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Donnelly honors University

John Cameron | Monday, November 26, 2012

In commemoration of the University’s 170th anniversary, alumnus Rep. Joe Donnelly honored Notre Dame in a speech submitted to the Congressional Record, praising the University’s tradition of academic excellence, innovation and public service.

In the speech, originally submitted to the Record on Sept. 12 and released yesterday, Donnelly highlighted the positive impact the University has had on the nation over the decades.

“The University has made significant contributions to the United States of America since its founding in 1842 by Rev. Edward F. Sorin, C.S.C.,” Donnelly said. “Fortified by a deep faith in God and an unwavering commitment to the common good, the University has impacted the Nation’s history, its educational accomplishments and its outreach and ministry to the vulnerable and the poor.”

Donnelly cited a long tradition of supporting the country, beginning with the University’s work with the Navy during World War II.

“As Fr. Sorin sought to bridge the education gap in the expanding frontier, he began a history that intertwined with and influenced the history of our nation,” he said. “During World War II, Notre Dame established a Naval center that trained 12,000 officers in South Bend, Ind., an episode that is commemorated yearly in a respectful football rivalry.”

Following in the tradition of strong leadership begun by Sorin, Donnelly emphasized Fr. Theodore Hesburgh’s role in the civil rights movement.

“Notre Dame has been a leader in promoting diversity in higher education and American culture, especially the pioneering work of Fr. Theodore Hesburgh as the guiding voice of the Civil Rights Commission that crafted the framework to end segregation with the Civil Rights Act of 1964,” he said.

Donnelly recognized the University’s standing as one of the premier academic institutions in the country.

“Notre Dame’s dedication to education excellence is reflected in its highly ranked Mendoza College of Business and Law School in addition to a well-regarded School of Architecture,” he said. “Its research programs have made great contributions to national science and health over the years, ranging from the discovery of synthetic rubber by Fr. Julius Nieuwland in the 1920s to the mapping of the mosquito genome in this century as a way to prevent the spread of malaria and other diseases.”

The Senator-elect referenced the University’s affiliations with various service initiatives, beginning in the 1960’s.

“An association with the Peace Corps goes back to the agency’s founding in 1961, when the first volunteers were trained on campus under the strong support of Fr. Hesburgh,” he said. “Its Summer Service Learning Program has provided some 4,000 undergraduate students with a scholarship to perform eight weeks of community service in the communities of Notre Dame alumni clubs across the nation. The Alliance for Catholic Education, ACE, sends nearly 200 recent graduates each year to teach in about 100 understaffed Catholic schools across the country.”

Beyond the University’s achievements in academics and research, Donnelly praised Notre Dame’s dedication to those in need.

“The University’s mission is to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings, but also a love of God and a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many,” he said. “Notre Dame makes our nation stronger and deserves our deepest appreciation.”

In a statement to The Observer, Donnelly proclaimed his sense of pride in being a product of a Notre Dame education.

“I was proud to lead the Indiana delegation in recognizing the University of Notre Dame’s 170th anniversary because of its great impact from our community in northern Indiana to countries around the world,” he said. “I am honored to be a graduate of the University of Notre Dame, and I know the many lessons I learned while a student there will continue to help guide me in serving the great state of Indiana.”