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The University of Notre Dame began late on the bitterly cold afternoon of November 26, 1842, when a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and seven companions. University of Notre Dame is known as a place of teaching and research, of scholarship and publication, of service and community. The University of Notre Dame provides a distinctive voice in higher education that is at once rigorously intellectual, unapologetically moral in orientation, and firmly embracing of a service ethos. Graduate students can pursue more than 50 master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees including several combined degrees. Guidelines for Notre Dame’s centers and institutes can be found on the Office of the Provost websiteunder “Administrative Resources”. Undergraduates can choose from 65 degree programs. A hallmark of the Catholic faith tradition is a concern for the common good borne out in service to others. Notre Dame students, faculty and staff alike find a wealth of opportunities to embrace this philosophy as a way of life.

The University of Notre Dame began late on the bitterly cold afternoon of November 26, 1842, when a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and seven companions, all of them members of the recently established Congregation of Holy Cross, took possession of 524 snow-covered acres that the Bishop of Vincennes had given them in the Indiana mission fields. A man of lively imagination, Father Sorin named his fledgling school in honor of Our Lady, in his native tongue, “L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac” (The University of Our Lady of the Lake). On January 15, 1844, the University was thus officially chartered by the Indiana legislature.

Early Notre Dame was a university in name only. It encompassed religious novitiates, preparatory and grade schools and a manual labor school, but its classical collegiate curriculum never attracted more than a dozen students a year in the early decades.

Based on the ratio studiorum used by the Jesuits at St. Louis University, this curriculum included four years of humanities, poetry, rhetoric and philosophy, plus offerings in French, German, Spanish and Italian and various forms of music and drawing.

University of Notre Dame as a place of teaching and research, of scholarship and publication, of service and community. These components flow from three characteristics of Roman Catholicism that image Jesus Christ, his Gospel, and his Spirit. A sacramental vision encounters God in the whole of creation. In and through the visible world in which we live, we come to know and experience the invisible God. In mediation the Catholic vision perceives God not only present in but working through persons, events, and material things. There is an intelligibility and a coherence to all reality, discoverable through spirit, mind, and imagination. God's grace prompts human activity to assist the world in creating justice grounded in love. God's way to us comes as communion, through the communities in which men and women live. This community includes the many theological traditions, liturgies, and spiritualities that fashion the life of the Church. The emphasis on community in Catholicism explains why Notre Dame historically has fostered familial bonds in its institutional life.

The University of Notre Dame is a Catholic academic community of higher learning, animated from its origins by the Congregation of Holy Cross. The University is dedicated to the pursuit and sharing of truth for its own sake. As a Catholic university, one of its distinctive goals is to provide a forum where, through free inquiry and open discussion, the various lines of Catholic thought may intersect with all the forms of knowledge found in the arts, sciences, professions, and every other area of human scholarship and creativity.

The University prides itself on being an environment of teaching and learning that fosters the development in its students of those disciplined habits of mind, body, and spirit that characterize educated, skilled, and free human beings. In addition, the University seeks to cultivate in its students not only an appreciation for the great achievements of human beings but also a disciplined sensibility to the poverty, injustice and oppression that burden the lives of so many. The aim is to create a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good that will bear fruit as learning becomes service to justice.

Notre Dame also has a responsibility to advance knowledge in a search for truth through original inquiry and publication. This responsibility engages the faculty and students in all areas of the University, but particularly in graduate and professional education and research. The University is committed to constructive and critical engagement with the whole of human culture.

The University encourages a way of living consonant with a Christian community and manifest in prayer, liturgy and service. Residential life endeavors to develop that sense of community and of responsibility that prepares students for subsequent leadership in building a society that is at once more human and more divine.

Notre Dame's character as a Catholic academic community presupposes that no genuine search for the truth in the human or the cosmic order is alien to the life of faith. The University welcomes all areas of scholarly activity as consonant with its mission, subject to appropriate critical refinement. There is, however, a special obligation and opportunity, specifically as a Catholic university, to pursue the religious dimensions of all human learning. Only thus can Catholic intellectual life in all disciplines be animated and fostered and a proper community of scholarly religious discourse be established.

In all dimensions of the University, Notre Dame pursues its objectives through the formation of an authentic human community graced by the Spirit of Christ. Notre Dame is an independent, national Catholic research university located adjacent to the city of South Bend, Indiana, in a metropolitan area of more than 300,000 residents approximately 90 miles east of Chicago. Admission to the University is highly competitive, with nearly six applicants for each freshman class position. Seventy percent of incoming freshmen were in the top 5 percent of their high school graduating classes. The University’s minority student population has more than tripled in the past 20 years to some 23 percent, and women, first admitted to undergraduate studies at Notre Dame in 1972, now account for 48 percent of undergraduate and overall enrollment.

The University is organized into four undergraduate colleges — 

Arts and Letters,

 ScienceEngineering,

 Mendoza College of Business

School of Architecture,

Law School,

Graduate School,

There are 14 major research institutes, two dozen centers and special programs, and the University Library system. Enrollment for the 2012-13 academic year was 12,126 students overall and 8,475 undergraduates.