Monk's legacy leaves campus and city richer

by Staff Editorial

Sad as it is to see Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy leave the presidency of the University of Notre Dame, it also has been good to see many honors bestowed upon him in these recent months. Malloy’s contribution to Notre Dame and to the South Bend community has been enormous. It is time to say thank you.

No one can be president of Notre Dame for 18 years and not be a party to controversy — some of it embarrassing. Malloy also has had critics in connection with the performance of athletic teams. In the view of some, the only way to measure success is by the final score.

But winning games shouldn’t be the first item on a university president’s check list. It has been Malloy’s responsibility to see Notre Dame in terms of all it can be. That broader vision is the basis of the outgoing president’s legacy. Looking at that “final score,” there is no question that Notre Dame has been a winner under Malloy’s leadership.

During his tenure, Notre Dame went from being a good Catholic university to being an excellent university in general and the premier Catholic university in America.

As with athletics, success in many other areas is measurable. The average SAT score at Notre Dame has increased by about 16 points. Much of the student body growth at the university has been in an area once neglected: graduate school, where enrollment has grown by about 1,000 students. They are attracted by top-flight research and advanced-degree programs.

The campus has expanded physically, by about 40 new buildings, including the breathtaking Marie DeBartolo Center for the Performing Arts. A continuing master plan will increase student housing, expand visitor facilities and reconfigure traffic patterns on and around campus.

With 18 percent minority undergraduate students now compared to only 7 percent in 1987, Notre Dame is much more diverse than it was.

Tuition and room and board have increased three-fold. But financial aid has increased 27-fold. Malloy obviously is proud of the fact that demonstrated financial needs of every student are met. Such has been the case since 1999. The NBC TV football contract, a major coup among college athletic programs, pays for much of that aid.

We haven’t yet mentioned the endowment, a figure that assures the university’s future and that has led many to observe (about half-jokingly) that Notre Dame has all the money in the world. Under Malloy’s oversight, financial campaigns have raised the endowment from $456 million to $3 billion.

We’re giving Malloy a lot of credit here. He probably would be the first to say that many people were involved as Notre Dame has stepped up a couple of levels in academic excellence and worldwide prestige. But there is one achievement which we believe Malloy needn’t share credit for: improvement in the relationship with the community that Notre Dame calls home.

The university has enfolded the needs of South Bend into its own mission. Notre Dame’s role in the Center of the Homeless, opening a downtown office and engaging the public in campus-area issues have been part of a most winning and neighborly policy.

Such good will wasn’t always so apparent. Once upon a time, the word “aloof” would come up in connection with the campus north of town. Malloy observed the chill in the relationship between “town and gown” and set out to warm it up.

Notre Dame was anything but aloof when it engaged the community in the process to replace and relocate roads near campus and strengthen the northeast neighborhood bordering campus.

All of that is part of Malloy’s vision. It has been good for Notre Dame and South Bend. We wish the distinguished president emeritus all the best in his future ventures.

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