IU mourns loss of Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, former president of Notre Dame

  • Feb. 27, 2015


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- Indiana University is mourning the loss of the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, the influential former president of the University of Notre Dame.

Hesburgh died late Thursday evening on the university campus in South Bend, Ind. He was 97.

IU will lower the flags across all of its campuses today in tribute to Hesburgh, who served as Notre Dame president from 1952 to 1987 and was one of the most esteemed figures in higher education and the Catholic Church. In 1986, a survey of 485 college presidents named him the most effective college president in the nation.

“All of us at Indiana University are extremely saddened by the loss of this great man, a visionary leader and a true giant of American higher education,” IU President Michael A. McRobbie said. “And our deepest condolences go to the whole Notre Dame university community.

“Father Hesburgh will be forever remembered as one of the greatest leaders in the history of higher education in the United States. He will be remembered for the transformative effect he had on higher education, the tremendous respect he earned from his peers around the nation and world, and the impact he had on generations of students who passed through the doors of an institution which he served so admirably for so many years.

“But he also will be remembered for his courage in speaking out on issues of deep social and political import to the nation,” McRobbie added. “Presidents for 50 years called on him for wisdom and his power and clarity of thought. I had the privilege of spending time with him some years ago, and even in his 90s his formidable intellect and powerful personality remained as strong as ever.”

Hesburgh, the longest serving president in the history of the University of Notre Dame, was the recipient of over 150 honorary degrees, the Presidential Medal of Freedom (1964) and the Congressional Gold Medal (1999).

IU awarded Hesburgh an honorary degree at commencement ceremonies in 1962. In 1986, IU President John Ryan presented Hesburgh with the President’s Medal for Excellence, the highest honor an IU president can bestow.

From left, Former IU President Herman B Wells, Ed "Moose" Krause and Theodore Hesburgh in 1950.

From left, Former IU President Herman B Wells, Ed "Moose" Krause and Theodore Hesburgh in 1950. | Photo by Courtesy of IU Archives

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Media Contacts

Mark Land

Associate vice president, IU Communications

Ryan Piurek