- The University of Notre Dame’s longtime president, Rev. John Jenkins, will step down from his role at the end of the 2023-24 academic year to return to teaching and ministry at the Roman Catholic institution.
- Jenkins has been Notre Dame’s president since 2005. During his tenure, the university has boosted its research funding and gained entry to the Association of American Universities, an invite-only organization representing research universities.
- Notre Dame has begun a search for its next president, who will be selected from among the priests of the university’s founding order, the Congregation of Holy Cross, according to a Friday announcement.
The university’s announcement of Jenkins’ departure credited him with several accomplishments, including advancing Notre Dame’s research mission, attracting qualified faculty and ensuring it is fiscally sound.
“Notre Dame is and has been incredibly blessed by Father Jenkins’ courageous and visionary leadership,” said John Brennan, chair of the university’s governing board. “He has devoted himself to advancing the University and its mission, fulfilling the promise he made when he was inaugurated — to work collaboratively to build a great Catholic university for the 21st century.”
The university has more than doubled its research funding over the past decade. In fiscal 2023, Notre Dame secured almost $216 million in research awards, up from $95.8 million in 2013. The funding was spread over 824 awards, the highest the university ever received.
The announcement also praised Jenkins’ efforts to offer students in-person education during the early days of the coronavirus pandemic. However, those moves have not been without controversy.
Jenkins pushed Notre Dame to open in person for students during the fall 2020 term, though the university had to switch to online coursework for two weeks after campus cases spiked. The reopening plan drew the ire of some students and faculty members, who called it reckless.
He also came under fire for not wearing a mask at the White House during Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination ceremony for the U.S. Supreme Court in September 2020. Afterward, Jenkins issued a public apology. He came down with COVID-19 a few days later.
In a statement Friday, Jenkins called serving as Notre Dame’s president a privilege.
“While I am proud of the accomplishments of past years, I am above all grateful for the Trustees, benefactors, faculty, staff, students, alumni and friends who made them possible,” Jenkins said. “There is much to celebrate now, but I believe Notre Dame’s best years lie ahead.”