Honoring Mom

For Jean Marie Hofstetter ’76, some of her earliest memories include time spent at Notre Dame.

“When I was four and my sister was three, I have recollections of my mom bringing us down on the train to her reunion,” she said. “The nuns babysat us, while my mom went to her reunion. I still remember smelling incense in the chapel.”

Her mother, a 1946 Notre Dame graduate, helped her build a lifelong relationship with Notre Dame community. One of eight children raised in the Catholic Church, Jean Marie always felt a commitment to serving her community. Growing up in Long Island, New York, she had a high school teacher who was a Notre Dame graduate, and a Notre Dame recruitment sister visited her school. She made her choice to attend her mother’s alma mater.

At Notre Dame, she served in student government and worked as an intern teaching local students. After spending 40 years as an educator and administrator, she returned to the School of Education and works with student interns. On her desk sits a picture of Jean Marie as a Notre Dame senior and student intern. Just outside her office, a plaque recognizing the winners of the Dr. Lavinia Wegner Education Award bears her name as the 1976 recipient.

While her annual gifts to Notre Dame have gone to the School of Education, Jean Marie recently decided to make a special gift to support student-athletes. She knows how athletics can instill skills and experiences that will take you beyond your sport.

“My mom was a rock star athlete. She was head of the student athletic association back then. My mom was a leader and a doer,” she said. “When my mother passed, we asked friends and family to donate money toward a scholarship.”

Leaving a Legacy

When Janice Davis ’92 decided to return to school to pursue her degree, only one college stood out for her. As a married mother of a 15-year-old boy and a full-time professional, she enrolled in the Weekend College for a bachelor’s degree in communication arts.  

“It was a bit of an inspiration for my son to see how hard I was working and how dedicated I was. For a child to see their parent in that role, they think, ‘Well, gee, I’m not the only one who has to go to school,’” she said. “I just had such a great experience there. It was just such a great fit.”  

Her experience as a student transformed her life. It also laid the foundation for her continued support of the university as a donor and volunteer. After years of loyal giving to the Notre Dame Fund, she got an invitation to join the Montrose Society, whose members commit to make legacy gifts to the University. Her heart of service led her to volunteer on the Legacy Giving Committee, recruiting others to consider legacy giving. 

“There are so many people out who there have the brains and the stick-to-itiveness to make it,” she said. “I just think that if you have any capacity to give, then pay it forward to try to give other people some of the same chances you had.”  

Janice and her husband recently decided to invest in the growing success of NDMU’s new art therapy program – Maryland’s first such bachelor’s and master’s degree program. Finding a new way to support Notre Dame’s students deepened her connection to the University’s mission.  “I know the value of art and arts education. It humanizes people and opens so many doors,” she said. “It’s a window or a path into people who are suffering in a lot of ways. I think this program will help people to find those paths.” 

‘My Contribution to the World’

Jan Kilar ’03 and her husband Dennis have always been generous. They have given to various causes over the years, but during the COVID pandemic, they re-evaluated their priorities. 

“We asked ourselves, ‘Where is our money going to do the most amount of good, giving other people the opportunities that were given to us?’” she said. “Notre Dame rose to the top for me because of the experiences that I had there. Giving other people the opportunities that were afforded to us became very important.” 

When Jan returned to school for a bachelor’s degree in business, she was married and working a job that required a lot of travel. Notre Dame’s Weekend College format worked well because she could take her classes and study in her spare time. She started with one class and liked it so much that she continued taking one class per semester until she completed her degree. 

“It broadened me as a person because it took me out of my workaday world and exposed me to adults from other industries. You got the feeling that the instructors embraced what you were trying to do,” she said.  “I met three other women there who were pretty much in the same boat – they were finishing their education. I became good friends with them and in fact, I still see them today. That’s what I love about Notre Dame.” 

For Jan and her husband, making a lasting investment meant helping young women realize their dreams with an opportunity to get a great education infused with Notre Dame’s core values. The scholarship they established ensures eligibility to Women’s College students for up to four years. They also joined the Montrose Society to leave a legacy gift to NDMU.

“That is my contribution to the world. For us, the students are our future,” she said. “If we could give them the opportunity to have the same experience that I had, then hopefully, we can make a difference.”