Feed on

Welcome to Notre Dame!  I’m glad you are here.

Allow me to share some observations that should help you get the most out of your Notre Dame experience over the next four years.

First, high school is history. I hope your high school wasn’t like mine, But if so, it was based upon two pedagogical goals: description and memorization. Now, everything changes. In my class, I emphasize analysis and understanding. I already assume that you can learn lots of facts, even though the idea of facts currently seems to be up for grabs in the US. I am interested in how you analyze political facts and assess their importance.

Second, you have a new challenge.  You have been admitted to Notre Dame because you are smart.  Now, everyone around you is smart.  Frankly, in a world of smart people, smartness is boring.  So, in the words of a great leader (Lenin), “what is to be done?”  I hope you will spend your four years at Notre Dame acquiring the the wisdom, the inclination, and the passion to pursue your personal calling. Indeed, I want you to be interesting.

Third, why Notre Dame?  American students are masters of self-selection. There must have been something special about Notre Dame that led you to choose it over other institutions, such as the The Ohio State University, The USC, and various East-coast finishing schools. Did it matter that Notre Dame is a Catholic university?  It should.  Your challenge is to figure out why.

Finally, to quote an eminent philosopher, “along with great privilege comes great responsibility.” University education is a privilege that few people in the world experience.  And it is ultimately based upon a factor over which you had no control and could not earn: LUCK (See Warren Buffett’s “Ovarian Fallacy”  HERE).  Given your good fortune, it is entirely your choice to work hard on your assignments, attend class regularly, do your readings, and visit your professors and TAs during office hours.  Your four years at Notre Dame will speed by. Suddenly you will find yourself in a work-a-day existence that is typified by the cubicle, the vehicle, and the receptacle.  Who knows why each of us has been given the blessing of time to cultivate our minds?  Time is the luxury of the affluent classes.  You are morally obliged to make the most of it.

One of my favorite passages in the Holy Bible is this: “No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, that those who come in may see the light” (Luke 11:33). What is your light and what do you intend to do with it?

Again, I am glad you are in my class. My office hours are on Tu 1:30-2:30 and W 2:00-4:00 in the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, in the new Nanovic Hall.  My assistant can always find me; call 1-5253 or write to me at amcadams@nd.edu.  You do not need a specific reason to visit me.  I am curious to know what’s on your mind.

I look forward to meeting each of you soon.

A. James McAdams

Comments are closed.