Enhancement Areas

Academic Programs

Make selected, significant investments in academic programs


No university can be better academically than its faculty. The single largest determinant of the quality of academic programs, and thus of the institution, is the strength and efforts of the scholars who teach and research there, a fact consistently reflected in peer assessments.

That is why the majority of the funds that have become available through Advancing Our Vision—a recently completed, University-wide examination of our budget designed to move resources from lower to higher priority items—are being directed toward a Strategic Faculty Hiring Initiative.

Our goal with this initiative is simple yet ambitious: to increase our cadre of premier programs by recruiting additional world-class faculty to Notre Dame. Doing so will require providing them with not only a competitive salary but also the space, start-up funding, equipment, staff, and other support necessary to maximize their impact.

No university can be better academically than its faculty.

While the positions will be centrally funded and the hiring process administered by individual programs, all current faculty were invited to submit proposals to help determine in which areas we will invest.

There is no requirement that the hires be in a certain academic field or group of fields. We do intend, however, to use this rare opportunity, made possible by the diligence, discipline, and commitment of the entire Notre Dame community, to enhance our contributions to topics of central importance in the broader academy, as well as across the nation and beyond, rather than to develop niche specialties. Such a plan is consonant with our aim to be a preeminent research university.

In addition to the AOV strategies that are the focus on Enhancement Area III-A, the goals of III-A will be met in at least two other ways as well.  First, many other faculty are hired through the normal course of faculty replacement and renewal.  While many factors must be considered with these hires, including meeting the teaching needs of a department, the overall goals of III-A, including enhancing the research excellence of the university, will also be taken into account with these hires as well. 

Second, colleges and schools are always considering new approaches to achieving academic excellence.  For example, the College of Engineering is carefully studying the feasibility and advisability of creating a new Department of Biomedical Engineering; the Colleges of Science and Architecture are considering creating new degree programs at the masters level; and the new Keough School of Global Affairs will be creating new degree programs and hiring new faculty in as-yet-to-be determined areas.


  • Strategy 1: Improve current research programs and create new ones that have the potential to be among the world’s best at what they do
  • Strategy 2: Allocate new faculty positions to programs that are already considered preeminent so as to maintain their top rankings
  • Strategy 3: Invest in complementary areas that will allow those identified by Strategies 1 and 2 to thrive
  • Strategy 4: Strengthen or establish other programs that are essential to Notre Dame becoming a truly leading research university for the 21st century


Increase the scale and impact of our research and creative endeavors


Research and scholarship have always been a core element of life at Notre Dame. The drive to understand—the mind, the heart, the human condition, and the universe surrounding us—has spurred each generation of Notre Dame faculty and students to explore new territory and pursue new insight. Research is the ultimate learning experience, involving discovery and synthesis of what had not been known before.

Research is also central to Notre Dame’s Catholic character. As Pope John Paul II wrote, “Faith and reason are like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.” In this, he affirms the Church’s long history of searching for knowledge as a way of more thoughtfully approaching God and His creation.

The drive to understand—the mind, the heart, the human condition, and the universe surrounding us—has spurred each generation of Notre Dame faculty and students to explore new territory and pursue new insight.

Previous generations would have had a hard time imagining the broad, varied, and powerful avenues of new knowledge that Notre Dame professors are opening today; they are true leaders in many important areas. For instance, some study the sub-atomic building blocks of nature, while others preserve and translate the ancient musical texts of the Church. Some look for means to alleviate poverty, while others seek lessons from history or cures for rare diseases.

But whatever their individual areas of expertise, all faculty contribute to and benefit from Notre Dame’s growing research enterprise, which is intended to assist their endeavors, enhance broader collaborations, and connect our most advanced scholarly pursuits to the learning experiences of our students.

These include undergraduates, who are given opportunities to participate in discovery and to experience transformational learning outside of the classroom, working side-by-side with faculty and graduate students. Research therefore adds tremendous value to the University’s fundamental commitment to undergraduate education as well.

We anticipate that Notre Dame researchers will continue to lead both our students and the world in new and unexpected directions in the years to come, positioning the University to be an enduring voice for healing, enlightenment, and unity.


  • Strategy 1: Increase the number and activity level of faculty, students, and postdoctoral scholars involved in research and scholarship at Notre Dame
  • Strategy 2: Expand the amount and advance the quality of collaborative research space and facilities on campus, including through the continued development of the Hesburgh Libraries
  • Strategy 3: Invest in support systems that enable faculty and students to effectively pursue their research and scholarship
  • Strategy 4: Attract the funding needed to grow Notre Dame¹s research and scholarly activities and output
  • Strategy 5: Refine the knowledge transfer programs at Notre Dame to accelerate the pace at which innovations and University intellectual property are brought to utilization
  • Strategy 6: Enhance the impact of Notre Dame research activities and creative endeavors through more effective communication to internal and external audiences

Graduate & Postdoctoral Programs

Advance the quality and success of our graduate, professional, and postdoctoral programs


Graduate, professional, and postdoctoral programs are essential for preparing the next generation of thinkers and innovators, leaders who will have a measurable impact not only within their fields and on their future students but also on every aspect of all of our lives. One need look no further than research conducted by Notre Dame faculty and graduate students—all achieved as a consequence of their graduate training—to find evidence of this.

