Executive director of Notre Dame Studios shares his story
Tall, personable, Polish, and an avid Notre Dame fan––dear reader, allow me the pleasure of introducing Mr. Dan Skendzel. He is the executive director of Notre Dame Studios and Teaching and Learning Technologies and (undoubtedly of interest to some of you) was fellow resident of Alumni Hall with Fr. Terry Ehrman in Notre Dame’s class of 1991. Dan hails from Traverse City, Michigan and majored in American Studies during his undergraduate years.
After graduation, Dan explored several career paths before returning to Notre Dame. He first taught a variety of subjects ranging from math to communication skills to physical education at St. Bonaventure Indian Mission in Thoreau, New Mexico. Following teaching, Dan worked as a paint salesman for Sherwin Williams for nearly three years, which redefined his perceptions of the business world.
Dan said, “It was through that experience that I felt like I wanted to stay in business. I liked the idea of business, which I felt was antithetical to my values in undergrad of ‘I never want to go into business!’ But once I got into it, I realized this is really all about helping people, and it’s about achieving goals. So I came back and got a business degree here at Notre Dame.”
After getting an MBA in finance, Dan worked at Proctor and Gamble before returning again to Notre Dame in 2001 for a position in the University’s business operations department. His return to South Bend proved providential, as it led Dan to the love of his life. “Carrie [my wife] and I met in 2001. She was working in admissions in the main building, and I was working in business operations, also in the main building. So it was love in the main building!”
The two were married in the Basilica in 2003 and have had five children since: Teddy, Jeanette, Nathan, Mary Clare, and Maureen. Dan shared, “We have an angel, Mary Clare, who was born in 2007. Hard to believe, she would be 12, and so she’s our little angel in heaven. She passed away the day she was born.” He clearly loves his family, and grinned as he said, “They keep us hoppin’!”
As a result of the University’s lack of competitive multimedia production, particularly in the athletics department, Dan made another shift from business operations to digital media. Dan was given the opportunity to research other schools, organizations, and professional sports teams to advise on the development of Notre Dame’s multimedia production.
This report led to the founding of Fighting Irish Digital Media, which Dan launched with three co-workers from one small room in Notre Dame Stadium in 2008. Several years later, the Fighting Irish Digital Media led to the beginning of Notre Dame Studios, which facilitates multimedia production for campus, not just athletics. ND Studios now operates a collective 21,000 square feet in Corbett Family Hall and the Joyce Center.
“Our digital media capability grew out of athletics, but the goal was always to scale it to all of campus and include academics and faith production,” Dan said. Today, Notre Dame Studios provides “multimedia production for campus with the intent and goal of using this media facility for teaching and learning achievement” while also producing Notre Dame’s athletic content. Dan is proud that Notre Dame Studios “gives us the opportunity to tell great Notre Dame stories and influence the stories that go into [sports] broadcasts. We can tell some unique Notre Dame stories because we know them.”
Dan loves his job, and especially the variety it brings. “We get to be a part of everything. From a gameday atmosphere, to Mass on Sunday, to commencement (which I would call the University’s most important event), to ND Day.” ND Studios has its fingers in many University activities, “so it’s exciting to be part of that whole intellectual, athletic, cultural, faith fabric of the University, and to be able to see all those things and be a part of all of their missions and outreaches.”
Outside of the studio, Dan spends his time keeping active and being with his family. He has a particular passion for cross-country skiing; however, “South Bend is a bit challenging for that, [so] I have to drive north to find good snow.” Along with skiing, Dan also loves running, swimming, and biking. He enjoys working with kids and “being with the fam,” which has led to his involvement in his kids’ scouting endeavors.
And, of course, faith plays a significant role in his life, particularly during hard times. He emphasized the importance of faith “In those times, like with Mary Clare, when you have just a lot of grief and you wonder why is this happening and what’s the meaning of this, and you have to ultimately trust, so faith is key in those times.”
Raising kids, challenging as it is, has also reminded Dan of his call: to pass on the faith by teaching and modeling the Christian life in his marriage, his participation in the sacraments, and his interactions with others. His faith advice for college students? “As young people, take that time to just be quiet. Get off your phone. And just be.”
Mary Frances Myler is a sophomore in the Program of Liberal Studies with a minor in theology. She’s also from Traverse City, Michigan and agrees that the best snow for cross country skiing can be found up north. Comments and queries can be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org.