Faculty augmented. Building program. Rockne Memorial. Visit of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Visit of Eugene Cardinal Pacelli, Pius XII. Father OHara named Bishop. Father J. Hugh O'Donnell, fourteenth President, Notre Dame and the Navy. War effort. Death of Father O'Donnell.
UNDER Father O'Hara's administration, a great many lecturers of international reputation came to the University. Jacques Maritain and Etienne Gilson, two of France's most outstanding philosophers, lectured to the students. M. Maritain's remarkable personality and deep learning failed to draw much of a response due to his inability to speak intelligible English. Gilson was more successful. Charles DuBos, eminent literary critic, gave a more extensive course of lectures.
The interesting Arnold Lunn, British journalist and author, gave several series of lectures that provoked many a delightful controversy. From England, also, came Christopher Hollis, eminent in letters and history. He was a mild, shy scholar whose learning was promptly appreciated by the student body. Of these visiting lecturers, the best liked, both for his solid thought and dexterity of speech, was Desmond Fitzgerald. He had been Minister of Foreign Affairs for Eire, and his intimate knowledge of the struggle for Irish independence gave him an added popularity. Another Irishman, Shane Leslie of the Dublin Review, made an indelible impression on the students, mostly on account of his eccentric straw hat and white cotton gloves.
Intolerable political conditions in Europe worked to the advantage of Notre Dame in that many of the foremost scholars of the continent were forced from their native lands. Among others whose eminent services the University was glad to have were Doctors Arthur Haas, theoretical physicist, and Karl Menger, mathematician, both from the University of Vienna; Waldemar Gurian, of the Academy of Political Science in Berlin; Dr. F. Alois Hermens, of Bonn and Paris; Eugene Guth, physicist, from the University of Vienna; and Dr. Emil Artin, mathematician. These scholars, in spite of language handicaps, have greatly augmented the reputation of the graduate school of the University.
Under Father O'Hara several symposia were held at Notre Dame. For each of these, one or more departments of the University invited a number of outstanding scholars of the country to join the local departmental staffs for two or three days of formal lectures and discussion. Open to the public, these symposia won the enthusiastic approval of the students, the faculty and the general public. Many scholars from nearby colleges and universities came to add their lustre to the occasions. Beginning with 1937, symposia have been held in politics, social philosophy, physics, mathematics and biology. In a sense, they have become the most important academic events of the scholastic year. The department of mathematics has published the results of its symposia in Mathematical Colloquium. A number of the lectures given at the symposia in politics have been published in the Review of Politics.
The financial depression which began in 1929 did not affect the University's enrollment until after the year 1931. In the schoolyear 1930-1931, there was a peak enrollment of three thousand, two hundred and twenty-seven. Thereafter there was a steady decline. This loss of enrollment would have been even greater had it not been for what amounted to a government subsidy offered to all schools through the NYA, the National Youth Administration, and had not the University itself offered part or full-time scholarships totalling around a quarter of a million dollars a year.
During this period of financial crisis the University achieved another enviable record: neither did it dismiss any member of the lay faculty for financial reasons, nor did it impose any reduction in salary for lay professors. Credit for such action is due, in large measure, to the prudence and zeal of the Associate Board of Lay Trustees which has the responsibility for the investment of the University funds.
We have devoted many of these last pages to the graduate school at Notre Dame. We do not wish to create the impression that the University is interested only in higher studies. That would be inexactitude of the first order. Fully ninety per cent of Notre Dame students are undergraduates who have no thought of graduate work. It is Notre Dame's principal work, therefore, to see that her four-year college men have a thorough training in undergraduate work.
While admitting the importance of higher studies and "university rating," we are forced to take a realistic view of things as they are. A graduate school can hope to succeed in one of two ways: either it must have a tremendous endowment with which to "hire" both its graduate faculty and its graduate students; or, through its undergraduate work, it must so teach and inspire its students as to compel them, of their own initiative, to seek the means of defraying the expenses of a higher education. As in every other school Notre Dame's undergraduate faculty will hardly acquire national fame. In scholarship, nation-wide reputation is reserved largely for the specialist. But we know that graduate work is absurd, impossible, without the proper foundation on the undergraduate level. To develop a graduate school at the expense of undergraduate work would, in the case of Notre Dame, be pedagogically stupid and financially ruinous.
