A Case for Notre Dame

Jun 10, 2013

from Scholastic, 1942...

By REV. JOHN J. CAVANAUGH, CSC
Vice-President of the University and General Chairman of the Centennial Committee.

I take for granted that Notre Dame men are convinced, beyond the need of demonstration, that the philosophy behind education at their University is singularly capable of preserving all that is best in the American form of life.  There seems to be a feeling abroad that, great as Notre Dame has been through her years of struggles, she is today at the threshold of her golden era of influence. I wonder, however, if there is an intelligent unity of opinion among Notre Dame men as to just what is required if Notre Dame is to fulfill her special destiny?

Notre Dame has enjoyed for the last 15 years almost unique success in football.  Our teams have been supported by hundreds of thousands of spectators, and successive generations of students have gone away from the campus strongly suspecting, I fear, that from the football revenues gold bullion was being hoarded in some hidden vault on the campus. A program of building, amounting to more than seven million dollars, had to be carried on in order to make the transition within 15 years from a smaller institution of learning to a large university with an enrollment that tripled within a period of 20 years. The building program became for many merely another link in the chain of evidence that Notre Dame was rich and getting richer year by year. In the face of these conditions the case for endowment at Notre Dame must be explained thoroughly to every member of the Notre Dame family. It doesn't matter so much whether the member of the Notre Dame family is in a position to give, but he should at least have the facts and be disposed to speak out when necessary. Has Notre Dame been making a million dollars a year on football? The year just ended is among the best we ever had. Gross receipts were slightly less than $525,000, and actual expenses for carrying on the intercollegiate and interhall athletic programs amounted to slightly less than $313,000, leaving a net to the University of approximately $212,000. Far from getting a million dollars from football, Notre Dame, then, actually received $212,000, or something less than a quarter of that amount. But is there not, besides, some net return on the general operations of the University exclusive of football? There is. The net is something like $160,000, for the last fiscal year; which means that altogether the entire net was about $372,000. Out of this entire net there is a depreciation reserve set up for the replacement of buildings and equipment, which are either becoming obsolescent or wearing out through daily use. This reserve amounts to something like $150,000, leaving only about $222,000 available for the construction of new buildings, for the development of research and of the graduate departments, and for carrying on the various forms of social security which have already been introduced. What has actually been done with such an amount of money year after year for the last 15 years? Along with the building program amounting to seven million dollars, Notre Dame has continued, from its annual resources, to strengthen all undergraduate departments and, at the same time, has developed seven graduate departments at the University. Anyone familiar with educational work understands immediately that graduate departments, with relatively high-salaried professors who teach comparatively few students who cannot themselves pay their expenses, are a heavy financial load. For this important reason, Notre Dame's policy, like that of the California Institute of Technology, has been to concentrate on few departments in which the doctor's degree is offered and to make these departments the best possible with the men and money available.. Since the success of graduate work depends very largely upon the quality of the professors and of the staffs devoted to research, I may mention certain outstanding men on the various graduate faculties at Notre Dame. The faculty of philosophy is especially notable for the variety of training which its members have received. These members have been trained in the principal Catholic universities of the United States, Canada, France, Germany, Belgium, and Italy. Professor Yves  Simon, the author of several significant works is an outstanding Thomist. He was formerly on the faculty of the University of Lille in France. Father Leo R. Ward, C.S.C, Doctor Francis McMahon and Doctor John Fitzgerald are rising young philosophers of note on the faculty. This current year the University has added to the staff, Professor Paul Vigneux, internationally known for his studies in the history of philosophy, and until recently director of the School of Higher Studies at the University of Paris. On the faculty for graduate work in politics there are Doctors Waldemar Gurian and Ferdinand Hermens, both authors of several important works. Professor Hermens' latest study in  proportional representation is very soon to appear. On the faculty of biology there is Doctor Theodor Just, outstanding botanist, editor of The Midland Naturalist, which was founded by the late Father Nieuwland in 1926 and which is today acknowledged in most countries of the world as one of the better learned journals in the field of botany. On the faculty for graduate work in physics there are Doctor George Collins, now engaged in government research, Doctor Eugene Guth, Doctor Edward Coomes, and a Holy Cross priest. Father Henry Bolger. Busy in metallurgy are the experienced and scholarly Doctor Edward G. Mahin and his gifted young assistant, Doctor Alexander E. Troiano. In mathematics there is Doctor Karl Menger, formerly head of the department of mathematics at the University of Vienna and acknowledged as one of the great mathematicians of the world. Working under Professor Menger are Professors Arthur Milgram and Paul Pepper, young American mathematicians of extraordinary promise. I might go on to tell you of the important researches which are being carried on under the able leadership of Dean Henry B. Froning in the Department of Chemistry. The researches which were begun by Father Nieuwland in Organic Chemistry are now being advanced by Doctors Vogt, Hennion, and Campbell, and the researches in Inorganic Chemistry are being developed by Doctors Hamill, Baldinger, McCusker, and Brother Columba, C.S.C. I might allude to the probems in micrurgy, in germ-free research, and in research on cross-infection, occupying much of the attention of Professor Rejniers and his skilled assistants. Research is costly.  Doctor Collins has constructed a huge gun for the smashing of atoms. The gun cost about $40,000 in material and labor.  There are important researches in economics being conducted by Father Keller.  One report on these researches in economics, that on National Wealth, has been published. Other studies are to come later.

