Earlier tonight the Observer reported some very sad news in the world of Notre Dame. Father Theodore Hesburgh, President of the University from 1952-87, passed away at the age of 97.
Fr. Theodore Hesburgh has died at the age of 97, a University spokesperson confirmed.
— The Observer (@ObserverNDSMC) February 27, 2015
Hesburgh’s tenure as President of Notre Dame is the longest in the history of the University spanning 35 years. During that time, the enrollment at Notre Dame nearly doubled while the University also saw unprecedented growth in the endowment as well as funding for research.
Hesburgh collected numerous awards throughout his career, but his most notable accomplishment to most fans is the naming of the University Library in his honor. Originally named the Memorial Library upon opening in 1963, it was renamed the Hesburgh Library in 1987.
Notre Dame football fans have Hesburgh to thank for ending Notre Dame’s policy of not participating in post season bowls in 1970. Notre Dame played Texas in the Cotton Bowl that year with Notre Dame using the proceeds from the bowl to fund University scholarships.
From 1990-96 Hebsburgh was also a member of the Knight Commission which reformed college sports leaving his mark well beyond the boundaries of the campus of Notre Dame.
Other notable accomplishments for Hesburgh include:
- Appointed to Civil Rights Commission (1957)
- Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964)
- Chair of Civil Rights Commission (1969)
- Congressional Medal of Honor (1999)
- First recipient of the Gerald Ford Award (2004) for leadership in college athletics
Notre Dame lost a great man with the passing of Father Hesburgh. The thoughts and prayer of the entire UHND community, just as those of millions of Notre Dame alumni and fans around the world, go out to Father Hesburgh tonight.