Notre Dame is grateful to and proud of the outstanding scholars who compose her graduate faculty. But we would be particularly remiss if we neglected to appreciate the labors of men in the more obscure teaching positions, whose reputation is not for profundity but for clarity, men who build the foundations without which graduate work would crumble.
There is something admirably sacrificial about a college professor who is willing to take over the direction of a hundred undergraduates and to prepare them, by earnest lecture and frequent examination, thoroughly, with competency and inspiration. His name -- and it is legion -- will hardly go beyond the limits of the campus. The only criterion by which his value can be known is the opinion of the students. If, year after year, whether in some stuffy, smoke-filled room in Walsh Hall, or on the walks about the campus, the students universally express their admiration for a teacher, for his thoroughness, his exactitude, you may be sure that there is a teacher every whit as valuable in the "over-all" of education as one whose fame has gone about the land. If we omit the names of such, the names of priests and laymen, it will not matter much, for Notre Dame men know them and will remember them; and to those not of Notre Dame, they would be of small interest.
Like his two predecessors, Father O'Hara carried the building program steadily forward. As acting president, early in 1934, he approved the erection of a new laundry at the rear of the campus. A month after his election to the presidency, the new post-office was built just south of Walsh Hall. The First Assistant Postmaster-General Ambrose O'Connell came for its dedication and bought the first stamp. In the spring of 1935 the new Infirmary was begun, northwest of the Main Building, on the site of the old steam house. It is a three-story building, accommodating one hundred and twenty-five patients, and has several guest rooms. Architecturally, it is one of the most striking buildings on the campus, the first to be built in what, according to the general plan, is to become eventually the north-east quadrangle. In the campus east of the Main Building, between St. Edward's Hall and Music Hall -- old buildings which will undoubtedly be replaced by more elegant structures -- Father O'Hara's administration built three new residence halls, not so elaborate as those built by Father Charles O'Donnell, but in other ways much the same. The first of these halls, Cavanaugh Hall, named in honor of the former President, John W. Cavanaugh, was erected in 1936. Zahm Hall, to perpetuate the memory of Father John A. Zahm, was opened in 1937. Finally, in 1939, Breen-Phillips Hall was put upÄand named in grateful memory to two of Notre Dame's old students and outstanding benefactors, Frank B. Phillips and William P. Breen, both of Fort Wayne.
The new Biology Building, occupying the northern edge of what we have called the north-east campus, was begun in the summer of 1936, and the cornerstone laid as part of the Commencement exercises of that year. It is a splendidly equipped structure, with ample class-rooms, library, herbaria and laboratories. The removal of the Department of Biology to these new quarters made it possible for the Department of Physics and Mathematics to expand their quarters in Science Hall.
Readers of a previous chapter will recall how Knute Rockne's sudden and spectacular death in March, 1931, brought forth throughout the country a demand for the erection of some memorial in honor of Notre Dame's great coach. Shortly afterward it was determined that the memorial should take the form of a field house to be named for Rockne. Almost at once a campaign was organized to raise the necessary funds. It was thought that, in view of the almost national demand for such a project, a million dollars was not too much to set as a goal. The University realized, of course, that times were hard. She even hesitated about the "drive," but the clamor throughout the land was too difficult to ignore. By June, 1932, when only $135,000 had been collected, Father Charles O'Donnell deemed it prudent to call off the campaign until the financial depression had passed.
It was not until 1937 that the University felt in a position to go ahead with the Memorial. To the fund which had been collected in 1931-1932, the University itself added $200,000, leaving a deficit of $150,000 to be raised by another "drive." Moreover, to make possible any memorial at all, the original plans were reduced to fit the University budget. Excavations were begun in 1937, at the western end of the Mall, or southern campus. With its beautiful swimming pool, its abundance of hand-ball and squash courts, its apparatus rooms and basketball courts, the new Memorial supplied a long felt need. Inside the front entrance is a graceful foyer, its glass enclosed cases displaying the numerous athletic trophies won by the University's athletic teams. As part of the Commencement exercises, it was dedicated in June, 1939.
