Annual address to faculty, Town Hall meetings held in September

Author: Carol Bradley

Father Jenkins at Fall 2012 Town Hall meeting

Updates on the University’s strategic plan, executive leadership changes and the University’s move to the Atlantic Coast Conference were among the topics presented by President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., and Executive Vice President John Affleck-Graves in the annual Faculty Address and fall Town Hall meetings, held in late September.

Leadership changes

Ann M. Firth, most recently associate vice president and counselor to the president and previously associate vice president for student affairs, has assumed the position of chief of staff for Father Jenkins. In the Office of the President, Firth manages staff; serves as liaison to the Board of Trustees; works with the Budget Working Group, the Faculty Board on Athletics and the President’s Leadership Council; and plans the University’s Commencement ceremony.

Father Jenkins announced that Erin Hoffmann Harding, the inaugural associate vice president for strategic planning, has assumed a new role as vice president of student affairs. Among her most important tasks, Father Jenkins noted, will be to integrate students’ intellectual, extracurricular and residential experiences at Notre Dame.

Rev. William M. Lies, C.S.C., director of the Center for Social Concerns for the past 10 years, has been appointed the inaugural vice president for mission engagement and church affairs. Father Lies will assist Father Jenkins by coordinating activities associated with the University’s Catholic mission and serve as liaison to the Catholic hierarchy locally. In addition, he will assist in the University’s efforts to convene and lead “a worldwide dialogue that serves the Church and is relevant to the Catholic intellectual tradition,” Father Jenkins said.

The Strategic Plan

Father Jenkins also discussed the progress that has been made on the University-wide strategic plan, which is undertaken every 10 years. The plan is designed to answer critical questions, he said. “How do we make Notre Dame a great university, not just for five years, but for generations to come? How do we ensure it reflects our deepest values? How can we make this University truly excellent in fulfilling its mission?”

Over the past year, Father Jenkins noted, he, Provost Tom Burish and Harding met with every academic department and leaders of institutes to look at priorities—those priorities that will not require major additional investment of effort and resources, as well as enhancements—objectives that will require new investment. Strategies and tactics are being reviewed, and should be finished early in 2013.

The Atlantic Coast Conference

In late summer, Notre Dame announced it would join the Atlantic Coast Conference in all sports except football and hockey. “Notre Dame has committed to play five football games in each season against ACC teams,” Father Jenkins said, adding that retaining independence in football will allow the University to maintain traditions and rivalries that go back nearly a century.

“In addition, we hope that Notre Dame’s membership in the ACC will open up the possibility for academic collaboration with a strong group of institutions,” Father Jenkins said.


Acknowledging that recent scandals at other institutions reveal a dark side to college athletics, Father Jenkins reminded everyone to take a stand against questionable conduct. “Together we must redouble our vigilance in reporting and responding to inappropriate or unethical behavior, not only in athletics, but across the University.” Those who witness such behavior are encouraged to discuss it with a supervisor, or if that is not an option, contact the Integrity Line (800-688-9918). Reports can be made anonymously. More information is available on the Human Resources website,

Other updates

The biennial ND Voice survey, offering employees the chance to share their opinions on their work life, will be available to staff online Monday, Oct. 8, through Sunday, Oct. 28. Many positive things have come out of previous employee surveys, noted Affleck-Graves, such as increased Human Resources learning and education opportunities including the popular “Today’s Administrative Professional” program.

In addition, many divisions implement their own initiatives in response to their specific survey results. For example, a program was developed within the College of Science to increase awareness around the important issue of safety, and Food Services instituted employee open forums to enhance communication within the organization. The goal of ND Voice, it was emphasized, is to continue to improve the employee work experience, so employees are encouraged to participate.

In other news, completion rates on annual performance reviews have reached 91 percent in fiscal year 2012, a dramatic improvement over the 63 percent rate as recently as 2010. While pleased with the increase in the participation rate, Affleck-Graves mentioned that everyone needs to continue to strive for 100 percent, as every employee should receive a performance review.

The Notre Dame Wellness Center, which opened on the northeast side of campus this summer, is already being utilized by many employees for primary care, urgent care, physical therapy, wellness coaching and prescriptions, among other services. The full-service facility is open to all full-time, benefit-eligible faculty and staff and all benefit-eligible dependents. For more information, visit After registering, you’ll be able to view and schedule appointments online, refill prescriptions and view lab results.

At the Town Hall meetings, staffers were also reminded that the Morris Inn will close for construction and major renovations on Sunday, Oct. 21, with re-opening scheduled for late August 2013. Morris Inn employees were offered several options during that period: unpaid time off, a separation agreement or a temporary position on campus. So far, of those who elected to move to a temporary position for the duration of the Inn’s closure, 86 percent have been placed. Affleck-Graves noted that he was very proud that one of the first things mentioned by the team involved in planning the Morris Inn project had been how to best take care of the staff who work there.