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Trustees chair awarded Laetare

John-Paul Witt | Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Patrick McCartan, the chair of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, will join the company of accomplished Catholics like former President John F. Kennedy and activist Dorothy Day as the 131st recipient of the University’s Laetare Medal.

McCartan will receive the medal during the University’s undergraduate commencement exercises May 20.

The Laetare Medal – first awarded in 1883 – is typically regarded as the most prestigious award given to American Catholics. It is modeled as an American compliment to the Golden Rose, a papal award that has existed since the 11th century.

“Notre Dame’s auspicious institutional position as it enters a new era owes much to Pat McCartan’s strong and sure leadership,” University President Father John Jenkins said in a news release. “We hope to convey with this, our highest honor, the gratitude Notre Dame owes him as well.”

McCartan has been cited in surveys conducted by The National Law Journal as one of the country’s most respected and influential lawyers.

He was elected Board chair and University fellow in 2000 and has served on the Board since 1989. His tenure as chair was highlighted by the election in 2004 and inauguration in 2005 of Jenkins as Notre Dame’s 17th president.

McCartan graduated from Notre Dame as an undergraduate in 1956 and earned a juris doctor degree from Notre Dame Law School in 1959. He served as a law clerk for former Supreme Court Justice Charles Evans Whittaker before becoming a senior partner at Jones Day, an international law firm with 30 offices worldwide.

Among other honors, McCartan has received the Archdiocese of Cleveland’s 1994 Archbishop Edward F. Hoban Award and the Anti-Defamation League’s 1998 Torch of Liberty Award. He also received an honorary degree from Notre Dame in 1999.

The recipient of the Laetare Medal is announced each year on the fourth Sunday of Lent, known as Laetare Sunday in the Catholic Church.

The medal has been awarded annually at Notre Dame to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.”

The medal bears the Latin inscription, “Magna est veritas et prevalebit,” which translates as, “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.”