University of Notre Dame

Campus Call for Free Expression Participating President:

The University of Notre Dame

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., President

University of Notre Dame Rev. John Jenkins

We should strive to combine a commitment to inquiry and dialogue in pursuit of truth with a commitment to show respect and charity toward those with whom we disagree. The most effective way to realize this ideal is not by silencing or excluding those who fail to live up to it, but by showing such respect in our own interactions and by calling others to do the same.” — Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.

Campus Call for Free Expression Planned Activities

Each year, Father Jenkins hosts a yearlong Notre Dame Forum designed to foster university-wide dialogue on a central theme of particular importance to Notre Dame, the nation, and the larger world. The theme for the 2023-24 ND Forum is The Future of Democracy.  In framing keynote events throughout the year, Father Jenkins will underscore principles of free expression. 

About the President

Elected in 2005 as the University of Notre Dame’s 17th president, Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., has devoted himself to fostering the University’s unique place in academia, the Church, our nation, and the world.

Father Jenkins has been committed to combining teaching and research excellence with a cultivation of the deeper purposes of Catholic higher education.  While pursuing academic distinction, he has brought renewed emphasis to Notre Dame’s distinctive mission, rooted in the tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross, the University’s founding community, to educate the whole person—mind, body, and spirit—to do good in the world. 

These commitments have been made manifest in the University’s dedication to excellence in undergraduate education in the classroom and beyond, while simultaneously building a reputation as a preeminent research institution—all in the context of Notre Dame’s Catholic identity.  Notre Dame is a member of the Association of American Universities (AAU).   

Within the University and beyond, Father Jenkins has called for civil discourse—grounded in the Christian view of others as equally made in the image of God—as a way to find common ground rather than demonize those with different opinions.  In a speech at Emory University in 2011, he said: “If we choose to attack our opponents before we have taken the time to understand them, if we prefer denunciations to genuine dialogue, if we seek political victory rather than constructive compromise … we will not be able to find solutions to the problems before us.” 

The Commission on Presidential Debates, a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that sponsors and produces all U.S. presidential and vice presidential debates, cited his leadership on this issue in electing Father Jenkins to its board of directors in 2011, a leadership role he continues to hold.  

A philosopher trained in theology and a member of Notre Dame’s Department of Philosophy since 1990, Father Jenkins earned undergraduate and advanced degrees from Notre Dame, a doctorate of philosophy from Oxford University, and a master of divinity and licentiate in sacred theology from the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.  He is the author of Knowledge and Faith in Thomas Aquinas, and numerous scholarly articles published in The Journal of Philosophy, Medieval Philosophy and Theology, and the Journal of Religious Ethics.  Father Jenkins is a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and serves on the academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, which is dedicated to the advancement of teaching and research in these disciplines.