Catholic Media Association Book Award: History, Second Place
Thomas Blantz’s monumental The University of Notre Dame: A History tells the story of the renowned Catholic university’s growth and development from a primitive grade school and high school founded in 1842 by the Congregation of Holy Cross in the wilds of northern Indiana to the acclaimed undergraduate and research institution it became by the early twenty-first century. Its growth was not always smooth—slowed at times by wars, financial challenges, fires, and illnesses. It is the story both of a successful institution and of the men and women who made it so: Father Edward Sorin, the twenty-eight-year-old French priest and visionary founder; Father William Corby, later two-term Notre Dame president, who gave absolution to the soldiers of the Irish Brigade at the Battle of Gettysburg; the hundreds of Holy Cross brothers, sisters, and priests whose faithful service in classrooms, student residence halls, and across campus kept the university progressing through difficult years; a dedicated lay faculty teaching too many classes for too few dollars to assure the university would survive; Knute Rockne, a successful chemistry teacher but an even more successful football coach, elevating Notre Dame to national athletic prominence; Father Theodore M. Hesburgh, president for thirty-five years; the 325 undergraduate young women who were the first to enroll at Notre Dame in 1972; and thousands of others.
Blantz captures the strong connections that exist between Notre Dame’s founding and early life and today’s university. Alumni, faculty, students, friends of the university, and fans of the Fighting Irish will want to own this indispensable, definitive history of one of America’s leading universities. Simultaneously detailed and documented yet lively and interesting, The University of Notre Dame: A History is the most complete and up-to-date history of the university available.
Thomas E. Blantz, C.S.C., is professor emeritus of history at the University of Notre Dame. He is the author of A Priest in Public Service: Francis J. Haas and the New Deal (1982), published by the University of Notre Dame Press.
"A great university deserves a great institutional history. This work fills the void. And, as a case study, it fleshes out some legacies of Catholic higher education as part of the development of American higher education writ large." —John Thelin, author of A History of American Higher Education
"Thoroughly researched, comprehensive in coverage, discerning in judgments rendered, and eminently readable, Father Thomas Blantz's new history of Notre Dame does justice to the university's storied past." —Philip Gleason, author of Contending With Modernity
"Master researcher Thomas Blantz offers new insights and information about Edward Sorin, Theodore Hesburgh, Knute Rockne, and other household names in the Notre Dame family, but his history also incorporates a host of unknown or underappreciated figures. Readers will enjoy learning about the men who helped Notre Dame thrive and succeed through the ages." —Kathleen Sprows Cummings, author of A Saint of Our Own
“In The University of Notre Dame: A History, Father Thomas E. Blantz, CSC, spares his readers the long, theoretical introduction customary to academic history. Instead he launches with a theme-setting story. . . . Blantz has lived a significant portion . . . of the history he writes about.” —Notre Dame Magazine
"In exacting detail, Blantz recounts over 21 chronologically organized chapters just how difficult Sorin's vision was to accomplish as he and his descendants battled disease, fire, poverty, prejudice and war. Combatting those challenges, the Revs. William Corby, John A. Zahm and James A. Burns, to name only three, gave the majority of their lives." —The Journal Gazette
"Father Thomas Blantz has published what will surely be the standard reference work for the history of the University of Notre Dame in the foreseeable future. . . . alumni/ae and friends of Notre Dame will appreciate Blantz's efforts to capture so many salient events in the school's history and development that will recall for many their years as students." —Holy Cross History
"Few people are better equipped to tell the story of how Sorin and Notre Dame beat the odds than Father Thomas Blantz, C.S.C. . . . In his newly published 600-page tome, The University of Notre Dame: A History, Blantz narrates the history of the University from the establishment of its founding religious order and the arrival of Father Sorin in Indiana to the inauguration of Father John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., as the University’s 17th president in 2005." —American Catholic Studies Newsletter
"[This] book is especially important for describing the formal and informal means that embedded the university's development as a leader of American Catholicism in the ongoing life of the Congregation of Holy Cross. For historical purposes, the book offers readers at Notre Dame and far beyond a nonpareil account of the institution Father Blantz has served so long and so well." —American Catholic Studies
Father Hesburgh often stated that a Catholic university was where the Church did its thinking, and indeed it is. The Kellogg Institute for International Studies, the Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism, and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies sponsor scholarly conferences; faculty publications examine critical Church issues;. and controversial topics—from Evolution under Father Zahm through the Vagina Monologs during Father Malloy’s presidency to Governor Cuomo’s wrestling with abortion —have been presented and debated, and issues were clarified and beliefs strengthened from the discussions. Father Hesburgh’s “fifteen-minute rule” and the Land O’ Lakes Statement were discussed for decades, and Notre Dame’s Laetare Medal is given national, and even international, publicity each year. Thousands of graduates have entered seminaries and convents, and numerous alumni have been elevated into significant positions in the hierarchy and have influenced Church policy at home and abroad.
The University had accomplished much throughout its history but, as a living institution, it had no plans to stop when Father Malloy left office in 2005. His successor, Father John Jenkins, declared in his Inaugural Address:
With respect and gratitude for all who embraced Notre Dame’s mission in earlier times, let us rise up and embrace the mission for our times: to build a Notre Dame that is bigger and better than ever—a great Catholic university for the 21st century, one of the pre-eminent research institutions in the world, a center for learning whose intellectual and religious traditions converge to make it a healing, unifying, enlightening force for a world deeply in need. This is our goal. Let no one ever…say that we dreamed too small.