Behold Notre Dame!

About the University of Notre Dame...John Bellairs the Undergraduate

Main Building

The University of Notre Dame is a smaller school than many people might think given its football reputation. Founded in 1842 by Edward Sorin, Notre Dame is adjacent to the city of South Bend and covers 1,250 acres with two lakes and 136 buildings, including the Basilica of the Sacred Heart and the University's 123-year-old Main Building with its famed Golden Dome, both campus landmarks that remain from Bellairs' time on campus. One of Bellairs' life-long friends from college, Alfred Myers, notes the campus is officially ranked as the second most popular tourist attraction in Indiana (the Indy 500 wins the first place marks), and does not factor in the football crowds.

With its Catholic background, the university campus was the national headquarters for the CSC order - a Latin abbreviation that followed the name of the priests, standing for Congregatio Sanctae Crucis, or Congregation of the Holy Cross.

Total enrollment is about 8,000 undergraduates, plus an additional 2,000 in Law School, the Business School, architecture and other advanced degree programs. This number has grown only gradually through the years and is probably only about one to two thousand more than the total student population during Bellairs years there. One of the largest differences is that the university is fully co-educational, whereas it was all-male during the 1950s (save for the odd nun in some graduate program or other), a gender imbalance Myers notes hindered the social life greatly during his and Bellairs's years in South Bend.

Notre Dame is a separate world from the city of South Bend and, during their era, presented little opportunity for living on the edge. Myers says of his era that the student body was as strictly disciplined as those at the military service academies - "except at Notre Dame hazing, or fraternity-style initiations, were strictly forbidden, with the exception of those of an honorary nature like Phi Beta Kappa or the Monogram Club. Essentially athletic lettermen, but jocks will be jocks. Plus, it has always been the University's policy, never quite fully attainable, to house all of the undergraduate students in the various residence halls. The result of this, at least in my era, was to create a somewhat insulated student body, but one which was greatly attached and fiercely loyal to the school."

Myers also explains that the university has always concentrated on undergraduate education, and therefore doesn't have the huge graduate programs that one finds at various state universities. "This is significant because it's the graduate programs which causes high-tech companies to locate nearby and give a certain vitality and tone to the adjacent township. The point is that South Bend is dullness personified." For example, during Bellairs' four years undergraduates were not permitted to have cars anywhere in the South Bend area. This lack of transportation by no way stopped any student - Bellairs included - from leaving the pedestrian-friendly, strictly-defined borders and guidelines of the campus, be it for a bus drive into South Bend or a weekend riding the rails 90 miles northwest to nearest pleasure dome - in this case, Chicago.