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Jenkins replacing Malloy not the only change

Matt Lozar | Wednesday, April 27, 2005

The changes in the Main Building started before the surprise announcement occurred early on that Friday morning 362 days ago.

They haven’t stopped since.

From former Executive Vice President Father Timothy Scully resigning from his position May 2, 2003 to Provost Nathan Hatch accepting the president position at Wake Forest University on Jan. 21, the changes both in the Main Building and in other key places on campus have been numerous as Notre Dame transitions from University President Father Edward Malloy to University President-elect Father John Jenkins.

All of the changes

The leadership changes began when Scully resigned from the University’s third-ranking position on the same day a report was going to be delivered to the Board of Trustees by a four-person committee formed to investigate Scully’s behavior. The report was to include a Jan. 16, 2003 confrontation with two local television reporters and a cameraman.

The University initially didn’t announce any plan for replacing Scully. Eventually Malloy took over the responsibilities of the executive vice president.

The provost’s office became the next to experience changes, with the four top officials in the office moving on to new positions during a 13-month period.

In December 2003, associate provost Carol Mooney was selected to be the president at Saint Mary’s.

The October 2003 and February 2004 Board of Trustees meetings came and went with no announcement to fill the executive vice president position.

Then in an article published in the April 23, 2004 edition of The Observer, Malloy said he was leaving a decision on whether he would return for another term as Notre Dame’s president up to the Board. Malloy also stated in the article he expected an executive vice president to be named at the spring trustees meeting.

The continued vacancy of the executive vice president position also provided hints of change. When University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh and Malloy were elected as president, an executive vice president was named along with each.

“I’m not seeking to say on, because I think that should be the decision of the Board – but I will do whatever the Board wants in terms of what the future has in store,” Malloy told The Observer in April.

The Board announced on April 30, 2004 that not only would Malloy not return, but also that Jenkins would replace him and fellow associate provost John Affleck-Graves would be Jenkins’ executive vice president. All three associate provosts had then accepted new positions in a four-month span.

More changes included Hilary Crnkovich being elected at the February 2005 Board of Trustees meeting as the vice president for public affairs and communication, replacing Roberto Gutierrez, and Hatch’s announcement of his move to Wake Forest.


The leadership changes at the University have become topics of conversation thanks to interested observers wondering who is making the decisions – Malloy, Jenkins or some combination.

Those three options are exactly right. All three methods have been used during the transition period that started in May 2004 and continues until July 1.

When it comes to the “day-to-day operations” as Jenkins classified them, Malloy still has the decision-making power. Malloy said one of those decisions is making the last promotions and approvals for academic promotion, just like Hesburgh did before Malloy took over July 1, 1987.

A choice like filling the position of executive assistant to the president with Father Jim McDonald is left to Jenkins.

However, when it comes down to decisions that will affect more than day-to-day decisions, it comes down to communication between Malloy and Jenkins.

“[Malloy] has been very good – if there’s anything long-term, he has let me know and he’s asked my advice,” Jenkins said. “If it’s his decision, he makes it; if it’s mine, I make it. I think it’s mainly communication if it has something to do with after July 1.”

One example of that is the University’s budget because it deals with both short-term and long-term issues affecting Notre Dame. For that reason, both Malloy and Jenkins had their hands involved.

“I was involved in preparing that and approving it, but Father Jenkins was deeply involved in the process too,” Malloy said. “It just depends on what the nature of the activity is, but I would say I think the transition’s gone smoothly.”

The Willingham firing

The one decision that showed the split in philosophies between Malloy and Jenkins was the firing of football coach Tyrone Willingham after three seasons. Since Ara Parseghian took over as the school’s coach prior to the 1964 season, no Notre Dame football coach had received fewer than five years to lead the Irish. Also, Willingham was the first black head coach in any sport at Notre Dame, and allegations that race played a factor in the University’s decision helped spark a national media firestorm.

