does. But we can have a conversation and invite people in, informed by this Catholic tradition, to have a rich discussion and really contribute to the debate in the country.
Burd: And look at all points of view?
Jenkins: And look at all points of view.
Burd: Consider all, bring everybody into the conversation?
Affleck-Graves: Because if you want to think deeply, you have to be willing to listen to all views, even views that you may not find that pleasant. You’ve got to engage them. I think Pope John Paul said that a university’s role is to engage popular culture. It’s not to dictate, it’s not to ban, it’s to engage in a conversation that is informed by our Catholic tradition.
Burd: How is Notre Dame perceived in Catholic . . . ?
Jenkins: A common perception is that there’s one perception in the Vatican. “The Vatican view is . . .” But there are a lot of people in the Vatican, and they have different views. I think it’s fair to say that everybody knows about Notre Dame at the Vatican. And everybody knows—this is going to sound arrogant, I don’t mean it to sound arrogant—but it really is the pre-eminent Catholic university. And as I’m reminded when I go back there, repeatedly, our endowment, our operating budget is quite a bit larger than the Vatican’s operating budget. But I think the Pope has said to our local bishop that he knows the quality of our theology faculty, he appreciates it and considers it a great center of Catholic learning. But whenever you’re the biggest university, you’re going to be a bit of a target.
Looking at infrastructure
Burd: My son Chris, who’s an endowed prof at Penn medical school, once was given a tour of the biology facilities. Chris loves to teach also. So I said, “Hey, how about Notre Dame?” He said, “Dad, I went through the biology facilities. I have as much if not more sophisticated, top-end equipment in my one little lab as Notre Dame has to serve the entire faculty.” Where is Notre Dame now? Talk to me about the importance of infrastructure, the Jordan Hall of Science. How important is that infrastructure?
Affleck-Graves: Critical. We have to match that. We will match it. We have to. I mean, we have to get that type of faculty member to come here. We have to invest a lot more in infrastructure.
Jenkins: We’re not going to be a University of Michigan, the scale of those huge universities that have just an enormous number of buildings and equipment and all this. We’re going to be smaller, but we’re going to be great. Our role is to be first rate at what we do.
Burd: I’ve gotten the feeling around this place over 40-some years that diversity in the faculty, diversity of faith even, is something that is not only allowed and respected, it’s greatly appreciated and honored. Comments on that?
Burish: Absolutely the case. Notre Dame is a Catholic university, but many years ago it wisely determined that all of its students and faculty and staff should not be Catholic—for reasons that Father John and John Affleck-Graves have just articulated so well. Many of our best faculty, strongest faculty, as teachers, scholars, as contributors to the mission of the University, are not Catholic. Many of our most committed students and alums and supporters are not Catholic. But they resonate with the spiritual, moral, ethical values of Notre Dame, which reach out to all people. That is part of the genius of the people who created the targets, the goals, the values at Notre Dame. It’s not to be all Catholic. And it’s not to be a minority Catholic. It’s to have a majority of faculty who are Catholic, who understand the nature of the religion, who can be living role models, who can talk with students about issues outside the classroom and can infuse values into what they do. But it’s also to have faculty who bring other values and perspectives and can question and can provide different approaches to a problem that we can consider and we can discuss and we can debate.
Jenkins: I know that a number of our Jewish faculty have said they enjoy being at Notre Dame because it is perhaps easier to be an orthodox Jew or a religious Jew, or I could say Muslim or anything else, in a Catholic environment than in a secular environment, because people understand religious practice and they understand religious devotion, and that’s respected. You think about the big challenges for the 21st century in this world, and high up there has to be interreligious dialogue. Despite predictions, religion seems to be as pervasive a force as it ever has been, and there are religious tensions. Unless we can find a way to have religious dialogue, we’re in trouble.
Affleck-Graves: The thing I worry about is people sometimes fear that if we have other voices on campus, our students will lose their faith.
I see it as a forging process. People who are not Catholic can ask our students questions that make them think in a different way or in a deeper way, and, in turn, that strengthens their belief. I think you have to have that diversity of questioning at a university. That’s why I think we always have to be open to other views, and yet you have to understand how people will challenge you on your faith. When our students go out, and they go out around the world, they will be challenged in their faith, and the University should be the place where they start to build their answers and their responses to that. We do that by having great faculty, some of whom are not Catholic, as well as non-Catholic students, because a lot of the, I hate to say this, but a lot of the education doesn’t happen in the classroom. It happens in the dorm room at night.
Jenkins: You know, we have a lot of great non-Catholic students, and the reason is if you’d look at the options, if you’re a really first-rate student and you want to go to a religious place, where do you apply? I think in terms of a university that’s really considered in the top tier, they are naturally going to think of Notre Dame.
Burd: You have a major effort going on now in graduate studies and research, right? What areas? Any thoughts on where that may go next?
