UNDERC and the Land O’ Lakes Statement

In 1957, Fr. Theodore M. Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre dame from 1952 – 1987, was appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to the Civil Rights Commission. While conducting a series of hearings that found African Americans were being denied their right to vote, a federal judge deemed the Commission unconstitutional and an upcoming hearing in Louisiana was canceled. This decision was eventually overturned, but Fr. Hesburgh suggested moving the Commission to UNDERC. During their time at UNDERC, the Commission crafted and voted upon the 12 recommendations presented to Congress that formed the foundation of the 1964 Omnibus Civil Rights Act.

In 1967, the Land O’ Lakes property again played a role as an important convening space. Lead by Fr. Hesburgh, a group of educators met to discuss “What is the nature and role of the contemporary Catholic University?”. The result was a document entitled “The Idea of the Catholic University”, which is frequently referred to as “The Land O’ Lakes Statement.”

For more information on the history of the University of Notre Dame Environmental Research Center (UNDERC) please visit their website.

December 1, 2022

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