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    Notre Dame to Remain Independent

    FIGHTING IRISH
    FIGHTING IRISH

    FIGHTING IRISH

    February 5, 1999

    LONDON-- The Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame today affirmed the recommendation of the University's officers that Notre Dame retain its institutional independence.

    The decision culminated a process of information-sharing between Notre Dame and both the Big Ten Conference and the Committee for Institutional Cooperation (CIC), the academic consortium of Big Ten universities plus the University of Chicago and the University of Illinois-Chicago.

    Andrew J. McKenna, chairman of the Board of Trustees, and Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., Notre Dame's president, announced the decision at a news conference in Marian Kennedy Fischer Hall, Notre Dame's new London study center, following the Trustees' winter meeting there. The meeting is taking place in conjunction with the dedication of Fischer Hall tomorrow (Feb. 6).

    "Notre Dame over the years has enjoyed close associations with a number of Big Ten and CIC institutions both in athletic and in academic pursuits, and certainly we look forward not only to maintaining, but also to expanding these relationships in the future," McKenna said in announcing the Trustees' decision. "It has been a privilege to have been allowed to explore the possibility of full partnership with these great universities.

    "In the end, however, it was the judgment of the University's officers that Notre Dame should remain independent institutionally and retain its existing athletic arrangements." In athletics, that means continued independence for the football program and Big East Conference membership for most other sports.

    "Notre Dame has a distinct identity that is the product of more than a century and a half of institutional independence," Father Malloy said in describing the decision. "As a Catholic university with a national constituency, we believe independence continues to be our best way forward, not just in athletics, but, first and foremost, in fulfillment of our academic aspirations.

    "The process of sharing information with the Big Ten and CIC has been of great value to Notre Dame," Father Malloy said. "It encouraged us to consider a variety of issues integral to our pursuit of academic and athletic excellence, as well as to our distinct mission as a Catholic university. We have great respect for both the academic stature and the athletic integrity of the Big Ten universities."

    The decision, Father Malloy explained, ultimately hinged on the institutional identity of Notre Dame. "Just as the Universities of Michigan or Wisconsin or Illinois have core identities as the flagship institutions of their states, so Notre Dame has a core identity, and at that core are these characteristics--Catholic, private, independent," he said.

    As a Big Ten and CIC member, Father Malloy pointed out, "Notre Dame would be one of only two private universities . . . and the only university with a religious affiliation." Notre Dame also, he said, would be by far the smallest of the affiliated institutions.

    The Catholic character of Notre Dame, Father Malloy said, " . . . gives a unique perspective to our educational mission and permeates our campus culture. Our most basic decisions concerning student life, our faculty, our core curriculum, even the fields of scholarship and research in which we aspire to make a significant contribution, all reflect the fact that we are a Catholic university.

    "These differences in identity between Notre Dame and the member institutions of the Big Ten are essential, not incidental," Father Malloy said. "They are not qualities that are amenable to change, nor would we change them. Notre Dame always will be Catholic and always will be private. Even in terms of size, we will not become appreciably larger. Given these realities, we have had to ask ourselves the fundamental question, does this core identity of Notre Dame as Catholic, private, and independent seem a match for an association of universities--even a splendid association of great universities--that are uniformly secular, predominantly state institutions and with a long heritage of conference affiliation.

    "Our answer to that question, in the final analysis, is no."

    Father Malloy echoed McKenna in expressing gratitude to the Big Ten the opportunity to explore a potential partnership. "Our relationships with (the Big Ten) over more than a century--our competition in sport and cooperation in research and scholarship--have greatly enriched Notre Dame," he said, "and we look forward to maintaining and deepening those relationships--not as a member of the family but as, we hope, an old and close family friend."

    Father Malloy also thanked the leadership and membership of the Big East Conference for "forbearance as we have assessed our future. We value highly our Big East athletic membership, which has helped to strengthen greatly our programs that are part of the conference, and we look forward to the continued success and prosperity of this relationship."

    Father Malloy pledged to Notre Dame's faculty, students, and alumni a continued commitment "to making Notre Dame a great university. You've seen this commitment take shape on campus in the quality of our new faculty hires, in our construction of state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities, and in the emergence of our academic centers of excellence," he said. "In the near future you will see further and fresh evidence of this commitment to continuing Notre Dame's evolution as a center of learning and scholarship. I give you my pledge that we will remain constant and diligent in pursuit of our highest academic aspirations."

    # # #

    Remarks of Andrew J. McKenna,
    Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame

    The University of Notre Dame's Board of Trustees today affirmed the recommendation of the University's officers that Notre Dame should retain its institutional independence.

    In a moment I'll call upon our President, Fr. Malloy, to discuss more fully how the University has arrived at this decision, but first I want to say how very grateful and honored we are to have been able to engage in this extensive information sharing process with the Big Ten and its academic consortium, the Committee on Institutional Cooperation, or CIC. Notre Dame over the years has enjoyed close associations with a number of Big Ten and CIC institutions both in athletic and in academic pursuits, and certainly we look forward not only to maintaining, but also to expanding these relationships in the future. It has been a privilege to have been allowed to explore the possibility of full partnership with these great universities.

    In the end, however, it was the judgment of the University's officers that Notre Dame should remain independent institutionally and retain its existing athletic arrangements. The Board of Trustees concurred in this judgment.

    And now I'd like to turn to the President of Notre Dame, Father Edward Malloy. Monk . . .

    Remarks of Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C.,
    President of the University of Notre Dame

    Thank you, Andy.

