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Thursday, Feb. 29, 2024
The Observer

$30 million gift establishes architecture historic preservation center

University trustee Fritz Duda, his wife Mary Lee and the family’s foundation gifted $30 million to establish a historic preservation center in the school of architecture, the University announced Friday morning.

“Fritz and Mary Lee have been wonderful supporters of Notre Dame for decades, particularly with regard to our School of Architecture and the University’s development projects in the nearby community, and Fritz has provided valuable leadership on our Board of Trustees,” University President Fr. John Jenkins said.

University Trustee Fritz Duda (center) receives an honorary doctor of laws degree from Notre Dame from University President Fr. John Jenkins in 2009.
University trustee Fritz Duda (center) receives an honorary doctor of laws degree from Notre Dame from University President Fr. John Jenkins (left) in 2009.

The center will be named the Michael Christopher Duda Center for Preservation, Resilience and Sustainability — in memory of the Dudas’ son, who died in 2019 at the age of 38.

Michael graduated from the school of architecture in 2005, where his interests in historic preservation grew. After graduation, Michael practiced architecture in California and eventually returned to his home state of Texas where he earned a master’s degree in business administration. He then joined his family’s real estate business before starting his own, the Briar Cove Development Co.

In 2011, Michael was appointed to the board of the Texas Historical Foundation in recognition of his love for architecture and Texas history.

Jenkins expressed condolences to the family and thanked them for their “cherished friendship.”

“We mourn with them the loss of Michael and celebrate his life with this extraordinary gift,” Jenkins said.

The center will be housed in the school of architecture but will serve the entire campus in matters related to the center’s objectives, according to the press release. In addition, the gift will support expansions of the school’s urbanism curriculum, new faculty lines and financial assistance for graduate students, and it will sponsor national and international conferences as well.

Fritz Duda said he and his family are pleased to further the legacy of Michael through the historic preservation center.

“The mission of this center will pave the way for new watermarks and a greater calling for Notre Dame,” Fritz said. “This is a future that resonates with the life passions that had their roots in his educational experience at the University [Michael] loved.”