University Goals

In an effort to achieve its overall aspiration of becoming a preeminent research university with a distinctive Catholic mission and an unsurpassed undergraduate education, the University of Notre Dame strives to meet the five institutional goals outlined below. Indeed, these principles are what guide all of our major academic and administrative units as they develop, implement, and regularly monitor their strategic plans.

This University-level strategic plan seeks to enhance the value of the five University goals by examining them from two perspectives: areas where they are supported with well-established strategies, and areas where we believe there is room to grow.

While we do not anticipate the former will require significant changes over the course of the plan, the latter present exciting opportunities for us to utilize strategic focus, new energy, and a spirit of innovation to make Notre Dame an even stronger university.

There are 11 enhancements in total where we expect to concentrate our new efforts. This plan outlines our rationale for selecting these items and provides an initial indication of how we intend to achieve progress in each.

“…the University of Notre Dame strives to meet the five institutional goals…”

Catholic Character

Goal I: Ensure that our Catholic character informs all our endeavors

Notre Dame’s Catholic character serves as the underlying foundation for our aspirations as a community of scholars and administrators, shaping the spirit with which we engage each other and the world; it is also the University’s point of greatest distinction from the academy’s many other fine research institutions.

Several principles have proven integral to our pursuit of Goal I and will remain in place as we move forward.

  • Affirming that this is an intellectual community enriched and enlivened by diversity—one that cannot thrive without faculty and students of different faiths and those of none—we also know the vitality of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission depends on our ability to maintain a predominance of Catholic faculty who draw on their faith as teachers and scholars.
  • In addition, we actively seek faculty who, regardless of their religious affiliation, pursue lines of scholarship and research that specifically inform and advance the Catholic intellectual tradition, and we expect that all of our faculty share a common respect for and appreciation of the University’s distinct mission.
  • The composition of our student body, like that of our faculty, has implications for Notre Dame’s Catholic character. As such, we are committed to maintaining a proportion of undergraduates who are Catholic that is consistent with our history.
  • Notre Dame was founded and is animated to this day by the priests and brothers of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and we will continue to look for ways to utilize the talents of Holy Cross religious wherever appropriate.
  • We will ensure the investment in Notre Dame’s Department of Theology remains consistent with that of a department widely recognized as one of the world’s best among its peers.
  • Thanks in large part to the efforts of Campus Ministry, Notre Dame is home to a rich sacramental life. This work is ongoing, as is our dedication to the Center for Social Concerns and the many initiatives of our students, faculty, and staff designed to build an appreciation for Catholic social teaching and a desire to serve others.
  • Finding ways to contribute to the Catholic Church is also a standing priority. The Institute for Church Life—providing outreach in theological education, research, faith formation, and leadership development—and the Alliance for Catholic Education’s programs to prepare Catholic-school teachers and principals are at the heart of the University’s service in this regard.

In the current strategic plan, we have identified one new area of focus that we believe complements the commitments outlined above:

Convene and lead world-wide dialogue that serves the Church and is relevant to the Catholic intellectual tradition

Undergraduate Education

Goal II: Offer an unsurpassed undergraduate education that nurtures the formation of mind, body, and spirit

Anyone who reads Notre Dame’s Vision for Undergraduate Education will see that the standard we have set for our students and ourselves is high. It requires that we, as a university, not only excel in traditional learning environments but also that we enroll diverse groups of the very best students to begin with and then, once they arrive on campus, provide them with opportunities both within and beyond the classroom that promote their intellectual, spiritual, and ethical development.

Several principles have proven integral to our pursuit of Goal II and will remain in place as we move forward.

  • Undergraduate enrollment has long been comprised almost exclusively of full-time students, a ratio we expect to remain stable through the period covered by “A Legacy Expanded” and beyond.
  • The University began meeting the full demonstrated financial need of undergraduates in 1999, and this policy is essential to maintaining access to a Notre Dame education, ensuring socioeconomic status does not serve as a barrier to admission.
  • We expect our most talented researchers to be active in our undergraduate classrooms, as well. As such, multi-faceted and rigorous teaching evaluations will continue to be crucial in reappointment, tenure, promotion, and salary decisions. 
  • Complementing our enduring commitment to a core curriculum focused on the liberal arts, we are also leveraging recent investments like those in the Glynn Family Honors Program, the Hesburgh-Yusko Scholars Program, and the Center for Undergraduate Scholarly Engagement to infuse innovation and further academic rigor into undergraduate education.
  • Through our residence halls and student services, we seek to cultivate a distinctive sense of community grounded in faith, spirituality, mutual support, and development of the whole person. In addition, a robust variety of extracurricular and service organizations provide opportunities for students to build leadership and entrepreneurial skills.
  • Varsity athletics have played a special role in Notre Dame’s history and growth, and we remain dedicated to offering an integrated student-athlete experience that allows us to achieve academic and competitive success with integrity.

