Notre Dame du Lac, University of
NOTRE DAME DU LAC, UNIVERSITY OF
Founded 1842 by the Rev. Edward F. Sorin and a small band of religious brothers, all members of the Congregation of holy cross. This congregation of priests, brothers, and sisters, with the Holy Family as their patrons, had been founded in Le Mans, France, a decade before by the Rev. Basil A. Moreau, and the Holy Cross priests, brothers, and sisters have continued to serve the university to the present. The land on which the university was founded, 524 acres in northern Indiana, 80 miles east of Chicago and 180 miles west of Detroit, had originally been purchased by the Rev. Stephen T. Badin, the first priest ordained in the United States, and had subsequently been given to the local bishop. The bishop offered the land—including two small lakes, the basis of the university's official name, Notre Dame du Lac—to Father Sorin on condition that he establish a school, and this original grant has been divided and expanded over the years into the present 1,250-acre campus.
The school made steady progress in its first decades and, by the time of Father Sorin's death in 1893, had a student enrollment of 540 and a faculty of 52 on a campus of 24 buildings. Although chartered as a university by the State of Indiana in 1844, at least half of these students were in the preparatory department or high school, another 150 in the minims department or elementary school, and approximately 35 were apprentices in the manual labor school. Six courses of study were open to the college students: the classical course (general humanities), the scientific course, the English or belles-lettres course, law, civil engineering, and the commercial course, although this last was primarily a high school program. A master of arts degree was offered as early as 1859 on completion of three years of study in philosophy and literature beyond the bachelor's degree.
To demonstrate his patriotism in face of the anti-Catholic and anti-immigrant prejudice of the 19th century, Father Sorin scheduled early graduation ceremonies for the Fourth of July and named one of his first academic buildings Washington Hall. Seven priests from Notre Dame served as chaplains in the Civil War and one of them, the Rev. William Corby, CSC, gave general absolution to New York's famed Irish Brigade before the Battle of Gettysburg, an incident commemorated to this day by a statue of the priest on that battlefield. Notre Dame claimed a number of firsts in the latter half of the 19th century: in 1869 its Law School was the first on a Catholic campus; in the 1880s it was the first American college campus to be lighted by electricity; in 1888 it became the first Catholic university to open a residence hall with individual rooms for students (Sorin Hall); and in 1899 it was the scene of the first wireless telegraphic message sent in the United States.
In 1879, after a devastating fire, construction of the present administration building was begun, to be crowned with its famed golden dome in 1882. In 1888 the campus church, dedicated to the Sacred Heart, was completed, an impressive Gothic structure with stained-glass windows crafted by Carmelite sisters in France, murals painted by the Vatican artist Luigi Gregori, and the high altar designed by Froc-Robert of Paris. By the turn of the century, the university's most significant contributions to scholarship were probably the treatises on faith and evolution by the Rev. John A. Zahm, CSC, and the early aerodynamic studies of his younger brother, Dr. Albert Zahm.
The 20th Century. Major changes occurred in the early decades of the 20th century. The manual labor school was terminated in 1917, a summer session program was begun in 1918, the preparatory department or high school was closed in 1924, and the minims department or elementary school was eliminated in 1929, leaving Notre Dame for the first time an institution of exclusively higher education. The Rev. James A. Burns, CSC, president from 1919 to 1922, divided the college courses into five distinct colleges, each presided over by a dean. A committee on graduate study oversaw all graduate courses and degrees. With the impending loss of revenue from high school tuition, Father Burns undertook a major fund-raising campaign, completed it successfully, and organized a lay board of trustees to help manage the newly established endowment. The success of the school's football teams in the 1920s under the legendary coach Knute Rockne brought additional revenue and national fame. In the 1930s, during the presidency of the Rev. John F. O'Hara, CSC, later the cardinal-archbishop of Philadelphia, the faculty was strengthened by the addition of several European scholars fleeing Nazi domination: the mathematicians Karl Menger and Emil Artin, the physicists Arthur Haas and Eugene Guth, and the political scientists Ferdinand Hermans and Waldemar Gurian. During World War II the U.S. Navy was invited to set up V-7 and V-12 programs, and an estimated 11,000 naval officers completed their training on campus.
