Joseph Kernan


Adjunct Faculty




Joseph (Joe) became the 48th Governor of Indiana on September 13, 2003 upon the death of Frank O'Bannon. Prior to becoming the governor, he served as the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and then as the 45th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana.

Joe Kernan graduated from St. Joseph's High School in South Bend, Indiana. He graduated in 1968 with a degree in Government from the University of Notre Dame, where he was a resident of Stanford Hall.

Kernan entered the United States Navy in 1969 and served as a Naval Flight Officer aboard the carrier USS Kitty Hawk. In May 1972, Kernan was shot down by the enemy while on a reconnaissance mission over North Vietnam. He was held as a prisoner of war for 11 months. Kernan was repatriated in 1973 and continued on active duty with the Navy until December 1974. Kernan received the Navy Commendation Medal, two Purple Hearts and the Distinguished Flying Cross. In 1974 he married his wife, Maggie.

Kernan was elected mayor of South Bend in 1987, 1991, and 1995. In 1996, Kernan was elected as Indiana's Lieutenant Governor, and then re-elected in 2000. As lieutenant governor of Indiana, Kernan served as the president of the Indiana Senate, the director of the Indiana Department of Commerce, and as the commissioner of Agriculture.

Kernan returned to private life and became president of the South Bend Silver Hawks baseball club. In July 2007, Kernan and Indiana Chief Justice Randall Shepard were appointed by Daniels to co-chair the Indiana Commission on Local Government Reform.  

Contact Information

Office: 335 Decio
Phone: 574-631-6822
Fax: 574-631-4405

Mailing Address

Department of Political Science
217 O'Shaughnessy Hall
Notre Dame, IN 46545