To explain the decision, Jenkins said in his Dec. 15 statement to the Faculty Board on Athletics that he called the meeting on the Monday after Notre Dame loss to Southern California. The statement continued to say Malloy didn’t favor making a change, but he expressed a willingness to have the discussion.

A discussion occurred that afternoon with Malloy, Jenkins, Affleck-Graves, Hatch and Notre Dame athletic director Kevin White. Board of Trustees chairman Patrick McCartan and Philip Purcell, Chair of the Athletic Affairs Committee of the Board of Trustees were also included.

Jenkins’ statement continued to say Malloy opposed a change of head coach, but deferred to the recommendation to the group because Malloy wouldn’t be the University’s president for the 2005 season. After sleeping on it overnight, the decision was made on Tuesday to fire Willingham.

What took the issue to another level were Malloy’s comments made eight days later at the Sports Business Journal’s Intercollegiate Athletics Forum when Malloy said the only two days he was “embarrassed” to be Notre Dame’s president were Tuesday and Wednesday of the week Willingham was fired.

For the first time since the announcement of Jenkins to replace Malloy, the two were seen in the public eye as being on opposite sides of an important issue. It was assumed Malloy and Jenkins were at odds with each other, but the pair said it essentially was a difference in philosophy.

“It never was about my relationship with Father Jenkins, it was just an unfortunate set of things that happened,” Malloy said. “The University when that decision happened took a lot of negative hits before I even said anything but that was kind of known that that would happen and it was involved in the decision.

“But I think we’ve moved on, and when you’re in a time of transition, sometimes you have a flap or two, that was a flap, other than that I think we’ve gone smoothly.”

Jenkins compared the disagreement over the Willingham firing to any other long-term decision that needs to be made by the president of the University.

“There was a football issue and it was controversial. But football is like anything else in a certain way, it just happens to be very public,” Jenkins said. “I need to be informed because we’re in the transition period, Monk needs to make decisions that are applied to the current situation, and I need to be involved. It’s not different for that than it is for student affairs, or the academic life or business operations or food services.

“You have to know whose decision it is, you have to communicate and cooperate.”

The long term

Inevitably, decisions have to be made about the long-term future of Notre Dame – not just something affecting the University in the months after Jenkins takes over, but years down the road, like “Notre Dame 2010: Fulfilling the Promise.”

While Malloy was the author behind the Ten Year Plan, he won’t be in a position of power to implement it. It would have been easy for Malloy to just push off the report onto Jenkins or another top administrator, but he didn’t.

“I could have demurred and said, since I won’t be here to implement it, but everybody said, no, you should be the one to follow through and so I did, and in that sense I was happy to try to formulate what the Ten Year Plan would look like,” Malloy said.

Something equally important looms over Jenkins’ head alone, and that’s the selection of the next provost. When Hatch decided to move on to Wake Forest, Jenkins’ plans felt a big change, as he now has to replace the University’s No. 2 official. Hatch takes over in Winston Salem, N.C. July 1 – the same day Jenkins takes over for Malloy.

In an article published in The Observer Feb. 23 Jenkins said he didn’t expect to be searching for a replacement for Hatch at this time, but recognized the vacancy’s importance.

“This must be my highest priority right now,” Jenkins said in the article, “and [it] certainly will be my first priority until we find an excellent provost.”

Treading the line that is current president of the University while also knowing in just a few months he won’t have any power, Malloy still oversees a University undergoing a lot of change but has to fade into the background as his days remaining dwindle.

And Jenkins moves a step closer to that fourth-floor office in the Main Building each day.

It’s something that, despite the many changes around the University, seems to be going well, Jenkins said.

“I think the most important thing is he’s let me do what I need to do and he’s supported me,” Jenkins said. “I think that’s all he can do because the difficulty in his position is that if he tries to be too helpful, then people will look to him and I think he’s been good about receding a bit, but being supportive.

“I think that’s all he can do really, and I think he’s done that well.”