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Freshmen to receive Thanking Father Ted e-book

| Thursday, September 4, 2014

Each year, the Thanking Father Ted (TFT) Foundation provides a copy the 2007 book “Thanking Father Ted” to all female Notre Dame freshmen. The Hall Presidents Council will distribute the book, which consists of a collection of letters to University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh, in e-book form within the next week, Michael Wajda, co-chair of Hall Presidents Council, said.

The TFT Foundation was founded by a group of early women Notre Dame graduates to pass along the story of coeducation at Notre Dame, Foundation secretary Sheila O’Brien said.

“The TFT Foundation was the brainchild of one of Notre Dame’s first women alumna, A.T. Palmer, who conceived the idea after we wrote the TFT book to honor Father Ted’s 90th birthday,” TFT director Tara Kenney said. “A.T. had asked me early on to contribute to the book and help solicit other letters from my ND women’s network. With the book, we wanted to thank and honor Father’s commitment to coeducation. Without his support and perseverance in the early 70s, [women] would not be here today.”

The legacy of coeducation is still very strong at Notre Dame, O’Brien’s daughter sophomore M.K. Andersen said, as women are very involved on campus.

“I think for coeducation purposes, Notre Dame is on the right track,” Andersen said. “If you look at the stats, it is roughly 50-50 with men and women students, in contrast to other schools … I think there are weird gender problems here, but that comes more from separate dorms.”

Fr. Hesburgh still remains in support of the women of Notre Dame, Kenney’s son sophomore Jack Grassey said.

“Fr. Ted, in particular, feels very strongly for the first woman classes that were here, but also is really proud of the fact that women do so well here,” Grassey said. “Every time I see him, he mentions that the last four valedictorians here have been women.”

It is important to give the book to freshmen girls to let them know that they have an equal place at Notre Dame, Andersen said.

“Notre Dame is a daunting place in general, and there may still be some strides to still go [in coeducation],” she said. “There has always been a bunch of things for the guys to do, while there are some girls’ dorms that are new and still don’t have their own traditions. It’s kind of nice to have that reassurance that it will be fine, it will be good, and you will have that awesome Notre Dame experience.”

“The book is a way of welcoming girls and letting them know, ‘Okay, this is the history that women have here, that people before you have this great history at this school, and we want you to know you’re as much a part of the community as any guy here,’” Grassey said.

The book and the Foundation both strive to remind women that they are part of a sisterhood as women of Notre Dame, Kenney said.

“We have given birth to a legacy of sisterhood, inspired by Our Lady, to be the best mothers, sisters, daughters and friends to those women around us,” Kenney said. “As Fr. Ted often says, when we look up at the Golden Dome, we see Mary, the Mother of God, watching over this great University. How fitting that women now make up half of the Notre Dame student body. She would be most proud of Father, and the good work we are achieving, for God, country and Notre Dame.”

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About Kayla Mullen

Kayla is a senior political science major and the Managing Editor of The Observer. She hails from Philadelphia, PA and was previously a resident of Howard Hall.

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