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Notre Dame of Maryland University is the First Maryland University Granted United Nations NGO Status

March 19, 2015

Notre Dame of Maryland University has been granted non-governmental organization status by the United Nations’ Department of Public Information, the first Maryland university to receive the designation.

Notre Dame was one of 18 NGOs approved for association with the UN-DPI at the most recent meeting of its Committee for Association. There are a total of 1,419 NGOs worldwide associated with the UN-DPI, and about two dozen of them are American colleges or universities.

The news comes as a delegation of Notre Dame students and faculty is at UN Headquarters in New York this week attending the meeting of the UN Commission on the Status of Women. In addition, next week, on Thursday, March 26, Notre Dame will host Ambassador Simona-Mirela Miculescu, the Permanent Representative of Romania to the United Nations, who will speak on Women in International Diplomacy: Development, Peacebuilding and Justice as the first annual NDMU Visiting Ambassador.

“Our new strategic plan places an emphasis on global partnership, so we are thrilled to receive NGO status with the United Nations,” said NDMU President Marylou Yam, Ph.D. “We believe that our association with the UN is consistent with our mission to ‘educate leaders to transform the world’. Our faculty and students will have opportunities for greater participation the UN and these experiences will enrich our academic community.”

Maher Nasser, Director of the Outreach Division of DPI, welcomed the newly associated NGOs explaining, “the department values civil society as a key partner in a new global partnership for sustainable development. We count on NGOs associated with DPI to help us communicate priority issues and the role of the United Nations, thereby translating global objectives into local action in support of peacebuilding, women’s and youth empowerment, poverty eradication, climate action and more.”

Notre Dame was founded 120 years ago as the first Catholic college in the United States to grant the four-year baccalaureate degree to women, a full 25 years before women were granted the right to vote. Its founding congregation, the School Sisters of Notre Dame (SSND), is a Roman Catholic religious community of 3,000 women who through their work in 34 countries seek to empower women, youth and persons who are poor or marginalized and strive to change systems of poverty and injustice.

Throughout Notre Dame’s history, the university has maintained a focus on the advancement of women. Notre Dame is the only women’s college in Maryland and many of its service and service learning opportunities are attuned to the special needs of women and families.

Notre Dame also has a long history of international outreach. Notre Dame’s English Language Institute, which last year celebrated its 30th anniversary, attracts students from around the world to our campus for intensive language and culture study in a program that includes a community service component. For the past nine consecutive years, Notre Dame students have been awarded competitive grants from the Davis Projects for Peace to carry out international service projects that they design. Recent Davis Peace Projects have included working with a women’s sewing cooperative in Swaziland and teaching computer skills at a school for the disabled in Tanzania. Notre Dame’s schools of Nursing and Pharmacy participate regularly in medical mission trips to countries that include Nicaragua, Costa Rica and Haiti, where they provide care to vulnerable communities.