Notre Dame President Father John I. Jenkins to step down after 19 years — By: Catholic News Agency

The Reverend John I. Jenkins will step down after nearly two decades of service as the president of Notre Dame University at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. / Credit: Barbara Johnston, University of Notre Dame

Washington, D.C. Newsroom, Oct 13, 2023 / 14:15 pm (CNA).

Following nearly two decades of service, Father John I. Jenkins will step down from his role as the president of Notre Dame University and return to ministry and teaching at the end of the 2023-24 academic year.

Jenkins, a Congregation of Holy Cross priest, is the university’s 17th president. He has served in this role since he assumed office on July 1, 2005. It is unclear who will succeed him in his role as president.

“Serving as president of Notre Dame for me, as a Holy Cross priest, has been both a privilege and a calling,” Jenkins said in his Friday, Oct. 13 announcement.

“While I am proud of the accomplishments of past years, I am above all grateful for the trustees, benefactors, faculty, staff, students, alumni, and friends who made them possible,” Jenkins added. “There is much to celebrate now, but I believe Notre Dame’s best years lie ahead.”

In a news release, the university credited Jenkins with fostering dramatic growth in research at Notre Dame and securing its admission to the Association of American Universities. The university also noted that Jenkins ensured the university’s financial strength and admitted a talented and diverse student body. 

The university further credited Jenkins with expanding Notre Dame’s global engagement and maintaining in-person education during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Notre Dame is and has been incredibly blessed by Father Jenkins’ courageous and visionary leadership,” John J. Brennan, the chair of the University’s Board of Trustees said in a statement. 

“Together with the remarkable leadership team he has assembled, he has devoted himself to advancing the University and its mission, fulfilling the promise he made when he was inaugurated — to work collaboratively to build a great Catholic university for the 21st century,” Brennan added. “This is an extraordinarily exciting time for Notre Dame, and we are confident that the next leader will take the University to even greater heights of accomplishment.”

Jenkins’s lengthy tenure, however, was not without controversy. While serving as president, the priest received criticism for some of his decisions, such as awarding former President Barack Obama an honorary degree and allowing him to speak at commencement in spite of his pro-abortion record, and permitting a homosexual film festival on campus.

The Board of Trustees will elect a new president from among the Congregation of Holy Cross, which is the university that founded the university. According to the news release, the search is still underway.

Also on Friday, Notre Dame announced that the Board of Trustees elected John B. Veihmeyer to be the new chair of the board, beginning in June of 2024. He is the current vice chair. He will replace the current chair, John J. Brennan. Veihmeyer joined the Board of Trustees in 2017.

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