Pete Buttigieg, former South Bend mayor, 2020 Democratic presidential candidate and a faculty fellow in the University of Notre Dame’s Institute for Advanced Study (NDIAS), has been nominated to serve as Secretary of Transportation by President-elect Joe Biden.
In his introduction of Buttigieg as the transportation nominee, Biden said the 38-year-old former mayor offers “a new voice with new ideas determined to move past old politics.”
“In his work, Pete represents the combination of optimism, deep scholarship and creative collaboration that we seek in all of our fellows,” said Meghan Sullivan, the Wilsey Family College Professor of Philosophy and director of NDIAS. “In the coming years, Americans will face challenges building and improving the infrastructure we all depend upon. If confirmed, Pete will bring to his new role a relentless commitment to evidence and innovation coupled with a deep faith in the common good.”
A Harvard graduate and Rhodes Scholar, Buttigieg mounted a 2020 Democratic presidential campaign that captured national attention and won the Iowa caucus. Prior to the campaign, he served from 2012 to 2020 as South Bend’s mayor, working collaboratively with Notre Dame on numerous issues of common interest. During his first term, he was deployed to Afghanistan as a member of the U.S. Navy Reserve.
Buttigieg has strong ties to the South Bend and Notre Dame communities. Born in South Bend and a graduate of St. Joseph High School, he is the son of Jennifer Anne Montgomery and the late Joseph Buttigieg, both long-serving members of the Notre Dame faculty.
As mayor, Buttigieg was involved in a wide array of transportation-related projects, including the Smart Streets initiative through downtown South Bend, a streets plan for the city’s west side and a partnership among the city, county, state and the Northern Indiana Commuter Transportation District (the South Shore rail line between South Bend and Chicago). He and the city were recognized with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s 2018 Secretary’s Award, the department’s Challenge Activity Award and the Congress for the New Urbanism’s Charter Award.
In June, Buttigieg was named a faculty fellow for the 2020-21 academic year in NDIAS, a University-wide research institute that convenes an interdisciplinary group of faculty, graduate and undergraduate fellows each year to study questions that require a joint focus, benefit from sustained research and advance understanding of pressing issues that affect our ability to lead valuable, meaningful lives.
Buttigieg has worked on two research projects: one exploring how to restore trust in political institutions — which resulted in a book released in October titled “Trust: America’s Best Chance” — and another that considers the forces distinctively shaping the 2020s. He is part of a group of more than 30 faculty and student fellows who are conducting research on the nature of trust, the institute’s 2020-21 research theme.
Buttigieg and other NDIAS fellows and students gathered for weekly work-in-progress seminars and other academic programming. He also engaged the broader campus community by teaching an interdisciplinary undergraduate course on the importance of trust as understood through different fields.