The University of Notre Dame has chosen Rev. Robert A. Dowd, C.S.C., as its 18th president, starting on July 1. He will succeed Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., who has been president for 19 years and will step down at the end of the 2023-24 academic year. The Board of Trustees expressed their excitement about Father Dowd’s appointment, praising his character, intellect, academic and administrative experience, and commitment to Notre Dame. They also highlighted the tradition of having a priest-president from the Congregation of Holy Cross, which Father Dowd continues.
Father Dowd expressed his gratitude and humility upon receiving the news, acknowledging Father Jenkins’ leadership and the University’s strong position. He emphasized the importance of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission and its role in addressing societal challenges and helping students reach their potential for good.
Father Jenkins congratulated the Board of Trustees on their selection of Father Dowd, noting his scholarly accomplishments, teaching dedication, administrative experience, and faithful priesthood. He believes that Father Dowd will lead the University to be an even greater force for good in the world.
Currently, Father Dowd serves as vice president and associate provost for interdisciplinary initiatives at Notre Dame. He is also an associate professor of political science, a Fellow and Trustee of the University, and the religious superior of the Holy Cross community at Notre Dame.
Father Dowd’s journey to the presidency began with his graduation from Notre Dame in 1987. After exploring his vocation to religious life and priesthood, he joined the Congregation of Holy Cross and spent time in East Africa. He was ordained a priest in 1994 and later pursued graduate studies at UCLA, earning a doctorate in political science. His research focuses on the impact of Christian and Islamic religious communities on democratic institutions in sub-Saharan Africa.
In his current role, Father Dowd oversees various institutes, centers, and academic units at Notre Dame. He has also held positions related to internationalization and has established partnerships in Africa. He is involved in multiple research institutes and serves as a trustee for Stonehill College and a board member of Brother Andre Hospital.
Father Dowd’s research interests include African politics, identity politics, religion and politics, and the integration of migrants/refugees in Europe. He has authored a book titled “Christianity, Islam, and Liberal Democracy: Lessons from Sub-Saharan Africa.”
During Father Jenkins’ presidency, Notre Dame has made significant advancements as a Catholic research university. He has prioritized attracting exceptional faculty, expanding research, strengthening the University’s financial position, admitting diverse students, promoting undergraduate excellence, and increasing global engagement. Father Jenkins is also known for his advocacy of civil discourse and his involvement in the future of college athletics.
A video announcement of Father Dowd’s appointment is available, along with a history of the University’s presidency.