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Campus prepares for Jenkins inauguration

Katie Perry | Thursday, September 22, 2005

The two-day inauguration of University President Father John Jenkins began today and will offer events that reflect Notre Dame’s fundamental foci – academics, arts and religion – and provide the unique and rare opportunity for community members to usher in a new leader and a new era.

For the first time in 17 years, the University will celebrate a new president with a series of inaugural events, including Friday’s climactic Academic Procession, in which Board of Trustees Chairman Patrick McCartan will present Jenkins with the Presidential medal and University Mace.

Jenkins will then address the University in front of the main building with a poignant speech illuminating the challenges and commitments of Notre Dame in the 21st century. The 17th president said he hopes the Inauguration embodies and honors central missions of the University.

“I hope it’s a time not to celebrate John Jenkins, but to celebrate Notre Dame,” he said.

The three-pronged nature of the Inauguration caters to Notre Dame’s pursuit of academic excellence, an appreciation for the arts and a strong religious association.

Jenkins said organizers have done a “great job” of organizing an event so complex and multifaceted.

“To some extent, [organizers] followed the structure of the inauguration of Father Malloy, though we did not have the advantage of the DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts at that time, obviously a facility that adds great dimension to the University,” University spokesperson Matt Storin said. “The plan combines academic, cultural and spiritual elements of Notre Dame – which seems very appropriate.”


A paneled discussion today featuring international leaders and scholars is slated to represent the academic realm of life at Notre Dame. Hosted by renowned NBC news anchor Tom Brokaw, the forum “Why God? Understanding Religion and Enacting Faith in a Plural World” will assemble panelists to discuss the daunting task of cultivating peace in a world torn by religious conflict.

Jenkins said the forum – organized around religious diversity, religious conflict and how religions can live together in peace for the good of humanity – has a greater significance than simply enlightening members of the University community on global issues.

“I would like Notre Dame, in our age, to be the world center for reflection on these kinds of issues,” he said. “We’re the major university in this country that has a religious character [and] is among the top 20 universities or so. And we can take that on.”

Panelists include Father Oscar Cardinal Rodriguez, Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras; Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, founder of the American Society for Muslim Advancement; Professor Naomi Chazan, a former member of Israel’s parliament; and former Missouri Senator John Danforth, who served as U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations in 2004.

The Inauguration’s official Web site said the discussion – which will be held at 2 p.m. this afternoon at the Joyce Center Arena – will initiate a new annual event whose purpose is to garner chief world figures for a dialogue to help students prepare for their entry into the professional, post-collegiate world.

The Arts

Inauguration organizers said tonight’s simultaneous events showcasing the University’s flair for the arts comprise “the most comprehensive presentation of performance in Notre Dame’s history.”

Performances are planned in six campus venues throughout the evening and will include live performances of a variety of musical genres including classical, jazz and folk by student groups as well as famed artists. Concert pianist Leon Fleisher, Grammy Award-winning jazz group the Ramsey Lewis Trio and the Irish folk band Bohola are among the evenings most prominent performers.

Fleisher will join Notre Dame choral groups for a 9 p.m. concert at Leighton Concert Hall in the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, which will be concurrent with Bohola’s performance in Washington Hall. The Ramsey Lewis Trio will perform at 8 p.m. in the Decio Mainstage Theater.

In addition to the evening’s musical entertainment, the film “Babette’s Feast” – a personal favorite of Jenkins – will be screened in Browning Cinema at 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.


A special Mass to be held 10 a.m. Friday at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart will fulfill the Inauguration’s ecclesiastical component and serve as a symbol of Notre Dame’s relationship with the Catholic Church.

More than 10 priests and visiting bishops, cardinals and other religious leaders will be in attendance to pray for the University and its newest president. The University’s namesake – Our Lady – will be honored in the service, which will feature readings from the Votive Mass of Mary, Seat of Wisdom.

Tickets for the Inaugural Mass were allocated by invite-only, however additional seating will be available in Washington Hall, where the service will be televised live and Communion will be distributed.

Storin said the University strongly encourages student attendance to the Inauguration’s special events planned for today and Friday.

“It is a rare opportunity to participate in an event of this nature at Notre Dame, so it enhances [the students’] overall experience here,” Storin said. “The Forum provides an opportunity to hear world-class leaders, the musical program is diverse and first-rate, and – most importantly – Father Jenkins will be spelling out his vision for Notre Dame in his address that will have great import for both students, alumni and friends of Notre Dame.”

At the culmination of the ceremonies, an Inaugural Ball will be held at 7 p.m. Friday on South Quad. The festivities will feature an appearance by the newly inaugurated president, as well as live music and a fireworks show.

“We’ve got a great party planned on Friday, we’ve got several events,” Jenkins said. “Just enjoy yourselves [and have] good, healthy fun.”