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Busy president finds time for books, travel, movies

Karen Langley | Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Father Edward Malloy has spent the past 18 years as president of one of the most prestigious universities in the country, so it should come as no surprise that his personal interests lean towards the intellectual. Despite Malloy’s busy schedule, he still makes time to broaden his mind through reading, watching films and traveling.

Malloy has a passion for books of practically all genres.

“There’s a side of me that could just sit in a room and read all the books,” he said. “Anybody who’s ever visited my room … knows that I’m an inveterate reader. I have wide-ranging interests – I want to read from now until my last gasp.”

Malloy’s curiosity about many subjects has led him to explore a variety of genres.

“The reason to me that’s so exciting is every time I open a new book it’s a chance that both the aesthetics of it, but also the content of it, are attractive to me,” he said.

Malloy professes an interest in fiction, biography and autobiography, as well as social science theory.

“I like politics a lot,” he said. “In recent years, I’ve read a lot about American presidents, different aspects of government.”

His reading selections have also been affected by recent world events.

“I’ve read 25 books about terrorism and about Islam and Islamic fundamentalism since 9/11,” he said.

Malloy, whose profession often inspires him to read theology and ethics, is deeply interested in the many nations and peoples of the world.

“I like to read a lot of things [that are] geographical or cultural,” he said. “I have three shelves of books about Ireland and Irish culture and history.”

Despite Notre Dame’s affinity for all things Irish, Malloy’s geographic interests are not limited to the Gaelic nation. He is an avid traveler, having visited many countries on six continents.

“My goal on my trips was … to be open to an endless round of new experiences and possibilities,” Malloy wrote in his book, “Monk’s Travels.”

Malloy has traveled extensively throughout western and eastern Europe, the Mediterranean, Latin America, South America and the Far East. He has also been to the African nation of Cameroon and both Australia and New Zealand – trips that often caused him to develop personal insights on the world.

“What [Africa] needs most is hope,” he wrote. “Both education and the Church must play a role in this regard, but in the end it will require African leadership. International agencies can assist but not impose.”

Malloy’s voyages have allowed him to meet some of the most famous people of the modern age. In 1995, he was given the opportunity to celebrate Mass with Pope John Paul II.

“When [the Pope] got to us, the secretary told him we were from Notre Dame. He nodded and said, ‘Chicago.’ Not wanting to correct him, we figured that was close enough,” Malloy wrote.

Malloy noted that although Pope John Paul II appeared healthy, both his age and infirmity were apparent.

“If asked, I would have plenty of advice to offer about various Church policies and priorities,” Malloy wrote. “But I must admit that the responsibility he carries is daunting, and all he can do is serve God according to his conscience and his best sense of things.”

While Malloy’s curiosity and involvement have taken him around the globe, his interests have also provided a common ground for those close to him. Those who know Malloy know exactly what to give him for gifts.

“People never know what to give me so they give me all these gift certificates for Barnes and Noble or whatever,” he said. “And now recently people have given me gift certificates for DVD stores.”

Malloy has developed an extensive collection of films on DVD.

“Lately I’ve been watching a bunch of documentaries as well as some regular films, which is a whole genre now that is becoming popular because with DVDs you can buy them and have a bigger audience than you would if you showed it for one week in some movie theater,” he said.

Malloy’s DVD collection is a response to some of his long-term intellectual interests.

“I love theatre, and I love film,” he said, listing music, opera and dance as other pleasures he will enjoy during his years as president emeritus.