Sycamore Trust was established in the summer of 2006 by a group of Notre Dame alumni concerned by mounting evidence of the weakening of the Catholic identity of the university.
Sycamore Trust was established in the summer of 2006 by a group of Notre Dame alumni concerned by mounting evidence of the weakening of the Catholic identity of the university. The precipitating event was Father Jenkins’s reversal of his tentative decision to bar the student on-campus performance of The Vagina Monologues. His reversal, taken in response to intense faculty pressure, triggered a storm of protests by alumni as well as a number of open letters by dissenting faculty. These letters, together with what alarmed faculty have written and have said in later panel discussions, focused the attention of the Sycamore organizers on the radical reduction in the proportion of Catholics on the faculty.
The organizers’ study of the secularization of other colleges and universities disclosed that their alumni had become aware of this transformation too late, since the alteration of the faculty had taken place out of their sight. To prevent this happening at Notre Dame, Sycamore has investigated all issues relating to the weakening of the Catholic identity of Notre Dame and has issues an extensive series of reports to its growing list of subscribers, which now numbers over 17,000. It has communicated often with the university and has urged its supporters to do so as well. Its purpose is to continue to extend its reach, to keep its supporters informed, and to do what it can to reverse the secularization trajectory that the university has been on for some time.
The question is whether Notre Dame will be able to recapture its Catholic identity and its place in the Church. The answer is in doubt. (William H. Dempsey, Brent Society Lecture, 2009)