No strategy works in the abstract. This strategic framework is for a particular institution, the University of Notre Dame, at a particular moment in its history.

A view of the main building from across the lake with the sun just cresting the golden dome. The image has an orange cast, with mist rising from the lake.

To foreground our conclusion: Notre Dame must be the leading global Catholic research university, on par with but distinct from the world’s best private universities. This effort to educate students and conduct research at the highest level animated by a distinctive Catholic mission is one of the most exciting and consequential experiments in global higher education.

Notre Dame is now the only religious university in the Association of American Universities (AAU), the nation’s leading organization of research-intensive universities. Notre Dame’s opportunity, even obligation, is to offer a complementary approach to excellence that bridges faith and reason in an academic world accustomed to separating them. Notre Dame’s approach is anchored in Roman Catholicism, the religious tradition that gave birth to universities in the medieval era and that has become the world’s most global, multicultural, and multilingual institution.

Contemporary research universities — including Notre Dame — are weakened by barriers erected between units such as schools and colleges that inhibit multidisciplinary teaching and research. Many curricular and research programs are appropriately housed in a single school or college. Yet other programs require more coordinated approaches, as do the federal agencies, foundations, and benefactors that fund them. More than any previous planning effort at Notre Dame, this strategic framework identifies areas where colleges, schools, and divisions working together will allow Notre Dame to make meaningful contributions to questions of national and international concern.

Becoming the Notre Dame the world needs will require the University to become better at thinking as an institution. Inspired by a common mission, located on one campus, and of a manageable size, Notre Dame is well positioned to do this. Getting there will require imagination and daring. An example: in the last generation, Notre Dame began more than 40 centers and institutes. These units have unequivocally enhanced Notre Dame’s research profile and its capacity to educate students. The next generation at Notre Dame will see the founding of new entities, but will also include more thoughtful collaboration as well as the consolidation of related programs. The University will make new investments but also foster coordination of existing funds and positions in colleges, schools, centers, and institutes. Relatedly, the University will hire more faculty holding joint appointments in two or more departments, schools, or centers and institutes with the hope that these colleagues can serve as a form of intellectual connective tissue.