WNIT to air documentary on Father Hesburgh August 23

Author: Michael O. Garvey


Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of the University of Notre Dame, is the subject of a new documentary television program to be aired Aug. 23 (Wednesday) at 8 p.m. on WNIT (Channel 34).

The program,God, Country, Notre Dame:The Story of Father Ted Hesburgh, C.S.C.,concerns Father Hesburghs priestly ministry, his career in higher education, and his role as a public servant.It includes interviews with several of Father Hesburghs colleagues and friends, including all of the living formerU.S.presidents; Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, a Notre Dame alumna and former University trustee; former Notre Dame football coach Ara Parseghian; and Cardinal Theodore McCarrick, former archbishop ofWashington,D.C.It is narrated by Notre Dame alumnus and television celebrity Regis Philbin and actors Sean Astin (who played the title role in the filmRudy) and Clarence Gilyard.

Father Hesburgh, now 89 years old, stepped down as Notre Dames leader onJune 1, 1987, ending the longest tenure at that time among active presidents of American colleges and universities. Since his retirement he has remained active, working in his office on the 13th floor of the campus library that is renamed in his honor. His 1990 autobiography, “God, Country, Notre Dame,” became a national best seller, and in 2000 his long public service career, which featured 16 presidential appointments, was recognized when he became the first person from higher education to be awarded the Congressional Gold Medal.

Father Hesburghs considerable impact on Notre Dame is suggested by a statistical comparison of the University in 1952, when he became president, and in 1987,when he retired.The annual operating budget went from $9.7 million to $176.6 million, the endowment from $9 million to $350 million, and research funding from $735,000 to $15 million. Enrollment increased from 4,979 to 9,600, faculty from 389 to 950, and the number of degrees annually awarded from 1,212 to 2,500.Also during the Hesburgh era the governance of the University was transferred from the founding religious community, the Congregation of Holy Cross, to a two-tiered, mixed board of lay and religious trustees and fellows in 1967, and women began to be admitted to the undergraduate program in 1972.

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