Under Father O'Hara's administration was also erected an important extension to Chemistry Hall. The work of the Department of Chemistry had expanded to such a degree that this addition had to be made in 1939. At a previous date, the old post-office building had been moved near Chemistry Hall, to serve as a departmental library. The present ensemble is remarkable enough to distress the most juvenile aesthetic eye, but it was the best that could be done. Father Morrissey, whose idea of architectural beauty included nothing more than four walls and a roof, once stalked around Chemistry Hall as it was being built in 1917. At one point he paused, and with hands clasped behind his paunchy frame, wagged his head at the stark, unrelieved walls of the building, and remarked: "'Tis a good building! None of your folderols! Serious work will be done there!" And Father Morrissey's statement is still quite apropos.
As President, Father O'Hara had the privilege of welcoming to the campus two figures whose international renown is perhaps unmatched in our generation. The first of these was the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt; the second was that distinguished ecclesiastic, Eugenio Cardinal Pacelli, later the Supreme Pontiff, Pius XII.
Franklin Roosevelt's visit came about through Notre Dame's long interest in the people of the Philippine Islands. The fate of these people, Catholic for centuries under Spanish rule, was followed with deep concern after the Spanish-American War. It gave great satisfaction to American Catholics to review the benignant rule that had left the Filipinos their religious liberties and brought them an undreamed of measure of material progress. The Filipinos had been agitating for political independence for a number of years, and in 1935, there was organized the new Commonwealth of which Manuel Quezon became the first president. Notre Dame's celebration of Philippine independence was originally planned to coincide with the inauguration of President Quezon but President Roosevelt requested that the celebration be deferred until such time as he could be personally present. That was not until December 9, 1935. Preparations were made to hold a special convocation in the Gymnasium at which time the President of the United States consented to accept an honorary degree from the University.
The President's special train arrived from Chicago in South Bend a little after two o'clock on the afternoon of the 9th. Father O'Hara and other members of the administration were on hand to welcome Mr. Roosevelt and his party. The Cardinal Archbishop of Chicago, George Mundelein, was also present. As an old friend of the President, he had been requested to preside at the exercises.
Inside the Gymnasium there were five thousand students and visitors -- and a goodly number of plain-clothes men. The University Band struck up "Hail to the Chief" as Roosevelt came on the stage leaning on the arm of his aide. Roosevelt was tremendously popular and the cheering was long and lusty. When quiet was restored, Father O'Hara welcomed the President and the Cardinal. Carlos P. Romulo, representative of the Philippine government, then gave an address the like of which has hardly ever been heard at Notre Dame. It was brilliant, logical, heart-stirring. It had all the beauty of a song of hope and gratitude. At one point near the end of his speech, he voiced a sentiment that was prophetic: "If war comes or fresh conquest from whatever source, we shall oppose it to the death. . . . To the Philippines, the United States has been a generous benefactor, a loyal and true friend; and if we can honor that debt in no other way, we can pay with our lives if need be. . . ." As he finished, President Roosevelt grasped his hand to congratulate him, while the audience roared its approval.
The Cardinal of Chicago then rose to introduce Mr. Roosevelt. His had been a long acquaintance with the Chief Magistrate of the nation, and he paid tribute to Mr. Roosevelt's social policies as well as to the physical courage by which he had dominated the illness that had threatened his life and his career. When he had done, Notre Dame's new and illustrious alumnus was assisted to the platform especially arranged for him. It was the signal for a new ovation. In that warm, deep voice which the nation has come to know so well, he thanked the University for the honor she had bestowed upon him, and then launched into his speech, short, but to the point. And the point was this: that as the United States, in restoring independence to the Philippines, was doing a thing humane and just, so might the rest of the world, preparing so ominously for war, come to have a like respect for the rights of man. This was the final act of a day long to be remembered at Notre Dame.
The visit of Cardinal Pacelli was of a most extraordinary nature. He was Secretary of State to the aging Pius XI, and his departure from Rome was all the more unusual on this account. He came to the United States in the fall of 1936, and he traveled from one end of the country to the other by airplane. His arrival at Notre Dame was scheduled for Sunday, October 25th. Plans were made for a convocation in Washington Hall, at which an honorary degree would be conferred on the illustrious Cardinal.
