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Jenkins addresses faculty, outlines goals for University

| Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Notre Dame will launch efforts to more effectively communicate its achievements in research, global engagement and diversity and inclusion, University President Fr. John Jenkins said in his annual address to the faculty Tuesday evening.

A recent survey authorized by The University last year revealed that Notre Dame is significantly less well known for its research than it is for its Catholic mission and football program, Jenkins said. Vice president for public affairs and communications Joel Curran will coordinate a strategy to better advertise Notre Dame’s research and global engagement.

“We must strive to inform a national and global audience about our academic work,” Jenkins said. 

Jenkins added that it is important that a greater emphasis on research does not lead to a decrease in the quality of teaching. 

Gauging public perception helps understand the perspectives of benefactors and prospective students, he said.

“It would be foolish to neglect public perceptions of The University for we know that such perceptions drive the students who apply to attend, the faculty we can attract and the support we receive from benefactors,” Jenkins said.

In addition to improving the perception of research programs, Jenkins said, The University also aims to improve the research programs themselves. 

Jenkins announced two new University goals, centered on graduate programs, asserting that Notre Dame will aim “to provide superb graduate and professional programs that are grounded in disciplinary excellence, foster interdisciplinary connections and are applied to the world’s most pressing problems and for advanced human understanding through scholarship and research that seeks to heal, enlighten and unify.”

Jenkins urged the faculty to help foster a “speak up” culture that can prevent sexual misconduct scandals that have plagued other universities, referencing the program “Living Notre Dame’s Values,” instituted by the office of human resources.

“We must also emphasize the importance of reporting misconduct of any kind and ensuring appropriate follow-up to such reports,” he said.

As a part of ongoing diversity, equity and inclusion efforts, Jenkins revealed the construction of the new Center for Diversity and Inclusion in LaFortune Student Center will begin in December. Jenkins also highlighted that this year’s incoming class is the most diverse in Notre Dame history with students of color and international students composing 40% of the class.

Jenkins went on to comment on the breadth of the opinion of speakers and faculty invited to campus in recent years, ranging from “1619 Project” journalist Nikole Hannah-Jones and transportation secretary Pete Buttigieg to Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and former speaker of the House Paul Ryan. 

“I understand that this range of views creates tensions and draws criticism from one group toward another,” he said, adding that he views the range of opinion as a “great strength” for The University and hopes to continue to welcome a wide array of views on campus in the future.

Jenkins turned his focus to the wage increase that took effect in August. “In July, The University announced a $25 million commitment to increase base compensation for eligible faculty, staff and student workers. This followed a $14 million one-time employee appreciation award for eligible employees in April and a $50 million pool for this year’s annual merit increases” Jenkins said, touting the largest recurring compensation increase in The University’s history. 

“Our challenge at Notre Dame in the next decade will be to produce fruits worthy of the blessings we have received.” Jenkins declared, “And the hopes so many have in The University to be ever more powerfully a force for good in the nation, the world and the church.”

Contact Liam Kelly at [email protected]

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