Institute for Educational Initiatives: Strategic Plan

The Mendelson Center for Sport, Character & Culture

Strategic Plan

The Mendelson Center has quickly established a national reputation for its advocacy of responsible, developmentally-sensitive sports programs. We have offered courses, workshops, and special classes to the Notre Dame and local community, and have produced scholarly and practitioner-oriented publications. We have provided consultation to youth sport programs, high schools, state governmental and nongovernmental organizations, an intercollegiate athletic conference, and a summer sports program in Honduras.

With the advance of our national reputation has come an increased demand for services, a demand that is well beyond our present capacity to meet. To take best advantage of our current resources, as well as to plan for orderly expansion, we have identified three key interrelated programmatic initiatives that complement our research efforts and advance the three goals identified above:

1. Program on Coaching and Education:
We have established the first social science based program in the United States that focuses on coaching for character. We have offered workshops and seminars on the topic of coaching for character, and next June plan to launch our Summer Institute on Coaching and Education (Summer ICE). The Summer ICE program will attract approximately 100 coaches annually, and will offer graduate and continuing education credit. Additionally, we plan to offer regional coaching education workshops across the country.

2. Laboratory/Model Programs:
We seek to establish sport programs that can serve as demonstration/research sites. We are currently working with a program in New Hampton (NH) and are planning a program at the Culver Academies in Culver (IN). In the near future, we seek to launch a new sport league here in South Bend where we can continually refine "best practices" of coaching and sports administration. We are also exploring an after school program that combines sports with literacy and character development. We have engaged in preliminary dialogue with the Robinson Center about both the league and the after school program.

3. Sports as Ministry:
Ultimately, character is rooted in an apprehension of what gives human life dignity and value - in the spiritual. This spiritual focus undergirds all our work, but it is given explicit emphasis and articulation in our "Sports as Ministry" program. In this initiative, we seek to work with religiously-based schools and programs. We are presently planning a collaboration with the National Federation for Youth Ministry to develop a National Catholic Youth Sports Commission that will oversee the training of coaches within parish Catholic Youth Organizations across the United States.

To support these programs and increase our visibility, we have launched a number of initiatives that do not require additional funding. We have established an "ambassadors" program that uses high profile individuals to garner support for the Center's work. We are collaborating with Stanford University's Positive Coaching Alliance on several joint projects designed to improve the quality of youth sports. We have offered numerous radio, TV, and newspaper interviews. We will continue to expand our collaborative efforts to maximize impact while minimizing the need for additional resources. Specifically, we will expand our collaborations with our own athletic department, with the Center for Social Concerns, with various social science departments, and with the Center for Ethics and Culture.

New Positions: The Mendelson Center currently has resources to fund only two faculty-level positions, a postdoctoral associate, and an administrative assistant. In order to realize our research and program goals and meet the increasing demand for our services, we seek to add two new positions over the coming five years.

  • Director, Program in Coaching and Education: This person would further our current initiatives in the area of coaching education and build our capacity to offer workshops nationally.
  • Director, Community Programs: This person would be responsible for the new experimental sport league, training student employees for the National Youth Sport Program, supervision of an after-school sports and literacy program, as well as other community-related initiatives.
In addition to these two new positions, we seek funds to support at least two graduate students. Other positions are also desirable and will be added as specific grants or opportunities arise.

Financial Needs: To maintain our current level of operation and service, we will need to increase our annual revenue by approximately $100,000, once the Provost's seed funding is depleted. We believe that we can raise $35,000 - $50,000 per year from workshops, our Summer Coaching Institute, and consulting. We look to grants, gifts, and increases to our endowment to provide the remaining income.

To support the addition of the two new positions identified above, as well as a stipend for two graduate students, we seek to increase our endowment by approximately $4 million. While we anticipate additional growth, most of that expansion will be supported through entrepreneurial efforts and grants.

Space Needs: As we expand, our space needs will similarly grow. We are currently on the lower floor of the IEI building in a space that features five individual offices, a small conference room, and a work area for the office manager. This is a significant improvement over our previous location in 202 Brownson. Still, all offices are filled, with one office being shared. While we have made provision to "borrow" office space down the hall during the academic year, that arrangement will become untenable as we expand.

Moral Education


©2002 University of Notre Dame
Last Modified: Apr 18, 2007