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Monk moves on: Jenkins will succeed Malloy after June 2005

Claire Heininger | Monday, May 3, 2004

Fresh off a year-long stint of academic research and personal reflection as a visiting professor at the University of Chicago, Father John Jenkins returned to face another challenge – having 14 months to prepare to become Notre Dame’s 17th president.Jenkins called the time period a “great luxury,” saying he will use the year of transition to absorb the experience and wisdom of departing president Father Edward Malloy.”I really look forward to this year of working with Monk on this transition and learning all that’s involved in this job,” the 50-year old president-elect said. “This is a tremendous honor and a great responsibility to lead this great University and I look forward to this challenge.” Malloy insisted that the transition between himself and his successor will be “seamless” because a Congregation of Holy Cross priest will continue to be at the University’s head.Jenkins, a Holy Cross religious superior of priests and brothers at Notre Dame from 1997 to 2000 and priest since 1983, also stressed the role his faith has played in his career and will play in his leadership.”It is part of my vocation, part of my call,” he said. “I will give it everything I have to do the best I can.”The search for that vocation began during his undergraduate experience at the University, which Jenkins recalled as a “process of reflection” that eventually led to his religious calling. Though he did not set out with the goal to work at Notre Dame – much less occupy its highest position – his ambition evolved out of an admiration of the University’s unique combination of Catholicism and top-level academics. “I dreamed of working at Notre Dame in whatever capacity I could,” he said. “That’s my dream. The very flattering request to serve as president was a specific way to move forward with that dream.”Professor David Solomon witnessed that dream taking shape firsthand, as he taught Jenkins as both an undergraduate and graduate student at Notre Dame and has worked alongside him in the philosophy department.”At every stage, I’ve found him a superb philosopher and a dedicated and inspiring priest,” Solomon said. “He is a man of vision and principle … Notre Dame is in good hands with John Jenkins as president.” Jenkins’ extensive academic background – which also includes two philosophy degrees from Oxford University and leadership roles on Notre Dame’s Academic Council and Code of Honor Committee – will prove equally vital as he moves forward into the presidency. Pointing to the award-winning teaching efforts of Affleck-Graves, Jenkins emphasized the University’s commitment to outstanding undergraduate education and said he would emulate Malloy in seeking advice from other institutions.”It’s a wonderful chance to learn,” Jenkins said of outside committees in which he plans to participate and the conversations he plans to have in preparation for taking office. “That’s what Father Malloy suggested – talking to other people is a great thing to do.”Remembering his own start in the administration – “I thought I knew the University inside out, but I determined that there were whole offices I didn’t know existed,” Malloy said – the University president promised he will provide balanced guidance over the coming year, offering Jenkins a combination of steady support and necessary freedom.”I look forward to working with John in a very close and collaborative way,” he said, “but [I will] give him the leeway that he will need to make decisions that go past next summer.”