For instance, our engineers are helping to create cellphones that are becoming ever smaller and more powerful as well as automobiles that automatically brake when obstacles are detected. Faculty and graduate students in the sciences track and fight disease and illness using statistically informed regimens and medicines.

We have scholars in the social sciences who are developing innovative techniques for teaching children math, and others advancing the use of robots as assistive devices. Our scholars in the humanities call for resisting the oppression of those in poverty, calling for human dignity for the poor. Our Law School is promoting safer cities through innovative neighborhood redevelopment strategies. With advances in scholarship by our business college faculty, we are breathing cleaner air through the promotion of efficient carbon-offset markets. And the list could go on and on.

At Notre Dame, graduate, professional, and postdoctoral programs leverage our world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities to create a premier training ground for early-career scholars whose research and teaching will heal, unify, and enlighten the world.

At Notre Dame, graduate, professional, and postdoctoral programs leverage our world-class faculty and state-of-the-art facilities to create a premier training ground for early-career scholars whose research and teaching will heal, unify, and enlighten the world in these and countless other ways.

Fellowship programs such as the Richard and Peggy Notebaert Premier Fellowships attract the very best doctoral students to Notre Dame, where they work alongside faculty mentors to develop their research expertise in areas ranging from defining the growth of tumors numerically to studying the effects of waves on coastal structure and beach erosion.

Professional development programs provide training in transferrable skills while student life programs focus on work/life balance and physical, spiritual, emotional, and mental wellness, ensuring that our scholars grow both personally and professionally during their time at Notre Dame.

Creating a diverse environment in which such training occurs enables all members of the Notre Dame community to flourish amid a vibrant array of ideas, contexts, backgrounds, and opinions. With recent advances in digital learning, such diversity also encompasses the modes of the pedagogical training, including technologically enabled distance/blended/team-taught courses.

Finally, graduate and professional career services assist students in securing positions that combine their research expertise, professional strengths, and values and that uphold the commitment to make Notre Dame a force for good in the world.


  • Strategy 1: Provide comprehensive support in research, training, career, ethics and professional development
  • Strategy 2: Focus fundraising on graduate fellowships to increase the quality of our applicant pools and attract and support the very best students
  • Strategy 3: Increase diversity in our graduate students, professional students, and postdoctoral scholar populations; focus fundraising on graduate fellowships
  • Strategy 4: Enhance the quality of graduate, professional, and postdoctoral training through the introduction of international opportunities, technology-enabled platforms, and cross-program/cross-college offerings
  • Strategy 5: Cultivate opportunities for internships, job-shadowing, and externships for our graduate students, professional students, and postdoctoral scholars

International Reach

Enhance the international reach of our scholarly endeavors


The 17th-century world in which poet John Donne famously wrote “No man is an island” was very different from the one we know today. Nevertheless, his observation seems more fitting now than ever, as it is not just individuals but entire countries, societies, and economies that impact and depend upon each other. With this increased connectedness comes an unprecedented opportunity to broaden and deepen our search for truth.

As centers of advanced scholarship, institutions of higher education have a special calling to seize this opportunity, and no university that aspires to lead, to have an influential voice on the pressing issues of the day, can hope to do so operating in an intellectual vacuum.

Addressing the challenges that threaten common goods such as human development and peace are central tenets of Catholic social teaching that know no national boundaries.

Notre Dame’s identity as a Catholic university only strengthens our commitment to internationalization. Addressing the challenges that threaten common goods such as human development and peace are central tenets of Catholic social teaching that know no national boundaries. In addition, the University’s own institutional history is one that begins with a French priest founding a school that was a safe haven for Catholic immigrants.

We’ve established Notre Dame International, a central administrative unit headed by our first vice president and associate provost for internationalization, to combine considerable existing resources in this area—including several flagship research institutes—with a vision for growth that will enhance the University’s reach around the globe.

In short, we believe the world has much to offer Notre Dame, and that Notre Dame has much it can offer the world.


  • Strategy 1: Build collaborative networks with international partners that will bring visiting faculty and graduate students to the Notre Dame campus while providing our own with more opportunities to conduct research abroad
  • Strategy 2: Recruit and hire additional faculty across the University’s colleges, schools, and institutes to enhance our expertise in international affairs as well as specific geographic regions and themes
  • Strategy 3: Invest in new and existing programs designed to prepare Notre Dame graduate students to pursue international scholarly interests
  • Strategy 4: Expand the University’s Global Gateway Facilities both in number—there are currently six in six countries—and in terms of how they are used
  • Strategy 5: Leverage IT resources to better integrate and coordinate the activity of faculty and students working abroad with units on the main campus