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An argument against research

| Wednesday, February 24, 2010

There was a Viewpoint debate a few weeks ago that discussed at length the reasons for which Notre Dame is not a member of the Association of American Universities — an organization dedicated to research. While the primary focus of the debate was why Notre Dame has not been invited to join the AAU, I want to propose something to those who are asking this question: Why, exactly, do you want Notre Dame to join the AAU?
As a fairly small university, at which 80 percent of the enrolled students are undergraduates, Notre Dame should make undergraduate education its utmost priority. I imagine that many of us, myself included, chose to attend Notre Dame because it is not a large, faceless institution that readily allows research to supersede other educational necessities. Yet, we have a President, who in his inaugural address, asserted that he is simply committed to “maintaining [Notre Dame’s] traditional excellence in undergraduate teaching.”
As recently as his inauguration to his second term, Father Jenkins has placed far more emphasis on trying to improve the research presence at Notre Dame instead of improving its undergraduate experience. The notion that Notre Dame’s goal is to merely “maintain” the current level of undergraduate teaching at Notre Dame should be preposterous to all of us. Surely there are always improvements that can be made.
Conversely, we all see daily the level at which the “research mentality” is being shoved down our throats — we need look no further than our inboxes to validate this. While I do not want to undermine the value of research, I do want to suggest that its role at Notre Dame should not be nearly as important as that of undergraduate education here. We, as undergraduates, are owed an administration that strives to better the level of undergraduate education here. Jenkins needs to revise his goals for the University.

Justin DeRosa
Fisher Hall
Feb. 23