Template:Infobox University President

The Rev. Theodore Martin Hesburgh, CSC, STD (born May 25, 1917), a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross, is President Emeritus of the University of Notre Dame. He is the namesake for TIAA-CREF's Hesburgh Award.

Hesburgh grew up in Syracuse and had wished to become a priest since early childhood. He studied at Notre Dame until his seminary sent him to Italy. He studied in Rome until he was forced to leave due to the outbreak of World War II. He graduated from The Catholic University of America in 1945, having earned a Doctorate in Sacred Theology. He became executive vice-president in 1949 and served in that position for 3 years.


Hesburgh served as Notre Dame's President for 35 years (1952–87), the longest tenure to date. He supervised dramatic growth, as well as a transition to coeducation in 1972. During his term, the annual operating budget rose by a factor of 18 from $9.7 million to $176.6 million, the endowment rose by a factor of 40 from $9 million to $350 million, and research funding rose by a factor of 20 from $735,000 to $15 million. Enrollment nearly doubled from 4,979 to 9,600, faculty more than doubled 389 to 950, and degrees awarded annually doubled from 1,212 to 2,500.[1]

Hesburgh served as a member of the United States Civil Rights Commission from 1957, and Chairman from 1969, until his dismissal by President Richard Nixon in 1972 due to his frequent opposition to Nixon policies. He also served in a number of other posts on government commissions, non-profit organization boards, and Vatican missions, beginning with his appointment to a science commission by President Dwight Eisenhower in 1954. He was a contributor to the 1958 analysis of the U.S. education system, The Pursuit of Excellence, commissioned by the Rockefeller Brothers Fund as part of its Special Studies Project.[2]

In 1967, he led an academic movement which issued the so-called Land O'Lakes statement which insisted upon "true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical". According to Rick Perlstein in Nixonland, Hesburgh was considered by George McGovern as his running mate in the 1972 presidential election.[3] McGovern chose Thomas Eagleton.

Hesburgh was a key figure in anti-Vietnam War student activism. After discovering a student plot to burn the Notre Dame campus ROTC building in 1969, Hesburgh issued a letter to the student body outlining the University's stance. The letter was later reprinted by the New York times and Washington Post.[4] At the request of President Richard Nixon, Hesburgh advised Vice President Spiro Agnew regarding controlling violence on college campuses.[5] Hesburgh generally disagreed with US policy in Vietnam and favored accelerated withdrawal of US troops.[5]

From 1977 to 1982 Hesburgh was chairman of the Rockefeller Foundation.[6] President Jimmy Carter appointed him to a blue-ribbon immigration reform commission in 1979; the commission's finding — that any national immigration reform proposals can succeed only if the American national border is properly secured beforehand[7] — has been cited by various opponents of illegal immigration to the United States, especially those who are Catholic or sympathetic to Catholic views.

He was one of the founders of People for the American Way. Hesburgh served on the Knight Commission that overhauled college sports from 1990 to 1996. Hesburgh was a major figure in US politics and the Catholic Church from the 1950s to the 1990s, and he is still influential today. He is an endorser of the Genocide Intervention Network and is a strong supporter of interfaith dialogue.

File:Obama and hesburgh.JPG

In 2009, he supported the invitation for Barack Obama to speak at Notre Dame, which was controversial because of Obama's strong endorsement of pro-choice legislation.[8]

As of 2014 he still lives on the Notre Dame campus.[9]

Honors and awardsEdit

Hesburgh has had many accomplishments, honors, and awards in his public career and he is "the recipient of over 150 honorary degress, the most ever awarded to one person."[10] He became the first individual from post-secondary education to be awarded the United States Congressional Gold Medal in 2000.[10][11] He has served in over sixteen presidential appointments "involving him in civil rights, peaceful uses of atomic energy, campus unrest, and immigration reform -- including the United States policy of amnesty for immigrants in the mid-1980s."[10] He was the first priest to be elected to the Board of Overseers at Harvard and for two years served as president of the Harvard Board.[12] He also served as a director for the Chase Manhattan Bank.[10] While serving on the Board of the United States Institute of Peace, he "helped organize a meeting of scientists and representative leaders of six faith traditions who called for the elimination of nuclear weapons."[10] He served as a trustee and later Chairman of the Board of the Rockefeller Foundation.[10] He was appointed as ambassador to the 1979 UN Conference on Science and Technology for Development.[10]

Other awards include:

File:Fr. Ted Hesburgh's Congressional Medal of Freedom.jpg

He holds the Guinness Book of World Records title for “Most Honorary Degrees”, having been awarded 150.

Hesburgh LibraryEdit

File:Hesburgh Library.jpg

The University of Notre Dame's library opened on September 18, 1963 as the Memorial Library. It was named after Father Hesburgh in 1987. He has a private office on the thirteenth floor with the Olympic Torch from the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Games.


Works by or about Theodore Hesburgh in libraries (WorldCat catalog)

Further readingEdit

  • Michael O'Brien, Hesburgh: A Biography Catholic University of America Press (1998)
  • Theodore M. Hesburgh, God, Country, Notre Dame: The Autobiography of Theodore M. Hesburgh (2000)


  1. Michael O'Brien, Hesburgh: A Biography (1998); Theodore M. Hesburgh, God, Country, Notre Dame: The Autobiography of Theodore M. Hesburgh (2000)
  2. "Education: The Pursuit of Excellence". Time. July 7, 1958.,9171,863578,00.html. "Last week the U.S. had, for the reading, as thoughtful and searching an analysis of its educational system as it is likely to get."
  3. Perlstein, Rick (2008). Nixonland: The Rise of a President and the Fracturing of America. Simon and Schuster. pp. 383, 420. ISBN 978-0-7432-4302-5.
  5. 5.0 5.1
  6. Ann Therese Darin Palmer (August 2007). Thanking Father Ted: Thirty-Five Years of Notre Dame Coeducation. Andrews McMeel Publishing. p. 58. ISBN 0740770306. "Hesburgh later served as the foundation's chairman from 1977 to 1982"
  7. U.S. Immigration Policy and the National Interest. The Final Report and Recommendations of the Select Commission on Immigration and Refugee Policy
  8. Former ND president approves of Obama's visit Former ND president approves of Obama's visit
  9. Fosmoe, Margaret (2012-05-24). "Father Ted Turns 95, Reflects on Years at Notre Dame". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved 2012-05-28.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 10.3 10.4 10.5 10.6 Anne Hendershott (2009). Status Envy: The Politics of Catholic Higher Education. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction Publishers. p. 15.
  11. "Congressional Gold Medal Recipient Father Theodore M. Hesburgh".
  14. "Public Welfare Award". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 18 February 2011.
  15. Garvey, Michael O. (2013-04-11). "Father Hesburgh to be Named Honorary Navy Chaplain" (Press release). University of Notre Dame. Retrieved 2013-04-15.

External linksEdit

Awards and achievements
Preceded by
Krishna Menon
Cover of Time magazine
9 February 1962
Succeeded by
Robert Kennedy
Preceded by
Mina Rees
Public Welfare Medal
Succeeded by
Isidor Isaac Rabi

Template:University of Notre Dame presidents

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