John Jenkins

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Notre Dame releases statements on IOSHA findings

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The University of Notre Dame released statements in response to the findings by the Indiana Safety and Health Administration, stemming from the October 27 accident that took the life of student Declan Sullivan.

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame president:

“Notre Dame has great respect for the thorough and professional manner in which IOSHA officials have conducted their investigation. We have worked collaboratively with them over the past four months and have had a chance today to take a preliminary look at their findings. We will study the details very carefully and take the actions necessary to protect the ongoing safety of our students and staff. We also are very interested in the IOSHA educational effort and have every intention of being a part of that to share what we learn.

“None of these findings can do anything to replace the loss of a young man with boundless energy and creativity. As I said last fall, we failed to keep him safe, and for that we remain profoundly sorry.”

John Affleck-Graves, executive vice president:

“The IOSHA findings are very helpful as we begin to conclude our own comprehensive investigation. As part of the agency’s review process, we will meet with officials in the next 15 days. We expect that our report will include information gathered through the IOSHA investigation as we focus on all factors that contributed to the accident, including the series of decisions made on that day. We have committed to making a report of our investigation public and will do so once it is complete and we have finalized our review with IOSHA, which we expect to be in four to six weeks.”

Jack Swarbrick, athletic director:

“I know John Affleck-Graves is leading a wide-ranging university investigation that will incorporate the findings from IOSHA. But nothing can change the tragic reality of what occurred last October, and all of us in Irish athletics continue to grieve with the Sullivans and keep them in our prayers.”

Brian Kelly, head football coach:

“Declan was a wonderful member of our football family and is missed to this day. We all continue to both grieve and keep his family and friends in our thoughts and prayers. I’m sure the university will use the findings from the state to enhance the investigation into this tragedy.”

Jenkins sends open letter to ND community

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This afternoon Rev. John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, sent an open letter to Notre Dame students, faculty, alumni, parents and friends.

In it, Jenkins and Notre Dame took responsibility for Declan Sullivan’s death.

“Declan died in a tragic accident while in our care. For that, I am profoundly sorry. We are conducting an investigation and we must be careful not to pre-judge its results, but I will say this: Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe. We at Notre Dame — and ultimately I, as President — are responsible. Words cannot express our sorrow to the Sullivan family and to all involved.”

Jenkins also took an opportunity to comment on some of the media speculation that’s swirled around head coach Brian Kelly since the accident happened.

“In light of what I believe to be unfounded and unfair commentary and speculation, I want to say something about Coach Brian Kelly. Coach Kelly was hired not only because of his football expertise, but because we believed his character and values accord with the highest standards of Notre Dame. All we have seen since he came to Notre Dame, and everything we have learned in our investigation to date, have confirmed that belief. For those reasons I am confident that Coach Kelly has a bright future leading our football program.”

Here is the letter in its entirety:

Dear Notre Dame students, faculty, staff, alumni, parents and friends,

The tragic accident that took Declan Sullivan’s life just over a week ago, the Mass of Remembrance in the Basilica, and his family’s faith-filled funeral for him this week have given each of us the chance to grieve, remember and pray. Declan was a bright and energetic young man who lived his life with passion. We will miss him, and we believe that he is in the loving embrace of our Lord.

Over this past week, I have had the great privilege of meeting with and trying to provide some measure of support to Declan’s parents, sister, brother and other members of his family. Many Notre Dame faculty, staff and students also have reached out to offer their assistance. Yet the Sullivan family, through their incredible grace and courage, has given us support and an example of how to respond. They ministered to us as we tried to minister to them.

There is no greater sadness for a university community than the death of one of its students under any circumstances. Yet this loss is more devastating, for Declan died in a tragic accident while in our care. For that, I am profoundly sorry. We are conducting an investigation and we must be careful not to pre-judge its results, but I will say this: Declan Sullivan was entrusted to our care, and we failed to keep him safe. We at Notre Dame — and ultimately I, as President — are responsible. Words cannot express our sorrow to the Sullivan family and to all involved.

I am committed to determining why this accident happened and to ensuring the safety of our students. We have been conducting an internal investigation to examine this accident from every possible perspective and to draw conclusions and formulate recommendations for the future. In order to ensure that our inquiry has been thorough, unbiased and accurate, I have asked Dr. Peter Likins, former President of the University of Arizona, to provide an external review of our inquiry, and he has graciously accepted.

In selecting someone to review our investigation, I sought an individual experienced in higher education, with an impeccable reputation for integrity, intellect and independence. In Dr. Likins, we are fortunate to have just such a man. He brings numerous credentials to this assignment: as a world-renowned engineer; as a university administrator who served as provost at Columbia and president at Lehigh and Arizona; as a highly regarded member of numerous NCAA committees; and as a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

Investigations and external reviews such as this take time, but I assure you that, when complete, we will issue a public report on the outcome, including information on the events of the afternoon of Oct. 27, any institutional ramifications, and recommendations for safety policies in the future.

Finally, in light of what I believe to be unfounded and unfair commentary and speculation, I want to say something about Coach Brian Kelly. Coach Kelly was hired not only because of his football expertise, but because we believed his character and values accord with the highest standards of Notre Dame. All we have seen since he came to Notre Dame, and everything we have learned in our investigation to date, have confirmed that belief. For those reasons I am confident that Coach Kelly has a bright future leading our football program.

Thank you for your concern, and your prayers. At the darkest moments, the love, and care, and faith of the Notre Dame family shines most brightly.

In Notre Dame,

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
President
University of Notre Dame

Notre Dame appoints independent review of Sullivan accident

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With the ongoing internal invesitgation into what happened surrounding the death of Declan Sullivan, Notre Dame announced that it is turning over the investigation to an independent reviewer. Peter Likins, the former president of the University of Arizona, will lead the process.

Father John Jenkins, Notre Dame’s president, had this to say about Likins.

“In selecting someone to review our investigation, I sought an individual experienced in higher education, with an impeccable reputation for integrity, intellect and independence,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “In Dr. Likins, we are fortunate to have just such a man. He brings numerous credentials to this assignment: as a world-renowned engineer; as a university administrator who served as provost at Columbia and president at Lehigh and Arizona; as a highly regarded member of numerous NCAA committees; and as a member of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics.

“Investigations and external reviews such as this take time, but I assure you that, when complete, we will issue a public report on the outcome, including information on the events of the afternoon of Oct. 27, any institutional ramifications, and recommendations for safety policies in the future.”

Likins was the 18th president of Arizona, serving from 1997 to 2006. He was also the president of Lehigh University and provost at Columbia University, where he was also the dean of the School of Engineering and Applied Science. He served on the Knight Commission board from 2004 until his retirement.