John F. Affleck-Graves
While construction of new facilities may result in changes to the bricks and mortar of campus, the distinct spirit of Notre Dame remains and has never been brighter.
Notre Dame’s Main Quad, including the Main Building and Basilica of the Sacred Heart, always has been and always will be the “heart” of our campus. But as our campus expanded, the iconic Notre Dame Stadium’s location became more central. Each week, students enter our largest classroom building, DeBartolo Hall, just to the west of the stadium, more than 100,000 times. This hub of student activity, combined with the desire to make use of the space in and around the stadium more than just a dozen or so times a year, led to the Campus Crossroads project. Eighty- four University faculty and staff devoted more than 3,100 hours to an oversight committee and eight working groups to explore how to make the stadium a year-round center for academic and student life. They were assisted by outside consultants with expertise in architecture, engineering, technology, food services, and student life.
These dedicated individuals developed a plan for the largest construction project since the University’s founding in 1842. While certainly a huge challenge, ambitious goals have always propelled Notre Dame toward being a preeminent Catholic research university. The plan features three new structures attached to and serving the stadium— a student center on the west side, including space for student organizations, a recreation center, and career center; an academic building on the east side for the anthropology and psychology departments as well as a digital media center; and a building for the Department of Music and the Sacred Music at Notre Dame program on the south side.
We feel confident about this bold project because we have built a strong record through a conservative fiscal policy and careful stewardship of our resources. The University’s construction funding policy requires that we have all of the funds pledged and 75 percent in hand before breaking ground—an approach that has allowed us to keep low levels of debt and also complete projects on schedule.
Notre Dame was founded by leaders with bold aspirations, and today’s University continues that tradition. As Father Jenkins outlined in his letter, over the next few years we will undertake the most robust building plan the University has ever executed. Notre Dame has maintained a balanced budget, reallocated resources to strategic needs, and preserved the spending power of the endowment. In turn, investments have been made to expand the international reach of the University, to hire nearly 80 new faculty members, to create an office to focus on and enhance our Catholic mission, and to provide additional research opportunities for faculty and students.
The economic climate for higher education remains challenging and we are well positioned to meet those challenges. Strong endowment performance, diversity of revenue streams, consistent student demand, and a generous donor base create a stable revenue picture and give us confidence. Members of the Notre Dame family generously supported its mission by contributing over $640 million in the 2014 fiscal year. This level of benefaction reflects a 66 percent increase over the previous year and exceeded any prior year by over $250 million. The University also experienced a record year of unrestricted giving, with more than $39 million contributed to support emerging needs and strategic priorities. Our 2015 budget continues to balance the pressure of college affordability with the lowest tuition increase in more than 50 years, as well as an unprecedented $120 million investment in undergraduate need-based aid.
We have many traditions at Notre Dame, not the least of which is setting bold aspirations. With aspirations come growth, change, and an enhanced experience for our students. So while construction of new facilities may result in changes to the bricks and mortar of campus, the distinct spirit of Notre Dame remains and has never been brighter.
John F. Affleck-Graves, Executive Vice President