Robert Dowd

Notre Dame University elects new president

Notre Dame’s board of trustees appointed the Rev. Robert Dowd as the university’s 18th president.

Dowd will succeed the Rev. John Jenkins, the university’s president for the last 19 years, effective July 1.

“An accomplished scholar, a dedicated teacher and an experienced administrator, Father Bob is also a faithful and generous priest,” Jenkins said in a press release. “He will lead the university to being even more powerfully a force for good in the world.”

Dowd has served as vice president and associate provost for interdisciplinary initiatives since 2021. He is an associate professor of political science, a fellow and trustee of the university and religious superior of the Holy Cross community at Notre Dame.

“His character and intellect, along with his broad academic and administrative experience and his deep commitment to Notre Dame, make him an ideal person to lead the university into the future,” said Jack Brennan, chair of Notre Dame’s board of trustees.

A native of Michigan City, Dowd graduated from Notre Dame in 1987, earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology and economics. He entered Moreau Seminary in 1987, during which time he spent 18 months assigned to East Africa. Dowd was ordained as a priest in 1994.

Dowd has served in campus ministry at Notre Dame as an associate rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and an assistant rector in one of the residence halls.

Dowd earned a Master of Arts in African studies in 1998 and a doctorate in political science in 2003 from UCLA. His research has focused on African politics, identity politics, and religion and politics.

Dowd founded Notre Dame’s Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies. He also serves as a trustee of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts. Dowd is also a board member of Brother Andre Hospital in Nairobi.

Since its founding, Notre Dame has been led by a priest-president from the Congregation of Holy Cross. Rev. Edward Sorin, the university’s founder, belonged to the Congregation of Holy Cross.

“Informed by our Catholic mission, we will work together so that Notre Dame is an ever-greater engine of insight, innovation and impact, addressing society’s greatest challenges and helping young people to realize their potential for good,” Dowd said.

Notre Dame is a private Catholic university. Founded in 1842, it is in Notre Dame, adjacent to South Bend.


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