By Tim Drake
Both The Irish Rover and The Sycamore Trust are reporting that the University of Notre Dame has shut down the four-year-old Notre Dame Fund to Protect Human Life. The decision appears to have been made so that direction of the Fund could be placed under control of a University department rather than an independent committee. The Trust describes the change as a “subversion of the Fund.”
“I’m generally appalled with what has happened,” said Daniel McInerny, one of the original associate directors for the Fund. “Notre Dame should be congratulating the Fund rather than changing its financial structure.”
According to the report, the Fund was established more than four years ago through an agreement between the University and a major donor. Pursuant to the donor’s wishes, the Fund was to be directed by an independent committee, made up of members who were long-time University pro-life leaders.
Among the Fund’s activities were: The summer Vita Institute and the Evangelium Vita Medal, subsidizing the cost of buses and defraying the cost for faculty members to attend the March for Life, Bread of Life Dinners, and stipends for students attending pro-life conferences.
The Trust reports that the University proposed abolishing the committee and has placed the Fund under the jurisdiction of the Dean of the College of Arts and Letters in the Center for Ethics and Culture. According to the Trust, the donor refused to concede to the changes, so the University administration repudiated its agreement, making it impossible for donors to give to the original fund, and the University set up its own fund.
The University responded by stating that, in accordance with University policy, it’s correcting a “mistake,” explaining that the Fund was directed by a committee that was incorrectly given autonomy to administer the Fund free from any oversight by a University department.
“[I]nstead of receiving support and encouragement from the university administration…the Fund was targeted by it,” said Father Wilson Miscamble in a statement. “The action…does not speak well of its commitment to prolife efforts on campus. It certainly will reinforce the feeling on the part of many of our alumni that Notre Dame’s support for the prolife cause is lukewarm.”
Concludes the Sycamore Trust in its report:
The short of it is that the University has renounced a promise and issued a death sentence to a fund that has done great things for the pro-life cause. The assigned reason is the retroactive invocation of a policy that had been bypassed four years earlier in an agreement executed for the university by its experienced Vice President – a purely theoretical alleged “mistake” with no adverse consequences whatever.
Editor’s note. This appeared in the Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society.