May 30, 2008
NOTRE DAME, Ind. - Notre Dame athletics director Kevin White and his wife Jane Wednesday night were named honorary alumni of the University by the University of Notre Dame Alumni Association.
The honorary alumnus designation is considered one of the most prestigious awards presented by the University. The Whites now are part of an exclusive group of 37 individuals who have had that title conferred upon them.
Honorees are non-Notre Dame graduates who are chosen because of their unique contributions that singularly qualify them for special recognition as members of the Notre Dame community and family. The award is bestowed only upon the most worthy individuals, and therefore is not awarded every year.
"It is a privilege to honor Kevin and Jane White, and to welcome them into the alumni family of the University of Notre Dame," said Notre Dame Alumni Association executive director Charles F. Lennon, Jr., who also serves as University associate vice president for University relations.
"Since joining Notre Dame in 2000, Kevin has become integral to our community, and contributed to enhancing the Notre Dame experience for countless students and alumni," added Richard Nussbaum, president of the Alumni Association Board of Directors.
"I know of no two individuals who exhibit the great spirit of Notre Dame any more than Kevin and Jane do - they are Notre Damers through and through."
The surprise presentation came at the Whites' home where they were serving as hosts for the annual Notre Dame Monogram Club summer dinner. Making remarks as part of the presentation were Nussbaum and University president Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
"I go to sleep at night knowing that whatever goes on in our athletics department, it will reflect the values of the University. I know that because Kevin takes responsibility for that and is dedicated to that," said Father Jenkins in making the presentation.
"Whether you talk about the integrity of the athletics program or the successes on and off the field, Kevin gives himself to all that and infuses that through the entire department. Everyone who knows the Whites knows the two of them are a team, and Jane works every bit as hard at this effort as Kevin."
Both Whites received plaques signed by Father Jenkins, Nussbaum and Lennon that read, "In recognition of your service to Notre Dame consistent with the highest traditions of Notre Dame Alumni. May Our Lady on the Dome bless you and your family always for your dedication and commitment to the University."
A variety of family, friends and associates traveled to South Bend for the presentation - including the White's children Danny (associate athletics director for development at Fresno State), Mike (an assistant basketball coach at Ole Miss) and Brian (in the sports administration MBA program at Ohio University), and former Notre Dame athletics staffers Sandy Barbour (now athletics director at California) and Bernard Muir (athletics director at Georgetown).
The Whites become the first recipients connected with Notre Dame athletics since Irish women's basketball coach Muffet McGraw earned the honor in 1997. Other honorary alumni with Irish athletic ties have been former football coach Lou Holtz (1990), former athletics director Gene Corrigan (1984), former hockey coach Charles "Lefty" Smith (1983), former football coach Gerry Faust (1981) and former football coach Ara Parseghian (he was the first recipient of the honor in 1974). Both Parseghian and current football coach Charlie Weis were present for the announcement Wednesday night, as were dozens of other Notre Dame coaches and administrators.
White became Notre Dame's athletics director in March 2000. He's a 1972 St. Joseph's College (Rensselaer, Ind.) graduate who went on to earn a master's degree from Central Michigan University in 1976 and a Ph.D. from Southern Illinois University in 1983. His wife, Jane, graduated from St. Joseph's in 1973 and earned a master's degree from Central Michigan in 1977.
In addition to the major advancements he has overseen relative to Notre Dame athletics, White plays a major role at the highest levels of the intercollegiate athletics scene - as one of the ongoing architects of the Bowl Championship Series (BCS), the current president of the National Association of Collegiate Directors of Athletics (NACDA) and the immediate past president of the Division I-A Athletics Directors Association.
White is in the process of running 1,000 miles over 100 days to raise funds for the South Bend Center for the Homeless and the Boys & Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County.