Profile of the new VP for Student Affairs

Author: Elizabeth Prater

On June 1, 2021, Rev. Gerard “Gerry” J. Olinger, C.S.C., was named to serve as the vice president for student affairs, replacing former VP Erin Hoffmann Harding. While he only started serving this year, Olinger has already made large strides in his new role. He shared that he had over “100 meetings that were scheduled from the time [he] began into September.” These meetings include the voices of a myriad of people from each department of the Division of Student Affairs, each of the hall’s rectors, partners from across the university and “most importantly, student leaders.” 

Olinger emphasized that his only goal is to “listen deeply and broadly.” He shared that one of his main goals is to help lead the university through the impact of the pandemic on campus. 

He described the push to get involved on campus, especially after a year where in-person events were limited. However, Olinger also called for further reflection. 

“How do you find time to step back to reflect, to understand where we’re being called, where our gifts lie and how we’re called to use those gifts in service to others?” =

The additional considerations that will frame his work are the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion, as well as matters surrounding faith. Olinger previously served as the vice president for mission engagement and church affairs. His previous experiences have made him consider the role of faith in the formation of Notre Dame students and how the university might be a leader in “talking about issues of faith and spirituality.” 

Olinger’s commitment to Notre Dame doesn’t start with his new role, but rather, is a continuation of his dedication to the university. As a former undergraduate and graduate student, as well as a staff member of Alumni Hall, he always looks to engage with the campus community, highlighting accessibility and the importance of listening in his new role.