What does it mean to be a citizen? What is the proper role of government? What is a just constitutional order? The newly launched ND Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government will help faculty, students, and the public address these questions at the University of Notre Dame.
The Center was made possible in part by a $1.2 million grant from the John Menard Family. The Menard grant, along with significant grants from the Napa Institute and the Charles Koch Foundation, will help Notre Dame’s new Center conduct a wide-range of activities, including supporting a speaker and debate series, funding research by ND faculty and Ph.D. students, sponsoring visiting academic fellowships, and bringing to Notre Dame leading politicians and political thinkers.
“To stay relevant, all of us need to embrace learning and new ideas so that we can create an America where nobody gets left behind," said the Menard Family. "We hope our support of Notre Dame will enhance the educational experiences of students, preparing them for future success and inspiring generational prosperity throughout communities across the Midwest to lead the way.”
The Menard Family’s generosity has already made an immediate impact, helping Notre Dame to recruit two extraordinarily promising junior faculty members to South Bend.
Dr. Christina Bambrick joined the Political Science Department in 2020. A specialist in constitutional theory and comparative constitutionalism, Dr. Bambrick will teach courses on the nature of rights, the American Constitution, and comparative constitutionalism. She is completing a book that examines the shifting understanding of what is properly public and what is properly private in the constitutions of the United States, Germany, South Africa and the European Union.
Sherif Girgis will be joining the Notre Dame Law School faculty later this year. Currently an associate at Jones Day in Washington, D.C., Girgis clerked for Justice Samuel A. Alito, Jr. of the Supreme Court of the United States and for Judge Thomas B. Griffith of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit. A Rhodes Scholar and Yale Law School graduate, Girgis is also completing a Ph.D. in philosophy from Princeton University. At Notre Dame, he will teach classes on jurisprudence, criminal law, and law and religion, as well as continue his scholarship in the philosophy of law and constitutional liberties.
The Menard Family grant will also allow the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government to expand its undergraduate fellowship program. Menard Family Tocqueville Fellows attend the Center’s lectures and debates, and receive invitations to participate in the Center’s weekend student colloquia—discussion seminars that allow students to engage in spirited conversation on topics such as “Is Capitalism Moral?” and “Free Speech, the University, and a Free Society.”
Support from the Menard family will also help the Center launch a book series with the University of Notre Dame Press on the principles and practices of constitutionalism. The series’ first book, American Statesmanship: Principles and Practices of Leadership, will be published later this year.
Additional activities of the Center supported by the Menard family include: funding for Ph.D. students, visiting academic fellowships, seminars on the American Constitution for high school teachers, and academic conferences.
In October 2021, the Center will host a two-day conference on the Reconstruction Amendments. The conference will bring leading historians, political scientists, and law professors to Notre Dame to present research on the original meanings and subsequent developments of the 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments to the United States Constitution. The proceedings will be published in the University of Notre Dame Law Review. Confirmed participants include: the Honorable Janice Rogers Brown, who served on the DC Circuit Court of Appeals and the California Supreme Court; Judge Amul Thapar (6th Circuit); Judge Jeffrey Sutton (6th Circuit); Dr. Laura Edwards (Princeton); Prof. Kurt Lash (Richmond); Dr. Michael Zuckert (Notre Dame); and Bradely Rebeiro (Notre Dame). Prof. Rebeiro, who is completing a Ph.D. in Constitutional Studies at Notre Dame with support from the Center, will be joining the faculty of Brigham Young Law School in the fall.
Vincent Phillip Muñoz, Tocqueville Associate Professor of Political Science and Concurrent Associate Professor of Law, has been appointed the Constitution Center’s founding director. “I am extraordinarily grateful to the Menard family,” Professor Muñoz remarked. “Notre Dame traditionally has been one of the leading institutions for the study of constitutionalism. The Menard family’s generosity will help us improve our program and teach the principles of the American Founding and American constitutionalism to the next generation.”
At Notre Dame, we like to say, “God, Country, Notre Dame.” Thanks to the Menard Family, we also now can say: “God, Constitution, Notre Dame!”