Notre Dame President asks, "What Is the University Good For?"

On the evening of 12thJune, Rev’d John Jenkins, CSC, delivered the annual Campion Lecture.

Fr Jenkins, the president of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana (USA) and a graduate of Campion Hall, spoke about the history and mission of the university in the modern world in a wide-ranging talk. Emphasizing that Oxford in particular “must possess something of lasting value to survive through so many dramatic changes in society,” Jenkins also suggested that Oxford’s longevity is a result of its commitment to being a free 'community of inquiry' in which ideas are developed, shared, and critiqued for the sake of the common good. In this way, Jenkins' remarks echoed the Chancellor's recent Newman Lecture (see link to the left of this page) in underlining the vital role that universities play in perpetuating the institutions of liberal democracy. Acknowledging that the university model faces challenges today from increased globalization, digitalization, and polarization, Jenkins nevertheless counted himself a “skeptic” about fears that the university is in decline: “The particular character of Oxford or any great university,” Jenkins argued, “is that the riches it offers us transcend any time, trend or particular professional career.”

A lively Q&A session followed with interventions from students, professors, the Chancellor, and the Vice-Chancellor.

 

A written version of Fr Jenkins' talk can be found via the link on the left-hand side of this page.