Anthony DePalma | The New York Times
The Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, the scrappy former president of the University of Notre Dame who stood up to both the White House and the Vatican as he transformed Catholic higher education in America and raised a powerful moral voice in national affairs, died late Thursday. He was 97.
The university confirmed his death in a statement on its website, saying that he had died just before midnight at Holy Cross House adjacent to the university, in South Bend, Ind. It did not give a cause of death.
As an adviser to presidents, special envoy to popes, theologian, author, educator and activist, Father Hesburgh was considered the most influential priest in America for decades. In 1986, when he retired after a record 35 years as president of Notre Dame, a survey of 485 university presidents named him the most effective college president in the country.