Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. portrait

Elected in 2005 as the University of Notre Dame’s 17th president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., served four terms on behalf of the Board of Trustees, stepping down in 2024 after 19 years of exemplary leadership and growth.

As president, he devoted himself to fostering the University’s unique place in academia, the Church, the United States, and the world. At his inauguration, Father Jenkins said Notre Dame holds a special responsibility to address the most complex issues facing our society.

“Let us rise up and embrace the mission for our time: to build a Notre Dame that is bigger and better than ever—a great Catholic university for the 21st century, one of the preeminent research institutions in the world, a center for learning whose intellectual and religious traditions converge to make it a healing, unifying, enlightening force for a world deeply in need,” he said. “This is our goal. Let no one ever again say that we dreamed too small.”

Father Jenkins has been committed to combining teaching and research excellence with a cultivation of the deeper purposes of Catholic higher education. While pursuing academic distinction, he brought renewed emphasis to Notre Dame’s distinctive mission, rooted in the tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University’s founding community, to educate the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—to do good in the world.

These commitments are manifest in the University’s dedication to excellence in undergraduate education in the classroom and beyond, while simultaneously building a reputation as a preeminent global research institution—all in the context of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.

“There are no universities that have done what Notre Dame aspires to do: to become a preeminent research University, to offer an unsurpassed undergraduate program, and to infuse both with a religious and moral framework that imbues knowledge with the power to benefit human beings,” Father Jenkins said.

In 2023, under Father Jenkins’ leadership, the University was invited to join the Association of American Universities, a consortium of the nation’s leading public and private research universities, making it the only religiously affiliated university in the nation to be so honored. In 2022, the University attracted more than $281 million in external research funding becoming one of the fastest-growing research universities in the country.

The University provides more than $200 million in aid for undergraduates, a number which has doubled in Jenkins' tenure, with 60% of all students receiving aid. This was accomplished in large part through an endowment that grew from nearly $4 billion in 2005 to about $20 billion when Father Jenkins stepped down as president in 2024.

In the two decades of his presidency, the student body grew, while becoming more diverse and increasing in academic caliber. As applications rose, the acceptance rate continued to drop, resulting in an undergraduate student pool with higher average test scores and academic rankings. The number of endowed academic positions nearly doubled.

The University’s campus, its economic reach into the surrounding community, and its imprint around the globe expanded rapidly in these two decades. Father Jenkins oversaw the largest single construction project in school history, the Campus Crossroads Project at Notre Dame Stadium.

"Notre Dame will be one of the preeminent research institutions in the world, a center for learning whose intellectual and religious traditions converge to make it a healing, unifying, enlightening force for a world deeply in need."

- Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., in 2005 inauguration speech

The University in this period also created a new Arts Gateway at the southern entrance to campus, adding new buildings for architecture, music, and an art museum. Other major projects include a dedicated research building as the first part of a complex that crosses science and engineering, a nanotechnology research center, a new campus hotel and conference center, and a new home for international studies and social sciences (Jenkins Nanovic Halls).

Under Father Jenkins’ leadership, Notre Dame also enhanced the connections between campus and South Bend with the creation of a $300 million mixed-use development south of campus and the building of a larger community center for the Northeast Neighborhood. The University also established the IDEA Center and Innovation Park to support innovation and the commercialization of research by students, staff, and faculty, bringing new businesses to the region.

Over the last decade of Father Jenkins’ presidency, Notre Dame, in partnership with local civic and industry leaders, played a leading role in a regional strategy that secured more than $130 million in grants for economic development activities, leading to unprecedented investments in research facilities, workforce development programs, new transit connections, cultural amenities, and housing in the region.

Across the world, Father Jenkins oversaw the expansion of the University’s imprint with the 2011 creation of Notre Dame International (now Notre Dame Global), founding 11 new facility sites from South America to Asia, and from Ireland to Africa. Notre Dame continues to send a greater percentage of its students abroad than any other top 20 national research university. On campus, Notre Dame created the first new school in nearly a century, the Keough School of Global Affairs, and doubled the number of international students the University welcomes.

Following Pope Francis’s call to care for our common home, Father Jenkins increased Notre Dame’s environmental commitment. He began implementing a comprehensive sustainability strategy to cut the University’s carbon footprint in half by 2030, including a transition from coal to clean energy through ongoing investments in geothermal, solar, and hydroelectric energy, as well as sustainable building practices.

Perhaps the greatest test of Father Jenkins’s leadership came with the COVID pandemic in 2020. After canceling spring classes, Father Jenkins made a bold decision to announce, well before other major universities, that in-person classes would resume in the fall.

A aerial view of Notre Dame stadium at night, show the campus crossroads additions to the staidum.
During Father Jenkins' tenure, 67 new facilities and 3.6 million square feet of additional space were added, including the Campus Crossroads Project, the largest construction project in the University's history.
An aerial view of the Golden Dome on the campus of Notre Dame.
Father Jenkins set the University on a course to cut its carbon footprint in half by 2030, a plan that included ceasing the use of coal as a fuel in 2019.
A girl wearing glasses takes a sample in a science lab
Under Father Jenkins' leadership, the University was admitted to the Association of American Universities, the nation's most prestigious group of leading research institutions.

