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Two Notre Dame Alumni Among Ambassadorial Nominees

Author: Arts and Letters

When the White House announced a dozen ambassadorial nominees Wednesday, the country was presented with a variegated and accomplished group. These were men and women distinguished in their careers and backgrounds, and with little else conspicuous in common, but the Notre Dame family noticed at least one likeness between two of them.

Miguel H. Diaz, the nominee for ambassador to the Holy See, and former Indiana Rep. Timothy J. Roemer, are both alumni of the University of Notre Dame’s Graduate School.

Diaz, a professor of theology at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., earned master’s and doctoral degrees from Notre Dame in 1992 and 2000, respectively. His theological studies principally concerned the works of the German theologian Karl Rahner and Virgilio P. Elizondo, professor of pastoral and Hispanic theology at Notre Dame, and his doctoral thesis eventually became widely acclaimed and award-winning book, %{font-style: italic} On Being Human: U.S. Hispanic and Rahnerian Perspectives. %

Ebullient when he heard of the Diaz nomination, Father Elizondo pronounced it “a wonderful moment for Miguel, for Hispanic theology, for Hispanic people in general and certainly for all of us at Notre Dame. Miguel is a brilliant theologian who is also a humble man with his feet on the ground.”

Father Elizondo’s praise for his student, friend and colleague was echoed by Timothy Matovina, professor of theology and director of Notre Dame’s Cushwa Center for the Study of American Catholicism. “Among his friends and colleagues,” Matovina said, “Miguel is highly regarded as a systematic theologian, a Latino Catholic leader, a dedicated husband and father, and a human being who lives for others.”

Roemer, now president of the Center for National Policy ( CNP ) in Washington, D.C., earned master’s and doctoral degrees in political science from Notre Dame in 1981 and 1985, respectively. Elected in 1990 to represent Indiana’s 3rd Congressional District, he served six terms, and later was a member of the 9/11 Commission.

Peri Arnold, professor of political science at Notre Dame, taught many of the courses Roemer took as a graduate student and directed his doctoral dissertation, “The Senior Executive Service: Retirement and Public Personnel Policy.”

“As a graduate student in political science Tim Roemer was most interested in ways to improve government,” Arnold said. “That focus is illustrated by his dissertation research examining the incentives guiding the career paths of high level civil servants in the federal government. Upon completing his Ph.D., Tim used his education to pursue public leadership roles rather than an academic career. His subsequent accomplishments as a thoughtful statesman in Congress and then an engaged member of the 9/11 Commission give me confidence that he will ably fill the very sensitive post of U.S. ambassador to India.”

A native of South Bend, Roemer was raised in the neighborhood of the Notre Dame campus. His parents, James and Mary Ann Roemer, both worked at the University for many years.

Originally published by Michael O. Garvey at on May 29, 2009.