Mary Pat Seurkamp has heard it from any number of students and professors over the years, and she knows exactly what they mean. Because she too felt at home the moment she set foot on the campus of Notre Dame University of Maryland.
"You can't put your finger on it," she says of the connection. "But it's there."
Seurkamp, 65, is now coping with the sadness of severing that bond. She will retire later this month after 15 years leading Notre Dame, one of the longest tenures of any college president in the state.
She was the first layperson to lead the Catholic institution and oversaw an era of diversification and expansion. Students have looked up to her for her public poise, openness and sharp sense of fashion.