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Thursday, June 20, 2024
The Observer

Thank you, Fr. Ted

­Thank you, Fr. Ted.

By glancing at a timeline of University President Emeritus Fr. Theodore Hesburgh’s life, one can tell he lived it to the fullest. He collaborated with popes. He worked alongside U.S. presidents. He broke the sound barrier, received prestigious awards and served on committees of national and international importance.

We would like to thank him most, however, not for these endeavors, but for his commitment on a most personal and engaging level to the University of Notre Dame and its students.

When The Observer was founded in 1966, Fr. Ted was University president. Over the years, he took the time to give interviews to the paper, provide feedback on its coverage and participate in valuable campus dialogues. He assured The Observer of its editorial independence from the University administration, and in recent years, he had students read the paper to him in the morning. We thank him for lending such a thoughtful ear to campus voices in this, and so many other ways. Popes, presidents and Notre Dame students alike listened to Fr. Ted because he listened to them so well.

The outpouring of letters we have received from former students wanting to share precious moments spent with Fr. Ted has also illustrated his sincere love for the University.

He lived a life highlighted by greatness and also marked with genuine dedication to small but dear moments, often including Notre Dame students. It is a marvel how he found time for it all. While he provided leadership and advice to prominent national organizations, like the Civil Rights Commission, he simultaneously guided Notre Dame and helped the University grow into one of the nation’s premier Catholic institutions and a recognizable entity around the world.

His high-profile work on a national level, day-to-day duties as University president and busy retirement didn’t prevent him from welcoming students into his office for a chat when he worked late, pausing for a moment to bless an alumna’s baby or meeting groups of students in his library office to tell stories and offer advice.

In doing so, he set a beautiful example for what it means to strive to be a “force for good” at Notre Dame.

Fr. Ted stood for equality, inclusion and all those who might otherwise be forgotten. He stood for Notre Dame, establishing himself as the face of the school and an inspirational model for generations of students, many of whom he made a point of personally getting to know. Many of the exciting aspects of the University we report on today — athletics, the work done by women on campus and distinguished professors — originated with Fr. Ted and his commitment to Notre Dame and its students.

One of our goals as a newspaper staff in serving Notre Dame and Saint Mary’s is to connect members of the community with one another, something Fr. Ted did throughout his life with his vision for the University and its values. He shaped Notre Dame through his powerful leadership abilities, represented by the changes he helped implement, and also through the generous person he was, evidenced by the loving tributes he received during his life and now after his death.

We are most sincerely grateful Fr. Ted made so much time for The Observer and for all Notre Dame students.

Thank you, Fr. Ted. Rest in peace.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.