John I. Jenkins

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John I. Jenkins

John Jenkins stadium.jpg
17th President of the University of Notre Dame
Assumed office
July 1, 2005
Preceded byEdward Malloy
Personal details
Born (1953-12-17) December 17, 1953 (age 66)
Omaha, Nebraska
Alma materUniversity of Oxford
Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley
University of Notre Dame

John Ignatius Jenkins, C.S.C. (born December 17, 1953) is the current president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He previously served as its vice-president and associate provost.[1] He replaced Fr. Edward Malloy.

He was initially chosen as president-elect by the Notre Dame board of trustees on April 29, 2004; his tenure began on July 1, 2005. On October 11, 2019, Jenkins was elected to a fourth consecutive five-year term as president.[2]

Early Life and Career[edit]

Jenkins was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska and attended the premier high school in the city, Creighton Preparatory School. A Notre Dame alumnus, Jenkins earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy from the University in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and was ordained a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus in 1983. While earning bachelor’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Oxford University in 1987 and 1989, respectively, he also taught in Notre Dame’s London Undergraduate Program. He earned a master of divinity degree and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1988.[citation needed]

Jenkins has been a member of the Notre Dame philosophy faculty since 1990; he received a Lilly Teaching Fellowship in 1991-1992. He served as director of the Old College program for Holy Cross seminarians from 1991 to 1993 and as religious superior of the Holy Cross priests and brothers at Notre Dame from 1997 to 2000. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and The Journal of Religious Ethics and of the book Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas.[citation needed]

Jenkins is a member of the Board of Directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates.[3]

Commitment and vision[edit]

Jenkins with Richard Lugar in 2005

At Jenkins’ inauguration on September 23, 2005, he stated:

"My presidency will be driven by a wholehearted commitment to uniting and integrating these two indispensable and wholly compatible strands of higher learning: academic excellence and religious faith."[4][5][6][7][8]

During his first four years in office, Notre Dame has made significant progress toward its research goal, including selection as the lead university partner in the Midwest Institute for Nanoelectronics Discovery; the creation of Innovation Park, a tech park located adjacent to the campus; the distribution of $40 million in internal funds for five major faculty research initiatives (with another $40 million designated for five more projects); designation of the university's Environmental Research Center in Wisconsin as a National Ecological Observatory Network by the National Science Foundation; and the construction of Stinson-Remick Hall of Engineering, a 142,000-square-foot (13,200 m2) facility housing a nanotechnology research center, the University’s new Energy Center, now the Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame (ND Energy),[9] a semiconductor processing and device fabrication clean room, and an undergraduate inter-disciplinary learning center.

Although Jenkins has repeatedly vowed to maintain Notre Dame’s identity as a Catholic university, he has not been immune to criticism. His decisions include an invitation to President Barack Obama to attend Notre Dame's 2009 commencement ceremony and to receive an honorary degree was heavily criticized by both Catholic laity and bishops, including Notre Dame's own former Bishop John D'Arcy, who opposed the invitation because of Obama's stance on abortion.[10] Fr. Jenkins was likewise advised not to invite Vice President Biden and then-Speaker Boehner by Notre Dame's bishop Kevin C. Rhoades; Fr. Jenkins refused to comply. In a public statement, Bp. Rhoades said:

"In dialogue with Father Jenkins about this matter some months ago, I shared with him my concerns with honoring the Vice-President. I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any “pro-choice” public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service, since direct abortion is gravely contrary to the natural law and violates a very fundamental principle of Catholic moral and social teaching: the inalienable right to life of every innocent human being from the moment of conception. I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage. The Church has continually urged public officials, especially Catholics, of the grave and clear obligation to oppose any law that supports or facilitates abortion or that undermines the authentic meaning of marriage. I disagree with awarding someone for ‘outstanding service to the Church and society’ who has not been faithful to this obligation....My principal concern about this whole matter is scandal. In honoring a “pro-choice” Catholic who also has supported the redefinition of marriage, which the Church considers harmful to the common good of society, it can give the impression to people, including Catholics in political office, that one can be 'a good Catholic' while also supporting or advocating for positions that contradict our fundamental moral and social principles and teachings."[11]

Fr. Jenkins has also been criticized for other decisions such as allowing performances of The Vagina Monologues and showings of gay films on campus.[12] Despite Catholic teaching on the subject, Jenkins has declined to provide affordable health insurance for student spouses and children, with the result that high percentages of both are uninsured.[13] This was once again openly criticized by the local diocesan bishop Kevin C. Rhoades, who wrote in another public statement: "I strongly disagree with Notre Dame’s decision to provide funding for contraception in its health insurance plans, which involves it even more directly in contributing to immoral activity. The Catholic Church clearly teaches that contraception is an immoral action that contradicts the truth of marital love....Members of the community who decide to use contraceptives, however, should not expect the university to act contrary to its Catholic beliefs by funding these contraceptives....I hope and pray that the University will reconsider its decision."[14]


After a Town Hall meeting at the University of Notre Dame's Washington Hall, Jenkins stated that Babette's Feast is one of his favorite films and he promised to reveal his favorite film at some unspecified point in the future.[15]


  1. ^ "Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: President". University of Notre Dame. 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015. ... became the University's 17th president on July 1, 2005
  2. ^ Dame, Marketing Communications: Web // University of Notre. "Father Jenkins elected to fourth five-year term as Notre Dame's president". Notre Dame News. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  3. ^ "CPD: Commission Leadership". Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Smith, Christian; Cavadini, John C. (July 29, 2014). Building Catholic Higher Education: Unofficial Reflections from the University of Notre Dame. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781630873936.
  5. ^ Dame, ENR/PAZ // University Communications: Web // University of Notre Dame. "Board of Trustees elects Father Jenkins to second term // News // Notre Dame News // University of Notre Dame". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  6. ^ Dame, ENR/PAZ // University Communications: Web // University of Notre. "Inaugural Address of Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. // Office of the President // University of Notre Dame". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. - Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "† The Criterion Online Edition - November 11, 2005". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Energy Center Center for Sustainable Energy at Notre Dame". 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015.
  10. ^ Beckie Supiano (March 23, 2009). "Despite Disagreements, Obama to Deliver Commencement Speech at Notre Dame". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  11. ^ "Bishop Rhoades' Statements: Concerning the decision of Notre Dame to honor Vice-President Biden and former Speaker Boehner with the Laetare Medal". Bishop Rhoades' Statements. March 14, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  12. ^ Neela Banerjee (April 6, 2006). "Notre Dame's President Allows 'Monologues' and Gay Films". New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  13. ^[permanent dead link]
  14. ^ "Bishop Rhoades' Statements: Regarding the Notre Dame decision on contraceptive coverage". Bishop Rhoades' Statements. February 8, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  15. ^ "Abuse Tracker - A Blog by Kathy Shaw". Retrieved April 12, 2016.

External links[edit]