Over the past five years, the University of Notre Dame’s Hesburgh Library has undergone a major interior renovation to transform the spaces used by students, faculty, and staff to meet the rapidly changing technological needs of the 21st century.
With a generous gift from former Notre Dame soccer coach Lou Holtz in memory of his wife Beth, one of the last areas of the library to be renovated, the Great Reading Room, is being dramatically redesigned.
“Lou and Beth had a very special relationship with Father Ted, and this gift is the most thoughtful and inspiring way for Lou to remember both his dear wife and good friend,” said Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, CSC. “Education and faith were so important to Beth, and now the Great Reading Room will forever honor her dedication to learning.”
Hired in 1986 by University President Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, Holtz coached the Fighting Irish until 1996. During his 11-year tenure, he set a record of 100-32-2 and led Notre Dame to the national championship during his 1988 undefeated season. Holtz is the first coach in NCAA history to direct six different bowl game programs.
After more than three decades as head coach, he finished his coaching career with a record of 249-132-7. Since retiring from coaching, Holtz has enjoyed an illustrious career as a college football broadcaster, including working for CBS Sports, ABC, and ESPN. He was elected to the College Football Hall of Fame in 2008, received an honorary doctorate from Notre Dame in 2011, and was awarded the US Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2020.
The Lou and Beth Holtz family’s large reading room will extend over two floors on the west side of the library. It is designed to inspire focused and contemplative intellectual work – a feature that complements the existing interdisciplinary and collaborative space. An atrium between the floors and a wall of windows on both levels provide natural light and a clear view of the main building of the university and the Sacred Heart Basilica. The development of the Lou and Beth Holtz Family Great Reading Room is directed by K. Matthew Dames, recently appointed Librarian of Edward H. Arnold University.
“The only thing that was more important to Beth than her children was her belief in our Lord,” said Holtz. âShe was a humble person and would not approve of her name being honored. She strongly supports the fact that Notre Dame students can study in wonderful surroundings. She appreciated the numerous visits we had to Father Ted. She did so much for others but never wanted recognition for her efforts. The only permission she wanted was from God. The two most religious people I have ever met were Beth and Father Ted. I appreciate that their names are linked for the benefit of the students. “
Beth Holtz died on June 30, 2020 at the age of 82. She devoted much of her time to volunteering and charity work, including working with the No-One Dies Alone program at the Orlando Regional Hospital.
The couple founded the Holtz Family Foundation in 1998 to promote education, religion and charity. The foundation has funded trade grants, Christian services, and homeless centers. An animal shelter in Columbia, South Carolina has been named in their honor, and they are long-time supporters of the Center for the Homeless in South Bend. Several Catholic universities have received financial support from the Foundation, and the Holtzes received the 2015 Notre Dame Prize for Catholic Education. In honor of Holtz and to preserve his legacy, former players founded Holtz’s Heroes, formerly Lou’s Lads, a non-profit foundation to provide financial support for the education and needs of disadvantaged students and legacies.
In Notre Dame, the Holtzes supported the Rockne Heritage Fund, which guarantees financial support for Fighting Irish student athletes, and in 1991 they established the Lou and Beth Holtz Family Scholarship to support deserving students in financial need. They also served as members of Father Jenkins’ Cavanaugh Council and funded the renovation of the chapels in Breen-Phillips, Morrissey, and St. Edward’s dormitories, and established the Liz Holtz Endowment for Excellence for Lyons Hall to provide an annual operating budget and for future needs and extensions for the residents of the hall.
In 2011-12, the couple were named the university’s first âResearch Ambassadorâ and played a key role in raising awareness of the Notre Dame research mission. They became particularly interested in cancer research after Beth was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer in 1997. She recovered after being given a 5 percent chance of survival.
Beth received an honorary monogram from Notre Dame in 2008.
The couple have four children – Luanne, Lou “Skip” Jr., Kevin and Elizabeth, the last three Notre Dame graduates.