Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., president of the University of Notre Dame, added two plaques to the Wall of Honor in Notre Dame’s Main Building on Tuesday (Oct. 13). At an induction ceremony on the first floor of the Main Building, Father Jenkins blessed two new plaques for the Wall of Honor, one honoring Notre Dame theologian and teacher Rev. John S. Dunne, C.S.C., and another honoring the first generation of African-American students at Notre Dame. That plaque includes three names representing the University’s first generation of African-American students: 1947 alumnus Frazier Thompson, the first African-American student to enroll at Notre Dame; 1956 alumna Goldie Lee Ivory, the first African-American woman to earn a Notre Dame degree; and 1958 alumnus Aubrey Lewis, the first African-American graduate to be elected a Notre Dame trustee.
Dozens of their family members joined University leaders for the short ceremony. “These are people who were real trailblazers,” Father Jenkins told the crowd of about 100 people. “They made Notre Dame a richer, better, more diverse place. We’re able to do what we can today because of their contributions.”
Thompson’s son, Frazier Thompson Jr., said he and several of his brothers have had a memorable experience being greeted by so many people on campus in the last few days. “The first thing that comes to mind is humbled,” Thompson said. “It’s my first time here, so I had no idea of the impact my father had.”
Former University President Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy, C.S.C., established the Wall of Honor in 1999 to memorialize men and women “whose contributions to Notre Dame have been lasting, pervasive and profound.”
The other new inductee, Father Dunne, was one of the University’s beloved teachers, who died two years ago. A widely revered teacher and mentor for more than half a century, he also wrote some 20 influential works on theology and the spiritual life. Father Dunne may have taught more students at Notre Dame than any other teacher, said Father Jenkins, who counted himself as one of those grateful students.
A reception in the Main Building Rotunda followed the ceremony and featured Notre Dame’s Voices of Faith gospel choir. Father Jenkins presided at a Mass for Founder’s Day in Notre Dame’s Basilica of the Sacred Heart. Rev. Michael Connors, C.S.C., director of the John S. Marten Program in Homiletics and Liturgics and senior faculty chaplain, was the preacher, and sacred music was provided by the University Folk Choir.
These events marked a celebration of Founder’s Day, the feast of St. Edward the Confessor, patron saint of Notre Dame’s founder, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., which has been annually celebrated on campus since 1868 in honor of Father Sorin and all of the men and women whose lives and work have made the University what it is today.