The Sycamore Trust – alumni devoted to protecting the Catholic identity of the University of Notre Dame – recently announced changes to their board. Bill Dempsey, former President, was elected as Chairman of the Sycamore Trust Board. Ed Adams was elected as President. Joe Reich was re-elected as Vice President, and George Heidkamp as Secretary/Treasurer. In addition, Tim Dempsey, co-founder of the Trust, was appointed to the newly-formed position of Executive Director.
The Sycamore Trust was originally founded in 2007 in response to The Vagina Monologues. The Trust’s mission has been to provide a source of information, a means of communication, and a collective voice to Notre Dame alumni and others in the Notre Dame family who are concerned about preserving the Catholic identity of the University.
While the play was the event that gave rise to the Sycamore Trust, the organization admits that the “fundamental problem is the radical weakening of Catholic representation on the faculty.”
“In the mid-1970s Catholic faculty – those who checked the Catholic box on the personnel form – was at 85%,” said Chair Bill Dempsey. “That fell to 53% in 2006, and is presently about 54%, though if you remove those who are non-practicing and/or dissenting, the number is far lower.” Citing the University’s mission statement, Dempsey said, “The University no longer meets its own requirement for Catholic identity.”
Asked about the Sycamore Trust’s concerns, Dempsey said that the University of Notre Dame no longer requires a moral theology course. He also expressed concerns regarding the University’s recent decision regarding the approval of a homosexual student organization.
“The faculty issue is our primary interest,” said Dempsey. “What we hope for is that those in governance will recognize the faculty problem and set reasonable goals to restore, in time, a truly Catholic majority on the faculty.”
“85% of the student body is Catholic. The largest student club is the pro-life club. There is a wonderful, if diminished, core of Catholic faculty there, including many young professors. The law school and the business school have excellent Catholic representation,” said Dempsey. “The school could be the leading higher education center in the world as a true center of Catholic thought and action. It has that potential.”
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