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Wednesday, Feb. 28, 2024
The Observer

Former director of Notre Dame Alumni Association dies at age 80

Charles “Chuck” Lennon Jr., former associate vice president and executive director of the Notre Dame Alumni Association, died Saturday at the age of 80, the University said in a press release Sunday.

“Few people have so enthusiastically stood for and represented Notre Dame like Chuck,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said in the release. “He was a fount of optimism, knowledge and love for his alma mater who will be dearly missed.”

Hailing from Joliet, Ill., Lennon received an undergraduate degree from Notre Dame in 1961 and a master’s degree in guidance and counseling from the University in 1962. As a student, he played baseball for three seasons and received a monogram. From 1961 to 1966, he served as an assistant coach for the basketball and baseball teams and as an assistant ticket manager for the University, the release said.

Lennon worked in South Bend after leaving Notre Dame, serving as executive director of the Mental Health Association of St. Joseph County, the South Bend Model Cities Program, the Community Development Agency, the Department of Redevelopment and the Housing Allowance Office, according to the release. Lennon served as  president of the St. Joseph Insurance Agency from 1978 to 1981 and was a member of the South Bend Community School Corporation Board of Trustees for 13 years, the release said.

Lennon led the Notre Dame Alumni Association for 30 years after taking over in 1989. Under Lennon, the association grew from 176 clubs to 251 and was among the first alumni associations to offer continued education courses — such as the Hesburgh Lecture Series and Excellence in Teaching programs — and community service programs, the release said. Lennon also led the establishment of black, Hispanic, Asian Pacific and Native American alumni groups, created the website FaithND and crafted new career advancement, networking and communication tools for alumni.

“Chuck Lennon’s impact on the Notre Dame family cannot be overstated,” Dolly Duffy, Lennon’s successor as executive director of the association, said. “He was a passionate, innovative leader who built an organization that set the standard for alumni associations in higher education. More importantly, Chuck’s kindness, generosity and warmth made him a dear friend and mentor to countless alumni and friends across the country and around the globe.”

Lennon also taught a management class at both graduate and undergraduate levels in the University’s Mendoza College of Business, the release said. He received several awards, including the Irish Clover award from the student body in 1992, the Notre Dame Presidential Award in 1993 and the Professional Development for Mentoring Minorities in 2001 from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

Lennon is survived by his wife, Joan, his five children — Sean, Molly, Brian, Colleen and Kevin — and 16 grandchildren.