Sheedy family’s leadership gift endows new program at intersection of business and liberal arts

Author: Dennis Brown

Main Building. (Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame)

University of Notre Dame alumnus Charles Sheedy and his wife, Ellen, have made a leadership gift to his alma mater to endow an innovative new program that will offer specialized coursework, programming and resources for undergraduate students interested in finding deeper meaning in the practice of business through the liberal arts.

“The Sheedy name is legendary at Notre Dame and, particularly, in the College of Arts and Letters, making this generous gift from Charles and Ellen especially fitting,” University President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., said. “We are grateful beyond measure to the Sheedy family for endowing this distinctive new program.”

The Sheedy Family Program in Economy, Enterprise and Society will be open to College of Arts and Letters students with a minor in business economics or a Mendoza College of Business minor, or Mendoza majors who have a major, supplemental major or minor in the College of Arts and Letters.

“A hallmark of a Notre Dame liberal arts education has always been helping students understand not just what they want to do, but who they want to be,” Sarah A. Mustillo, the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters, said. “The Sheedy Family Program will further engage business-minded students as they ponder the big questions facing the economy, develop their sense of vocation and think deeply about how they can use their knowledge and skills to make a difference in the world.”

The program includes a sequence of classes including Business in Context, a gateway seminar that introduces big questions and important debates in the humanities about the modern history and practice of business. Students will then choose from courses that tackle ethics in work, all of which will focus on practical, real-life ethical questions facing anyone entering the job market. An upper-level Business and the Liberal Arts course will focus on a specialized discipline, question or area of study. It will be taught by a rotating group of faculty affiliated with the program and provide further research and scholarly opportunities for those interested.

Beyond classroom opportunities, the program also will offer research and writing boot camps and retreats; community dinners and dialogue events; lectures from Notre Dame faculty, visiting faculty and industry professionals; research funding and mentorship; guaranteed internship funding; and career planning and recruitment events.

The program also includes an honors track, which students can apply for as a sophomore or junior. These Sheedy Scholars will be given additional access to resources that develop their scholarly abilities and provide meaningful research experience. Through research-intensive mentorship from affiliated faculty and additional funding support, Sheedy Scholars will write a senior thesis involving business and the liberal arts, and many of the additional resources available to them through the program will support their efforts in such a project.

Between 30 and 40 students will be admitted to the program annually, with the inaugural class already selected for the 2022-23 academic year.

Charles Sheedy is a 1969 graduate of Notre Dame and a member of the College of Arts and Letters Advisory Council.

“Ellen and I are delighted to be involved in the formation of the Sheedy Program for Economy, Enterprise and Society in the College of Arts and Letters,” he said. “We are deeply grateful to Dean Mustillo, her predecessors and the countless others who helped bring our vision to life at Notre Dame. The University’s launch of this program corresponds with my long-held desire for an initiative that would help arts and letters students become even more prepared to take on the challenges of an ever-changing social and industrial complex.”

Sheedy is a senior vice president at Fayez Sarofim & Co., a Houston-based investment management firm. He joined Fayez Sarofim as an associate in 1971, and during his more than 50-year tenure has served at various levels of responsibility in equity research, portfolio management and investment strategy.

A cum laude graduate of Notre Dame, Sheedy earned a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School in 1971.

The Sheedy family has made a lasting impact at Notre Dame, initially through the work of Charles’ uncle, Rev. Charles “Chick” E. Sheedy, C.S.C., a Holy Cross priest, a professor of theology and the dean of the College of Arts and Letters from 1951 to 1969.

Father Sheedy was a renowned scholar in moral theology and Christian ethics, a widely published author and a close friend and colleague of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president from 1952 to 1987. In honor of his contributions and dedication to the college and Notre Dame as a whole, the Sheedy Excellence in Teaching Award was established in 1970 to honor an outstanding College of Arts and Letters faculty member who has displayed excellence in research and innovation in instruction.

Charles and Ellen Sheedy reside in Houston and have been generous supporters of Notre Dame’s Sorin Society, John T. McGreevy Endowment for Excellence, Center for Social Concerns and other University initiatives. They are the parents of five children, three of whom are graduates of Notre Dame.