It's not just a university where students learn from professors and move on and harbor a lifelong attachment as graduates.
It's a place of values.
It's a place inhabited not only by current students, professors and religious people of faith, but ghosts who you meet around every corner.
The University of Notre Dame was founded in 1842 and chartered as a university long before it could reasonably be classified as such. Young children, called "minims" lived in places such as St. Ed's Hall and their tuition was paid not in cash, but in "kind" - with hogs, corn, wheat, and chickens.
Ghosts such as Father Sorin roam the campus. His spirit wafts above the two lakes at night and can be felt in the Grotto. A farmer's field, to the west of the small Indiana school, and adjacent to it, was pestilential, causing the students to be felled by malaria. Father Sorin implored the man to drain his fields, but the old farmer refused and Notre Dame students continued to get malaria. Hearing that the farmer was away for a few weeks, Father Sorin sent scores of students and teachers to drain the fields. When the farmer returned, it was a fait accompli, and he later agreed to sell the land to Father Sorin, expanding the campus toward Dixie Highway.
Ghosts of Notre Dame students felled in battle - the Civil War, The Spanish American War, World War I, World War II, the Vietnam War, and the Gulf Wars and other wars - stride alongside current students on their way to class. The ghosts of students past line up and enter the stadium to cheer for the football team or gather outside the southern walls of Breen-Phillips where the old Field House used to be - where Notre Dame students cheered their basketball team and conducted Pep Rallies for Rockne's, Leahy's and Parseghian's teams. Where students sat glued to a screen that showed images of players moving in formation, dots or scribbles as other students marked the progress of the football team at away games, connected by radio to a student with earphones. The old Field House where Notre Dame students stomped in a car that brought George Wallace to campus for a speech that unsettled the young men who could only express their distaste for his racism in a fashion similar to what the Meat Squad did to students who did not make way for the Notre Dame players sufficiently quickly as they walked from the dirt-floored nether regions of the Field House up the stairs to the balcony where they sat, bullnecked and proud, as the Pep Rallies flowed like molten fire below and where student pyramids formed and fell like waves breaking upon a human shore.
Notre Dame is a place of values. While society moves on and leaves broken and discarded babies in trashbins, Notre Dame prays for their eternal souls and for the welfare of those who would remove them from this earth.
In silent protest, Notre Dame stands like a pillar of faith in a mordant sea of ephemeral values. Notre Dame is a lodestone, a true north where students, parents, Americans and citizens of the world of all faiths can come and stand for what Jesus walked the shores of Galilee and preached: Love God and one another, and combine your faith with works.
Notre Dame is summed up in the inscription on the plaque where Jesus stands before the Administration Building, "Venite ad me Omnes" - "Come to me, all of you."
We might leave Notre Dame, but it remains with us always. It is a place of the past, the present, and the future.