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Ford donates $6 million to Kellogg Institute

John Tierney | Thursday, February 14, 2008

University trustee W. Douglas Ford has donated $6 million to fund a new program in development that will focus on research – including some in connection with Notre Dame’s Millennium Development Initiative.

The Kellogg Institute announced the creation of the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity, which will be directed by Father Bob Dowd, an assistant professor of political science specializing in African studies.

The program is designed to reflect the mission of the University at large by “channeling the incredible power of the human mind toward service of God and the common good,” Dowd said.

The new program will incorporate teaching, research and outreach in the field of development studies, Dowd said. It will allow student and faculty research in development studies to be “devoted to real problems experienced by real people,” he said.

The Ford Family Program is about to begin conducting a survey in conjunction with the people of Nnindye, a small village in central Uganda. Dowd said Notre Dame students will work with Uganda Martyrs University students this summer to help develop and implement this survey. Once the survey is concluded, the Ford Family Program will work with the people of Nnindye to implement its results.

“The Fords’ gift allows us to transform the Notre Dame Millennium Development Initiative into a rather comprehensive program that integrates teaching, research and outreach,” Dowd said.

The Ford Program plans to welcome the participation of Notre Dame undergraduates in all steps of its research. “We will always do our best to work with Notre Dame students to develop research projects that address real needs – projects that are respectful of our partners, such as the people of Nnindye and Ruhiira,” Dowd said.

The Ford Program will co-sponsor its inaugural event, a student-organized symposium on human development, on Feb. 23 with the Center for Social Concerns and the Kellogg Institute. Notre Dame and Uganda Martyrs students will present their research on human development at the symposium, which was organized by seniors Sara Snider and Joel Steiner and will be hosted at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies. Ray Offenheiser, president of Oxfam-USA, will deliver the keynote address, Dowd said.

While the Ford Program will open additional opportunities to Notre Dame undergraduates, Notre Dame students are just a small part of the program’s mission. “Through the Ford Program, we aspire to build a transnational and interdisciplinary alliance of students, faculty, development practitioners and policy makers that will be devoted to promoting respect for human dignity for a long time to come,” Dowd said.

In other news of donations to the University, Richard Notebaert, the chairman of the Board of Trustees, donated $10 million to the Graduate School, the University announced Monday. The Notebaert donation will go toward the creation of Graduate School fellowships, which will provide merit-based financial aid to doctoral candidates.

The Notebaert fellowships will provide doctoral candidates with full tuition, health insurance, and a generous stipend, according to a University press release.