Welcome to Notre Dame! I’m glad you are here.  Now, it’s time to get to work.

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

First, high school is history. If your high school education was like mine, it was based upon two pedagogical goals: description and memorization. Now, everything changes. In all of my classes, I emphasize analysis and understanding.

Second, you have a problem. You have been admitted to Notre Dame because you are smart. Yet everybody around you is smart, too.  And frankly, smart is boring. The greater challenge is for you to be interesting.  This means that you should use the next four years at Notre Dame to acquire the tools, the wisdom, the inclination, and the passion to make people care about what you are and what you will become.

Third, why Notre Dame?  There must have been something special about Notre Dame that led you to choose it over other institutions, such as the University of Tulsa, USC, and various East-coast finishing schools.  Did it matter that Notre Dame is a Catholic university?

Finally, to quote a prominent philosopher, “along with great privilege, comes great responsibility.”  University education is a privilege that few people in the world experience. Accordinglly, you have a responsibility to work hard on your assignments, attend class regularly, do your readings, and visit your professors during office hours. Your four years at Notre Dame will speed by faster than you can imagine. Suddenly you will find yourself trapped in the work-a-day existence of the cubicle, the vehicle, and the receptacle. Who knows why each of you has been given the blessing of time to cultivate your minds? You are morally obliged to make the most of it.  Remember what the Bible says: "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).

My office hours are on Tuesday, 3:30-4:30 and Wednesday 2:00-4:00 in the Nanovic Institute for European Studies, 211 Brownson Hall (right behind the Main Building).

My assistant Sharon Konopka can always find me; call 1-5253. You do not need a specific reason to visit me.  I’m always curious to know what’s on your mind.

Again, I am glad you are in my class. I look forward to getting to know each of you.

A. James McAdams