John Brennan will replace Richard Notebaert in summer of 2016


On July 1 of next year, John Brennan will replace Richard Notebaert as the chairman of Notre Dame’s Board of Trustees. After serving as a member of the Board since 2009, Brennan was elected as chairman by the Board’s 49 voting members on October 16.

Both Notebaert and Brennan are Fellows of the university, a group of 12 lay people and priests of the Congregation of Holy Cross that elects the trustees.

All three of Brennan’s children graduated from Notre Dame. “From the first moment we stepped onto campus, we were taken with the mission of the university and the passion and quality of the people,” he said in the October 16 university press release announcing his election.

“Notre Dame is an integral part of our family, and we consider that a tremendous gift,” he added.

In 1982, Brennan began his work at Vanguard, one of the leading investment firms in the world. He was elected president of the group in 1989 and went on to serve as chief executive officer for 12 years and as chairman of the board for 11.

Additionally, Brennan has served on the boards of both for-profit and nonprofit organizations, including General Electric and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority.

“As one of the nation’s most respected and trusted business leaders, Jack Brennan’s advice is sought by everyone from heads of state to financial regulators,” said University President Father John Jenkins, CSC, in the release.

Brennan’s predecessor, Notebaert, was elected chairman in 2007 and served three three-year terms, after having been a member of the Board for 10 years.

According to Fr. Jenkins, Notebaert “presided over a decade of tremendous advancement in Notre Dame’s facilities, benefaction, research capacity and international reach.”

Notebaert came into his role as chairman of the Board after holding a series of leadership positions within prominent business companies, most notably Ameritech Corporation, Tellabs, and Qwest Communications International. In these roles, he was consistently lauded for his successful decision-making that significantly aided the companies he led.

Notebaert was also notable for his philanthropic efforts in Chicago and for his beneficence toward Notre Dame. In 2008, he and his wife, Peggy, made a $10 million donation that funded a fellowship initiative in Notre Dame’s graduate school. He is often asked to give lectures at the university on a range of topics, speaking from his corporate leadership experience.

During his tenure as chairman, Notebaert came under fire for the election to the Board of Trustees Roxanne Martino, who gave sizeable donations to two prominent pro-abortion groups—premier pro-abortion lobby Emily’s List and the Illinois Personal PAC.

Following the controversy, Martino resigned from the Board, but neither the Board nor the university issued an apology for her donations to these organizations opposed to Catholic teaching on abortion.

“Ms. Martino has served Notre Dame in many ways over the years and is highly regarded as someone who is absolutely dedicated in every way to the Catholic mission of this university,” said Notebaert in a statement.

During the time of this controversy, Notebaert and Fr. Jenkins offered varying levels of support for Martino, claiming she had not known that, among the many charitable organizations to which she contributed, there were a few pro-abortion groups.

Regarding Notebaert’s tenure as chairman, the recent university press release stated: “Under Notebaert’s stewardship as board chair, Notre Dame has attracted its most diverse and academically competitive students ever, provided more financial aid and welcomed more low-income students, launched the largest construction program in the University’s history, grown its endowment to record levels and realized historic levels of research funding.”

“I’m honored to be selected by my fellow Trustees to chair the board of one of the world’s great institutions of higher learning and to follow an outstanding leader like Dick in the role,” Brennan said in the release.

“I pray that Mr. Brennan has a deeper and richer understanding of Notre Dame’s Catholic mission than his predecessor, Mr. Richard Notebaert, whose actions contributed to the further marginalization of religion on this campus,” Father Bill Miscamble, CSC, said to the Rover. “Hopefully, Mr. Brennan might draw his essential inspiration from John Paul II’s Ex Corde Ecclesiae. If he does this, he will not merely settle for a Catholic gloss on or around Notre Dame but instead insist that the central academic project here be guided by Catholic principles and by the call of Christ.”

Alexandra DeSanctis is a senior who still hasn’t reached the age of 21. If you’d like to hang out and imbibe non-alcoholic beverages such as juice boxes, send her an email at