May I develop a little further one point I am trying to make? The salaries of professors of graduate work are high; researches are costly; scholarships must be offered for qualified graduate students; certain expensive publications must be fostered by a university engaged in graduate work. Notre Dame finances four learned publications out of current funds. These publications areThe Midland Naturalist, the Publications in Medieval Research, edited by Father Moore, The Review of Politics, and The Mathematical Colloquium. It is not healthy, even if it might be done, to continue graduate work out of current funds because the salaries of graduate professors, necessary scholarships, research projects, and learned publications demand annually a huge, definite sum of money. When they are carried on out of current income which is sensitive to wars and other changing factors, the whole program rests on an uncertain foundation which may be shaken seriously even in the next few months.  There are 134 colleges and universities in the United States which possess two million dollars or more of endowment.  Among these 134 colleges are some that you have hardly ever heard about.  Yet Notre Dame, possessing a national reputation, is not among the 134. Notre Dame's endowment is $1,010,000, as compared, for example, with Harvard's $144,000,000, with Yale's $101,000,000, with Columbia's $70,000,000. Is Notre Dame's position clear? Besides the needs of the graduate departments and of the expensive projects undertaken in research, Notre Dame must within the next 10 years go much further in such matters as group insurance for protection, in case of sickness and death, of both faculty members and employees. Notre Dame must do more in lay teacher pensions, and in other forms of social security.  The remodeling or replacement of the huge main building, the construction of a residence hall for graduate students a structure for the College of Arts and Letters hardly need be mentioned to establish the urgent case for endowment at Notre Dame.  All Notre Dame men know that already phenomenal results have been obtained chiefly because thousands of well trained religious have in the last century taught and worked at Notre Dame, without salary. Their combined effort has counter-balanced the almost unrequited need for cash. Notre Dame enjoys good will, precious and world-wide; a matchless spirit inspires faculty men, alumni and students; Notre Dame has advanced far in her building program, in attracting outstanding men to the faculties. The next significant step in the natural order, in the history of Notre Dame, will be, it seems to me, the acquisition of a large endowment. There must be intelligent unity and constant cooperation on this point. A neighboring university has within 20 years increased its endowment by $40,000,000. With an accurate understanding on the part of Notre Dame's faculty members, alumni, and students, with the united effort which will follow such an understanding, a similar amount of endowment can be attracted to Notre Dame within the next 20 years. If it comes, all of us know what an influence Notre Dame will exert in this land of America which we love. The opportunity of Notre Dame must be spread abroad, that this institution may continue to reach out to its goal as the educational pride of America and the strongest bulwark of defense for the American and Christian way of life.


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