Father Jenkins at Oxford: 800 Years of Getting It Right

Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., Notre Dame’s president, was invited back to Oxford University, where he earned his doctoral degree in philosophy, to deliver a lecture titled “The Idea of a University Today.” He said, in part: “It is important to remind ourselves that universities are among the most enduring of humankind’s institutions. Oxford was founded roughly 800 years ago and continues to thrive today.... It is becoming more or less commonplace to hear that universities like Oxford and Notre Dame are soon to be disrupted by digital technology that, in its various manifestations, will create more efficient, less expensive, and more creative institutions of learning.... It would be a mistake, I think, for those of us in traditional universities to smugly dismiss this suggestion. Digital technology has changed and will continue to change the ways in which we interact with one another, learn, gather information, form communities, and do business.... Could the disruption be even more radical? Could universities be replaced by online communities in which instruction is exclusively delivered digitally, tests are taken and papers submitted online, assessment made at a distance?... I count myself a skeptic about these prophecies of radical disruption.”