Nanovics make leadership gift for social sciences building at Notre Dame

Author: Dennis Brown

The University seal as seen from Notre Dame Avenue

Robert S. and Elizabeth Nanovic of North Yarmouth, Maine, have made a leadership gift to the University of Notre Dame for the construction of a new social sciences building in the College of Arts and Letters.

Nanovic Hall will be built on Notre Dame Avenue, south of the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, and will house the Departments of Economics, Political Science and Sociology. Construction is expected to begin in the spring of 2015 and be completed by August 2017, prior to the start of the academic year.

“This gift from Bob and Liz is the latest manifestation of their extraordinary commitment to Notre Dame through the years,” said Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., the University’s president. “We are ever grateful for their vision, their tremendous generosity and their friendship.”

John T. McGreevy, I.A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of Arts and Letters, added: “All of our social science departments have made great progress over the past decade, but the faculty and students remain scattered across the campus, limiting our ability for collaborative projects and faculty-student contact. With this transformative gift, the Nanovics have ended much of this fragmentation.”

Nanovic Hall will include classrooms, laboratory spaces and faculty offices that will enable multidisciplinary interaction between faculty, undergraduate students and graduate students. This initiative will not only enhance and inspire collaboration across the three departments, but also with the Nanovic Institute for European Studies and the other international institutes at Notre Dame — Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, Kellogg Institute for International Studies, Liu Institute for Asia and Asian Studies and Keough-Naughton Institute for Irish Studies — as well as the Notre Dame Law School and Mendoza College of Business.

“The Nanovics’ newest gift is as visionary as it is generous,” Notre Dame Provost Thomas G. Burish said. “It will help strengthen not only the social science departments which will be housed in Nanovic Hall, but also will advance our overall impact as a university. This new facility will better position us to explore, understand and address, often in partnership with faculty and students in other disciplines and at other institutions, fundamental questions and issues that confront society.”

Robert S. and Elizabeth Nanovic Robert S. and Elizabeth Nanovic

A 1954 Notre Dame graduate, Robert Nanovic earned a master of business administration degree from Lehigh University in 1960. Now retired from a career as an investment counselor, he has been a member of the advisory council for Notre Dame’s College of Arts and Letters since 1993. His wife, the former Elizabeth Edney, is a graduate of Hofstra University.

Established in 1993 with a previous gift from the Nanovics, the Nanovic Institute is committed to enriching the intellectual culture of Notre Dame by creating an integrated, interdisciplinary home for students and faculty to explore the evolving ideas, cultures, beliefs and institutions that shape Europe today.

More than 100 Notre Dame faculty members from a dozen departments hold appointments as Nanovic fellows. The institute organizes conferences, seminars and lectures by internationally recognized scholars and government officials. Other institute initiatives include a visiting scholars program, research grants for faculty, graduate students and undergraduates, language training and leadership formation.

The Nanovics have also established the Nicholas S. Nanovic Scholarship Fund, named in honor of Robert Nanovic’s father, and they are generous supporters of the President’s Circle and are active in the Badin Guild.

“Since the 1920s, members of the Nanovic family have been attending the University of Notre Dame,” Robert Nanovic said. “Nearly two dozen Nanovics have enjoyed the educational, religious and cultural experience of this great University. Liz and I wanted to express our gratitude for the wonderful relationship our family has shared with Notre Dame over these many years and to contribute to the University’s mission for future generations.”

The Department of Sociology at Notre Dame has signature strengths in cultural sociology, the sociology of education, and social movements and the sociology of religion. The department features undergraduate and graduate programs, research opportunities that cut across disciplinary boundaries, and award-winning faculty.

Economics at Notre Dame includes faculty specialists in the areas of microeconomics and macroeconomics theory, econometrics, and labor, monetary, international, development and environmental economics. The department stresses research that contributes to important debates on economic, social and political problems facing humanity. Economics is home to a strong graduate program, a research-intensive undergraduate program, the new major in International Economics, and a new minor in Business Economics. A recent external review of the department concluded that its rapid and visible advancement over the past decade is unprecedented in the profession.

The Department of Political Science has subfields that range from American politics to international relations. In addition to traditional strengths in Latin American politics and political theory, where it is ranked amongst the best in the world, the department has increasingly become the home to top scholars in a variety of fields. A thriving undergraduate major offers ample opportunities for student research and for real-world experience via the Washington Program and the Hesburgh Program in Public Service. Department faculty and graduate students help build intellectual community and enrich campus institutes such as Kellogg, Kroc and Nanovic, and the Rooney Center for the Study of American Democracy.

Originally published by Dennis Brown at on September 21, 2013.