$50-million gift from Joan Kroc is largest in University history

by Dennis Brown

The largest single gift in the history of the University of Notre Dame, a $50-million bequest from the late Joan B. Kroc, has been directed to the campus peace studies institute that carries her name

The widow of McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc, Mrs. Kroc died Oct. 12 at her home in the San Diego suburb of Rancho Santa Fe. She was 75.

Her gift will establish the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Fund for Graduate Peace Studies at Notre Dame’s Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. Funds from the endowment will be used to enhance the Kroc Institute graduate program through the addition of staff and faculty with expertise in peace studies and the development of classroom education and clinical training.

“Words cannot adequately express our deep gratitude for this monumental gift,” said Rev. Edward A. Malloy, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “That gratitude is tempered, however, by the loss of a gracious woman and selfless champion for human rights and peace worldwide. We join with her family and other friends in mourning, while also remembering that here and elsewhere she forever will be remembered as a genuine peacemaker.”

Mrs. Kroc became acquainted with Notre Dame in the mid-1980s at an event in San Diego during which Father Hesburgh, then the University’s president, voiced his concerns about the escalating arms race. In response to Father Hesburgh’s observations, she made a $6-million gift to Notre Dame in 1986 to establish the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies. She made an additional $6-million gift two years later to build Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Center for International Studies, which houses the Kroc Institute and the Helen Kellogg Institute for International Studies.

On the occasion of Father Hesburgh’s 86th birthday in May, Mrs. Kroc made a $5-million gift to Notre Dame to create in his name a fund to provide scholarships for students in the institute’s graduate program

In all, Mrs. Kroc contributed $69.1 million to Notre Dame.

“The breathtaking generosity of Mrs. Kroc will enable the Kroc Institute to implement our ambitious strategic plan for enhancing cross-cultural, multinational peace building,” said Scott Appleby, John M. Regan Jr. Director of the Institute. “We are grateful for her confidence in us, and we assume this responsibility in a spirit of single-minded commitment to the work of peace and justice.”

Faculty, fellows and students of the Kroc Institute engage in research, education and outreach programs on the causes of violence and the conditions for sustainable peace. The research agenda focuses on the religious and ethnic dimensions of conflict and peace building; the ethics of the use of force; and the peacemaking role of international norms, policies and institutions, including a focus on economic sanctions and enforcement of human rights.

A master’s degree program attracts international scholar-practitioners to the institute to study peacemaking while building cross-cultural understanding among themselves. An innovative undergraduate program leads to a supplementary major or interdisciplinary minor in peace studies.

The institute is led by Appleby, eight core faculty, 11 staff and 35 affiliated fellows in more than a dozen departments and professional schools at Notre Dame. A half-dozen visiting fellows are invited to the institute each year to conduct research.

The previous largest benefaction to Notre Dame was a $35-million naming gift from Thomas and Kathy Mendoza for the Mendoza College of Business.

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