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Notre Dame Announces Strategic Plan Making Catholic Character a Priority

University of Notre DameThe University of Notre Dame recently released a strategic plan for the next decade entitled, “A Legacy Expanded,” which seeks to affirm its Catholic identity, according to The Observer.

“We place at the forefront of this new strategic plan the University’s Catholic character and the need for it to touch every aspect of our life and work,” the plan states.

Earlier this year, Pope Francis urged Notre Dame to be an “uncompromising witness… to the Church’s moral teaching” and to resist “efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness.”

The plan, released by the University this week and available at www.strategicplan.nd.edu, outlines numerous long-term goals and strategies including ensuring that the university’s “Catholic character informs all our endeavors, offer an unsurpassed undergraduate education that nurtures the formation of mind, body and spirit, advance human understanding through scholarship, research and post-baccalaureate programs that seek to heal, unify and enlighten, foster the University’s mission through superb stewardship of its human, physical and financial resources and engage in external collaborations that extend and deepen Notre Dame’s impact.”

“As a Catholic university in the Holy Cross tradition, Notre Dame strives to combine a living faith that is seeking understanding with an uncompromising commitment to the search for truth through teaching and inquiry,” states the plan. “It believes commitments to faith and reason are not only compatible, but even complementary.”

In light of that goal, the University lays out a number of strategies including maintaining a predominance of Catholic faculty, ensuring a proportion of Catholic undergraduate students, and ensuring that all faculty, regardless of their faith, respect the University’s mission.

In recent months, The Sycamore Trust, an alumni organization committed to promoting Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, has urged the University to increase the number of Catholic faculty. The key to a college’s Catholic identity is “what goes on in the classroom, who’s teaching and what they’re teaching,” wrote the Sycamore Trust’s Chairman, William Dempsey.

Both Sycamore Trust and The Cardinal Newman Society continue to report on developments at Notre Dame.

The strategic plan states that the university must “communicate scholarship and dialogue outcomes in a manner that serves the Church.”

The term “dialogue” was often used by Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins to defend the invitation to President Barack Obama in 2009, despite the newly-elected president’s support for legal abortion.  The honorary doctorate bestowed on Obama was opposed by 83 U.S. bishops and the approximately 367,000 people who signed The Cardinal Newman Society’s online petition.

“The power of the strategic plan is not purely in enunciating University goals,” said Fr. Jenkins in the release. “Its force comes from the many faculty, deans, trustees and benefactors who have reflected together on how to achieve the aspirations of Notre Dame — and the alumni, students, parents and friends who will keep us on course, call for results and press us on to achieve our goals.”

The plan states that the Catholic tradition is not just one part of the university’s mission. “It informs all we do, serving as the underlying foundation for our aspirations as a community of scholars and administrators,” the plan states, “and shaping the spirit with which we engage each other and the world.”

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