Mendoza School of Business

Mendoza’s mark on the Milani family

Author: Ken Milani, professor of accountancy

Ken MilaniWhile summarizing almost 50 years as a member of the Mendoza faculty and its impact on the Milani family, three letters kept surfacing: CSC, which represent the Compassion, Support and Commitment displayed by Mendoza’s faculty, staff and students as they helped my family and me through some very difficult trials.


In December of 1983, my son, Adam, was severely injured in a high school hockey game.  Spinal cord damage left him paralyzed from the chest down. Compassion flowed in the form of prayers, cards, meals and other actions while Adam was hospitalized. The acts of compassion continued when Adam returned home in a wheelchair in April of 1984.

Almost 37 years later, I survived a stroke in August of 2020. Again, Mendoza folks (and others) responded with Masses, meals and messages that reflected their care and concern. As I recuperated and did rehabilitation at Holy Cross Village, people reached out to my family and me in a variety of ways.


Adam’s injury required major modifications to our home, such as entrance ramps, a roll-in shower and other alterations that would assist Adam’s activities of daily living. Jim Wittenbach and others launched a fundraising effort that brought in over $250,000. The money was used to buy a specially equipped van, handle the major modifications described and provide a financial “safety net” for Adam as he continued his education at Notre Dame and Duke’s Law School. When Adam graduated from Duke, the fund was nearly depleted.

As a result of the stroke, I was unable to teach in the fall semester of 2020. Colleagues stepped in to handle my classes and Mendoza administrators facilitated the FMLA process.

Others kept in constant contact with me. Juan Rivera, an emeritus professor, engaged me in a writing project that resulted in three published articles.


Several Mendoza folks checked in on Adam regularly during his recuperation, his four years at Notre Dame and while he was at Duke. Their willingness to stay in touch displayed their willingness to “be there” after the cards were sent, the meals were served and the Masses were said. It’s hard to describe the feelings of affirmation and love generated by these acts.

When I returned home and to the Notre Dame campus in November of 2020, Mendoza staff and faculty stepped up to help my re-entry and followed up with phone calls  and visits to assure that the return to “normal” life was moving along.

As I conclude this reflection for “Making Your Mark,” it is very apparent to me that the compassion, support and commitment that my family and I experienced personally is displayed by the Mendoza faculty and staff as they interact with students and others while living out Matthew 11:28, which states, “Come to me all of you who are tired from carrying your heavy loads, and I will give you rest.” A compassionate approach to those who are hurting is clearly part of the Mendoza mission. Strong support in the form of advising, counseling and other helpful actions are a hallmark of Mendoza’s unique contribution to the Notre Dame campus. Most importantly, the commitment to educate the “mind and the heart,” which is almost taken for granted, at times, continues in many, many ways.

Ken Milani joined the Accountancy Department at Notre Dame in 1972. That year he co-founded the Tax Assistance Program (TAP) to assist low-income and disabled South Bend and Mishawaka residents with their federal and state taxes.

Topics: Faculty