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Sunday, April 14, 2024
The Observer

Who could replace Jenkins?

Several weeks ago, the Notre Dame world was shaken by the sudden news of Fr. John Jenkins’ resignation as President of the University. Jenkins will conclude his time as President at the end of the academic year. A new President will be named in the coming months. 

Per University bylaws, the president must be a Holy Cross priest. However, de facto, the president must also be a tenured professor with a Ph.D. Typically, professors with the title of assistant professor or assistant teaching professor do not have tenure. 

While there are many priests at Notre Dame, only a small handful are qualified to succeed Father Jenkins. The three most likely individuals include Fr. Bob Dowd, Fr. Dan Goody and Fr. Bill Lies.

1. Fr. Bob Dowd

Dowd currently serves as vice president and associate provost for interdisciplinary initiatives. Additionally, he is an associate professor of political science and the religious Superior of the Holy Cross Community at Notre Dame. He is also a fellow and trustee of the University. 

Ordained in 1994, Dowd later received his M.A. and Ph.D. in political science from UCLA. Around campus, Dowd is known as a deeply pastoral man. He lives and serves as priest-in-residence in Cavanaugh Hall. Dowd is known to be an advocate for communities in East Africa. Dowd has a long-standing relationship with St. Monica Catholic Church in Santa Monica, California, the largest parish in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles. Each year, he goes to St. Monica to conduct a Mission Appeal for the Holy Cross mission in Nairobi. Dowd regularly presides over the Friday morning daily mass at the Basilica of the Sacred Heart. 

2. Fr. Dan Groody

Groody currently serves as vice president and associate provost for undergraduate education. Additionally, he is an associate professor of theology and global affairs. Considered one of the leading global experts on immigration, Groody has worked with the USCCB, the Vatican and the United Nations on migration issues. He is also a fellow and trustee of the University. 

Ordained in 1992, Groody received his Ph.D. in theology from the Graduate Theological Union in 2000. Since then, Groody has served at Notre Dame. Groody also continues to engage in pastoral ministry, serving as priest-in-residence in Alumni Hall. Groody is fluent in Spanish. Widely respected at the University, Groody is considered more of a mystery candidate than others and is viewed as rather reserved. 

In 2016, Groody was criticized for his comments regarding a priest accused of sexual abuse

3. Fr. Bill Lies

While Dowd and Groody represent the most plausible possibilities, Lies is a wild-card candidate. Lies currently serves as the Provincial Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Cross in the United States. In other words, Lies oversees the entire Congregation of the Holy Cross across America. Lies’ current role is similar to that of a bishop over a diocese. 

Prior to his appointment in 2018, Lies served as vice president for mission engagement and church affairs at the University. An expert in political science, he was ordained in 1994. In2008, he received his Ph.D. in Latin American politics from the University of Pittsburgh.Unlike Dowd and Groody, Lies did not attend Notre Dame as an undergraduate, and insteadattended Saint John’s University in Central Minnesota. 

Lies also served as the director of the University’s Center for Social Concerns from2002 to 2012. He is fluent in Spanish, and his brother Jim is also a Holy Cross Priest. 

While Lies’ elevation to President would be a strange departure from his current position, heis known as an extremely outgoing and charismatic man, qualities valued as President. 

What about…

Idon’t want to promise anything, but I would be shocked if Notre Dame departed from itstraditional presidential qualification standards. Candidates like Holy Cross Frs. PeteMcCormick, Gerry Olinger and Kevin Grove are beloved by the community. Nonetheless,given their current certifications, none of them seem to be in a position to take over forJenkins at this time.

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