Each year, Father Jenkins directs President’s Circle funding to a handful of key initiatives and ongoing priorities. Below is a sampling of recent allocations:
To Seek God
Hiring for Catholic Mission
Advancing Notre Dame’s Catholic character through a variety of channels – including the recruitment of Catholic faculty – is a primary goal of Father Jenkins’. Following a period of reflection and discussion with the faculty, Father Jenkins identified a number of useful strategies toward that goal, including the establishment of the Office of Academic Mission Support. The office is charged with assisting Notre Dame’s colleges, schools, institutes, and centers with academic programs and initiatives that advance our Catholic mission.
With aid from the President’s Circle, the office is in the lengthy process of refining and expanding an existing database of academically distinguished faculty and graduate students who reflect our Catholic mission. To further identify future cohorts of Catholic faculty, the office is also building relationships with campus parishes and Newman Centers at the universities from which Notre Dame recruits most of its younger professors.
Pre-College Summer Programs
At the core of Notre Dame’s mission is the desire, and the obligation, to form the next generation of Catholic leaders . Thus, President’s Circle monies have been allocated for the University’s pre-college summer programs.
The African American Scholars program, the Latino Community Leadership Seminar, and the Global Issues Seminar provide unique learning and leadership formation opportunities for over 100 academically gifted Catholic high school students each summer. During weeklong sessions on campus, participants broaden themselves intellectually and consider key issues in the context of Catholic teachings, while making new friends from around the nation. To ensure that these programs are available to a broad spectrum of young people, the University underwrites all program expenses, including transportation.
Catholic Traditions Initiative
Notre Dame’s mission statement boldly asserts the connection between Christian thought and academic pursuits, and our faculty are the primary purveyors of this association. Thus, through funding provided by the President’s Circle, the University’s Institute for Scholarship in the Liberal Arts created a comprehensive development program that assists faculty from all disciplines in incorporating Catholic intellectual, theological, and spiritual traditions into their work.
The program includes orientation sessions for new faculty, seminars on pertinent topics such as “Theology and Science,” and sabbatical fellowships and course grants that permit interested faculty to engage in more in-depth study.
To Study the World
Financial Aid for Students in Greatest Need
Among the chief advantages of the President’s Circle is its ability to provide flexible resources with which Father Jenkins and the University can meet critical and emerging needs. A clear example of this was Father Jenkins’ recent decision to direct those flexible funds to a select group of Notre Dame undergraduates with significant loan debt.
In the current tough economic climate, the University is more committed than ever to ensuring that a Notre Dame education is affordable. The President’s Circle has played a key role in this regard by providing one-time contributions to these students in order to reduce their loan debt and make their repayment obligations more manageable. Father Jenkins is especially grateful to members of the Circle for proving, once again, that the Notre Dame family is always there to rally around those in need.
Collections and Technologies in the Hesburgh Libraries
Time and again, President’s Circle monies have enhanced the Hesburgh Libraries. A portion of these funds were used to expand the University’s holdings in sacred music, a strategic move intended to attract a pair of stellar faculty who have since transformed Notre Dame’s sacred music program and elevated its renowned medieval studies program. In addition, the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies benefited from targeted library purchases in Islamic and other religious traditions, materials that assist students and faculty in addressing pressing inter-religious conflicts.
The President’s Circle has also impacted many other areas of the libraries. Funds were designated for collection development in the sciences and engineering, as scholarship and research in these areas continue to expand. Thanks to Circle funding, the University acquired a digital index of English and foreign-language journals in physics, electrical engineering, and computing that has had an immediate impact on the depth and quality of research at Notre Dame.
Father Jenkins has placed a priority on MBA fellowships, reflecting the central role this program plays in determining the reputation of the Mendoza College of Business and, to a certain extent, the University as a whole. The Master of Business Administration at Notre Dame serves more than 300 students in several programs of study: the one- and two-year MBA degree, and dual degrees in law, engineering, and science. Year after year, the program is recognized by recruiters and ranking bodies for its ethics focus and for graduating students with a commitment to social and environmental responsibility.
Recruiting students who not only display an acumen for the business world, but who also demonstrate a good fit with the University’s mission, is paramount for Mendoza College. The support of the President’s Circle affords Mendoza additional resources with which to do so.
To Serve Humanity
Notre Dame biologist Father Tom Streit is leading the fight against lymphatic filariasis (LF) in Haiti, where nearly a quarter of all citizens are infected. His efforts, in collaboration with the CDC and the Haitian Ministry of Public Health, have become the most visible sign of Notre Dame’s unwavering commitment to the global health crisis.
LF, a parasitic disease more commonly known as elephantiasis after the grossly swollen limbs that are its most prominent symptom, has been targeted by the World Health Organization for elimination by 2020. But it is a costly and arduous venture, requiring the mass distribution of drugs to kill the parasitic worms that cause LF, as well as a colossal public education campaign to cultivate awareness of the disease, its causes, and how to prevent it. The President’s Circle is helping to advance Father Streit’s efforts, which remain on target to altogether eliminate LF from Haiti by 2013.
Notre Dame Millennium Initiative
Housed within the Office of the President, the Notre Dame Millennium Development Initiative (NDMDI) seeks to promote education, healthcare, entrepreneurship, and sustainable agriculture in Uganda. Notre Dame’s partners in this project include the East Africa District of the Congregation of Holy Cross, Uganda Martyrs University (the nation’s premier Catholic university), and the United Nations Development Programme.
NDMDI – together with its academic partner at Notre Dame, the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity – is rooted in the University’s mission to “cultivate in its students … a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice, and oppression that burden the lives of so many.”
The President’s Circle has supported these pivotal efforts by underwriting the development of a new interdisciplinary undergraduate minor in human development and the creation of course development grants for faculty. The Circle also expanded funding for students and faculty doing community-based research in Uganda, and for MBA students acting as small-business consultants in Uganda.