Fords' $6 million gift endows new Kellogg program

Author: Arts and Letters


With a $6 million gift from the family of University of Notre Dame Trustee W. Douglas Ford, the Kellogg Institute for International Studies has created the Ford Family Program in Human Development Studies and Solidarity to address the challenges of development confronted by those living in extreme poverty, particularly in sub-Saharan Africa.

“We are very excited to announce the founding of the Ford Program,” said Ted Beatty, interim director of the Kellogg Institute. “The great generosity of the Ford family has made possible a program that will institutionalize Notre Dame’s effort to promote high-quality research and teaching related to poverty and social welfare.”

The Ford Program carries forward and expands the University’s Notre Dame Millennium Development Initiative (NDMDI), which was inspired by the work of economist Jeffrey Sachs and launched thanks to the generosity of Notre Dame Trustee Ray Chambers. Through the Ford Program, Notre Dame intends to create an interdisciplinary, multicultural and transnational alliance of individuals, communities and institutions that will fight extreme poverty wherever it exists for many years to come.

“We are thankful for the altruism of the Ford family, whose extraordinary gift will help Notre Dame promote a sense of human solidarity and concern for the common good,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president. “In our steadfast commitment to assist in the easing of suffering around the world, the Ford Program will serve as yet another beacon from which Notre Dame can reach those who are most in need.”

While not confined to Africa, this alliance will begin there and build upon partnerships that Notre Dame has already forged. Partners include Uganda Martyrs University (the nation’s Catholic university), the Millennium Villages Project, and the people of two Ugandan villages – Nnindye, on the shores of Lake Victoria, and Ruhiira, near the Tanzanian border. In Nnindye and Ruhiira, disease, poverty, illiteracy and environmental degradation are major challenges.

“We are establishing this program in hopes of building on the Kellogg Institute’s strong foundation of international research on the multitude of challenges to development confronted by the poorest on our planet, especially in sub-Saharan Africa,” Ford said of his family’s gift. “Acknowledging the critical importance for human development of improved healthcare, education, basic infrastructure and micro-enterprise opportunities, it is our desire to support Notre Dame faculty across a variety of disciplines in their innovative research to help the neediest among us.”

The Ford Program will promote a strong focus on undergraduate education, interdisciplinary research and outreach that will alleviate suffering and make a measurable and sustainable difference in people’s lives.

The field of human development studies encompasses scholarly efforts to understand conditions that affect human welfare, including economic growth and development, the political and social determinants of the distribution of wealth and opportunity, politics and public policy, human rights, and human dignity.

Informed by the principles of Catholic social teaching, the Ford Program has a unique, interdisciplinary approach to the study and practice of human development, emphasizing the inherent dignity of every human person.

“The new program is comprehensive,” explains Rev. Robert Dowd, C.S.C., a Kellogg faculty fellow and assistant professor of political science who will serve as director. “Our work will focus on the human person and address the causes, as well as the consequences, of extreme poverty.”

According to Father Dowd, an Africanist, the goal of the Ford Program is “to expand in-classroom opportunities for students to learn about the challenges faced by those living in extreme poverty and to encourage research devoted to fighting such poverty beyond the classroom.”

Father Dowd added: “Our students care about the world around them, but know that good intentions are not enough. They want to use both their heads and their hearts. The Ford Program represents one more way that Notre Dame attempts to bring head and heart together.”

A 1966 Notre Dame alumnus and retired oil industry executive, Ford traveled to Uganda with his wife, Kathleen, and other family members in June 2007. With Mark Roche, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters; Rev. Timothy Scully, C.S.C., a professor of political science and Kellogg faculty fellow; and Father Dowd, they toured Nnindye, gaining a firsthand understanding of the challenges as well as the potential for lasting change that inspired the family’s gift.

Formerly chief executive of refining and marketing for BP, Ford previously served as executive vice president of the Amoco Corporation and as president of the Amoco Oil Company. He is a member of the board of directors of USG Corporation, Air Products and Chemicals Corporation and Suncor Corporation. He served on Notre Dame’s Advisory Council for Graduate Studies and Research. The Fords have four sons – W. Sean, Kevin, Bryan and Matthew, a 2001 Notre Dame graduate.

The Ford family gift is a component of the $1.5 billion “Spirit of Notre Dame” capital campaign. Announced last year, the campaign is the largest such endeavor in the history of Catholic higher education.

*Contact: * Father Dowd, 574-631-4454,

Originally published by Julie Hail Flory at on February 08, 2008.