Rumor had it that the Cardinal would arrive shortly after the noon hour. Since one o'clock, the students had been waiting near the entrance to the grounds. It was a cold, grey day, and it began to drizzle. Some of the students grew restive and sought the shelter of their rooms. This Eugenio Pacelli, the Cardinal Secretary of State to His Holiness, was late in coming. In spite of the airplane, someone murmured, Rome moves slowly. It was nearly three o'clock before the line of shiny black limousines appeared down the avenue. By that time, only two or three hundred students were stationed at the entrance. If those who had departed could only have seen what would happen to this Cardinal Pacelli, no rain or storm or sleet would have driven them from their post. Even as it was, when the automobile bearing the Cardinal slowed at the entrance to take the curb gently, a hearty roar of welcome and applause went up from the rain-soaked students.
The procession went on to the door of the church. In the organ-loft, awaiting the Cardinal's coming, was a priest who, in Rome, had often assisted at ceremonies in St. Peter's. And the music that came to his mind was none other than the Marcia Papale, the Papal March. The organ swelled in that melody, somehow, it seemed later, in the nature of a musical prophecy. The tall, spare figure of Cardinal Pacelli, straight as an arrow, his long tapering fingers firmly folded before his breast, walked to the sanctuary where, for a moment, he knelt in prayer in that very spot where Gregori, in 1875, had depicted Pius IX. Then, rising, he mounted the altar-steps, bent to kiss the altar, and turning, blessed the assembled faithful with the triple sign of the cross.
The procession formed again and started for Washington Hall. Every seat was taken, and every inch of standing room. As the Cardinal appeared on the stage, there was a splendid ovation with every man and woman standing there. When quiet was restored, Father Carrico, the Director of Studies, then read the citation, after which Father O'Hara handed to the Cardinal the diploma making him an alumnus of Notre Dame, honoris causa. The applause was deafening, and again, every-one was standing.
Cardinal Pacelli stepped to the edge of the stage and from a tiny paper read, in understandable English, but with a musical Italian accent, his words of appreciation for the honor bestowed upon him who was so soon to ascend the papal throne. Finally, he blessed the kneeling throng in the name of the Holy Father. Then, as the audience rose from its knees, he paused briefly. From his lips came words that proved him a sympathetic son of Notre Dame: "And now, if there is no objection on the part of your superiors, I grant you a holiday!" The applause reached new heights. The Cardinal turned suddenly to the audience, and everyone grew silent. Evidently there was something he had forgotten to say. He supplied it immediately: ". . . and to St. Mary's!"
Early in December, 1939, Father O'Hara left the University for a trip in the West. The Community in general supposed that he was on vacation. But on December 11th it became clear why Father O'Hara had decided to absent himself. On that day came the announcement that he had been appointed bishop, as military delegate for the armed forces of the United States. He preferred to be away from the University when such an announcement was made. The news was hardly a surprise, but was received by the faculty and students with immense satisfaction. His great zeal and capacity for work eminently fitted him for his new post.
While several other members of the Congregation had been promoted to bishoprics, Father O'Hara was the first president of Notre Dame to be so honored. He chose to be consecrated at Notre Dame, where his apostolic labors had been so fruitful for the previous twenty-two years. He asked Archbishop Spellman of New York to be his consecrator, and Bishops Noll of Fort Wayne and Ritter of Indianapolis, his co-consecrators. January 15, 1940, was the day chosen for the ceremony. In spite of the inclement weather -- there had been a ferocious blizzard the day before -- forty-five bishops and archbishops were in attendance. The church was thronged with faculty, students, admiring friends and relatives. Surrounded by his own priests, secular clergy from many dioceses and numerous representatives of religious orders, Father O'Hara was consecrated Titular Bishop of Milasa.* He entered immediately upon his new field of duty. The United States had been preparing for a conflict that was inevitable and the whole country was rapidly becoming an armed camp. It was Father O'Hara's duty to see that Catholics in the United States forces were given ample spiritual assistance. He made innumerable trips to all the camps in the United States to assist and encourage his chaplains, to cheer and aid his Catholic soldiers, sailors, and marines. That his life as a bishop should be one of toil and unceasing labor is no surprise to Notre Dame men. It is true to his character. A generation of students knew him as "the man who never stops."
