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The heart of the Notre Dame experience is its residence life, and Notre Dame rectors make that experience unique, formative, and cherished.
A Residence Life Model Steeped in the Educational Tradition of the Congregation of Holy Cross
A Holy Cross education begins with the goal of developing one’s intellect, but recognizes that a person’s moral and religious formation takes place both in and beyond the walls of a classroom. When Fr. Edward Sorin, C.S.C. arrived at the site that would become the University of Notre Dame as a 28-year-old priest, he had already absorbed the principle that Holy Cross educates students in both mind and heart.
That belief remains the foundation of residence hall ministry today. Well-trained rectors, assistant rectors, and senior RAs provide multiple layers of pastoral care for the students who call a Notre Dame residence hall “home.” Notre Dame is one of the few universities where a high proportion of rectors have years of educational experience and advanced degrees, sometimes to the Ph.D. level. They are priests, brothers, sisters, and lay people with backgrounds in campus ministry, classroom teaching, educational administration, professional counseling, parish, or hospital ministry. Notre Dame rectors are mature proven professionals with the life experience to employ a pastoral approach that assists others in their journeys of intellectual and spiritual development.
Students require good mentors, and residence halls at Notre Dame have always been positioned as purposeful, formative environments. When the day’s classroom learning is done, we emphasize the need for students to return to halls that are homes, where they will encounter wise mentor rectors with the capacity to understand the yearnings of their hearts and souls. The Holy Cross model presumes that education is not value-neutral but part of a larger need for moral and religious formation that is designed to form students intellectually, spiritually, and practically for service to the Church and world.
Rectors are pastoral leaders who help shape the personal growth and development of the students under their guidance. Rectors are the humble leaders and ministers of residence hall communities who come to know each individual student by name and walk with them as they mature and grow in their adult formation.
Rectors create a community where the hall becomes a home, a place where strangers become friends. Through a rector’s vision and guidance, the hall emerges as a focal point around which students build their social and spiritual lives.
Students’ participation in hall life is fully realized in the profound camaraderie that is the hallmark of their association with Notre Dame. Residence halls are where young people forge lifelong friendships that are the bedrock of the Notre Dame community. Strangers on move-in day become roommates and within weeks become friends and confidants. After graduation, roommates and friends from their hall are the best men and maids of honor in weddings, godparents at baptisms, sponsors at confirmations, and pallbearers at funerals. It is no wonder, then, that alumni often describe the time in their residence hall as the “best years of their lives.”
The position of rector emerges from this quintessentially Notre Dame residential tradition. Rectors provide a critical and pivotal role in helping the University achieve its mission to bring young women and men to completeness, educating their minds and hearts to be a force for good in the world.
Rectors work closely with University colleagues to help form, guide, and care for students by connecting them with the tools, resources, and knowledge needed to flourish and succeed.
The richly varied work of a rector is what makes the hall a safe and welcoming environment where students congregate and thrive. Rectors are responsible for the day-to-day operation of the hall.