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Sheila Flynn | Thursday, February 19, 2004

Immediately after picking up his 93-year-old mother-in-law from the airport last year, Roberto Gutierrez decided against giving her a South Bend tour or even a tour of her new room in the family’s recently-purchased home.Instead, he brought her to campus.”She, of all people, always had a good sense of the pulse of a community,” Gutierrez said. “She said, ‘You know, this feels like home.'”Gutierrez agreed. It was that same sense of family and home that led him to leave South Texas for South Bend and accept the position of vice president for public affairs and communication at the University.Gutierrez has dedicated his life to serving the Latino community through media and communications. He helped promote the first national Latino newspaper for Catholics in the United States, co-founded the Hispanic Telecommuni-cations Network in 1982 (which produced the only national Catholic evangelization series televised for U.S. Latinos) and received an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame in 1999. “That has really been a hallmark, if you will, of my career, my life and the aspirations that I’ve had over the years,” he said. “To help promote the values – the best values – that the Latino community brings to the table in this country.””We do bring values of family, values of faith, values of language,” he said. A first-generation Mexican-American, Gutierrez grew up, attended college and established his career in San Antonio. But he left that city to respond “to a call to be of service.””Being able to do storytelling on television is probably the best job that any person could have in the world,” Gutierrez said. “When I had done that for 20 years, I realized that God is calling me in a direction at this time in my life.Gutierrez said he feels that University President Father Edward Malloy has set Notre Dame in the right direction, and this belief led him to enthusiastically accept the post.”I think he saw the need to try to diversify the campus and continues to do so in many ways, adding faculty and staff that represent, really, what the Church is in America,” Gutierrez said.”Do we have a long way to go? Absolutely. But I think my coming here was really a response to an invitation and … by the experiences that I’ve had and that I’ve done and what I’ve brought, I think it adds to that puzzle, if you will, of creating that total picture of a diverse campus and a diverse community.”