After Bishop O'Hara's departure, the Vice-President, Father J. Hugh O'Donnell, acted as president, while Father John J. Cavanaugh, the Prefect of Religion, assumed the duties of vice-president. During the following summer the Provincial Council confirmed Father O'Donnell and Father Cavanaugh in their new positions. Father J. Leonard Carrico continued to act as Director of Studies.
Father J. Hugh O'Donnell, the son of Edward J. and Sarah O'Grady O'Donnell was born June 2, 1895, at Grand Rapids, Michigan. He came to Notre Dame as an undergraduate in 1912. His strapping frame was matched by his contagious enthusiasm, and as center on the football team, no less than among the student body, he was a leader. After receiving his Litt.B. degree at Notre Dame in 1916, he entered the Novitiate at Notre Dame. He was ordained to the priesthood at Sacred Heart Seminary, Grand Rapids, by Bishop Edward Kelly, on December 28, 1921. The following year Father O'Donnell received the Doctorate of Philosophy from the Catholic University where he had specialized in American Church History. In the spring of 1923 he was named rector of Badin Hall on the Notre Dame campus, and in 1924 he became Prefect of Discipline, a post which he held until 1931. From 1931 until 1934, he was President of St. Edward's University, Austin, Texas. In 1934, he came to Notre Dame as Vice-President.
When war seemed inevitable, Father O'Donnell thought it wise to offer Notre Dame's facilities to the armed forces. The offer was first made to the army. The army did not seem much interested. But the navy, once approached, welcomed the opportunity. "The set-up at Notre Dame," said many who came to inspect the University, "is the nearest approach to the Naval Academy at Annapolis."
Units of the Naval Reserve Officers' Training Corps (NROTC) were installed on the campus in September, 1941. Their numbers increased especially after the declaration of war in December. The civilian students, by that time, numbered only a few hundred. All the way from the Biology Building to the Rockne Memorial, the campus resounded with shrill commands, marching feet, and military music.
Captain H. P. Burnett was in charge of the entire navy program. His geniality and cooperativeness rendered the many problems easy to solve. Father O'Donnell appointed Father James D. Trahey as a sort of liaison officer between the university and the navy. He was named co-ordinator of defense activities in September, 1941. Three things especially occupied his attention: to integrate naval training with the university curriculum; to supervise the Civilian Pilots' Training Corps; to arrange the adult training courses for defense workers, classes to be taught at night.
Two new buildings, temporary in character, were erected: the Navy Drill Hall, to the east of the gymnasium, which can accommodate three or four thousand persons; and a class-room and office building, at the rear of the Rockne Memorial.
For a long time, the faculty and friends of Notre Dame had looked forward to the university's centenary. A worthy celebration had been planned, but the war put a stop to all that. However, a reduced program was carried out. The most notable feature of the one hundredth year was a long letter of congratulation from Notre Dame's most illustrious alumnus, Pius XII, a letter which was beautifully engraved and distributed by the President to Notre Dame's friends.
On the eve of the anniversary, there was a nation-wide radio hookup, dramatizing the outstanding events of Notre Dame's hundred years. The following day, Nov. 26, 1942, Bishop Noll of Fort Wayne pontificated in a packed Sacred Heart Church before a brilliant assemblage of prelates and guests. Monsignor Fulton Sheen delivered the sermon which was broadcast to the nation.
After Mass, in spite of the cold weather, the entire body marched to the Founders' Monument near the Log Chapel. There, the Superior General, the Very Rev. Albert Cousineau, spoke feelingly of Father Sorin's courage and foresight, and urged all who would follow him to continue the Founder's trust in the Mother of God. Indeed, as all might see, Notre Dame, through her help, bad weathered well the first century of its existence. Two bronze plaques, commemorative of the occasion, and executed by Kormendi, are to be placed in the vestibule of the church.
To return to our story of the navy at Notre Dame. The first group of NROTC students organized on the campus were Notre Dame's own students. This group was to be trained during the regular four-year college course. And it was this group which was destined to be longest identified with Notre Dame.
