July 3rd, 2005

New

Personal/Theological Notebook: John Jenkins on Notre Dame

From an AP story on John Jenkins, CSC beginning his tenure as President of Notre Dame:
"I think we're at a moment in Notre Dame's history where we have the potential to move ahead dramatically -- it's a great university -- while remaining faithful to the Catholic character of the university," he said. "I think that's the thing we have to focus on."

Jenkins said the Catholic character should permeate every part of life at Notre Dame, whether it is studying religion, literature or technology.

"At Notre Dame you can have conversations that bring in faith and morality as well as the kind of technical or scientific or intellectual issues in an integrated away," he said. "We are really distinctive in that and it's a tremendous contribution we can make to society and the world."

The approach also can cause controversy, as Malloy discovered when he allowed "The Vagina Monologues" and a Queer Film Festival on campus. The decision, which Malloy never discussed publicly, drew criticism from Bishop John D'Arcy of the Fort Wayne-South Bend Diocese and others. Supporters argued that academic freedom is necessary on a college campus, even a Catholic college campus.

Jenkins said he's prepared for criticism as he puts his stamp on the university.

"Father Hesburgh gave me great advice on this," Jenkins said. "He said, 'Look, be thoughtful, take in all the points of view, take in all the evidence you can, then make the best decision you can, then don't worry about it. Don't listen to the criticism, don't listen to the praise, just make the best decision you can.' That's what I'm going to do."

So this will be part of my context as I propose making the most radical change to the educational structure of the University in decades, as per my June 22 post.