The Hesburgh Years. The decades following World War II were years of major growth and development, especially during the presidency of the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, 1952–87. Student enrollment jumped from less than 5,000 to 9,600, the teaching and research faculty from 389 to 803, and the annual budget from $10 million to $176 million. The endowment increased from $9 million to $350 million, chiefly from several successful fund-raising drives and annual giftgiving of devoted alumni. By 1987 faculty salaries ranked in the highest quartile of the American Association of University Professors standings, and Notre Dame was consistently listed among the 25 best schools in the US News and World Report 's influential survey. Over 30 new buildings were constructed, including ten residence halls and 11 academic buildings, in addition to major renovations of existing buildings.
Academic life and scholarly research were enhanced with the establishment of wide-ranging institutes: the Center for the Study of Contemporary Society, the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Center for Civil and Human Rights, the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, and the Ecumenical Institute for Advanced Theological Studies in Jerusalem. The manuscript treasures of the Ambrosian Library in Milan were microfilmed for deposit at Notre Dame, as were documents pertinent to the United States in the Vatican's Propagation of the Faith Archives. A distinguished professors program was inaugurated to attract nationally and internationally renowned scholars to endowed chairs. Nine foreign study programs were begun, and a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa was installed in 1968.
In 1967 ultimate governance of the university was transferred from the Congregation of Holy Cross to a board of fellows (six Holy Cross priests and six laymen or women) and a predominantly lay board of trustees. In 1972 the university opened its doors for the first time to undergraduate women. Student unrest and anti-Vietnam War protests broke out in the late 1960s and early 1970s but on a much smaller scale than elsewhere, and the football success and national acclaim achieved by earlier coaches Knute Rockne and Frank Leahy continued under coaches Ara Parseghian in the 1960s and Lou Holtz in the 1980s.
Notre Dame at Century's End. The university continued its expansion under Father Hesburgh's successor, the Rev. Edward A. Malloy, CSC. Under the Board of Fellows and the Board of Trustees, the president is aided in guiding the university by a provost, an executive vice president, and nine other vice presidents. There were four undergraduate colleges (Arts and Letters, Science, Engineering, and Mendoza College of Business), the School of Architecture, the First Year of Studies, and the Law School. The student body at the end of the 20th century numbered 10,500. Of these, 8,000 were undergraduates, 1,500 were in graduate school, and another 1,000 were in the graduate professional programs of law, business, or divinity. Approximately 54 percent of the undergraduates were men and 46 percent women. Scholarly journals published at the university included the American Journal of Jurisprudence, American Midland Naturalist, American Philosophical Quarterly, Bullán, Journal of Musicology, New Scholasticism, Notre Dame Journal of Formal Logic, Review of Politics, and U.S. Catholic Historian. The University of Notre Dame Press remains the largest Catholic university press in the world.
Religion has retained a central place in university life. Approximately 85 percent of the undergraduates are Catholic and 50 percent of the faculty includes Holy Cross priests, brothers, and sisters, as well dedicated Catholic laypersons. The university's Laetare Medal is awarded each year to an outstanding American Catholic.
Bibliography: t. j. schlereth, The University of Notre Dame: A Portrait of Its History and Campus (Notre Dame 1976). a. j. hope, Notre Dame: One Hundred Years (Notre Dame 1943). p. s. moore, Academic Development, University of Notre Dame: Past, Present and Future (Notre Dame 1960). r. p. schmuhl, The University of Notre Dame: A Contemporary Portrait (Notre Dame 1986). t. t. mcavoy, Father O'Hara of Notre Dame: The Cardinal-Archbishop of Philadelphia (Notre Dame 1967); "Notre Dame, 1919–1922: The Burns Revolution," Review of Politics 25 (October 1963) 431–450. t. m. hesburgh, God, Country, Notre Dame (New York 1990). m. o'brien, Hesburgh: A Biography (Washington, D.C. 1998). r. e. weber, Notre Dame's John Zahm (Notre Dame 1961).
[t. e. blantz]