Standing in solidarity: Notre Dame expands partnership with Ukrainian Catholic University

Author: Dennis Brown

Church at Ukrainian Catholic University (UCO) Lviv, Ukraine (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)
Church at Ukrainian Catholic University (UCO) Lviv, Ukraine (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Metropolitan-Archbishop Borys Gudziak, organizer and president of Ukrainian Catholic University (UCU), entered into an agreement today to significantly expand the existing academic, religious and cultural partnerships between the two universities. The enhancements come in advance of Notre Dame conferring an honorary degree on the archbishop Sunday in its 177th University Commencement Ceremony, where he will also serve as the principal commencement speaker.

“The war in Ukraine is a great global tragedy,” Father Jenkins said. “We stand in solidarity with the courageous people of Ukraine and with our longtime partners at UCU. Notre Dame has for many years, through its Nanovic Institute for European Studies, hosted visiting scholars from UCU here on campus, and in turn our scholars have spent time there.

“Now, as the Ukrainians resist the Russian invasion of their country, the role of UCU and of all Ukrainian universities has never been more important, both in sustaining the work of Ukrainian scholars and researchers and in preparing for the eventual rebuilding of their war-ravaged nation. In dialogue with our colleagues at UCU, we have arrived at a set of initiatives aimed at providing substantive support and deepening our partnership through a wide range of collaborative initiatives.”

The new programs center on engaging with UCU students and faculty at Notre Dame’s campus in South Bend, Indiana, and its Global Gateways worldwide, as well as providing opportunities for Notre Dame faculty and administrators to collaborate with UCU colleagues on their campus in Lviv.

“We believe that having a cohort of UCU students and faculty on campus each semester will be mutually beneficial,” Father Jenkins said. “There is a shared desire to advance both existing academic partnerships between our institutions and new areas of inquiry that emerge as a direct result of the war and that would have a positive impact on civil society in Ukraine.”

“Notre Dame has offered a bold and seminal response to the Russian invasion and devastation of Ukraine. It is a sign of the capacity of the University’s leadership and faculty to love generously, to embrace the hounded, to serve, bless and lift up,” Archbishop Gudziak said. “I deeply appreciate our friendship with Notre Dame which has been fostered for 18 years first under the guidance of (former director of the Nanovic Institute) Jim McAdams and continues with the present director, Clemens Sedmak, and his wonderful team. We were honored by the Notre Dame Award and Father Jenkins’ visit in 2019 and hope that our academic and personal relations will continue evolving on all levels.”

The partnership expansion, which will cost up to $2 million in the first year, will begin in the upcoming 2022-23 academic year and includes five primary components modeled on similar partnerships Notre Dame has with other colleges and universities worldwide. In addition to providing a cohort of undergraduate UCU students the opportunity to study at Notre Dame each semester, a similar program will be established for graduate students, and UCU post-doctoral students will be able to apply for the opportunity to study at one of Notre Dame’s five Global Gateways in Beijing, Dublin, Jerusalem, London and Rome. The University will also offer research grants for collaborations between its faculty and UCU scholars and sponsor two UCU faculty fellows to be in residence on campus each year. Finally, the University will offer grants to support collaborations between Notre Dame administrators and UCU administrators. Notre Dame and UCU will evaluate these initiatives annually and adapt as needed, especially given rapidly changing conditions in Ukraine.

Archbishop Gudziak, the highest-ranking Ukrainian Catholic prelate in the United States, founded UCU in Lviv in 2002 as the first Catholic university established in territory of the former Soviet Union. Father Jenkins presented him with the Notre Dame Award in 2019 for his work as the leader of UCU as a center for cultural thought, for his Christian witness, and for his commitment to the formation of a Ukrainian society based on human dignity.

Since the invasion of Ukraine by Russia on Feb. 24, Notre Dame has demonstrated solidarity with Ukraine in numerous ways, including a forceful statement from Father Jenkins at the start of the war, a prayer service for peace in the Basilica of the Sacred Heart on Feb. 28, weekly liturgies in the Basilica offered for the intention of an end to the war in Ukraine, creation of a website  dedicated to educating the Notre Dame community about the war, faculty panel presentations, conversations between Notre Dame and UCU students, and the lighting of the “Word of Life” mosaic on the Hesburgh Library in Ukraine’s national colors of blue and yellow.