Wednesday, March 14, 2007

Father Ted is Turning 90

Notre Dame sent me a mailer yesterday, with information on some of the plans they are making to celebrate the Father Ted Hesburgh's 90th birthday, which is in May. Sounds like a very nice celebration. But it got me to thinking. Where would I rank Father Ted on the list of important figures in the history of Notre Dame? It's a tough call, but I think I would put him #3, behind Fr. Sorin (founded the University), and Knute Rockne (chemistry professor).

Where would you put him?


Anonymous said...

It's a tough call, but I'd rank a few others above Father Ted.

Father John Nieuland, another chemistry professor and inventor of neoprene (artificial rubber), who first put Notre Dame in the map as a serious research institution and not just another small liberal arts college from the Midwest. The royalties generated helped keep the school afloat during the Depression, alomg with revenues generated by football, as coached by one of his proteges, a young man named Knute K. Rockne. Rockne taught Chemistry 101 well into the 1920s, in addition to being AD and HC for both football and track.

Plus I have always thought that the contributions of Father John Cavanaugh, who was President immediately after WW II, havw always been overlooked. Notre Dame was in very shaky financial condition after the war but Cavanaugh, a decorated chaplain in the U.S. Navy in the South Pacific, not only raised money through the introeduction of the first Alumni Annual Fund but quickly rehired another navy veteran, Frank Leahy, to renew the glory of Irish football. Without Cavanaugh, there would have been no Hesburgh.

OC Domer said...

Great comments Anon. I'm not sure I'd change my rankings, as I think Father Ted's initiatives transformed Notre Dame from a nice college to world class University. But your nominees certainly belong in the mix.