June 1, 2006
Head fencing coach Janusz Bednarski and university trustee Michael Geddes were presented with honorary monograms Wednesday evening at the Notre Dame Monogram Club’s annual summer party at the house of director of athletics Kevin White. Fernand “Tex” Dutile, outgoing chair of Notre Dame’s faculty board on athletics, also was honored for his service after he was presented with an honorary monogram earlier in May at a retirement party.
Honorary monograms are occasionally awarded to people who have provided exceptional service to the university, whereby extending invitations to them to be members of the Notre Dame Monogram Club. Only 210 people have been offered honorary membership in the club, beginning when Jack “Mac” MacAllister was the first honoree in 1949. Recipients – whose identities are traditionally kept a secret until the actual ceremonies – are presented with a scroll and blue blazer adorned with the Monogram Club logo.
The select group of honorary monogram winners includes such notables as the late Pope John Paul II and United States President Ronald Reagan; former University president Rev. Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.; television personality Regis Philbin; and national-championship football coaches Ara Parseghian and Lou Holtz. A total of five honorary monograms have been awarded in 2006, as longtime Irish athletic trainer Mike Bean was honored in February and Jack Rockne – the only living child of the legendary football coach – received one in April.
Janusz Bednarski, a native of Poland, already has established himself as one of the legendary head coaches in Notre Dame athletics history. In his first season (2003) as the head coach of the Irish men’s and women’s fencing programs, he led Notre Dame to the NCAA championship – something no previous first-year ND mentor in any sport had ever done. Bednarski, who just completed his fourth year leading the Irish fencers (boasting top-four NCAA finishes in each campaign), followed that up with another national title in 2005 and boasts an incredible .952 combined winning percentage (197-10 record) in duals. During the past four years, he has helped Irish fencers win five individual NCAA championships (in addition to eight runner-up finishes) and earn a total of 34 All-America accolades.
Formerly a member of Poland’s national sabre team, the Warsaw native spent eight seasons as an assistant coach for the Irish before ascending to his current role in 2002. Bednarski served as head coach of Poland’s Olympic Team from 1978-88, with members of those teams winning 11 medals at the Olympics and World Championships. After moving to the United States in 1988, Bednarski served as head coach at Denver’s CFS Fencing Club from 1989-94. While in Colorado, he also served on the U.S. coaching staff at the 1993 (head coach) and 1994 Junior World Championships and was a U.S. coach for the `92 Junior Pan American Games. Bednarski served from 1994-2002 as head coach of the Escrime du Lac Fencing Club in Mishawaka (also known as the Indiana Fencing Academy).
Fluent in several languages, Bednarski in 1970 received his master’s degree in business from Warsaw’s prestigious SGPiS Business College, where he worked as a lecturer in economics. He obtained his coaching diploma from the Academy of Physicial Education in 1978 and has published several articles on coaching, effective club management and counseling of athletes.
“It is my honor to present a monogram to really a fine gentleman, on the strip and off the strip,” said assistant athletics director Brian Boulac in his introduction on Wednesday. “He is as fine a man as you will find, and it is our honor to have him as our fencing coach.”
“This is such a surprise,” said Bednarski upon being recognized. “Thank you very much to Kevin [White] and Coach [Brian Boulac]. This is one of my most challenging jobs, despite that I worked for years as a national Olympic coach traveling around the globe. Now I am working with young, good, talented kids. The results we have had are not mine, but theirs. But I am so honored to be at such a special place as Notre Dame.”
Fernand “Tex” Dutile
Fernand N. Dutile, affectionately known as “Tex,” was appointed chair of the University’s Faculty Board on Athletics in 2000 and also is Notre Dame’s athletic faculty representative to the NCAA. He concludes his term in both positions this year.
A 1965 graduate of the Notre Dame Law School and a member of the faculty since 1971, Dutile previously served on the Faculty Board from 1991-98. He has served 25 years on the University’s Academic Council, including 10 years on its executive committee, and also was a member of the Provost’s Advisory Committee and the search committees for the University’s two most-recent provosts. He was acting dean of the Law School from 1991-93 and was an associate dean from 1988-91 and from 1993-99.
Dutile has served on numerous University and Law School committees. He received the 2001 James E. Armstrong Award, which is presented annually by the Notre Dame Alumni Association for outstanding service to the University by an employee.
“I don’t know that anyone can really appreciate all the work that goes into those roles as both chair of the faculty board and the NCAA rep,” said Jim Fraleigh, executive director of the Monogram Club. “We have 26 teams and over 800 student-athletes, so it is a monstrous task to help and work to support all of them. For your dedication to the University and your service to the student-athletes and coaches and your support of the Monogram Club, we would like to recognize you and present you with this Notre Dame shadowbox. On behalf of the Monogram Club, thank you for your dedicated service.”
“The other day when I was made an honorary member of the Monogram Club – my wife can attest to this – I slept in the jacket the first two nights,” said Dutile. “I want to thank the Monogram Club for that great honor. I will never forget this, and I am delighted to be a member of the club. I also want to thank Kevin White, who for the last six years has been absolutely wonderful in dealing with me in my job. I cannot think of any place other than Notre Dame that you would want to be if you are working at the intersection of athletics and academics. I have had 35 wonderful years at Notre Dame, and the last six have been incredible. Despite my long career, I do not in any way pretend that my career resembles those people of Notre Dame of whom it was said that `their blood was in the bricks.’ But I can say without any fear of contradiction that those bricks are in my blood.”
F. Michael Geddes, a 1961 graduate of Notre Dame, played two years as a walk-on for the Irish football team during his collegiate days, but did not earn an athletic monogram. A University Trustee since 1996, Geddes is a member of the Athletic Affairs and Audit Committees, former chair of the Executive Committee and current chair of the Badin Guild, which honors individuals who include the University in their estate plans. He has served on the advisory council of the Institute for Church Life since 1983, formerly as chair and now as an ex officio member.
Geddes, who graduated from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1963, is chairman and president of Geddes and Company, a private investment and consulting firm in Phoenix, and is chairman and chief executive officer of Coe & Van Loo Consultants Inc., Athearn Inc., and GS&B Holdings Inc. He serves as chairman of the board of Scottsdale Healthcare and on the Executive Committee of the Board of Directors of the Dean’s Council of 100 at Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business. In addition, he is director of both Boys Hope Girls Hope of Arizona and the St. John Vianney School Development Council, and former chair of the Catholic Community Foundation of the Diocese of Phoenix.
Nominating Geddes for the honor were monogram winners John Tully, Tim Monahan, and Chuck Lennon, executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association. As put by Tully, “In short, Mike Geddes represents what we most want to see in a Notre Dame graduate and a Monogram Club member; someone who has given, and continues to give, to his family, his Church, his community and his University.”
“He is a consummate Notre Dame person, and I am honored to call him a good friend of mine,” said White of Geddes on Wednesday.
“Thank you so much,” said Geddes. “This is a great surprise to me and a tremendous honor. I did play two years as a walk-on. Way back in those days, you could win freshman numerals – and I did that. The only other distinction about my football career was that people who know me probably felt I played too long without a helmet! I love the university and the tremendous progress we have made under Kevin White. I am so proud to be a part of the Notre Dame family. I cannot tell you what this means to me. I am so proud of all of the letter winners throughout the years and what you mean to the heart and soul of this university. Just keep it going. Go Irish!”