Travels with Ned

Author: Rev. Theodore Hesburgh


Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., was the best of friends with Fr. Joyce for decades. The two traveled together in their immediate post retirement and Fr. Ted chronicled their trip in the book, “Travels with Ted&Ned,” edited by Jerry Reedy, published by Doubleday in 1992. Here is an excerpt: p. p. Father Ned Joyce was my right-hand man for the entire thirty-five years that I was president of Notre Dame. It would be impossible to recount, even in cursory fashion, all the great things he did for Notre Dame during his thirty-five years as executive vice president. Without him, both the university and I would have been much diminished.p. In a very real sense Ned was the anchor of the executive echelon during those years. Many vice presidents came and went, but Ned was always there. And up until 1970, when we created the position of provost, he was always the number two man in authority. When I was away, he was acting president, the man in charge. I traveled a lot, often for weeks at a time, but I never worried for a moment about how the university was doing in my absence. With Ned Joyce in charge, I knew I had nothing to worry about. He was, and is, a man of impeccable moral character, shrewd judgment, rocklike fidelity, and unfailing dependability.p. The first time I met Ned Joyce was the day he was ordained, June 8, 1949, the same year I became executive vice president. The ordination ceremony was over and Ned was on his way to the office of Notre Dame’s president, Father John Cavanaugh, to give him a blessing, something young priests still do for relatives and close friends on ordination day. The friendship between Ned and Father John had started during Ned’s student days when he worked as Father John’s secretary. I also had some business with Father John that day, and just as I was on my way into his office, out came Ned. I remember being struck by his vitality and ebullience as we met in the hallway and introduced ourselves to each other. I could tell immediately that there was something special about him.p. Cavanaugh later told me that Ned had majored in accounting and had been graduated from Notre Dame with high honors. He had passed the CPA exam, worked in the business world for five years, then had come back to Notre Dame to study for the priesthood. He was just three months older than I was. We had overlapped at Notre Dame in 1934-35 and 1936-37, but had not known each other.p. On his return to Notre Dame after ordination, Ned’s first job was not much different than what mine had been. They made him an assistant rector of Morrissey Hall and assigned him to teach theology. He’d been at it barely one semester when Father John Burke, who was financial vice president at that time, became sick with nephritis and had to go to Arizona, where the climate was drier. Cavanaugh immediately tapped Ned to fill in for Burke, and in a couple of weeks Ned had everything running smoothly.p. When Burke came back at the end of the summer, I went to see Cavanaugh and told him how impressed I had been with the way Ned had come into that department cold and yet had done such a superb job. I then recommended to Father John that he send Ned over to Oxford for a degree in PPE (Philosophy, Political Science, and Economics). That, with his CPA, would put him on an equal footing with the Ph.D.s in the administration, were he to become a permanent member of it after returning from Oxford. The degree would also expose Ned to a lot of things he probably hadn’t read when he was studying business and accounting.p. Father John took to the idea immediately. He liked Ned as much as I did, and he could see that the additional degree would be beneficial for him. To no one’s surprise, Ned took Oxford by storm. He excelled in the classroom, made all kinds of friends, played on a world championship Oxford basketball team, assisted the famous Father Ronald Knox on Sundays, and was unofficial chaplain to the American Rhodes Scholars at Oxford. Among them was John Brademas, the future Indiana congressman, House Whip, and president of New York University. Other well-known people whom Ned came to know at Oxford were the author Robert Massie and the present director of the Library of Congress, Jim Billington. Ned also knew all the Jesuits at Oxford because he lived with them in Campion Hall.p. Despite all the success and enjoyment Ned had at Oxford, I suspect his fondest memory was the basketball championship. Ned had played high school basketball in South Carolina, and he had looked forward to trying out for the Notre Dame team. His hopes were dashed, though, when he failed to make the cut. One reason, I imagine, was that he was about a year younger than his classmates and had not yet reached his full growth. By the time he reached Oxford, of course, he was fully grown. He stood more that six feet tall, and his height, combined with his playing skills, was all he needed to make the All-America team at Oxford. In the finals, it was Ned’s team against another All-America team fielded by the U.S. Air Force. Oxford won, and all of a sudden the fellow who couldn’t make the team at Notre Dame fifteen years earlier found himself on a world championship team in England. Ned also won an Oxford blue, or rather half blue. (In America we give varsity letters; in Oxford they give blues.) They don’t rate basketball at Oxford as highly as cricket or rowing.p. About a year and a half after Ned arrived at Oxford, Father Burke’s nephritis flared up again, this time fatally. We summoned Ned back to Notre Dame, and he took over the financial vice presidency once more. I’m sure Ned would have preferred to stay at Oxford and finish his degree, but good soldier that he’s always been, he came back to Notre Dame and went to work. By the time Cavanaugh appointed me president, a year or so after Ned’s return, I already knew whom I wanted for number two: Ned Joyce. Not only was he an extremely capable administrator, and just an all-around first-class fellow, but also he knew and cared about athletics. This was an area that had never much interested me, but I considered it to be very important because it gave national visibility to the university. The athletic department also had a tradition of enforcing academic integrity that I knew Ned would maintain and even strengthen. The provincial had to appoint him, of course, because in those days the school was run by the order. But they had already told me that I could pick my own team, so the appointment was pretty much a formality.p. Over the years Ned and I have worked extraordinarily well together, no doubt because we balance each other so nicely. That’s another way of saying we’re quite different from one another. For that reason, those who know us well consider us rather strange boon companions. Ned is a Southerner from Spartanburg, South Carolina; I am a Yankee from Syracuse in upstate New York. He is good with numbers; I am better with words. He is patient and methodical; I am impatient and impulsive. He is a good athlete; I have two left feet. And to be completely honest, I should admit that he has more virtue than I.p. We are also characterized by some in liberal and conservative terms, I being the liberal, Ned the conservative. I’ve always felt that “liberal” is a label that doesn’t fit me all that neatly. For example, I think I’m rather conservative when it comes to values. Ned, on the other hand, tends to take a conservative stance about most things, especially in the area of finance. Given his accounting and business background, that’s not surprising.p. Ned also likes to take his time making a decision. He looks ten ways at everything, and always makes sure all the t’s are crossed and the i’s dotted. He’s a meticulous planner. I, on the other hand, tend to jump right in. I like to take financial chances, and I get impatient with planning. It’s the same way when we give talks. He’ll work on a talk for a long time, thinking about it, organizing it, writing it out, making sure it’s just the way he wants it. My talks are more spontaneous. I freely admit that I don’t like to speak from a carefully prepared text, and I rarely do, a habit that hasn’t made me terribly popular with some of the people in our public relations area.p. But different as we are, Ned and I, we have worked closely together for thirty-five years and there’s never been a bad word between us. Nor have we had a single serious disagreement on anything that I would consider fundamentally important. When we did disagree on various decisions, I felt I was wrong about half the time and I deferred to him. While we disagreed occasionally on policies, procedures, and projects, we never disagreed on the goals or the philosophy of the university.p. We trust one another implicitly, and we have enormous respect and admiration for one another. There’s nothing I wouldn’t do for him, nor he for me.

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