Cavanaugh, John Joseph
CAVANAUGH, JOHN JOSEPH
President of the University of Notre Dame, Ind.; b. Owosso, Mich., Jan. 23, 1899; d. Notre Dame, Ind., Dec. 28, 1979. In 1925, Cavanaugh left a very promising business career to enter the Congregation of the Holy Cross. Ordained a priest in 1931, he received the S.T.L. degree from the Gregorian University in Rome in 1933. He returned to Notre Dame where he succeeded John F. O'Hara as Prefect of Religion. In 1938, Cavanaugh became assistant provincial of the Congregation's U.S. Province and in 1940 was appointed vice-president of the University of Notre Dame. He succeeded J. Hugh O'Donnell as president in 1946.
Cavanaugh presided over the transition of Notre Dame from an enclosed compound with most students living on campus to an institution serious about integration into the mainstream of the American academic community. Cavanaugh structured the university, encouraged new programs in teaching and research, and laid the foundation for the fund raising machinery which would build an endowment and make expansion possible.
When canonical requirements forced him to step down as president in 1952, Cavanaugh became director of the Notre Dame Foundation, the university's development program. Ill health caused his retirement in 1960, but he held a number of public service posts, participated in the 1965 Civil Rights March in Selma, Ala., and from 1968 to 1973 worked as chaplain at Saint Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind.
A 1958 speech on the failure of American Catholics to exercise intellectual leadership brought Cavanaugh much criticism at the time. A longtime friend of the Kennedy family, he offered Mass in the White House the morning after the president's assassination in 1963, and at the family's home in Hyannis Port, Mass., in 1969, when Joseph P. Kennedy, the president's father, died.
See Also: notre dame du lac, university of.
Bibliography: University of Notre Dame Archives, biographical file, "J. J. Cavanaugh." t. stritch, "A Hero of Transition," Notre Dame Magazine 9 (Feb. 1980) 3–5.
[j. t. connelly]