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Lennon honored with dinner

John-Paul Witt | Friday, January 26, 2007

One hundred and fifty people filled the Joyce Center Monogram Room Thursday night to honor Alumni Association Executive Director and Associate Vice President for University Relations Chuck Lennon.

While students know Lennon primarily as the MC of pep rallies – with his trademark “raise the roof” – Thursday’s dinner and speeches focused on his 25 years of service as head of the Alumni Association, the 120,000-member union of Notre Dame alumni, family and friends.

“There’s no one who better reflects what Notre Dame is about,” said Executive Assistant to the President Frances Shavers, who spoke at the dinner. “Its values, its spirit, the desire to embrace everyone – he genuinely loves the students and the University.”

Of the 150 people in attendance, there were 12 former presidents of the Alumni Board of Directors, the current board members, their families, and University officials, among them University President Emeritus Father Theodore Hesburgh.

Vice President for University Relations Lou Nanni announced the creation of the Charles and Joan Lennon Endowment for Excellence – a fund with $275,000 contributed by Lennon’s Alumni Board colleagues to better allow the Alumni Association to provide services to its members.

When Lennon addressed the crowd, he told attendees they “weren’t here to honor Chuck Lennon,” but to honor “you who have given me this opportunity to take what God has given me to a new level.”

The dinner also honored Lennon with a tribute video and a tribute book, containing letters written by past and present Notre Dame and U.S. government officials as well as friends and family, lauding Lennon’s love of Notre Dame and dedication to the University.

The video highlighted Lennon’s history with the University and contained comments from faculty and Hesburgh, who called him “a great Notre Dame man.”

Lennon received a letter from President George W. Bush, which congratulated Lennon on his 25 years of service to Notre Dame, and said that his efforts to better the University and the community “reflect the character of America.”

Lennon thanked all “people who care to live their lives as men and women of Notre Dame – graduates, spouses, students, and subway alumni.”

Lennon also paused to thank Hesburgh, who hired him 25 years ago.

“Thank you, Father Ted, for your belief in me,” he said.

After Hesburgh delivered a final prayer, the Glee Club sang Notre Dame Our Mother and the Victory March, while a teary-eyed Lennon joined them in song.

Lennon also credited his wife, Joan, and his family with his success, as well as the student body.

“You students are what make this place great,” he said.

Lennon graduated from Notre Dame in 1961, earning two monograms in baseball and serving as president of his class. He also completed a Master’s degree in guidance and counseling at Notre Dame in 1962, and served as assistant basketball and baseball coach until 1967.

Lennon worked in several community agencies in South Bend until Hesburgh offered him the position of executive director of the Alumni Association in 1981, and University President Emeritus Father Edward Malloy named him associate vice president of University Relations in 1999.