John I. Jenkins

John Ignatius Jenkins, C.S.C. (born December 17, 1953) is a Catholic priest of the Congregation of the Holy Cross and the current president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. He previously served as its vice-president and associate provost.[1] He replaced Fr. Edward Malloy as president.

John I. Jenkins
John Jenkins stadium.jpg
17th President of the University of Notre Dame
Assumed office
July 1, 2005
Preceded byEdward Malloy
Personal details
John Ignatius Jenkins

(1953-12-17) December 17, 1953 (age 68)
Omaha, Nebraska, U.S.
EducationUniversity of Notre Dame (BA, MA)
University of Oxford (BPhil, DPhil)
Jesuit School of Theology (M.Div., STL)

He was chosen as president-elect by the Notre Dame board of trustees on April 29, 2004; his tenure began on July 1, 2005. On October 11, 2019, Jenkins was elected to a fourth consecutive five-year term as president.[2]

Early life and careerEdit

Jenkins was born and raised in Omaha, Nebraska, and attended Creighton Preparatory School. Jenkins earned bachelor's and master's degrees in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1976 and 1978, respectively, and was ordained a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on campus in 1983. While earning master's and doctoral degrees in philosophy from Oxford University in 1987 and 1989, respectively, he also taught in Notre Dame's London Undergraduate Program. He earned a master of divinity degree and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley in 1988.[citation needed]

Jenkins has been a member of the Notre Dame philosophy faculty since 1990; he received a Lilly Teaching Fellowship in 1991–1992. He served as director of the Old College program for Holy Cross seminarians from 1991 to 1993 and as religious superior of the Holy Cross priests and brothers at Notre Dame from 1997 to 2000. He is the author of numerous scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and The Journal of Religious Ethics and of the book Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas.[citation needed]

Jenkins is a member of the Board of Directors for the Commission on Presidential Debates.[3]

Notre Dame presidencyEdit

Richard Lugar with Jenkins in 2005

At Jenkins’ inauguration on September 23, 2005, he stated: "My presidency will be driven by a wholehearted commitment to uniting and integrating... academic excellence and religious faith."[4][5][6][7][8] In his inaugural address, Jenkins described his goals of making the university a leader in research that recognizes ethics and builds the connection between faith and studies. During his tenure, Notre Dame has increased its endowment, enlarged its student body, and undergone many construction projects on campus, including Compton Family Ice Arena, a new architecture hall, additional residence halls, the Jenkins-Nanovic Hall, and Campus Crossroads, a $400 million enhancement and expansion of Notre Dame Stadium.[9][10]

Jenkins' decision to include an invitation to President Barack Obama to deliver the 2009 commencement address at Notre Dame and to receive an honorary degree was controversial. Inviting the sitting President of the United States to speak at commencement is, however, a custom at the University of Notre Dame.[11] A number of Catholic bishops, including John Michael D'Arcy, the Bishop of Fort Wayne–South Bend, as well as anti-abortion groups, criticized the invitation because of Obama's stance on abortion.[12] In 2016, Kevin C. Rhoades, the Bishop of Fort Wayne-South Bend, said that he disagreed with Notre Dame's decision to honor Vice President Joe Biden and John Boehner, the former Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, with the university's Laetare Medal; Rhoades said he would have preferred the university to invite Biden and Boehner to speak "rather than bestow an honor that can provoke scandal."[13] In 2018, Rhoades issued a statement saying, "I strongly disagree with Notre Dame’s decision to provide funding for contraception in its health insurance plans."[14]

Jenkins has also been criticized for other decisions such as allowing performances of The Vagina Monologues and showings of gay films on campus.[15]

As a member of the Holy Cross order, Jenkins is bound by a vow of poverty and like his predecessors is not paid a salary. The salary that is allocated for the President of the University, is given instead to the Holy Cross Order.


