In Memoriam: Emeritus Trustee John Brademas

Author: Dennis Brown

John Brademas

John Brademas, an Emeritus Trustee of the University of Notre Dame, an 11-term congressman and a former president of New York University, died July 11. He was 89.

A native of Mishawaka, Indiana, Brademas was elected to Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees in 1983 and served for 33 years, the last 19 as an emeritus member.

“John Brademas was a great congressman who represented our local congressional district with distinction and vision,” said Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., president emeritus of Notre Dame. “He was especially adept as a promoter of education and the arts at the local and national level. Later, he served as president of New York University and positively transformed that institution in every way. I was especially appreciative of his years as a member of our Board of Trustees, where he elevated our conversation about the goals and challenges we faced as a Catholic university. He will be deeply missed.”

Brademas served in the U.S. Navy after graduating from South Bend Central High School, and then earned a bachelor’s degree from Harvard University and a doctorate as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University.

He lost his first two races for a congressional seat, but then was elected in 1958 to the House representing Indiana’s Third District – which at the time included Notre Dame. He was re-elected 10 times thereafter and served as House majority whip during his last four years in office.

Nicknamed “Mr. Education,” Brademas sponsored numerous pieces of education-related legislation and played a major role in the establishment of the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Brademas served as president of NYU from 1981 to 1992, leading the university’s $1 billion capital campaign and transforming it, in the words of The New York Times, “from a commuter school into one of the world’s premier residential research and teaching institutions.”

Active in retirement on numerous governmental, corporate and educational boards and commissions, Brademas was the recipient of honorary degrees from 55 colleges and universities, including Notre Dame in 1969.