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President Emeritus Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., honored with Sorin Award

In recognition of a lifetime of service to the University of Notre Dame, culminating in his 19-year tenure as University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., was presented with the 2024 Rev. Edward Frederick Sorin, C.S.C., Award on June 1 during the …

In recognition of a lifetime of service to the University of Notre Dame, culminating in his 19-year tenure as University President, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., was presented with the 2024 Rev. Edward Frederick Sorin, C.S.C., Award on June 1 during the Alumni Association’s annual Reunion Weekend.

The Sorin Award is conferred on a graduate who has rendered distinguished service to the University. It was established by the Alumni Association in 1965 and is one of the University’s highest honors.

“By definition, each recipient of the Sorin Award holds a special place in the Notre Dame family, and Father Jenkins certainly fits that description,” Alumni Association Executive Director Dolly Duffy said. “In many ways, this year’s award presentation is especially significant, as it coincides with the end of a 19-year presidency that represented one of the most consequential periods of growth in the University’s history. Since his election in 2005, Father Jenkins has been committed to advancing Notre Dame as the world’s premier Catholic research university, emphasizing our unique mission to educate the whole person in mind, body and spirit. And for nearly two decades, he has been tireless in that pursuit.”

In 2023, the University, under Father Jenkins’ leadership, was invited to become a member of the Association of American Universities, a consortium of the nation’s leading public and private research universities. Since 2013, Notre Dame has more than doubled its annual research award funding, securing almost $216 million in 2023 to rank among the fastest-growing research universities in the country.

Beyond growth in research, Father Jenkins is credited with advancing Notre Dame’s mission as a premier global Catholic research university during his presidency in many other ways, including by attracting and supporting superb faculty; ensuring the University’s financial strength; admitting a talented, diverse student body; expanding Notre Dame’s global engagement; and enhancing the relationship between Notre Dame and the South Bend-Elkhart region. He is recognized nationally for his leadership in the areas of civil discourse and the future of college athletics.

“I’ve gotten many more accolades than I deserve in recent days, but I deeply appreciate this,” Father Jenkins said in accepting the award. “I’ve read a lot about Father Sorin and read a lot of what he wrote, and I often, in this job, would try to channel Father Sorin. The people around him were deeply devoted to him because of his laser focus on the mission of Notre Dame. No matter what obstacle he faced, he faced it, and it was always a reason to keep going and to do better.

“I’ve always felt that was the spirit of Notre Dame. … That’s the Fighting Irish spirit, to keep going, no matter what. … I feel that’s so much at the heart of Notre Dame, and that’s why this award means a great deal.”

Father Jenkins graduated from Notre Dame with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees in philosophy in 1976 and 1978, respectively. After his ordination as priest in the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1983, he went on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Oxford and a master of divinity and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. In 1990, he joined the Notre Dame philosophy faculty and is the author of the book “Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas,” as well as several scholarly articles.

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