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Student Affairs prepares for new leadership

Sarah Mervosh | Tuesday, April 27, 2010

When Fr. Thomas Doyle was a student at Notre Dame, he didn’t think he was going to pass Calculus — let alone return to campus some day to be the vice president for Student Affairs.

“To think that it’s 25 years later, I’m back on campus and I’m on the same spiritual journey with others that I began in 1985, I’m just anxious to continue that journey,” Doyle said. “There is just a great privilege and opportunity to be back … to try to shape and impact something that had such a profound role in my own life.”

Doyle said he does not plan to make massive changes when he takes over the position, but instead has three simple goals for his new job.

“I hope [to be] a good student, a good and effective teacher and a good priest,” he said.
Doyle, who graduated from Notre Dame  and was later­ ordained in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart in 1998, said his experiences at the University will be beneficial when he takes over as vice president for Student Affairs this summer. He will replace Fr. Mark Poorman, who has held the position for the past 11 years.

“I don’t think God wastes anything at all. He takes all of our experiences and all of our gifts and even takes the mistakes that we make and allows us to continue to sort of use them,” Doyle said.

As an undergraduate, Doyle lived in Grace Hall, where he was involved in interhall sports and hall government, attended Sunday liturgy and met his first Holy Cross priest. Most importantly, Doyle said, it was where he made lifelong friends.

“I made some of the best friends of my life while I was an undergraduate and living in Grace Hall, including the roommates that I lived with,” he said. “I’m still in touch with most of them today on almost a weekly basis.”

After graduation, Doyle worked in Seattle for a few years before returning to Notre Dame to be ordained as a priest. He then taught business ethics in the Mendoza College of Business and served as rector of Keough Hall.

“I came brand new with the building,” he said. “Grace had shut down and Keough and O’Neil opened up, so I went to live in Keough Hall with people who had lived in the dormitory I lived in as an undergraduate.

“One of the great advantages of living in a dormitory is young people, college students especially, will keep you young. You stay stimulated and not just sort of current issues and current news, but you get to follow all the trends that are going on, whether it is music or video games or just culture in general.”

Serving as a rector gave Doyle an insight into the rector’s life, which he said will be helpful in his new position.

“I think being a rector in campus ministry helped me to understand what happens in a hall and how hard a rector works and what their dilemmas are and how much they care,” Doyle said. “It will help me appreciate the work they’re doing.”

Doyle said when he returns to campus he will live in a dormitory, but he is not sure  in which hall.

“I don’t know who is moving in or who is moving out,” Doyle said. “The one thing that’s really important to me is I love living in a dorm.”

Since the announcement in November that Doyle would take over as vice president for Student Affairs, he said he has tried to listen and learn as much as possible.

“Fr. Mark Poorman has done such a great job in Student Affairs, as well as all the people who have worked with him. So even though this has been announced for a while, I really tried my very best to learn as much as I can about the University,” he said.

“I’ve tried to meet as much of the staff as I can, to listen to other parts of the University, to find out parts that are going really well and to find out things that others think we can do better.”

Doyle said he is both excited and humbled to take over the position, and said he looks forward to working with fellow administrators and students.

“I think we all deeply have the same goal and I want to find a way for us to get there,” he said. “We just really need to stick with things, by each other and extend a lot of courtesy and respect and trust to one another.

“We will try to do that in Student Affairs and we will ask that of the students and our colleagues as well.”