Dr. Nathan Hatch Selected to Speak at Graduate School Commencement

Author: Mary Hendriksen

Nathan O. Hatch, president of Wake Forest University and formerly Provost and Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean of the Graduate School at the University of Notre Dame, will be the principal speaker on Saturday, May 18, at the Commencement ceremony for the University of Notre Dame Graduate School.

The Graduate School ceremony will take place at 10 a.m. at the Compton Family Ice Arena.


Dr. Hatch grew up in Columbia, S.C., where his father was a Presbyterian minister. A summa cum laude graduate of Wheaton College in Illinois, he received his master’s and doctoral degrees from Washington University in St. Louis, from which he received the Distinguished Alumnus Award in 2007. After holding post-doctoral fellowships at Harvard and Johns Hopkins universities, Dr. Hatch joined the faculty of Notre Dame in 1975.

Dr. Hatch is regularly cited as one of the most influential scholars in the study of the history of religion in America. He received national acclaim for his 1989 book, The Democratization of American Christianity, in which he examines how the rise of religious groups in the early 19th century helped shape American culture and foster democracy. The book was chosen in a survey of 2,000 historians and sociologists as one of the two most important books in the study of American religion. He is also the author or editor of seven additional books on American history.

Dr. Hatch served as Notre Dame’s Director of Graduate Studies in history for three years before assuming various administrative positions in the College of Arts and Letters. He served as the university’s Vice President for Graduate Studies and Research and Dean of the Graduate School from 1989 to 1996, when he was named Notre Dame’s provost.

Dr. Hatch became Wake Forest’s 13th president on July 1, 2005. As president, he oversees the undergraduate college, the graduate school, and schools of business, divinity, law, and medicine.

In his seven years as Wake Forest’s leader, Dr. Hatch has worked to clarify that university’s mission and strategic plan, assemble a distinguished and cohesive team of leaders, and make significant realignments in business and medicine. He has also undertaken an initiative to make standardized tests optional for undergraduate applicants and, throughout the university, worked to develop new programs to educate the whole person.

Dr. Hatch is an active leader in American higher education and in local and community affairs, both in South Bend and Winston-Salem. He served on the board of the American Council on Education and is currently chair of the Division I Board of Directors of the NCAA. He is the immediate past chair of the board of directors of the National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities.

The Graduate School’s Commencement ceremony will recognize new doctoral and master’s degree recipients. Also honored at the ceremony will be the recipient of the Distinguished Graduate Alumnus Award, the Rev. James A. Burns, C.S.C. Faculty Award, the 2013 Director of Graduate Studies, and a Shaheen Award winner from each of the Graduate School’s four divisions.