In the current strategic plan, we have identified three new areas of focus that we believe complement the commitments outlined above:

Enhance the quality and diversity of our entering cohort

Enrich the integration and intellectual engagement of students’ experiences

Deepen our students’ global engagement

Research & Scholarship

Goal III: Advance human understanding through scholarship, research, and post-baccalaureate programs that seek to heal, unify, and enlighten

As Notre Dame strives to address major contemporary challenges through research and other forms of original scholarship, we have no more important resource than our faculty. In addition to access to appropriate facilities, equipment, collections, and professional staff support, these scholars need gifted and values-driven collaborators, frequently turning to our own graduate and professional students, who themselves represent the future of their fields.

Several principles have proven integral to our pursuit of Goal III and will remain in place as we move forward.

  • In line with its distinctive Catholic mission, Notre Dame explicitly seeks to hire tenure-track faculty who view their scholarly pursuits as a means of working for the common good. Although faculty hiring is rightly conducted at the departmental level, we provide centralized support to identify individuals with whom this charge resonates.
  • Beyond the intrinsic value of improving the gender and ethnic diversity of our faculty, we must also do so to effectively serve an increasingly diverse student body as well as ensure the University has access to the most comprehensive range of scholarly talent available. That is why we will continue to provide departments with incentives that encourage the recruitment of diverse faculty while assessing our climate on campus and monitoring policies and practices that can aid in retention.
  • The Catholic intellectual tradition has a strong connection to the liberal arts in general and the humanities in particular, meaning excellence in those disciplines is and always will be central to Notre Dame’s academic enterprise.
  • With our research endeavors broadening to regularly include multiple departments at Notre Dame and/or faculty from other institutions, our internal structures, processes, and practices must be attentive to such expansion in contexts ranging from the assignment of space to tenure and promotion reviews.

In the current strategic plan, we have identified four new areas of focus that we believe complement the commitments outlined above:

Make selected, significant investments in academic programs

Increase the scale and impact of our research and creative endeavors

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

Enhance the international reach of our scholarly endeavors


Goal IV: Foster the University’s mission through superb stewardship of its human, physical, and financial resources

Our administrative units are critical to the fulfillment of the University’s educational mission, providing the operational expertise that allows us to meet and often exceed the day-to-day needs of students, faculty, and visitors while growing and protecting the rich array of physical and financial assets Notre Dame is privileged to possess.

Several principles have proven integral to our pursuit of Goal IV and will remain in place as we move forward.

  • Our first and most fundamental operational charge is to protect the safety of our students, faculty, staff, and visitors. All of us at Notre Dame assume responsibility for creating an environment that prioritizes the physical and emotional wellbeing of members of our community. We will continue to closely monitor institutional areas of risk and prepare diligently for the possibility of campus emergencies.
  • The University’s longstanding policies of prudent fiscal management have been instrumental in successfully weathering the last several years of financial turmoil. Achieving stellar performance in our endowment is an ongoing priority that requires investment in talent, thoughtful consideration of the national and international markets, and appropriate approaches to risk.
  • As campus evolves due to new construction, particularly to accommodate our growing research enterprise, we will follow a master planning philosophy that prioritizes the integrity, beauty, and heritage of our built and natural landscapes.
  • Supporting meaningful professional development opportunities for Notre Dame administrators and staff is an important component of both our success as an institution and our obligation as a responsible employer.
  • Just as we seek to attract outstanding students and faculty, we also want to be an employer of choice for talented professionals, an aspiration that can only be realized if our staff are of diverse backgrounds and experiences. Our efforts to hire women, individuals from underrepresented minorities, and people from other countries will therefore continue to be enhanced, and we will place renewed emphasis on internal retention and promotion.
  • Recent investments have strengthened our ability to undertake process improvement efforts—such as offering training in the analytical and methodological approaches that mirror industry best practices—and we expect these initiatives to yield further gains in efficiency.
  • Consistent with our Catholic mission, we have founded an Office of Sustainability and adopted goals to reduce our carbon footprint by 50 percent (from 2005 levels) by 2030 and to increase the University’s landfill diversion rate to 50 percent of total waste by 2016 (67 percent by 2030).

In the current strategic plan, we have identified one new area of focus that we believe complements the commitments outlined above:

Evolve our information infrastructure to enhance research, learning, and University operations