Recognizing a book and its author
“A book should be both enjoyable and help us learn,” explained Carol Ann Mooney, president emeritus of Saint Mary’s College, to a small crowd gathered in the Purcell Pavilion’s Club Naimoli on September 14. They were gathered for the release of Monk’s Tales: The Presidential Years, the third part of the memoir penned by Father Edward “Monk” Malloy, CSC, Mooney’s friend and colleague and the 16th president of the University of Notre Dame.
The final installment in Monk’s memoir project, Monk’s Tales serves as “an extraordinary publishing achievement … for Monk, the University, and all of [the Notre Dame family],” according to Hugh Page, Dean of the First Year of Studies, who hosted the event. The extraordinary achievement in question was further explained by Mooney, who described the book as an investigation into the workings of a university during an era where there is great distrust of higher education.
Monk attempts to ease the distrust of higher education through his honest recollection of the triumphs and trials of being a major university president. Throughout the book, Monk discusses the great successes Notre Dame achieved under his tenure, but he does not shy away from the sorrows and difficulties: the 1992 women’s swim team accident, the aftermath of the September 11 attacks, the death of his father, and other emotional milestones are discussed in a humanizing display of the former president, while discussions of parental complaints, donor conflicts, and media relations showcase the various pressures on university administrations.
While the release of the book was the impetus for the gathering that day, the true focus of celebration quickly emerged: the speakers were there not for Monk’s Tales, but for Monk himself.
Father Mark Poorman, CSC, current president of the University of Portland and former Notre Dame Vice President for Student affairs, spoke fondly of his time serving with Monk. In particular, he recounted what he considered a “great gift”: traveling with Monk Malloy.
“In a lot of ways, traveling with Monk is like traveling alone,” Fr. Poorman joked, referencing the president emeritus’ love for reading. But Monk’s studious nature did not detract from the various trips the two had shared—rather, it added to them. Fr. Poorman explained how, as a result of his proclivity for reading, Monk was an excellent conversationalist on any subject. In addition to this intelligence, Fr. Poorman
explained the great humility that the president emeritus possessed. While traveling for a board meeting for the University of Notre Dame Australia, Fr. Poorman attempted to coax Monk into boasting about the exciting life he has led. Monk could not be stirred. Rather, he politely asked to be allowed to continue reading his book.
In response to the praise from Mooney and Fr. Poorman, Monk joked that he “felt like [he] had died” and was listening to his eulogy. Then he began eulogizing himself, and he dedicated the majority of his remarks in thanks for his long-time assistant Joan Bradley, the staff of the University of Notre Dame Press, the catering staff, and everybody who, in some way, assisted with the creation, production, or celebration of the book.
After he concluded his thanks, Monk spoke at length concerning his love for teaching. Of his time as president he said, “Much of what gave me the human interaction I needed was my students,” and explained his love for writing letters of recommendation as being rooted in his excitement to see his students succeed.
Monk’s love for his students manifests itself in a First Year of Studies university seminar on biography and autobiography that has been offered almost every semester during and after Monk’s presidency. The courses are much beloved by his students, who grow close through the intimate seminar-style and yearly class reunions hosted by Monk himself. This semester, he is once again teaching a section of the class, and many of his students, past and present, attended the event.
When asked to describe Monk Malloy and the impact he has on his students, Regina Ekaputri, who took the seminar as a freshman, said, “He’s so well traveled and knowledgeable … I don’t know how to explain him in a sentence or two!”
While discussing what his plans were now that his memoir is complete, Monk said, “One of these days, I’m going to get around to writing a short book with short chapters.” Until then, fans of Notre Dame and of Monk Malloy will have to be content with this long book with long chapters and the testimony it offers for Our Lady’s University.
In short, and in the words of both Mooney and Fr. Poorman, “Buy the book!”
Evan Holguin is a junior PLS major with a minor in philosophy. He had the privilege of giving Paqui Kelly a tour of the Knights of Columbus building this week, but he prudently refrained from talking to her about football. Contact Evan at email@example.com.