The President’s Patio

Our new President and CEO, Mr. Sam Laganà, bring his “lifestyle” to Notre Dame

     “Rise with the Rams!”

     If you’ve been to a Rams home game in the recent past, you have likely heard the voice of Mr. Sam Laganà. Perhaps you have also heard his voice if yo’re a fan of indoor and pro beach volleyball or Davis Cup Tennis.

     But don’t let his work at the SoFi Center deceive you. The former Associate Vice-Chancellor of Pepperdine University (Malibu) brings a wealth of knowledge and experience to Notre Dame.

     On February 9th, 2021, the national search for a new ND President came to an end and Mr. Samuel Carl Laganà was selected and announced as our new President and CEO. 

     With an energized spirit, ready to tackle his new job at Notre Dame High School, Mr. Laganà said, “I like to say I don’t have a job. I have a lifestyle.” 

     In many ways, Mr. Laganà is larger than life–his 6’5″ frame towering above many on campus. Then there is that voice–described as “thunderous” by some and “booming” by others. But his warm laugh and engaging smile make him very approachable, and he invites everyone to join him in conversation.

     All aspects of his life covers his office walls and shelves: sports memorabilia, ranging from football to boxing, photos of his family, and certificates of accomplishments. Mr. Laganà has an interesting and rich personal and professional history.

     The LMU alum has a wide spectrum of knowledge, hobbies, and passions. So how do they all work together?

     Mr. Laganà spoke from his heart when he said, “I wouldn’t call them hobbies. I think they’re all connected in that… I have the opportunity of bringing people together. And I think that’s important. Whether that be bringing people together under the spirit of Notre Dame or in the spirit of Los Angeles, it’s always in a positive, kind and educational way.”

     Drawn to the concept of unification for as long as he could remember, Mr. Laganà actively tries to engage with the entire school community. 

     “I think Mr. Laganà is a breath of fresh air at Notre Dame. Coming back from the COVID-19 pandemic, I think we all needed a change. Some of us cut our hair. Others experimented with new clothing, new senses of style. ND, for its part, tried on something entirely new: a brand new president. I think that I knew I liked him when my friends and I were helping out at Freshman Orientation, and he came up and talked to us, even though we weren’t freshmen. He had barely been the president for a month at that point, but he already felt like a perfect fit [for us]. I am really excited about the change,” Sophia Magner ‘23 said.

     Mr. Laganà goes out of his way to learn everyone’s name so that he can address each person personally and genuinely.

     With strong eye contact, hand gestures, and an engaging voice, Mr. Laganà makes anyone feel not only uplifted and inspired, but welcomed and comfortable. 

     But make no mistake about it–when he is speaking in front of a crowd, Mr. Laganà is truly in his element. 

     “I remember when he spoke at our first school mass when the bishop installed him into our [Notre Dame] community. He had so much joy in his smile that morning, and when he spoke to us about our next football game, his excitement actually made me want to go,” said Keana Ravello ‘22. 

     Mr. Laganà speaks with such raw heart and emotion so effortlessly that it becomes magnetic and attracts those near, immediately making others receptive to his words, energy, and ideas.

     His responsibility to Notre Dame as President and CEO is to look at the mission and vision of our school to insure it remains as progressive and special as possible.

     He works towards nurturing an environment that provides those within the ND community with an incredible foundation, filled with positivity, inspiration and strength–one we can build off of once we graduate. Once this foundation is set, he hopes that we use it in college not only academically, but in terms of community building.

     “I want you to be able to look at someone next to you in your college classroom and be able to help them and bring them closer to you because of what you were taught in the foundation Notre Dame has laid out for you,” Mr. Laganà said softly,  a smile on his face and his hands coming together. 

     “It’s written in our Catholic tradition, our Catholic social teaching, to be hospitable and to come together in Church. All the roles in my life as a lector or Eucharistic minister, I have always liked that inclusion and [the] gathering places that fostered that.”

     Mr. Laganà, with his love for gathering and coming together, seeks to establish Notre Dame’s very own gathering place that serves as a “Mission Plaza” to all those who come and visit in the area between the gymnasium and the lecture hall. 

     “If you think about it, that area is like our front door. Like on the first day of school, you had students being dropped off, greeting one another and welcoming each other back. [Through that area] we have the opportunity to create a sense of community and belonging like no other,” Mr. Laganà said.

     He wants our front doorstep to be one that welcomes everyone back home, similar to the way he remembers his family doing for their neighbors.

    Mr. Laganà shared a core memory about his grandfather that has guided him in his everyday attitude and mentality. 

    “My grandfather grew up in southern Italy, and after he immigrated to Trenton, New Jersey, I would get to visit him and I always felt his welcoming spirit, and I saw how others effortlessly felt it, too. Everyone always gravitated towards him. He would go and work on the railroad with others of all different cultural backgrounds and the way his spirit would make that diverse group of people come together was really impactful. He turned every place he went into his very own patio,” Mr. Laganà said.

     As culture is a defining thing for all of us, Mr. Laganà expressed a deep love of travel for the sole purpose of learning about other cultures so that he could become closer with everyone he crossed paths with. He told tales of his trip to India and Italy, and how he learnied about their culture and their way of life.

     For him, it all boils down to active communication and removing the barriers between him and others in order for him to live life fully.

     “What drives me is seeing that enthusiasm in our students as they’re living life, in our faculty as they’re living life, and in our parents as they’re living life. That engagement and that spirit is what drives me,” said Mr. Laganà.

Building community, breaking down barriers, Catholic social teaching, spirit, enthusiasm, and so much more–could there be a more perfect fit for us?

Welcome to the Notre Dame family, Mr. Laganà, we are so lucky to have you!