University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., announced the appointment Wednesday (June 27) of University of Portland administrator Rev. Gerard J. Olinger, C.S.C., as Notre Dame’s new vice president for mission engagement and church affairs. The former Notre Dame Trustee succeeds Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., who has been elected provincial superior of the Congregation of Holy Cross, United States Province of Priests and Brothers.
“Father Olinger has proved a thoughtful, engaged member of our Board of Trustees and a great administrator at Portland,” Father Jenkins said, adding: “We’re grateful and excited to have Gerry steward and deepen Notre Dame’s Catholic and Holy Cross mission, enhance our contributions to the Church and advance ecumenical and interfaith understanding and cooperation at Notre Dame and around the world.”
“I am humbled by Father Jenkins’ invitation to serve the University,” Father Olinger said. “Notre Dame has helped form me academically and spiritually. I am grateful to have served this truly excellent institution for the last four years as a Trustee, and I look forward to continuing to serve the University and its mission by cultivating the Catholic and Holy Cross mission of Notre Dame and catalyzing its service to the Church.”
Father Olinger currently is Portland’s vice president for university relations, responsible for the Offices of Alumni and Parent Relations, Development, Marketing and Communications and University Events. He is a concurrent assistant professor of political science in the university’s College of Arts and Sciences.
Prior to his work in university relations, Father Olinger served as vice president for student affairs at Portland. In that capacity, he had oversight for the Offices of Residence Life, Public Safety, Student Activities, Career Services, Campus Ministry and International Student Services, as well as the University’s Health and Counseling Center and Moreau Center. He assisted with the planning and development of several important campus projects, including the construction of the Beauchamp Recreation and Wellness Center and Lund Family Residence Hall, as well as the renovation of the Pilot House. He also previously served as executive assistant to Portland’s president.
A native of Springfield, Pennsylvania, Father Olinger graduated magna cum laude with a bachelor’s degree in history and government from Notre Dame. He earned two postgraduate degrees from Notre Dame: a juris doctor cum laude in 2004 and a master of divinity degree in 2009. While in law school he served as executive notes editor for the Journal of Legislation and was a member of the Student Bar Association. After law school, Father Olinger entered formation with the Congregation of Holy Cross, made his final vows in August 2009 and was ordained a priest in April 2010.
A current member of the board of directors for King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, he also previously served on the board of directors for the Association for Student Affairs at Catholic Colleges and Universities and the board of trustees for De La Salle North Catholic High School in Portland. He is a member of the state bars of Indiana and Pennsylvania.