In a New York Times opinion piece, Father Jenkins said that if virtual-only classes continued, “we would risk failing to provide the next generation of leaders the education they need and to do the research and scholarship so valuable to our society.” Notre Dame introduced a comprehensive plan for cleaning, testing, and quarantining—and managed to stay open despite early struggles, which was considered a boon to students’ mental health.

Within the University and beyond, Father Jenkins has called for civil discourse—grounded in the Christian view of others as equally made in the image of God—as a way for people to find common ground rather than demonize those with different opinions. In a speech at Emory University in 2011, he said, “If we choose to attack our opponents before we have taken the time to understand them, if we prefer denunciations to genuine dialogue, if we seek political victory rather than constructive compromise … we will not be able to find solutions to the problems before us.”

Rev. Jenkins taking a selfie with 2 students
Rev. John Jenkins, C.S.C., takes a "selfie" with two undergraduate students in 2015.

The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that sponsors and produces all U.S. presidential and vice presidential debates, cited his leadership on this issue in electing Father Jenkins to its board of directors in 2011, a leadership role he continues to hold.

A philosopher trained in theology and a member of Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy since 1990, Father Jenkins earned undergraduate and advanced degrees from Notre Dame, a doctorate of philosophy from the University of Oxford, and a Master of Divinity and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.

He is the author of Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas and scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and the Journal of Religious Ethics. Father Jenkins is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. A popular teacher, he has taught courses on ancient and medieval philosophy, faith and reason, and Thomas Aquinas.

He has served on the Independent Commission on College Basketball led by Dr. Condoleezza Rice and on the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities board of directors. Father Jenkins has written numerous op-eds that have appeared in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and other prominent publications on a wide range of topics, including the importance of civil discourse, the future of college athletics, and the University’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Serving as president of Notre Dame for me, as a Holy Cross priest, has been both a privilege and a calling,” Father Jenkins said in his announcement that he would step down as president. “While I am proud of the accomplishments of past years, I am above all grateful for the Trustees, benefactors, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends who made them possible. There is much to celebrate now, but I believe Notre Dame’s best years lie ahead.”

Rev. Edward "Monk" Malloy, C.S.C.

Rev. Edward Malloy, C.S.C. portrait

The University of Notre Dame’s 16th president, Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C., inaugurated in 1987 as the first president elected by the Board of Trustees, stepped down in 2005 after 18 years of exceptional leadership and growth.

As president, he greatly enhanced the University’s reputation, faculty, and resources, and he paid special attention to Notre Dame’s diversity, its relationship with the local community, and its international reach. At his inauguration, Father Malloy said Notre Dame’s greatest strength is its “distinctiveness as a religious institution.”

“Notre Dame is an open forum where diverse viewpoints can be freely and critically discussed,” he said. “To me, there is nothing inherently incompatible between academic excellence and the life of faithful discipleship.”

When Father Malloy formally assumed the Notre Dame presidency, he succeeded his friend and brother Holy Cross priest, Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., whose iconic 35-year tenure in that office was an unenviably tough act to follow. Although grateful that “Ted had done me the generous service of being away from the campus during most of my first year as president,” Father Malloy resolved “that the greatest compliment I could pay Ted was to build on what he had helped to establish over 35 years and to sustain the momentum.”

During his tenure, faculty positions rose by more than 500, some 140 endowed chairs were added, the average SAT score of incoming students rose by 160 points, the endowment skyrocketed from $456 million to more than $3 billion, and financial aid grew from $5 million to $136 million annually. Research funding expanded nearly fivefold during this time.

The student body also grew, especially in the once-neglected area of graduate school, where top-flight research and advanced-degree programs drew about 1,000 more students. The campus also expanded physically by about 40 new buildings, including more student housing, visitor facilities, classroom buildings, and the Marie P. DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. Malloy Hall, a home for the University’s highly ranked theology and philosophy departments, opened in 2001.

In 1991, Father Malloy approved a groundbreaking television contract to broadcast Notre Dame football games on NBC, starting a relationship that still exists today. What was important to Father Malloy was that the contract not only helped the Athletics Department, but that a large portion went directly to increasing the University’s financial aid fund.

“To me, there is nothing inherently incompatible between academic excellence and the life of faithful discipleship.”

- Rev. Edward Malloy, C.S.C.

Improving the town-gown relationship between Notre Dame and the local community was another of Father Malloy’s lasting achievements. Opened in 2001, the Robinson Community Learning Center is a partnership between Notre Dame and the Northeast Neighborhood community that has helped connect the University and South Bend residents through education, the arts, civic engagement, and other generational learning activities.

Creating the Center for the Homeless in downtown South Bend in 1988 “stands very high among the things I’m gratified about,” Father Malloy said. “It really has become a model for how to respond to the needs of the homeless population in every way. Not just in housing and feeding them, but in helping them get a new life.”

