The Rev. Robert A. Dowd will be the next president of the University of Notre Dame. University officials on Monday announced the board of trustees’ selection of Dowd as the institution’s 18th president, succeeding current President John Jenkins.
The university announced in October that Jenkins will step down at the end of the school year.
Dowd is currently vice president and associate provide for interdisciplinary initiatives at Notre Dame, a role he’s occupied since 2021. He is also an associate professor of political science and serves on the board of trustees.
“I am deeply humbled and honored by the board’s decision,” Father Dowd said in a news release Monday.
Jenkins has served as university president since 2005, following Rev. Edward “Monk” Malloy, who held the role for 18 years. Jenkins will return to teaching and ministry at Notre Dame.
Jenkins is credited with ushering Notre Dame into a more modern era, overseeing the university’s admission into the Association of American Universities and leading through the COVID-19 pandemic.
Jenkins said he has known Dowd for more than three decades and has worked with him closely as faculty for more than 20 years.
“I thank and congratulate our Board of Trustees on selecting Father Dowd as Notre Dame’s next president,” Jenkins said in written comments. “An accomplished scholar, a dedicated teacher and an experienced administrator, Father Bob is also a faithful and generous priest. He will lead the University to being even more powerfully a force for good in the world.”
The appointment comes during a period of transition for Notre Dame. The university also announced in October that retired KPMG International Chairman John B. Veihmeyer will follow John J. Brennan as chair of the board of trustees.
Brennan said in a video announcement Monday that Dowd’s selection comes following a comprehensive, multi-year succession process conducted by the trustees. He called Dowd a “natural successor” to Jenkins.
“We are thrilled that Father Dowd will be Notre Dame’s next leader,” Brennan said. “His character and intellect, along with his broad academic and administrative experience and his deep commitment to Notre Dame, make him an ideal person to lead the university into the future.”
Dowd will officially begin his role as president on July 1. He credited Jenkins for his leadership over his nearly two decades as president.
“Working together with others, his efforts have positioned the University extremely well in every way,” Dowd said. “We will build on those efforts. Informed by our Catholic mission, we will work together so that Notre Dame is an ever-greater engine of insight, innovation and impact, addressing society’s greatest challenges and helping young people to realize their potential for good.”
Dowd is a native of Michigan City, Indiana, and graduated from Notre Dame in 1987 after studying psychology and economics. He then entered Moreau Seminary, with which he spent 18 months assigned to East Africa.
Dowd was ordained a priest in 1994, working in Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry and served as an associate rector of the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and rector of a university residence hall.
He later pursued graduate studies, earning a master’s in African studies from UCLA in 1998 and a doctorate in political science in 2003, after which he returned to Notre Dame in 2004 to join the university’s political science department.
In his current role, Dowd oversees the Center for Social Concerns, the DeBartolo Performing Arts Center, the Fitzgerald Institute for Real Estate, iNDustry Labs and the Raclin Murphy Museum of Art, among other centers and academic units.
He is founder of Notre Dame’s Ford Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity at the Kellogg Institute for International Studies, is a trustee of Stonehill College in Easton, Massachusetts, and is a board member of Brother Andre Hospital in Nairobi, Kenya.
Dowd said he will spend the coming months listening and learning as he prepares to begin his role as president.
“I am passionate about Notre Dame’s future and all the good we can do together,” Dowd said.