Joseph E. Kernan III

Joe Kernan

A 1968 graduate of the University of Notre Dame, Joe Kernan served as Mayor of South Bend, Indiana, and then as the 47th Lieutenant Governor of Indiana from 1997 to 2003. He became governor on September 13, 2003, upon the death of Governor Frank O'Bannon. 

Following graduation, Kernan joined the Navy in 1969. A naval aviator, he was shot down in North Vietnam and taken prisoner in 1972. He was repatriated 11 months later and continued on active duty with the Navy until December 1974. He received the Distinguished Flying Cross, two Purple Hearts and the Navy Commendation Medal. 

Among the major developments of his tenure of mayor was the establishment of the College Football Hall of Fame and the building of the Blackthorn development, a multimillion-dollar golf course and office park development. Following his career in politics, he served as the president and managing investor of the South Bend Silver Hawks from 2005 to 2011, as a volunteer acting director for the St. Joseph County Red Cross, and as an adjunct professor at the University.