Oblak resigns amid NDNU noise dispute

Jack Oblak, the embattled Notre Dame de Namur University president, announced his intent to resign Thursday, less than three months after student, teacher and faculty groups publicly blasted him and questioned his leadership.

Oblak, whose resignation is effective Dec. 31, was at the forefront of an increasingly tense discussion between the private university and the community this year over the sound and disturbances from Koret Field, Notre Dame’s recently renovated lacrosse field.

Residents claimed in April that the whistles, grunts and cheers during games and practices were overwhelming for nearby neighborhoods.

Oblak had said he was working to make sure to enforce field rules, including restrictions on air-horn and alcohol use at sporting events. But Councilmember Coralin Feierbach, who was the Belmont mayor this year when tensions came to a head, said that Oblak’s focus on athletics has drawn funding and attention away from the rest of the school and put students in the middle of the battle over the field.

On Oct. 16, Notre Dame’s faculty senate voted to ask for Oblak’s resignation while the student senate passed a vote of no confidence in his leadership. Days later, the university’s staff joined them in their concern.

“I think [the resignation is] good for the university. It’s healthy that this happened because he didn’t have the confidence of the teachers and the students,” Feierbach said.

Feierbach went on to say that without Oblak — who she blamed in the past for aggravating the situation between the city and university — the Koret Field issue has a better chance of being resolved.

The resignation comes as NDNU and Belmont officials were waiting for the report of the 15-member Special Trustee Committee formed Oct. 24 to investigate university concerns about Oblak.

University spokesman Richard Rossi said the school had no comments on the resignation, but did acknowledge the recent tension and did not rule them out as a factor in Oblak’s decision.

According to a release from the university, Oblak is returning to the East Coast with his family. Before coming to Belmont in 2000, he spent 21 years at Ithaca College in Ithaca, N.Y.

Rossi said that there have been no indications that Cressey Nakagawa, chair of the board of trustees — who was asked to resign along with Oblak — will step down.

jgoldman@examiner.com

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