The Observer is a Student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame & Saint Mary's. Learn more about us.



McCartan to be honored with Laetare medal

Jenn Metz | Saturday, August 11, 2007

The chair of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees, Patrick McCartan, will be honored as the 131st recipient of the University’s Laetare Medal during the undergraduate commencement exercises Sunday.

The medal is awarded annually to a Catholic “whose genius has ennobled the arts and sciences, illustrated the ideals of the Church and enriched the heritage of humanity.” It was first awarded in 1883 and is regarded as the most distinguished honor given to American Catholics, akin to the Golden Rose – a papal award dating back to the 11th century.

McCartan will rank among notable American Catholics like activist Dorothy Day and former President John F. Kennedy, who have previously received the award.

Last year, the Laetare Medal was awarded to renowned jazz musician Dave Brubeck, the popular jazz pianist who has produced pieces such as “Blue Rondo a la Turk” and “Take Five” and who has been featured on the cover of Time magazine.

McCartan, who has served on the Board since 1989, was elected Board chair and University fellow in 2000. In surveys conducted by the National Law Journal, McCartan has been listed as one of the most influential and respected lawyers in the country.

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

“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 received an honorary degree from the University in 1999. He has also been previously honored with the Archdiocese of Cleveland’s Archbishop Edward F. Hoban award in 1994 and the Anti-Defamation League’s Torch of Liberty Award in 1998.

The Laetare Medal is inscribed with the Latin “Magna est veritas et et prevalebit,” which translates as “Truth is mighty, and it shall prevail.”

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

Richard C. Notebaert, CEO and chairman of Qwest Communications International, was elected in February to replace McCartan as chair of the Board. His three-year term will begin July 1. Notebaert has served as a trustee for the past 10 years.

“I look forward to joining with our president, Father John Jenkins, in advancing our position as the premier Catholic research university in the world,” Notebaert said in a news release.