    Let me begin by echoing Andy's sentiments concerning the Big Ten and CIC. Those of us who are involved in the administration of Notre Dame all have enjoyed long and close associations with faculty and administrators and officers of various Big Ten and CIC institutions. Our numerous and long-standing athletic associations with Big Ten schools are well known to the public; it was a group of University of Michigan students, you may recall, who first taught Notre Dame students to play the game of football, and not too long ago an entire book was written on that enduring football rivalry.

    Our academic associations with Big Ten and CIC institutions are less well known, but of even greater importance. Many both of our faculty and administrative staff personnel are products of these institutions. In fact, our three newest deans and our director of libraries all came to Notre Dame from positions at Big Ten universities.

    Likewise, numerous individual Notre Dame faculty, as well as various of our academic departments, centers, and institutes engage in joint scholarship and research projects with their Big Ten counterparts. One prominent example of these cooperative endeavors is the Indiana University medical school program that resides on the Notre Dame campus. We and Indiana even now are pursuing plans to expand that program and enhance its interplay with Notre Dame research efforts such as our Keck Center for Transgene Research.

    The process of sharing information with the Big Ten and CIC has been of great value to Notre Dame. It encouraged us to consider a variety of issues integral to our pursuit of academic and athletic excellence, as well as to our distinct mission as a Catholic university. We have great respect for both the academic stature and the athletic integrity of the Big Ten universities.

    Why, then, not take the ultimate step in partnership and become a member of the Big Ten? That answer, in the end result, transcends the many individual factors, academic and athletic, that weigh either for or against conference affiliation. Ultimately, the answer lies in the institutional identity of Notre Dame, its overarching definition. Just as the Universities of Michigan or Wisconsin or Illinois have core identities as the flagship institutions of their states, so Notre Dame has a core identity, and at that core are these characteristics--Catholic, private, independent.

    Ostensibly, affiliation with the Big Ten would involve only one of these characteristics, but closer examination raises further questions. Notre Dame would be one of only two private universities among these institutions and the only university with a religious affiliation. Notre Dame also, by the way, would be by far the smallest of these institutions. Northwestern, which is nearest to us in size, has a student population twice as large as Notre Dame's, while the state universities all are three, four, even five times our size.

    The issue of religious identity is not, as might be thought, a question of our Catholic character somehow being diminished by an affiliation with secular institutions. We alone are responsible for the vitality of our Catholic character. But that character gives a unique perspective to our educational mission and permeates our campus culture. Our most basic decisions concerning student life, our faculty, our core curriculum, even the fields of scholarship and research in which we aspire to make a significant contribution, all reflect the fact that we are a Catholic university. No other institution in the Big Ten, or the CIC, shares this distinctive educational mission, which creates a basic dissimilarity between Notre Dame and the institutions with which we would be partnered.

    These differences in identity between Notre Dame and the member institutions of the Big Ten are essential, not incidental. They are not qualities that are amenable to change, nor would we change them. Notre Dame always will be Catholic and always will be private. Even in terms of size, we will not become appreciably larger. Given these realities, we have had to ask ourselves the fundamental question, does this core identity of Notre Dame as Catholic, private, and independent seem a match for an association of universities--even a splendid association of great universities--that are uniformly secular, predominantly state institutions and with a long heritage of conference affiliation.

    Our answer to that question, in the final analysis, is no.

    Notre Dame has a distinct identity that is the product of more than a century and a half of institutional independence. As a Catholic university with a national constituency, we believe independence continues to be our best way forward, not jut in athletics, but, first and foremost, in fulfillment of our academic aspirations.

    To the leadership and membership of the Big Ten and CIC, I want to say, as Andy McKenna has, that you have our great gratitude for permitting us this opportunity to explore our potential partnership. Our relationships with you over more than a century--our competition in sport and cooperation in research and scholarship--have greatly enriched Notre Dame, and we look forward to maintaining and deepening those relationships--not as a member of the family but as, we hope, an old and close family friend.

    To the leadership and membership of the Big East Conference, let me say that we sincerely appreciate your forbearance as we have assessed our future. We value highly our Big East athletic membership, which has helped to strengthen greatly our programs that are part of the conference, and we look forward to the continued success and prosperity of this relationship.

    Finally but foremost, to our faculty, students, and alumni, I want to reinforce our commitment to making Notre Dame a great university. You've seen this commitment take shape on campus in the quality of our new faculty hires, in our construction of state-of-the-art teaching and research facilities, and in the emergence of our academic centers of excellence. In the near future you will see further and fresh evidence of this commitment to continuing Notre Dame's evolution as a center of learning and scholarship. I give you my pledge that we will remain constant and diligent in pursuit of our highest academic aspirations.

    University of Notre Dame football coach Bob Davie:

    "It's obvious the University's announcement today involved far more than football and far more than just athletics. It involved a reinforcement of the heritage and culture of the institution -- not only looking back into the past but also projecting where Notre Dame expects to be in the future.

    "All of us who coach here have promoted the characteristics that have positioned Notre Dame as an independent, national, Catholic institution. I'm very comfortable continuing to do that as far as our football program is concerned.

    "As an independent in football, we have some unique opportunities afforded to us that make us tremendously attractive to a prospective student-athlete. Based on the success we've had recently in recruiting and the improvement we've made as a football team, I like where we are and where we're headed."

    Statement from BIG EAST Commissioner Michael Tranghese regarding today's decision made by the University of Notre Dame Board of Trustees to discontinue discussions with The Big Ten Conference.

    "The BIG EAST is pleased that Notre Dame and The Big Ten Conference have elected to discontinue their exploratory talks. The BIG EAST is excited about moving forward with Notre Dame and we believe Notre Dame will continue to make significant contributions to the Conference in the future."

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