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Community pays tribute to Malloy

Eileen Duffy | Friday, March 4, 2005

The personal side of the highest-ranking Notre Dame administrator – including his self-admitted “tendency to cry at chick flicks,” his taste for Denny’s food and his recent confusion over the sex of the baby he was baptizing – was revealed Thursday night as the Michiana area recognized outgoing University President Father Edward “Monk” Malloy. Malloy was honored for a number of roles, but most of all for being a good neighbor to the surrounding community.

“Michiana salutes Monk,” held at the Century Center in downtown South Bend, began with a dinner – during which four toasts were offered to Malloy – and ended with a program featuring a video presentation as well as talks by former Indiana governor Joseph Kernan and Malloy himself.

Malloy steps down as president June 30.

Mark Eagan, president of the St. Joseph County Chamber of Commerce, toasted Malloy first Thursday on behalf of the business community. Eagan emphasized the important role that Notre Dame plays in local commerce, noting the expenditures of its students, faculty and visitors. According to Eagan, Malloy has played a big part in the relationship between the community and the University.

“His legacy to the business community … [will be] his personal commitment to extending the University out to the community, and the community to the University,” Eagan said. “I extend my heartfelt thanks and congratulations to him.”

Next, local youths from the South Bend Center for the Homeless, the Robinson Community Learning Center and the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County – the three charities that benefited from the event, at Malloy’s request – toasted Malloy on behalf of the not-for-profit community. Saying that Malloy’s “community and contribution would be too hard to measure or list here tonight,” they offered a creative poem for him.

Malloy “always went the extra mile,” the poem read. “Even God’s finest get weary helping others along the way … our prayer for you, Father Malloy, is God’s ever-refreshing touch.”

Three priests representing the Indiana Province of the Priests of the Holy Cross then offered a tribute via video, including University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh. Hesburgh called Malloy a “man of high intelligence … not given to shows of power or pride.”

“He’s accomplished many good things in a modest, intelligent and at times even self-effacing way,” Hesburgh said. “I’d like to offer a word of thanks [to him] for guiding this University with distinction over the years and through many crises.”

The fourth and final dinner toast, representing the city and county governments from Michiana, came from South Bend Mayor Stephen Leucke. He began by recalling a lunch he shared with Malloy at the Morris Inn, where Malloy explained some of his vision for the future of University-South Bend community relations. Leucke said he was reminded of an Eleanor Roosevelt quote: “The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams.”

“The community has benefited from your dreams, Father Malloy,” he said.

Following dinner, a video was shown detailing the life of Malloy and his impact on the University and surrounding community.

Malloy grew up in Washington, D.C., where a childhood friend nicknamed him “Monk.” Although his family was not wealthy, he was able to attend Notre Dame because of his basketball skills. After graduating in 1963, Malloy was ordained a priest in 1970, began teaching at Notre Dame and was elected president in 1986. The various speakers in the video credited Malloy for his many improvements to the University, his humility and his ability to handle crises like Sept. 11.

Kernan then took the podium and delivered a keynote address, focusing on the inevitable affiliation between a university and its surrounding community and the positive impact that Malloy has had on the Notre Dame-South Bend relationship.

Living “a half a block from campus,” Kernan said that he has had the opportunity “to reflect on what an extraordinary place” Notre Dame is. Like other speakers, he stressed the value of the University to local commerce.

“If Notre Dame wanted to move,” he joked, “can you imagine where the bidding would start?”

He offered an anecdote to emphasize the value. When Notre Dame was looking to expand its stadium from 60,000- to 80,000-person capacity, Malloy asked local leaders for their thoughts; Kernan, in turn, asked his orthopedic surgeon. According to Kernan, the doctor had an interesting answer: “That’s 20,000 more people to break a bone over the weekend!”

The impact, though, has been more than “dollars and cents,” Kernan said.

“Every day, Monk has reached out to and reached into our community,” he said. “… The engagement between the community and Notre Dame has been a model for America.”

Finally, Malloy himself walked onstage to speak, receiving a standing ovation.

Like Kernan, Malloy quoted a great historical figure to begin his speech.

“I believe it was Winston Churchill, on hearing that someone was modest, who said, ‘He/She has much to be modest about,'” Malloy said, sparking a ripple of laughter among the crowd. “I recognize that I do, too.”

Malloy then offered a list of things he has to be modest about, including a mix-up at a recent baptism and his inability to swim – although it was a requirement when he graduated from Notre Dame.

After proclaiming his love for the University (which stems from “the time I set foot on campus”), Malloy turned to the issue of the surrounding community. According to Malloy, during his time as a student, the city was off-limits. Because of his love for cities, he said, as president he wanted support for the community to be “one of the hallmarks of this time of service.”

Malloy discussed the establishment of the South Bend Center for the Homeless, the northeast neighborhood problems and the establishment of the Robinson Community Learning Center. He also talked about his involvement with the Boys and Girls Clubs, which began after Hesburgh’s advice to “be your own person” and “get involved with things that interest you” as Notre Dame’s president.

Malloy analogized his “perfect image of a University president” to the conductor of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra, which recently played on campus. He was impressed by the conductor – who did not have a script and did not play an instrument – and his ability to bring together a group of talented individuals from various backgrounds.

“I’m surrounded by wonderful, good, generous people who work beyond the call of duty – that’s my experience with the University and the surrounding area,” he said.

Event co-chair and St. Joseph’s Bank president John Rosenthal offered Malloy three gifts at the conclusion of his speech.

The first was a collection of letters written to Malloy by area individuals; the second – in anticipation of his upcoming sabbatical – a travel voucher for $10,000. The third gift was, in actuality, a gift from Malloy to the community.

The three charities Malloy had designated to receive the proceeds of the event will each receive a check for $12,500, making a grand total of $37, 500, Rosenthal said. He also said this donation was just a “down payment” until the event’s expenditures are organized, and the final amount could total over $50,000.