Fr. William “Bill” Dailey, C.S.C., is a Holy Cross priest and the rector of Pangborn Hall. Fr. Dailey is currently teaching an undergraduate course titled “Constitutional Criminal Law & Procedure” for the Constitutional Studies minor. According to Fr. Dailey, the goal of this course is to “study significant issues in 4th, 5th, 6th and 8th Amendment law while situating them within broader philosophical contexts.” The class focuses on contemporary issues of criminal justice in the United States and their basis in American history.
Noting that teaching law students and teaching undergraduate students are “different pleasures,” both of which he enjoys equally, Fr. Dailey said that teaching undergraduates is particularly fun because no student is going to immediately take the bar. Thus, he can take more time to “introduce people to the fundamental concepts, the big cases, the landmark cases, update them to the extent they've changed, and then also have a chance to contextualize them a little bit more than I would be able to do if I were teaching this course as a law course,” he said.
As a former resident of Pangborn Hall, Fr. Dailey jokes, “In thirty years, I’ve only moved 3 feet"— the distance from his room as an undergrad in 1990 to his current office as rector. However, for having traveled such a short distance, Fr. Dailey has accomplished a great deal over the course of his career.
After graduating from the University of Notre Dame in 1994, Fr. Dailey went on to work as a professor and administrator at the University of Portland, where he served until the Congregation of Holy Cross requested that he pursue a graduate degree. For Fr. Dailey, law school was the obvious choice. From a young age, Fr. Dailey and his father had discussed politics and legal issues. Their discussions and debates, which date back to presidential campaigns of Jimmy Carter and Gerald Ford, bred in him a passion for politics and the law.
After graduating from Columbia Law School, Fr. Dailey clerked for Judge Diarmuid F. O’Scannlain of the United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit. Reflecting on how he remains very close to Judge O’Scannlain to this day, Fr. Dailey remarked, “Clerkships tend to make you part of a family and I've certainly become a part of his.”
Although admittance into a state bar is not required to clerk for a federal judge, Fr. Dailey took and passed the New York State Bar Exam and the Uniform Bar Exam. After completing his clerkship, Fr. Dailey moved to Washington, D.C., where he joined a private practice.
In 2009, Fr. Dailey returned to higher education, first as a scholar-in-residence at Columbia University Law School and then as a lecturer in law and associate professor of law at Notre Dame Law School.
In 2016, Fr. Dailey moved to Ireland to direct the Notre Dame Newman Center for Faith and Reason. He remained there until 2020, when he returned to South Bend to take a break from teaching and begin writing his book, which is on the topic of faith and reason. Although he planned to focus on being a rector and writing his book, Fr. Dailey was convinced by Phillip Muñoz, director of the Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, to return to teaching.
Fr. Dailey thoroughly enjoys teaching and hopes to continue to do so as he makes progress on his book. In the meantime, he can be found in Pangborn Hall where he will continue to serve as rector of the men of the “Cinderblock Palace”.
This article was contributed by CCCG Writing Fellow Luca Fanucchi.