Vision and objects
We believe the role of a modern Catholic university is much more than the creation and transmission of knowledge. It’s something much deeper. We believe in the power of education to change lives, form good citizens, and help people be the best version of themselves.
Our students are our number one priority. We take great pride in educating the whole person, the academic, social, physical and spiritual dimensions and are deeply committed to supporting our students. In doing so, we encourage our students to thrive, and make important contributions to our communities.
We also encourage and support our staff in the same way – to ensure each of them are not just employees of Notre Dame, but are part of a wider community with the opportunity to make a difference.
We are committed to the harmony of faith and reason, which underpins our loyalty to the Church, academic life and service to the community.
Notre Dame has adopted a set of principles which demonstrate how we carry out our mission. The guiding principles are:
- Authentic Catholicity
- Excellence in academic endeavours
- Active community engagement
- Responsible stewardship
Our Objects are at the heart of all we do as a Catholic university.
These founding Objects reflect our traditions and practices to welcome students of all faiths and beliefs from around the world.
Our Objects are:
- the provision of university education, within a context of Catholic faith and values; and
- the provision of an excellent standard of:
- teaching, scholarship and research;
- training for the professions; and
- pastoral care for its students.
Our Objects have guided our growth and development from a small but enthusiastic intake of just 50 postgraduate education students on our Fremantle Campus in 1992 – to today’s vibrant community of around 12,000 students across all three campuses.
The Notre Dame crest
Notes written by Fr. John Neill op Trustee of the University 1990-2009
- The University’s central symbol is an open book. It is a symbol common to many universities. It represents the tradition of research and teaching. It speaks of inherited wisdom and its contemporary expression.
- What makes this symbolic book distinctive is that it is The Bible. It bears witness to the Judeo-Christian tradition.
- Specifically, it is open at the beginning of the Gospel of John and quotes - in Latin - the first words of the Prologue: “In principio erat Verbum (In the beginning was the Word).” The Latin text was chosen as it recalls the common international language of the medieval universities, which arose out of “the Catholic mind of Europe”.
- At one level these words were chosen because they remind us that everything that exists begins as an “idea”, and that ideas find expression in symbols: spoken and written words as well as mathematical, scientific and musical terms.
- But John's hearers would have noticed the echo of the opening of the Book of Genesis: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth”.
- As it is used by the Gospel writer, the text goes on to proclaim that Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ, is the very “Word” of God - the Divine, Eternal Idea, through whom all was made in the beginning and who now offers redemption, reconciliation and hope to creation.
- In choosing this text, the University proclaims that all its searching for truth and beauty has as its essential reference point the Divine, Eternal Word become man: Jesus Christ.
- The “waves” symbol below the book represents both the port of Fremantle where the University began and also Australia, a nation with no land boundary with any neighbour. As our National Anthem puts it: we are “girt by sea”. As it has grown, the University is now “girt by sea” at Broome and by the waters of the Pacific Ocean.
- The star above the book is expressly the seven-point Federation star. From the beginning the University presented itself as Notre Dame Australia.
- The dark “Oxford” blue badge, which frames these three symbols, is linked to the circle bearing the University's name by means of a light “Cambridge” blue Greek cross.
How does Notre Dame define itself as a Catholic university?
- Through our Objects, as set out in The University of Notre Dame Australia Act, 1989.
- Through our canonical statute and diocesan agreements.
- Through our governance structures, and especially through the role of our Trustees.
- Through our Statutes and Rules.
- Through particular activities and programs directly supporting of the role and work of the Church and its agencies.
- Through our role as a centre for Christian intellectual life.
- Through our international Catholic university relationships, especially with the University of Notre Dame in the United States.
- Through our physical facilities and images.
Strategies and steps to achieve our Objects as a Catholic university
- Having Schools of Philosophy & Theology which are central to the University's academic mission, offering a compulsory Core Curriculum for all students, comprising units in philosophy, theology and ethics; being leading catalysts in developing and maintaining the University as a centre for Christian intellectual life.
- Recruiting 'for mission': selecting students and staff to build a Christian community which supports the Objects of the University.
- Providing an academic development program in theology to be available to all staff, and encouraging lecturers to integrate discussion on ethical and faith issues into the curriculum in all Schools.
- Supporting social justice education: through encouraging a spirit of volunteering, special curriculum options, 'service-learning' programs and 'service' internships, with a special focus on advancing First Nations peoples.
- Encouraging a sense of community by actively supporting the Student Association and student clubs; promoting student involvement in sport, recreation, cultural activities and social life; encouraging social interaction and team building among staff.
- Investing in an active Campus Ministry, and special religious initiatives, underpinning and promoting spiritual and liturgical life on and off campus for staff and students.
- Emphasising pastoral care as central to university life and, in so doing, facilitating a university culture.
- Being openly and unequivocally Catholic. Welcoming people of all faiths (and none at all) into the Notre Dame community; being clear about and proclaiming Notre Dame's Christian faith underpinnings, and our integral membership of the Catholic Church.
- Providing excellent standards of teaching, scholarship, research and professional training, and understanding that such excellence is fundamental to the very idea of a Catholic university.
- Adopting policies which maximise graduation rates and the successful entry of alumni into their vocation or profession of choice.
Mother of Jesus and our Mother,
We ask you to guide our University.
Mary, as you cared for Jesus,
Show a loving care for us,
As we expand our minds in study and research,
As we open our hearts to future possibilities,
And extend our hands to those who are in need.
Mary, Seat of Wisdom,
Teach us to care for the land and the people
Of this country of the Southern Cross.
In this academic community dedicated to you,
Help us find new yet faithful ways
Of bringing the message of Jesus to Australia
And to those who share this region of the earth with us.