Shortly thereafter came the Midshipmen School. This was composed of men already graduated from different colleges. They were divided into two groups: those being trained over a period of four months, deck officers, about 1000 of whom were commissioned every four months during the war; and others, under training for only two months, destined for some special work. For the vast majority of these students, it was their first contact with a Catholic atmosphere.
Finally, in 1943, the V-12, navy trainees, came to the campus. Some of these were men who had seen service already, and were being returned as undergraduates to take special training, especially in mathematics and physics. In December, 1943, Captain Burnett was replaced by Captain J. Richard Barry.
The archives kept by the navy were all returned to Washington after the war, and exact figures of how many were trained at Notre Dame were never made known to the authorities at the University. But a report recently prepared by Rev. Thomas McAvoy, University archivist, states that a total of 11,925 navy men completed their officers' training at Notre Dame between 1942 and 1946. In addition to that, certainly the number of navy trainees, including the marines, ran into the thousands.
As in other wars, Notre Dame priests volunteered as chaplains. Twenty-five priests of Holy Cross received their commissions in all three branches of the service, most of them seeing duty either in the European theatre or in the Pacific. The story of their devotion and courage will someday find its place in the annals of Notre Dame's history, written, it is to be hoped, by the men who were the principal actors in it.
In connection with the prosecution of the war, Notre Dame s contribution in a scholarly way must not be overlooked. Important research, particularly in physics, chemistry and biology, was pursued all during Father O'Donnell's administration. For the sake of greater unity, this matter of research will be treated in the following chapter.
One whimsical anecdote comes to mind. Some time before the war, Frank Walker, '09, who was then Postmaster-General, was rambling round the campus with Johnny Mangan, the university chauffeur. They stumbled onto one of the numerous additions to Science Hall. "Now what's in there?" asked Walker. "Why, that's the atom smasher," replied Johnny. "What's an atom smasher?" "Why, Frank," replied Johnny, "you've certainly read about that. It's been in all the papers. They're trying to smash atoms with that machine in there!" Walker turned away incredulously. "Don't believe a word of it! Johnny, you can't smash an atom!" "Well, Frank, if you'll catch me the atom, I'll smash it!"
The war was only a few weeks old when the names of Notre Dame's first casualties began coming in. Their names were placed on a plaque in the vestibule of the church, and carried in the hearts of the priests who had taught and loved them. Father O'Donnell had a Mass said for them every day during the war. Three hundred and thirty-three alumni and students, according to the latest count, paid with their lives. This does not include the number of casualties sustained by members of the midshipman school or the navy trainees.
During the war, the University had conferred on Admiral Chester Nimitz an honorary degree. Not until after victory was the Admiral able to come to the campus to receive his honor. On May 15, 1946, there was a gala convocation in the Navy Drill Hall. Father O'Donnell addressed the body, presented the degree, and Admiral Nimitz replied.
"Father O'Donnell," he said in conclusion, "you sent forth to me, as to other naval commands on every ocean and continent, men who had become imbued with more than the mechanical knowledge of warfare. Somehow, in the crowded hours of their preparation for the grim business of war, they had absorbed not only Notre Dame's traditional fighting spirit, but the spiritual strength, too, that this University imparts to all, regardless of creed, who come under its influence."
In 1944, Father O'Donnell reorganized the graduate school. The former committee of graduate studies was now replaced by a dean, Rev. Philip S. Moore, assisted by a council. Such reorganization gave more incisive direction and responsibility to the school.
Because of his outstanding position as head of one of Catholicism's great schools in America, Father O'Donnell was frequently honored. He was named a member of the Nutrition Foundation; a member of the government's special committee for the Office of Scientific Research and Development; in 1946, Secretary of the Navy Forrestal named him to the Navy Advisory Committee.
Like most of Notre Dame's presidents, Father O'Donnell was sensitive about outsiders' impression that Notre Dame was a wealthy institution, and that she made millions on football. He made it a practice to submit annually to the public, through the Alumnus, a certified account of the University's income and expenses. This did much to dispel this harmful illusion.
