The gilded Golden Dome and statue of Mary atop the Main Building proclaim the Notre Dame campus as a place where faith is treasured and diverse traditions shared and respected. Their students represent all 50 states and over 100 countries. Rigorous academics, NCAA Division I athletics, and numerous events and activities create an environment in which their students are ignited with a passion to learn and to live to their fullest capacity.
Notre Dame is one of the few universities to regularly rank in the top 25 in the U.S. News & World Report survey of America’s best colleges and the Learfield Sports Directors’ Cup standings of the best overall athletics programs.
Founded in 1842, Notre Dame stands on 1,250 acres considered by many to be among the most beautiful possessed by any university in the nation. From the collegiate Gothic architecture and park-like landscape to exquisite outdoor sculpture and breathtaking views, Notre Dame’s campus is a visual splendor.
Notre Dame has a unique spirit. It is traditional, yet open to change. It is dedicated to religious belief no less than scientific knowledge. It has always stood for values in a world of facts. It has kept faith with Father Sorin’s vision.
History of the University:
A Place Born of Imagination and Will
The University of Notre Dame began late on the bitterly cold afternoon of November 26, 1842, when a 28-year-old French priest, Rev. Edward Sorin, C.S.C., and seven companions, all of them members of the recently established Congregation of Holy Cross, took possession of 524 snow-covered acres that the Bishop of Vincennes had given them in the Indiana mission fields.
A man of lively imagination, Father Sorin named his fledgling school in honor of Our Lady, in his native tongue, “L’Université de Notre Dame du Lac” (The University of Our Lady of the Lake). On January 15, 1844, the University was thus officially chartered by the Indiana legislature.
Father Sorin’s indomitable will was best demonstrated in April of 1879 when a disastrous fire destroyed the Main Building, which housed virtually the entire University. Saying “If it were ALL gone, I should not give up,” Father Sorin employed 300 workers daily throughout the summer and rebuilt the structure that still stands today, topped by a gleaming Golden Dome.
Early Notre Dame was a university in name only. It encompassed religious novitiates, preparatory and grade schools and a manual labor school, but its classical collegiate curriculum never attracted more than a dozen students a year in the early decades.
Based on the ratio studiorum used by the Jesuits at St. Louis University, this curriculum included four years of humanities, poetry, rhetoric and philosophy, plus offerings in French, German, Spanish and Italian and various forms of music and drawing.
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