A Birthday Celebration

Author: Kerry Temple ’74

Notre Dame Magazine is 50 years old now. Some 216 editions have been delivered to mailboxes since February 1972, when two University publications (Insight and Alumnus) were merged into one. Initial ambitions to produce six, then five, issues annually got scrapped. It’s a quarterly. And an online magazine. Both offer news and analysis, both seek to entertain and edify. The magazine is biased: The four editors (and art director and business manager) believe in the power of the written word, the richness of reading and thinking, the merits of communication that leads to illumination and understanding. And in things like education and journalism and our shared humanity. The strength of storytelling. And empathy.  True things that touch us where we live. And things like our familial bonds and friendships, and the principles and faith that wrap us together as Notre Dame. 

Notre Dame Magazine is like a late-night, residence-hall conversation, during which the ideas spawned in classrooms and incited by books and guest speakers and seeded within us since childhood cross-pollinate into an earnest, engaged interchange that takes us to the frontiers of knowledge and wisdom and meaning, and of doubt and disagreement and thoughtful dialogue, as a way through tricky brambles. Beyond campus, throughout a lifetime. The magazine cannot define Notre Dame. It does not speak for Notre Dame; it speaks of the Notre Dame experience. It replicates and extends; it shares. 

Notre Dame Magazine is a reunion tent where friends gather — friends from the past and still today, friends who weave in and out of our lives, some episodically appearing, some surprisingly intimate despite the barricades of time and space. We come together and talk.

Notre Dame Magazine is imperfect. It sometimes fails to reach its ideals, sometimes turns from trouble, sometimes disappoints. One alumnus just canceled his subscription because he perceived the University taking a sharp right turn; another wanted to stop receiving a magazine with such “Marxist” leanings. The magazine is a human enterprise conversing with Notre Dame-educated readers of intelligence and goodwill. 

Notre Dame Magazine is serious; its staff has fun. They wonder and question and ask what’s the right thing to do. They disagree. But generally they pull together, move in the same direction, because of how they feel about this venture called Notre Dame Magazine, now five decades old, which they hope represents the best of Notre Dame, reflects and conveys its best self. So the magazine appeals to the intellect and conscience, nurtures the heart and soul, reports on research and academics, explores the spectra of faith and student life. The magazine, like the institution that publishes it, has a tradition to uphold and a future to embrace. That borderland is a good place to live.

Kerry Temple is editor of this magazine.