As a member of the Holy Cross order, Jenkins is bound by a vow of poverty. There is, however, still a presidential salary paid to Jenkins, according to an Internal Revenue Service Form 990, which is filled out by most non-profits such as private universities.[16] In 2014, this salary was $830,119, making Jenkins officially the highest paid university president in the state of Indiana.[16] To put this figure in perspective, it is more than double the official salary of the President of the United States.[17]


On September 26, 2020, Jenkins attended the White House Supreme Court nomination ceremony for Notre Dame professor Judge Amy Coney Barrett. Pictures showed him not wearing a mask and in close physical proximity, even hugging other attendees. On October 2, 2020, Jenkins tested positive for COVID-19, joining the President, First Lady, Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis, former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and Kellyanne Conway, all who attended the ceremony maskless. Days before the diagnosis, after photos were published, Jenkins had publicly apologized for not wearing a mask nor adhering to social distancing guidelines.[18]

On October 8, 2020, a faculty senate motion to consider a vote of no confidence was postponed by a 21 to 20 vote and after a raucous debate so that more feedback could be gathered.[19] Jenkins was also criticized by the faculty for not following the strict health policy he imposed on campus while in Washington, for traveling while he has forbidden them and students to, and for opening Notre Dame's reputation to political exploitation.[19][20]

A student-authored petition that called upon Jenkins to resign gathered 213 signatures—a number equal to approximately 2.5% of the size of Notre Dame's undergraduate student body.[21] On October 1, 2020, one month after Jenkins tested positive for COVID-19, the majority of Notre Dame's undergraduate student senate voted in opposition to the petition.[21] In arguing against the petition, many members of the student senate said that the motion was too extreme and that only a very small fraction of Notre Dame's undergraduate students had actually signed the petition calling for Jenkins' resignation.[21]


  1. ^ "Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.: President". University of Notre Dame. 2015. Retrieved March 29, 2015. ... became the University's 17th president on July 1, 2005
  2. ^ Brown, Dennis (October 11, 2019). "Father Jenkins elected to fourth five-year term as Notre Dame's president". Notre Dame News. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved October 16, 2019.
  3. ^ "CPD: Commission Leadership". Retrieved December 10, 2015.
  4. ^ Smith, Christian; Cavadini, John C. (July 29, 2014). Building Catholic Higher Education: Unofficial Reflections from the University of Notre Dame. Wipf and Stock Publishers. ISBN 9781630873936.
  5. ^ Brown, Dennis (October 16, 2009). "Board of Trustees elects Father Jenkins to second term". Notre Dame News. University of Notre Dame. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  6. ^ "Inaugural Address of Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C." University of Notre Dame. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  7. ^ "Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. - Mitch Daniels Leadership Foundation". Archived from the original on April 28, 2016. Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  8. ^ "† The Criterion Online Edition - November 11, 2005". Retrieved April 12, 2016.
  9. ^ Campus Crossroads Project. Retrieved March 23, 2016.
  10. ^ "Construction concludes on Campus Crossroads, Jenkins and Nanovic Halls // The Observer". The Observer. August 18, 2017. Retrieved October 15, 2020.
  11. ^ CNA. "Biden will not address Notre Dame commencement, was invited by the university". Catholic News Agency. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  12. ^ Beckie Supiano (March 23, 2009). "Despite Disagreements, Obama to Deliver Commencement Speech at Notre Dame". Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  13. ^ "Bishop Rhoades' Statements: Concerning the decision of Notre Dame to honor Vice-President Biden and former Speaker Boehner with the Laetare Medal". Bishop Rhoades' Statements. March 14, 2016. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  14. ^ "Bishop Rhoades' Statements: Regarding the Notre Dame decision on contraceptive coverage". Bishop Rhoades' Statements. February 8, 2018. Retrieved January 26, 2019.
  15. ^ Neela Banerjee (April 6, 2006). "Notre Dame's President Allows 'Monologues' and Gay Films". New York Times. Retrieved June 19, 2012.
  16. ^ a b Report, South Bend Tribune. "Notre Dame's Jenkins highest paid private college president in Indiana". South Bend Tribune. Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  17. ^ "- SALARY OF THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES". Retrieved March 31, 2022.
  18. ^ Romero, Simon (October 2, 2020). "The president of Notre Dame tests positive, less than a week after a White House visit". The New York Times. Retrieved October 2, 2020.
  19. ^ a b Gray, Kathleen; Hubler, Shawn. "Notre Dame's President Faces an Angry Campus After Getting the Coronavirus". Retrieved October 8, 2020.
  20. ^ Hamburger, Tom; Swaine, Jon. "Notre Dame faculty who attended White House event await test results amid concern on campus of exposure". Retrieved October 4, 2020.
  21. ^ a b c Eastland, Maggie (October 2, 2020). "Senate discusses student union investment in forced labor, rejects proposal on petition for Jenkins' resignation". The Observer (Notre Dame).{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)

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