Burish: Well first, Andy, Notre Dame is going to advance in all areas. It’s going to get better at the undergraduate level. It’s going to get better in Catholic mission. It is going to get better at the post-baccalaureate professional level. It has to get a lot better in graduate education. We haven’t invested as much in graduate education as we have in the other parts of the University. Not for any bad reasons. We developed other areas that had been priorities. Now it’s time to bring along graduate education to attract the best graduate students and make sure they’re prepared to be successful in their chosen occupation whether it’s a profession like architecture or law or business or creative writing, or it is a Ph.D. to teach or do research in a research lab in the private sector. That will be a major push for us in the future.
What attracts potential hires?
Burd: When you’re recruiting, what do you find that really excites potential hires?
Burish: Let me give you an example. We recruited a faculty member for a long time who finally said, “I’ll come visit and then give you my answer.” Near the end of the visit he started the conversation by saying, “There were three things that I looked at to make my decision. The first is, today, where could I best do my teaching and research?” He was in a top-five program in his area. We aspire to be there, but we’re not top-five yet. He said, “If all I was interested in was my research, I should stay where I am. You may get there, and it may be fun to help you get there, but you’re not there yet.”
Then he said, “Second, other people in my life. My graduate students, my post docs. They ought to stay where they are and get their degree and get on with their life. If we transfer, they’ll lose time, they’re going to have to repeat some classes, they may have to start over. My wife has been here twice and said, ‘I’ve never met a warmer group of people.’ She’d like to go to Notre Dame.”
Well, I’m thinking [smiling] it’s all going to rest on the third one [others laugh]. And the third one, he said, “Some day, when I retire, and I look back over my life, and I consider not just my personal research and ask, ‘What contributions have I made?’ I think, given Father John’s vision and Notre Dame’s mission, I can make a greater contribution here.” Now, I was feeling sort of good about it, so I said, “Tell me how you could do that.” He worked in an area of science and engineering, and he said, “I can talk about the values of the application of what I do here in a way that I cannot talk about them where I am. No one cares about that where I am. Here, changing the world in a positive way and talking about the implications of that change in terms of a moral structure or a spiritual structure, whatever that structure is for the people in my classroom or my lab—I not only can do it here, they welcome me to do it here. They help me do it here. I can have a bigger impact in my estimation at Notre Dame.” That’s what attracted him to Notre Dame, and I think that’s what attracts many people to Notre Dame.
Burd: The other sense I’ve had being around this place a few years is that Notre Dame has hit the big time. The spirit of this place is more energetic, it’s more sophisticated. What do you think? What’s the spirit going to be 10 years from now?
Affleck-Graves: I don’t think it’s going to be any different. I did like what Father John said about the constancy of Notre Dame, and I think it’s the prerogative of every generation at Notre Dame to think that they love Notre Dame more than the next generation.
Jenkins: [laughs] Yeah.
Affleck-Graves: But I look at my two sons-in-law, who graduated in ’99 and 2002, and I see how they love this place. They love this place as much as the guys who I meet at UND nights who graduated in ’52 and in ’49. Our students love this place. Now, they demand modern changes, but in a way those are superficial changes. The dorm Masses on a Sunday night are still one of the focal points, if not the focal point of residence life. Going to football games, walking around campus, being with your friends, taking part in it, not just watching the football team, but actually partaking in interhall sports. Those are the permanent parts, going to school, going to classes, and working hard and demanding a lot of your professors. I mean those are the constant things. The little ways you see it’ll differ, that they’ll be in different labs, they’ll be in bigger rooms, we’ll have the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, but essentially, I think, 20 years from now, our kids will be doing the same thing. I certainly hope they are.
Burd: It’s the same Notre Dame as when I graduated, but, oh my God, it’s so much better.
Affleck-Graves: It’s the paradox of being modern but the same. So it’s always changing, but it’s always the same.
Burish: There’s a great story in which a person who was aging talked about whether the next generation would value the things he thought were so important in life, including a special institution. His colleague said to him, “They will love what we loved, and we will teach them how.” And I think that’s part of Notre Dame. That the people who are here and infused with it teach others its special values.
Burd: One point five billion dollars. What’s that going to enable Notre Dame to do?
Affleck-Graves: It’s going to enable Notre Dame, as I said earlier, to attract more students, students who can’t afford to come here now. More generous financial aid. It’s going to attract better faculty. It’s going to attract more infrastructure. But the most important thing, if you add all those things together, what do they do? They offer young men and women better opportunities. And so, for me, our job is to train the next generation of leaders and give them the Notre Dame touch. The Notre Dame touch is the community side and the caring for your neighbor. And so it’s to take those great kids and give them everything that they can have academically, develop them to the full, but touch them in the special way that’s the Notre Dame way. That’s what the $1.5 billion is going to enable us to do.
Jenkins: It won’t be easy, though to realize these goals, to fulfill the vision for Notre Dame to have the greatest possible influence on the world. But we need to do all we can to continue the momentum of our predecessors and to strengthen even further Notre Dame’s academic excellence, the quality of its teaching, its research and discovery. We have wonderful students and a superb faculty and we simply must invest all we can to achieve our goals.
Photos by Matt Cashore ’94