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Clarke Memorial Fountain

Clarke Memorial Fountain

Begin this part of the tour when you are standing facing the front of the Golden Dome, with the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on your left. Take the path behind you and to the right toward the LaFortune Student Center. Continue on the path between LaFortune and Washington Hall, walking towards the library.

Narration by Fr. Nate Wills, C.S.C.

This next segment of this tour will take you to the Hesburgh Library, with its famed “Word of Life” mural, known more commonly by its nickname, as “Touchdown Jesus.” As you take the path indicated on the map, you will pass Washington Hall on your left. Built in 1881 as the University’s original music and performing arts venue, Washington Hall remains an active performance space today. Father Sorin named it in honor of George Washington, as a way to show that Notre Dame could be both Catholic and American. The University also has a newer performing arts venue, DeBartolo Performing Arts Center on the far south end of campus. On your right, you’ll pass LaFortune Student Center, one of two campus student centers offering eateries, study spaces, and offices for student organizations.

As you pass the student center, you’ll see ahead of you a large fountain, which spouts water throughout the warm months. It's known by students as “Stonehenge” because it resembles the prehistoric monument in England. It’s actual name is the Clarke Memorial Fountain, and it honors men and women who served in World War II, the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and in times of peace. Students have been known to run through the water of the fountain after rousing football victories.

Continue walking towards this fountain and around it to the right. To the left of the fountain, you’ll pass North Quad, which holds more residence halls and another dining hall. To the right will be science halls and classroom buildings. Notre Dame scientists and engineers were responsible for the discovery of the formula for synthetic rubber, the first transmission of a wireless message in the U.S., and early research into the aerodynamics of flight. Today, researchers are achieving breakthroughs in astrophysics, radiation chemistry, environmental sciences, tropical disease transmission, cancer, robotics, and nanoelectronics.

A tall, tan, 14-story building will come into view above the fountain—this is the Hesburgh Library. You're aiming for its right side.

While the University was founded by a young Father Edward Sorin in 1842, it was transformed by another priest considered by many to be Notre Dame’s second founder: Father Theodore Hesburgh. As president of Notre Dame for 35 years, Father Hesburgh turned the University into the world-class institution that it is today.

Father Hesburgh—affectionately known as Father Ted to students on campus—was named president of the University in 1952 at the age of 35. He was a leading Catholic intellectual of his generation. U.S. Presidents appointed him to 16 different positions, and he received 150 honorary degrees—more than anyone else ever. He was an instrumental figure in the Civil Rights Movement and was the Vatican’s representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency during the height of the Cold War. He received the nation’s two highest honors for civilians—the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1964 and the Congressional Gold Medal in 2000. He died in 2015 at the age of 97.

Through all of his public service and accolades, Father Hesburgh never lost sight of who he was: a Holy Cross priest with hope to bring.

“Beneath it all, or perhaps above it all, I am what I am: a Catholic priest,” he said. “I enjoy being a Catholic priest. I enjoy offering Mass each day for the whole world. I appreciate belonging to everyone, not just Catholics, and doing what I can to respond to human needs.”

Under his leadership, Notre Dame grew by leaps and bounds in every way. The student body and faculty increased, as did the physical campus and endowment. Essentially, the University transformed from a regional institution to a world-class university. Father Hesburgh established institutes and centers on campus intended to change the world in five key areas: peace, human rights, ecology, human development, and religious dialogue.

These projects, and many, many more like them, illustrate how Notre Dame’s dedication to religious belief matches its commitment to scientific knowledge. The goal of an education at the University of Notre Dame is not just intellectual formation or establishing a career path. The goal is to develop a concern for the common good and a sense of human solidarity. The goal is to use learning to serve justice in order to bring hope to the world.

The next segment of the tour will begin in front of the library, when you are facing the “Word of Life” mural that covers the south side of the building. As you approach the library, angle toward the right, and head for the reflecting pool.