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James F. Conneely, Ph.D., is Inaugurated as Notre Dame of Maryland University’s Twelfth President: Leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship will steer University growth

April 5, 2013

Notre Dame of Maryland University installed James F. Conneely, Ph.D. as its twelfth president at a ceremony today attended by more than 700 students, graduates, faculty, staff, religious and political leaders, and additional guests. Evoking Notre Dame’s mission of educating leaders to transform the world and embracing the University’s tradition of academic excellence, the ceremony marked Dr. Conneely’s official investiture as leader of the Catholic liberal arts university.

In his inaugural address, Dr. Conneely affirmed his staunch commitment to Notre Dame's Women's College and to achieving greater distinction for the University through new programs and initiatives—targeted to women—that focus on leadership, innovation and entrepreneurship. He also stated he would leverage the University's 118-year-old liberal arts foundation in new ways, including establishing requirements for experiential learning, community service, undergraduate research and international exposure.

[NOTE: Dr. Conneely’s biography, high-res photos, and a selection of his speeches and writings are available online at ndm.edu/inauguration.]

Since taking office in July 2012, Dr. Conneely has championed the continued importance of women’s colleges in preparing women leaders; advocated for the fundamental right of women and girls across the globe to safely access education; and heightened awareness of the transformative role of education to lift women and families. At the same time, he has called upon Notre Dame students to recognize that higher education is a privilege that comes with a responsibility to serve others.

As president, Dr. Conneely has prioritized initiatives to strengthen academic programs and enhance student life. He has launched an inclusive planning process involving faculty, staff, students and trustees that will result in a strategic plan for University’s growth and development over the next five years; created a First-Year Experience Task Force to support student retention and success; restructured student life and enrollment functions to enhance student engagement; and broken ground on a $15 million state-of-the-art academic building, as well as a new building to support the Morrissy Honors Program students and faculty members.

The Notre Dame Board of Trustees chose Dr. Conneely to be the next president of Notre Dame in a unanimous decision on February 16, 2012. Distinguished by his devotion to higher education ideals and a genuine commitment to student success, he is the first man and only the second permanent layperson in the school's 118-year history to serve as president. Dr. Conneely brings more than three decades of higher education, financial management and strategic planning experience, with a strong focus on student life and development.

Honored guests included philanthropist Mary Catherine Bunting, honorary degree recipient in 2012; Margaret Carney, O.S.F, president, St. Bonaventure University; Norbert W. Dunkel, associate vice president for student affairs, University of Florida; The Honorable Danette G. Howard, Maryland  Secretary of Higher Education; Reverend Brian F. Linnane, S.J., president, Loyola University Maryland; The Honorable Mary Ann Lisanti ’89, member, Harford County Council; the Most Reverend Denis J. Madden, auxiliary bishop, Archdiocese of Baltimore; Paul R. McHugh, university distinguished professor of psychiatry at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine and honorary degree recipient in 1999; The Honorable Barbara A. Mikulski, United States senator from Maryland; George C. Pleasant-Jones, community affairs liaison, representing Representative C.A. “Dutch” Ruppersberger; The Honorable Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, mayor, City of Baltimore; Diane Scharper ’64, faculty at Towson University, columnist for the Baltimore Sun and member of the National Book Critics Circle; and Eileen Schwalbach, Ph.D, president, Mount Mary College.

Notre Dame is in the midst of a week of events to celebrate Dr. Conneely’s inauguration, which began with an April 2 breakfast for the School Sisters of Notre Dame and will culminate with a student/faculty talent show on April 13. Additional highlights of the week included the April 4 performance of HBO’s Def Poetry Jam; the Inaugural Ball on April 5; a campus picnic and evening classical music concert on April 6; the President’s Day of Service on April 7 to benefit Baltimore City Head Start; and an April 10 dinner and a lecture with author Alice McDermott.


Notre Dame of Maryland University, founded as a Catholic liberal arts college in 1895 by the School Sisters of Notre Dame, engages students as confident, capable learners and leaders, thriving in the vibrant, personal community of its distinguished Women’s College, College of Adult Undergraduate Studies and College of Graduate Studies. At its main campus in north Baltimore and at satellite centers throughout Maryland, the University educates nearly 3,000 women and men enrolled in degree and certificate programs offered through the Schools of Arts and Sciences, Education, Nursing and Pharmacy. Rich in tradition, and attuned to the contemporary needs of a diverse society, Notre Dame provides students with opportunities in research, study abroad and service to the global community. Notre Dame’s graduates change lives—in their careers, communities and families. Visit www.ndm.edu.