Notre Dame to celebrate 50th anniversary of Peace Corps this weekend

Author: John Guimond

Peace Corps

University of Notre Dame alumni volunteers to the Peace Corps will be recognized for their service by Peace Corps Deputy Director Carrie Hessler-Radelet, who will participate in campus events commemorating the organization’s 50th Anniversary on campus this weekend.

Hessler-Radelet will pay special tribute to University President Emeritus Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh for his significant role in Peace Corps history. She will also recognize Notre Dame as one of the top universities nationwide for alumni serving in the Peace Corps year after year.

In a 2 a.m. impromptu presidential campaign speech on Oct. 14, 1960, then-Senator John F. Kennedy challenged college students to contribute two years of their lives to help people in countries of the developing world. Within weeks of his inauguration, President Kennedy signed Executive Order 10924, establishing the Peace Corps on a temporary pilot basis. By June 22, 1961 the agency had received about 11,000 completed applications according to Peace Corps Director Sargent Shriver.

Father Hesburgh, then president of Notre Dame, played a vital role in the development of the Peace Corps working closely with President Kennedy, Shriver and associate director Harris Wofford. Father Hesburgh invited the first Peace Corps volunteers to train on campus before traveling to assignments in Chile. He continued to mentor and advise these early volunteers throughout their service.

Fifty years later, Notre Dame remains a leader in the development of Peace Corps volunteers. The University has placed on the Peace Corps’ list of top universities producing Peace Corps volunteers nationwide for the past 11 years, since the agency began announcing a top schools ranking. Today, approximately 35 Notre Dame alums are serving as Peace Corps volunteers, and more than 835 alumni have served since 1961.

As part of the celebration, a networking session will be held on Friday (Oct. 7) from 1 to 3 p.m. 
in the ballroom of the LaFortune Student Center with retired Peace Corps volunteers and current students interested in incorporating their international interests into a career.

For the full schedule of Notre Dame events for the Peace Corps’ 50th Anniversary, please click here.

Contact: John Guimond, director of communications, Center for Social Concerns,, 574-631-3209