Moving Forward Together

Author: Rev. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.

Dear Students,

I hope this message finds you well as you enter into reading days and prepare for your last exams of the semester. 

In my first message to you last August as I was beginning in my role as Vice President for Student Affairs, I emphasized that my highest priority this year would be to listen—to the experiences of our students, the perspectives of our staff and faculty who work so closely with you, and the many collaborators who care deeply for student life inside and outside of the classroom. These experiences are an essential source of input for the University, and especially for my colleagues and I in Student Affairs who seek to support your well-being; your social, moral, intellectual, and spiritual formation; your sense of connection and belonging; and your ability to reflect, pray, and discern during your time as a Notre Dame student.

I write today simply to thank you for our many conversations this past year—whether formal or informal, individually or in groups—and especially for your willingness to speak to your experiences, joys, disappointments, and aspirations as Notre Dame students. I’ve especially appreciated your honesty around the difficulties you faced during the pandemic; the ways in which issues related to diversity, equity, and inclusion have touched your lives; and the joys, struggles, and hopes you have found as you engage in your lives of faith. 

In a particular way, I want to thank those of you who participated in the 2022 Inclusive Campus Student Survey and shared your experiences related to diversity and inclusion at Notre Dame. The 2022 Inclusive Campus Student Survey was the third administration of the survey, and was distributed to all degree-seeking undergraduate and post-baccalaureate students for a total of 12,897 students. The survey returned a 42% (5,388) response rate overall, higher than national trends for similar surveys of this nature. Such a strong response rate from our student body will prove invaluable as we seek to address important issues related to diversity and inclusion that impact our entire campus community.

We will spend the summer reviewing the data and beginning an institution-wide analysis of the results. Detailed interactive and comprehensive reports will be shared with the campus community in the fall. I also plan to spend substantial time in the coming academic year addressing the 2022 survey results together through presentations, focus groups, and a number of discussions with student clubs, organizations, and residential communities. I very much look forward to these conversations.

As you know so well, we at Notre Dame believe firmly in the role that community plays in supporting your growth and formation. A diverse community enriches and benefits us all, which is why we continuously strive to ensure all students, regardless of differences in background, identity, or views, are both treated with dignity and respect and feel a strong sense of belonging at Notre Dame. I am grateful for the ways that the information gathered through the Inclusive Campus Student Survey can inform this work.

Thank you again for taking the time to complete the survey and for our continued partnership and conversation around these important topics. Thank you also to our graduating students who prepare to take their next steps following what I hope was a fulfilling and impactful time at Notre Dame. I am so proud of and grateful for all that you have done to enhance our campus community. Congratulations, and know of my prayers and best wishes for your future.

In Notre Dame,

Fr. Gerry Olinger, C.S.C.
Vice President for Student Affairs