The Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Indiana, announced on Monday, December 4, the appointment of Fr. Robert Dowd, C.S.C., as the 18th President of the University. On July 1, 2024, Fr. Dowd will succeed Fr. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., who will complete 19 years of service as President of Notre Dame.
"Fr. Robert Dowd will be a wonderful president for the University of Notre Dame, one of Holy Cross's most formidable apostolates,” said Fr. William M. Lies, C.S.C., Superior of the United States Province of Priests and Brothers. “Fr. Bob's passion for service and his devotion to the mission of Holy Cross will inform his tenure as president. We are blessed to have such a capable academic, administrator, and priest to serve the university in this way."
Fr. Dowd currently serves as the Vice President and Associate Provost for Interdisciplinary Initiatives at Notre Dame and as the Superior of Corby Hall, which is the residence of the Holy Cross community at the university. He joined the Congregation of Holy Cross after completing his studies at Notre Dame in 1987. As part of his initial formation, he spent 18 months serving in the Congregation’s missions in East Africa, beginning a long-standing relationship with Holy Cross and the Church in that region.
Fr. Dowd made his Final Profession in Holy Cross on August 28, 1993, and was ordained a priest the following Easter Season on April 9, 1994. His first assignment was as Associate Rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on the university’s campus and Assistant Rector in a residence hall.
After graduating in 2003 with a Ph.D. in Political Science from the University of California, Los Angeles, Fr. Dowd returned to Notre Dame in 2004 where he joined the Political Science Department. His research focus has been how Christian and Islamic religious communities affect support for democratic institutions, especially in sub-Saharan Africa.
As an educator in the faith, seeking to form minds and hearts, Fr. Dowd has been active in the university community, especially on issues relating to Catholic Social Teaching and internationality. In this spirit, among other initiatives, he founded Notre Dame’s Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, which finds its inspiration in Catholic social teaching and is dedicated to forging community-engaged research partnerships in the Global South.
“I am deeply humbled and honored by the Board’s decision,” Fr. Dowd said in a press release on the university’s website. “We can all be grateful for Father Jenkins’ selfless and courageous leadership for almost two decades. Working together with others, his efforts have positioned the University extremely well in every way. We will build on those efforts. Informed by our Catholic mission, we will work together so that Notre Dame is an ever-greater engine of insight, innovation, and impact, addressing society’s greatest challenges and helping young people to realize their potential for good.”
Much of the information for this article comes from the official press release of the University of Notre Dame announcing Fr. Dowd’s selection as President. That press release can be found here.