Nov. 12, 2004
By Matthew V. Storin
Next fall, for only the third time in 53 years, the University of Notre Dame will inaugurate a new president. When Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., assumes the formal trappings of his office, he will succeed Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., who steps down next summer after 18 years of service. Malloy himself followed the legendary Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., who served for 35 years (1952-1987). Formerly a vice president and associate provost, Father Jenkins, 50, was elected last April by the University’s Board of Trustees to a five-year term. He is an associate professor of philosophy and has been a member of the Notre Dame faculty since 1990.
Noted for his warmth and informality around campus, Father Jenkins recently told The Observer, Notre Dame’s independent, student-run newspaper, that he is using his year as “president-elect” to prepare for the role. But he added, “Is one ever ready?”
He said, “You bring into any job – and I think this is true of any job in my life – your strengths and your weaknesses.” So he concluded, “You’re never going to be totally adequate for the job…but what you try to do is get in the position to do the best job that you can.”
Father Malloy, 63, has led the University through a remarkable growth spurt. The faculty increased by more than 500, average student SAT scores jumped from 1240 to 1360, the number of minority students more than doubled, the endowment burgeoned from $350 million to over $3 billion and new construction, particularly of academic facilities, has been virtually continuous.
A 1963 graduate of Notre Dame, where he was a scholarship athlete on the basketball team, Father Malloy earned his doctorate in Christian ethics from Vanderbilt University in 1975. A recipient of 16 honorary degrees, he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in English from Notre Dame in 1963 and 1967 and a second master’s degree, in theology, in 1969, while studying for the priesthood. He was ordained in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the Notre Dame campus in 1970.
Known since childhood as “Monk,” Father Malloy plans a sabbatical next year before returning to campus to write and teach. He has taught a seminar course for first year students throughout his presidency and lived among students in Sorin Hall.
In introducing Father Malloy for his final address to faculty last month, Provost Nathan Hatch noted, “Monk reads more books, and on a wider variety of subjects, than anyone I know. He does so simply because he loves to explore, to understand, to expand his horizons.”
Father Jenkins, who also lives among students in Keenan Hall, earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees at Notre Dame in 1976 and 1978. He later earned a master of divinity degree and a licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley, Calif., and his doctorate from Oxford University. W. David Solomon, a Notre Dame philosophy professor, has described Jenkins, his former student, as a “genuine Catholic intellectual.”
In addition to his scholarly pursuits, Father Jenkins enjoys reading P.D. James mystery novels, and he keeps fit by running or swimming, depending on the outside temperature.
Often he jogs with John Affleck-Graves, who was named Notre Dame’s executive vice president earlier this year. Father Jenkins and Affleck-Graves are close friends, leading some on campus to foresee a working relationship reminiscent of “Father Ted and Father Ned,” the partnership of Father Hesburgh and the late Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Father Hesburgh’s executive vice president for 35 years.
Time will tell about that. But in the meantime, Fathers Malloy and Jenkins prepare for what they say will be a smooth transition, beginning July 1, when Father Jenkins assumes the office and being formally recognized with three days of inaugural activities next September.