To interest industrialists in Notre Dame's wide spread research, Father O'Donnell created the Industrial Advisory Committee to give direction and incentive in the development of the graduate school, particularly in science and engineering.
In the name of the University, Father O'Donnell conferred the Laetare Medal in 1940 on General Hugh A. Drum. That honor, in 1941, went to William T. Walsh, outstanding Catholic historian. Helen C. White, novelist and member of the faculty of the University of Wisconsin was the recipient in 1942. Thomas F. Woodlock, prominent Catholic economist and long-time editor of the Wall Street Journal, was awarded the medal in 1943. A famous international correspondent for the New York Times, Anne O'Hare McCormick, was the medalist for 1944. Gardiner Howland Shaw, Catholic social worker, won the award in 1945. And in 1946, the honor went to Carlton J. H. Hayes, historian and diplomat.
Father O'Donnell's term of office came to an end in the summer of 1946. After the strenuous war years, it was planned that he should go to Europe or to South America, where he could combine a period of rest with community business. His vigorous and healthful appearance gave no clue to the illness which would cut him down so soon.
At Christmas time, he quietly celebrated the silver jubilee of his ordination. Shortly afterward, he was stricken with an illness which, after an operation, was diagnosed as cancer of the pancreas. The doctors said his condition was hopeless, and that he had but a few months to live. When his superiors told him of his condition, his first act was one of complete resignation before the altar in the infirmary chapel.
The true nobility of his character, his physical and moral courage, were never more manifest than in the last few weeks of his life. He received all who came to see him, was pleased and affable, referred to his coming death easily, asked prayers and promised a share in his own suffering. On June 12, 1947, feeling his strength ebbing away, he called in some of his brother priests. At about five o'clock in the afternoon, he died.
Nor was Father O'Donnell's death the only one that brought grief to the University. During his presidency, Notre Dame lost many of its faculty members, old and young. On July 1, 1941, Rev. James Stack, long time rector and history professor, died. Edward J. Maurus and William Benitz, two sterling characters and excellent professors, the former in the field of mathematics, the latter in engineering, died not far apart, "Heiny" Maurus on Nov. 26, 1941, "Bill" Benitz, June 1, 1942. Notre Dame's long time Spanish professor and fencing master, Pedro A. deLandero, died in Mexico, Jan. 7, 1943. Knute Rockne's counterpart in basketball, earnest George Keogan, died suddenly on Feb. 17, 1943.
Very Rev. James W. Donahue, a former superior general of the Congregation of Holy Cross, and only indirectly connected with the University, died suddenly June 30, 1943. The whole university was deeply shocked when young Father James Trahey died unexpectedly after an operation, March 2, 1944. His work as co-ordinator between the navy and Notre Dame had increased the number of his friends who admired his efficiency and cordiality.
Tommy Mills, one of the most popular figures in Notre Dame sports, died suddenly in the Rockne Memorial of which he was then director, on Feb. 25, 1944. Old students of Carroll Hall knew that when Brother Aloysius Dempsey died Oct. 5, 1944, they had witnessed the passing of a gentle saint.
Rev. J. Leonard Carrico, incorruptible director of studies and a teaching genius, succumbed to a short illness on Nov. 21, 1944. Of him, Father Eugene Burke said: "For a quarter of a century, he was a kind of watchdog of our academic standards." Certainly those who would cheapen those standards would never forget the crisp and twangy dressing down that sometimes darted from the window in the director of studies' office.
Brother Leo Donovan, long connected with Notre Dame's farm, and practical instructor in the days of the college of agriculture, died after a long illness, Aug. 20, 1945. Dr. John Cooney, who came to Notre Dame when the course in journalism was inaugurated, and for whom his old pupils had a reverent affection, died on Oct. 15, 1945. He was one of Notre Dame's most pleasant and witty faculty members.
Although not a member of the faculty, Brother Canute Lardner was a character known and loved by Notre Dame students. His devotion and generous service put everyone in his debt. He had a sly sense of humor that was quoted all over the campus. Brother Canute went to a movie in Washington Hall on the afternoon of Feb. 2, 1946. When the lights went on after the performance, it was discovered that Brother Canute had died as unobtrusively as he had lived.
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