University of Notre Dame | January 19, 2015
Land O’Lakes is an area known for its environmental richness and for historical decisions which have affected the life of the University and American society.
Notre Dame's College of Science runs the Environmental Research Center in northern Wisconsin—also known as UNDERC or, more commonly, as Land O’Lakes. This area encompasses 7,000 acres of wilderness along the border of Wisconsin and Michigan’s Upper Peninsula and serves as the home of an undergraduate research program and year-round grant studies.
But Land O’Lakes is also famous to the University of Notre Dame for the historical decisions made there under the leadership of Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C. In July 1959, the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights, headed by Father Hesburgh, met at Land O’Lakes—after a fact-finding mission throughout the South. It was the end of the commission’s first two years of existence, Hesburgh recalls, and President Eisenhower needed a report with definite recommendations. In addition to Hesburgh, the seven-person commission contained a mix of Republicans and Democrats, northerners and southerners. Hesburgh relishes telling the story of how the group spent a couple of days fishing at Land O’Lakes without engaging civil rights issues at all.