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Holtz family supports academics

Observer Staff Report | Monday, September 5, 2011

Former Irish football coach Lou Holtz left the University as a coach in 1986, but he continues to be involved in another realm of life at Notre Dame: ⎯ academics.

Holtz and his wife Beth agreed to serve as Notre Dame’s first “ambassadors for research” by increasing awareness of the University’s research initiatives, according to a Saturday press release.

“Beth and I have always believed that Notre Dame is different,” Holtz said. “Not only by educating young people who go out and do remarkable things in the world, but also through its commitment to research with potential to alleviate pain and suffering, the University is taking on global challenges and bringing about real change.”

The Holtz family also donated $1 million to Notre Dame in support of research projects during the “Spirit of Notre Dame” campaign, which ended June 30, the release stated.

University President John Jenkins said he is appreciative of the Holtz family’s investment in Notre Dame.  

“Lou and Beth Holtz are a testament to the human spirit, and we are so thankful and proud to have them as part of the Notre Dame family,” Jenkins said. “Through their generous financial contributions to the University ⎯ and the precious gift of their time as ambassadors for research ⎯ they are adding to the many blessings they and their family already have bestowed upon us.”

Beth Holtz was diagnosed with stage-four cancer in 1997, the release stated. She said she credits her recovery to the support of family and friends, as well as to the research that helped her become cancer-free.

“This [research] is also deeply personal to us,” she said in a video that accompanied the release.

Holtz said he is also grateful for the support and research that saved his wife’s life.

 “We are as grateful to be part of the Notre Dame family today as we were 14 years ago when Beth was diagnosed with stage-four cancer,” Holtz said. “We think it’s a miracle that because of God’s blessing and research that she is with us today.”

Notre Dame always contributed to those in need, Holtz said, and more awareness for its research projects will increase its participation in the world even further.

“We have observed the alums from Our Lady’s institution,” Holtz said. “They go into the world and do marvelous things. When I went to [Notre Dame] a priest summed it up best. He said, ‘A student doesn’t come to Notre Dame to learn to make a living. He comes to Notre Dame to learn to make a life.'”

The ambassador for research position will help the University communicate its message regarding challenges faced by the world in need, Holtz said.

“More and more you will see Notre Dame contributing to global challenges, discussing the great questions of our futures, speaking out on important issues,” he said. “I think you will be extremely proud of the progress Notre Dame will make in this area.”

Notre Dame will not compromise any of its current standards to build its research initiatives, Holtz said.

“We do not have to sacrifice greatness in our undergraduate program … to achieve greatness in research,” Holtz said.

“Whatever Notre Dame does, they do it to the best of their ability. However, what’s made Notre Dame great has been because of the unselfishness and the generosity of the people who have made a commitment to the University and its mission and value.”