Roche served as the I. A. O’Shaughnessy Dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame from 1997 to 2008. Previously, he had served as Chairperson of the Department of German and Russian Languages and Literatures at the University of Notre Dame during 1996–97 and as Chairperson of the Department of Germanic Languages and Literatures at the Ohio State University from 1991 to 1996.

The College of Arts and Letters is Notre Dame’s oldest and largest college, encompassing the humanities, the social sciences, and the arts. It houses 20 departments, as well as multiple centers and programs, and includes more than 500 faculty lines, as well as more than 125 staff positions. It offers more than 50% of the University’s undergraduate credit hours and enrolls approximately 3,000 undergraduate majors and 750 graduate students.

Roche’s responsibilities encompassed overall vision and strategic planning; fundraising and external representation and advocacy; major budgetary priorities and decisions; the appointment and review of associate deans and chairs; departmental reviews and evaluations; the hiring of tenured faculty members, including external recruitment to full professorships and endowed chairs; tenure and promotion decisions, including renewal appointments; and leadership development within the college, including playing a broadly pastoral and community-building role.

Some additional details on Roche’s tenure as dean are available in the documents below. Of particular interest may be the inaugural address from 1997 (“Notre Dame’s Triadic Identity”) and the comprehensive dean’s report of 2008, which provides an overview from 1997 to 2008. For a brief article on his tenure as dean see Arts and Letters Reaches New Heights with Roche as Dean. For an interview after his work as dean had been completed, see Lessons from the Dean’s Desk.

Dean’s Addresses and Reports

Dean Roche’s annual addresses on the state of the college were eventually replaced by faculty meetings, held three times per year, at which Dean Roche spoke informally for 20 to 30 minutes, after which there were 30 to 40 minutes for open discussion. Published information on the progress of the college was subsequently moved to the reports and the less formal updates as well as other outlets, such as the Web.

Reference Guide for Arts and Letters Chairpersons and Faculty

This reference guide, designed to articulate both ideals and policies, was introduced in August 1996 and reworked each year, through 2007.

Reference Guide 2007–08

The guide has been updated by Roche’s successor, John McGreevy; the current version is available at

Recent Service

Since stepping down as dean, Roche has continued to be active in service. He recently chaired a committee to reconfigure how Notre Dame organizes its Graduate School and its allocation of graduate funding, and within German he recently initiated a project entitled Why Study German?. He is currently serving on the Core Curriculum Review Committee and chairing the Catholic Mission Focus Group.

Arts and Letters Notre Dame