Collaborations: Presidents & Other Leaders

“Leadership always has a moral as well as an intellectual dimension; it requires courage as well as wisdom; it does not simply know, it also cares.” —The Hesburgh Papers*

President Dwight D. Eisenhower appointed Father Hesburgh to the National Science Board, recognizing his enthusiastic interest in science and technology. This was the first of 16 presidential appointments.

President Eisenhower also appointed Father Hesburgh in 1957 as a charter member of the Civil Rights Commission. He served until 1972, when disputes with the Nixon administration led to his resignation.

President Jimmy Carter appointed Father Hesburgh to head a delegation of Americans to a U.N. conference on science and technology for development, held in Vienna in 1977. This appointment carried the rank of ambassador.

President Carter in 1979 named Father Hesburgh the chair of the Select Committee on Immigration and Refugee Policy.

Father Hesburgh was a member of President Gerald Ford's Clemency Board. As pointed out by Thomas Stritch in a Hesburgh biography, when another member of the Clemency Board complained about Father Hesburgh's leniency, the priest responded, "I'm in the pardoning business."

For many years, Father Hesburgh was on the board of the Rockefeller Foundation, and he served for a time as its chair.

In 1988, he served as a trustee of the International Foundation for the Survival and Development of Humanity. This private foundation had been set up in Moscow, with American and Soviet trustees. Its aim was to increase trust between the United States and the Soviet Union and to bolster development efforts in the Third World.

In 1989, the Knight Foundation established a commission on intercollegiate athletics to respond to major instances of corruption on various campuses that had made the headlines. Father Hesburgh accepted the invitation to co-chair the Knight Commission. Ultimately, many of the commission's recommendations were adopted by the NCAA, bolstering the authority of university presidents over their athletic programs, plus financial and academic integrity.

In 1991, President George H.W. Bush named Father Hesburgh a member of the board of directors of the United States Institute of Peace in Washington, D.C.

For a time, Father Hesburgh chaired the Overseas Development Council, an independent, international, Washington-based policy research institution that was disbanded in 2000. His interest in international peace and justice lives on at Notre Dame at the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, which houses the Kellogg Institute for International Studies and the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

In 1999, Father Hesburgh made a fact-finding tour of refugee camps around Kosovo for the United Nations. He was also a member of the Anti-Incitement Committee set up by the Wye Plantation Treaty of 1998 to address Israeli-Palestinian tensions.

*Thomas Horton (ed.), "Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C.," What Works for Me: 16 CEOs Talk About Their Careers and Commitments. New York: Random House, 1986.  Print. 

*Hesburgh, Theodore M. The Hesburgh Papers: Higher Values in Higher Education. Kansas City: Andrews McMeel Publishing, 1979. Print.

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