Joan B. Kroc's Legacy

Joan KrocMrs. Joan B. Kroc

Joan B. Kroc, widow of McDonald’s Corp. founder Ray Kroc, was passionate advocate of peace and a generous benefactor of the University of Notre Dame. From 1985 until her death in 2003, she contributed a total of $69.1 million to establish and support the Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies.

Thanks in large part to the endowment established with her gift, the Kroc Institute has grown to include a faculty of about two dozen Kroc Institute scholar-teachers, thriving academic programs at the undergraduate, master's and Ph.D. levels (including full funding for more than 400 master's students and more recently for students in the Ph.D. program in peace studies), and significant leadership in peace on the world stage.

Mrs. Kroc became acquainted with Notre Dame in the mid-1980s at an event in San Diego, California, during which the Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., then the University’s president, spoke out about the escalating nuclear arms race. In 1986, she made a $6 million gift to establish an institute at Notre Dame dedicated to peace.

Mrs. Kroc made an additional $6 million gift two years later to build the Hesburgh Center for International Studies, which houses the Kroc Institute. On the occasion of Father Hesburgh’s 86th birthday, Mrs. Kroc made a $5 million gift to create a fund to provide scholarships for Kroc master's students.

In 2003, a $50 million bequest from Mrs. Kroc – the single largest gift in the history of Notre Dame – was directed to the Kroc Institute.