NEW YORK – University of Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins has announced that he will step down from the position at the conclusion of the 2023-2024 academic school year, citing a desire to return to a teaching and ministry role at the university.
“Serving as President of Notre Dame for me, has been both a privilege and a calling,” Jenkins said in an Oct. 13 statement. “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, the university’s 17th president, has served in the role since 2005.
In a news release, the university credited Jenkins with advancing Notre Dame’s mission as a Catholic research university, growing the university as a research institution, securing the university’s admission in the Association of American Universities, expanding the university’s global engagement, and successfully offering students and in-person education through the COVID-19 pandemic.
John Brennan, chair of the university’s Board of Trustees said the university has been “incredibly blessed by Father Jenkins’ courageous and visionary leadership.”
“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 said.
“This is an extraordinary time for Notre Dame, and we are confident that the next leader will take the University to even greater heights of accomplishment,” Brennan added.
The university is in the process of finding Jenkins’ successor, according to the news release.
Jenkins’ tenure occasionally has been marked by controversy, most notably his 2009 decision to invite U.S. President Barack Obama to deliver the commencement address and to receive an honorary degree. The choice was criticized by many Catholics, including a number of U.S. bishops, in light of Obama’s stand on abortion. Jenkins has drawn fire on other fronts as well, such as allowing The Vagina Monologues to be performed on campus.
Jenkins also faced a no-confidence vote in the Notre Dame faculty senate in 2020 after he attended a White House ceremony for Supreme Court nominee (now Justice) Amy Coney Barrett during the Covid-19 pandemic in which he didn’t wear a mask or observe social distancing, breaking with the same policies he had imposed on the Notre Dame campus.
Notre Dame, located in Indiana, is arguably the most renowned Catholic university in the U.S., and among the best-known in the world. It has 8,874 undergraduate students, and 3,935 graduate students enrolled.
In the same announcement about Jenkin’s future, the university announced that John Veihmeyer, the retired chairman of KPMG International, will succeed Brennan as chair of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees effective June 2024. He will serve as vice chair until then.
Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees was established in 1967 when governance was transferred from the Congregation of Holy Cross to a two-tiered board of lay and religious Trustees and Fellows.
Veihmeyer joined the Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees in 2017, and is a 1977 graduate of the university. He currently serves on the board of the Ford Motor Company, and chairs the boards of the Ladies Professional Golf Association (LPGA) and Catholic Charities of Washington, D.C.
In a statement, he said he is deeply honored and humbled to be elected board chair.
“For all of us who love Notre Dame, it is an incredible privilege to support the University in any capacity and I am grateful that my fellow trustees have given me the opportunity to serve them, and Notre Dame,” Veihmeyer said. “Jack Brennan has been an extraordinary leader for Notre Dame and I look forward to continuing to work closely with him over the next 8 months.”
Follow John Lavenburg on X: @johnlavenburg