Friday October 14, 2005

A Calling

The Lilly Endowment has awarded a $500,000 grant to the University of Dayton to help students and faculty integrate faith into their professional lives.

The University of Dayton has received a $500,000 grant from the Lilly Endowment Inc. to continue its Theological Exploration of Vocation program.

The funding comes nearly five years after Lilly's $2 million grant that established the Program for Christian Leadership on campus.

Program for Christian Leadership offerings, which have reached more than 700 UD students and 170 faculty members since 2001, are designed to foster the exploration of Christian vocation, rooted in UD's Catholic and Marianist traditions. The sustaining grant will allow UD to continue key programs such as the Chaminade Scholars program, the Summer Workshop in Leadership and Vocation, the Faculty Fund for Vocational Exploration, and a mini course in liturgical music ministry required for all campus music ministers.

UD was one of 20 colleges and universities awarded grants in 2000 in the first round of funding from the Lilly Endowment, a private family foundation based in Indianapolis. In three rounds of funding, 88 colleges and universities received support totaling $176.8 million, and 37 institutions have received sustainability grants to date. The grants aim to help schools keep their programs going while they raise funds to sustain them over the long term. Schools could request up to $500,000 each to cover up to 50 percent of the overall program for three more years, and UD received the maximum grant.

"We are so pleased that the Lilly Endowment has recognized that the vocation exploration programs at the University of Dayton are having a tremendous positive impact on our campus climate, on our students' academic and spiritual lives and on the research and teaching of our faculty members," said Maura Donahue, Program for Christian Leadership director.

The new grant money will allow UD to make some modifications to the Program for Christian Leadership and help the three undergraduate professional schools develop their own
vocation programs. Vocation-related initiatives in the professional schools are already under way. Examples include the School of Engineering's recent national conference on the Role of Engineering at Catholic Universities. The School of Business Administration has launched a "Business as a Vocation" annual program. In the School of Education and Allied Professions, the Lalanne Program prepares teachers to serve in urban Catholic schools.

"We have demonstrated to Lilly that we have commitment from the professional schools. There's definitely dedication to exploring vocation," Donahue said. "Our desire is to help educate students so they are able to shepherd their gifts and talents in a responsible way, in which their Christian faith and their sense of vocation provide a framework for how they live their lives."

Donahue is not the only one pleased with the Program for Christian Leadership's early success. "We have been thrilled and delighted at the results so far," Craig Dykstra, Lilly Endowment senior vice president for religion, said about the schools that received renewal grants. "These schools … are advancing the initiative's aims: to encourage young people to explore Christian ministry as their possible life's work, to help all students draw on their faith traditions in making vocational choices, and to enhance the capacity of each school's faculty to teach and mentor students effectively in these areas."

Contact Maura Donahue at (937) 229-4592.