Mendoza School of Business

Marcus Freeman discusses faith and leadership, diversity and inclusion for Dean’s Speaker Series

Published: April 6, 2022 / Author: Brandi Wampler

coach freeman and dean cremers talking on stage

On Friday, Feb. 25, the Mendoza College of Business’ Jordan Auditorium was filled with students, staff and Notre Dame fans alike, all who were excited to hear from Marcus Freeman, the Dick Corbett Head Football Coach at the University of Notre Dame. Freeman was selected to be the featured speaker for the Mendoza Dean’s Speaker Series.

Martjin Cremers, the Martin J. Gillen Dean of the Mendoza College of Business, hosted the talk as an informal “fireside chat,” tackling a range of topics that allowed the audience to get to know Freeman while also discussing his thoughts on being a leader and offering advice for students.

When asked to share stories of growing up and the examples his parents and family set for him, Freeman described what it was like seeing his mother work three jobs, including as a janitor at night, where he and his brothers would help.

“I told the staff the other day, we worked for the janitors … that’s for me a mindset that I’ve gained from my mother in being selfless and working tirelessly to make sure that her family has food on the table.”

Cremers expressed his admiration for the emphasis Freeman puts on service for his staff, fellow coaches and athletes. He asked Freeman if he had advice for both student-athletes or students in general on how they can perform at an elite level. Freeman emphasized the value in earning a Notre Dame degree and the role that plays for him in recruiting.

coach freeman and dean cremers talking on stage“I would say, appreciate the hard work. Really, really understand it. Value the wisdom you gain in college because sometimes when you’re there, you don’t appreciate it. I didn’t … but if I could go back and do it again, I would say, ‘You know what, I’m going to value the wisdom I gain, and I’m going to work so hard because wisdom is so powerful.’ And that’s why this Notre Dame degree to me is the greatest thing for a college coach to sell because it’s so powerful,” Freeman said.

In terms of being a leader, Cremers asked about the importance of faith. Freeman provided two Bible verses: “Love your neighbor” and “To whom much is given, much is required.” Both have inspired Freeman to always treat others with respect, no matter someone’s role, and to work tirelessly when given a great opportunity, such as coaching at the University of Notre Dame.

Freeman also shared his thoughts on the importance of representation and diversity in athletics and in the workforce, in general. This includes Freeman helping develop minority coaches as a coach of a minority himself.

“I think there is power in young people seeing somebody maybe that they resemble in a position of leadership.”

When it was the audience’s turn, they asked questions about what he looks for in a recruit, how to deal with turnover in the workforce, attracting international talent to the football team, building his coaching staff and much more. At the end of the event, it was made clear that everyone could expect to see him again at Mendoza.

“This is the first time for me being in Mendoza and it ain’t going to be the last time,” he joked.To watch the full video of the Dean’s Speaker Series event, please click here.