Monday, May 3, 2004

'Father Ned' oversaw
Notre Dame's growth

Longtime No.2 at school dies at age 87

By Tom Coyne
The Associated Press

SOUTH BEND, Ind. - The Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, who served 35 years as executive vice president of the University of Notre Dame before retiring in 1987, died Sunday. He was 87.

Joyce died shortly after 5 a.m. at Holy Cross House on the Notre Dame campus from complications of a stroke suffered in 2002, said Matthew Storin, a university spokesman.

Joyce served as the No. 2 man at Notre Dame to the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh during the entire time Hesburgh was university president from 1952-87. Hesburgh administered the last rites to Joyce at about 10 p.m. Saturday.

"We were the best of friends," Hesburgh said Sunday afternoon. "I learned a lot from him. I hope he learned a few things from me, too."

Hesburgh, who traveled the world with Joyce for a year after they retired, described Joyce as a brother.

"How many people do you have in your life that you can work with that long in as many high-pressure cases and never have a fight, never have any misunderstanding?" he said. "He was always there. We went through the wars together."

During their time in charge at Notre Dame, the university's student body grew from 5,000 to 9,000, and the school's academic reputation grew as well. Hesburgh, who traveled frequently because of his work with the school and promoting human rights, said he never worried about what was happening at Notre Dame while he was away.

"I never called back. I knew he was in charge, he was very capable and he would do exactly what needed to be done," Hesburgh said.

Joyce, who was known on campus as "Father Ned," oversaw the school's finances and building programs. During his tenure, the operating budget grew from $9 million to $400 million and more than 40 new buildings were built.

"Father Ned Joyce was a principal builder of Notre Dame in both the literal and figurative senses," said the Rev. Edward A. Malloy, university president. "He served Notre Dame and her people splendidly as a priest, administrator and friend, and while we rejoice that he is now in the company of heaven, we will all keenly miss this irreplaceable man."

Joyce also headed the university's board in control of athletics. During his tenure, the Irish won three national football championships and another one year after he retired. The basketball team advanced to the NCAA tournament 21 times, advancing to the Final Four in 1978.

"He was a priest's priest," said Digger Phelps, who coached the Irish basketball team from 1971-91. "He just had that personality of respect, compassion.

"Yet when you look at his influence in the NCAA, it was amazing. When he was going to speak at an NCAA convention, every delegate would be in that hall and you could hear a pin drop. And his messages were always with the caring of the student-athletes - student first, athlete second. He never deviated from that," Phelps said.

Joyce was involved in the formation of the College Football Association, which formed in 1977 to serve as a forum for athletic administrators and coaches to discuss matters unique to major college football. He served as secretary-treasurer for the CFA. Joyce was given the Distinguished American Award in 1977 by the College Football Hall of Fame.

Joyce was born in British Honduras, now known as Belize. He was ordained as a priest in 1949 and was named assistant vice president for business affairs at Notre Dame. He became acting vice president later that year.

He took a year off to study at Oxford University in England. He returned to Notre Dame in 1951 and became executive vice president the next year. When he retired, he was named executive vice president emeritus.

A wake service will be held Tuesday night at the Sacred Heart Basilica on campus. A Mass of Christian bural will be at the basilica Wednesday.

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