As a distinguished educator, theologian, and author, Father Theodore Martin Hesburgh, C.S.C., has rendered a lifetime of outstanding service to the United States and its citizens. In positions of extraordinary responsibility in education and in public service, Father Hesburgh has exemplified, through his accomplishments in the national interest and manner of achievement, the ideals of West Point expressed in the motto, “Duty, Honor, Country.”
As Executive Vice-President and President of the University of Notre Dame for over thirty years, Father Hesburgh has developed and executed programs in liberal arts education that have had a profound influence not only at Notre Dame but throughout the national community of colleges and universities. During the difficult years of United States involvement in Vietnam, Father Hesburgh’s wise and resolute leadership and his ecumenical approach to problems strengthened and enhanced the role of higher education in American society, and reestablished the credibility of our centers of higher learning. Throughout his active career as President of Notre Dame, as a lecturer and prolific author of books and articles, Father Hesburgh has addressed the major social problems of our times. In his writings and speeches, he has demonstrated the moral courage to face difficult issues and a degree of personal integrity and ethical standards that have markedly influenced opinion and gained for him the enduring respect of men and women representing the complete spectrum of religious and political thought.
Father Hesburgh’s public service has spanned over thirty years. As an advisor to six Presidents and as a member and chairman of an unusually wide variety of important government commissions and committees, he has brought to our nation a vision of the essential goodness of humanity, a dynamic concern for the rights of people all over the world, and an example of service to others.
Through his long and selfless service to his country and his fellow man, Father Hesburgh has made a significant and lasting contribution to the security and welfare of the United States. His willing response to the nation’s recurring call to duty and his self-initiated service symbolize the values expressed in the motto of West Point. Accordingly, the Association of Graduates of the United States Military Academy hereby presents the 1980 Sylvanus Thayer Award to Theodore Martin Hesburgh.