In another example of responding to a need, Father Malloy helped found the University of Notre Dame Australia, which opened its doors in 1991. “To found a Catholic university at this point in history, and to see the whole thing emerge and transform, it’s just amazing,” he said. “It’s the only independent Catholic university in the country and is doing an extraordinarily good job.”

Besides the normal challenges of the issues facing Catholics, such as stem cell research, clerical abuse, and gay marriage, Father Malloy led Notre Dame through the traumatic national experience of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Twenty years later, he reflected on a memorial Mass the University held on South Quad after the attacks that nearly 10,000 people attended, including the Muslim Student Association. The crowd locked arms during the Lord’s Prayer in the way it normally does during the alma mater.

“I think that signified how we felt amidst all the uncertainty of that day—that we were in this together,” Father Malloy said. “My hope and prayer is that we can learn from that experience 20 years later, that we can break down barriers, recognize that often our divisions are not that significant, and that we can pull together not only as a part of a country, but in a world that could be more united.”

A professor of theology and a faculty member since 1974, Father Malloy was a rarity among university presidents because he continued to teach a first-year seminar class and live among the students, making his home in a small room in Sorin Hall, the oldest residence hall on campus.

The front entrance of the Center for the Homeless showing their logo with a star.
Father Malloy counts his role in the creation of The Center for the Homeless in downtown South Bend, "very high among the things I’m gratified about."
Archive photo of Mass on South Quad after the terrorist attacks. The Dome and Basilica can be seen in the distance, and the US flag is at half-mast behind the stage with the altar.
Archive photo of Mass on South Quad after the terrorist attacks. The Dome and Basilica can be seen in the distance, and the U.S. flag is at half-mast behind the stage with the altar.
Running back Cierre Wood runs with the ball during a football game.
Father Malloy approved the University's contract with NBC to broadcast home football games in 1991, an agreement that exists to this day.

Father Malloy’s experiences at the integrated Archbishop John Carroll High School in Washington, DC, as well as his father’s participation in the Civil Rights Movement, led him to put a premium on diversity. During his tenure, minority student enrollment rose from 7 percent to 18 percent.

At Carroll High School, Father Malloy was the shooting guard on one of the greatest prep basketball teams in history, playing with John Thompson, later the coach at Georgetown University. He was recruited to Notre Dame, where his limited playing time pushed him to get more involved in academics and student government. He continued his love of basketball during his presidency through Bookstore Basketball and weekly “Monk Hoops” with students, and he attends home varsity games.

In college, he and other Notre Dame students went on a service trip to Mexico, where he found himself alone at the Basilica of Cristo Rey. In the second book of his three-part autobiography, Monk’s Tale: Way Stations on the Journey, he described the experience that led to his vocation:

“All was quiet and I soon found myself in a state of reverie. It was as though time stood still and all the cares of the moment had dissipated. I was at peace. How long I remained so disposed I cannot say. All I know is that I had a sudden and compelling sense that I was being called to become a priest.”

Throughout his senior year, Father Malloy began the process of entering the priesthood as part of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Notre Dame’s founding religious community. Upon graduating with a bachelor’s degree in English, he entered the Holy Cross candidate program in 1963. While in seminary, he earned two master’s degrees, in English and theology, and following his ordination in 1970, he earned a doctorate in Christian ethics from Vanderbilt University.

Rev. Malloy walking with President George W. Bush during commencement ceremony
Notre Dame Commencement, May 21, 2001. United States President George W. Bush and Rev. Edward "Monk" Malloy, C.S.C., process into the arena.

Father Malloy’s academic concentration on the interplay of personal morality with public policy and professional ethics informs his own active public life. He is a leading advocate of volunteerism and has served on numerous boards dedicated to community service, including Campus Compact, Boys & Girls Clubs of America, and the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse.

He also has worked to combat substance abuse through appointments by President George H.W. Bush to the Points of Light Foundation and the President’s Drug Advisory Council, and other organizations. He has served on the boards of Riley Children’s Hospital and the universities of Notre Dame, Portland, Vanderbilt, St. Thomas, and Saint Mary’s College. He is the recipient of 24 honorary degrees, and a chaired professorship in Catholic studies at Vanderbilt is named in his honor.

In a very different way, he made a significant contribution to his own family and to organ transplantation awareness nationwide by donating a kidney to a young man whose mother, in turn, donated her kidney to Father Malloy’s nephew. Since that procedure in 2008 at the age of 67, he has been a spokesman for organ transplants, with the hope of making the “donation process seem less heroic and more ordinary.”

As president emeritus, Father Malloy continues to teach, live, and celebrate Mass in Sorin Hall, and write extensively. His books include People First: Reflections on Leadership, Monk’s Notre Dame, Christian Ethics, Monk’s Musings, and Monk’s Travels.

His three-volume memoir, Monk’s Tale, was published by the University of Notre Dame Press between 2009 and 2016. In the final chapter, Father Malloy concludes a reflection on his legacy this way: “It may seem odd for me to say this about being president of Notre Dame, but it was fun.”