Father Theodore M. Hesburgh


In 1987, the Memorial Library was renamed for Notre Dame President Emeritus Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C. The Hesburgh Library is the main library for the University of Notre Dame. Father Hesburgh was president of Notre Dame when, in 1959, active planning started for the new library building. He was a charismatic and enthusiastic leader of the fundraising effort and was extremely influential in defining the vision of the library structure. He wanted the library to be a highly visible statement to the outside world about the importance attached to scholarly achievement by the University; he achieved this by the library's size, prominent location and eye-catching mural.

Father Hesburgh was educated at Notre Dame and the Gregorian University in Rome, from which he received a bachelor of philosophy degree in 1939. He was ordained a priest of the Congregation of Holy Cross in 1943. Following his ordination, Father Hesburgh continued his study of sacred theology at the Catholic University of America, Washington, D.C., receiving his doctorate (S.T.D.) in 1945. He joined the Notre Dame Department of Religion that same year and was appointed the head of the department in 1948. The following year he was appointed executive vice president in the administration of Rev. John J. Cavanaugh, C.S.C., University president. At the age of 35 in June 1952, he was named the 15th president of Notre Dame.

Father Hesburgh stepped down as head of Notre Dame on June 1, 1987, ending the longest tenure at that time among active presidents of American institutions of higher learning. After a year-long sabbatical, he returned to a retirement office on the 13th floor of the newly named Hesburgh Library. One of his first projects was completion of an autobiography, "God, Country, and Notre Dame," which was published in 1990 and became a national bestseller. He continues to be very active in retirement including chairing the advisory committees of the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies and the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, both housed in the Hesburgh Center for International Studies here at Notre Dame. He has been a national leader in the field of education and active in redefining the nature and mission of the contemporary Catholic university.


The information for this page was taken from:
Stevenson, Marsha. "Style and Symbol: Library Buildings at Notre Dame." WHAT IS WRITTEN REMAINS: HISTORICAL ESSAYS ON THE LIBRARIES OF NOTRE DAME. Ed. Maureen Gleason and Katharina J. Blackstead. Notre Dame: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994.
and from the University of Notre Dame Public Relations and Information Office.

Picture courtesy of Patty Karpinski.

For addtional pictures of Father Hesburgh Life see Images Available Online from the ND Archives.