Willamette University's Lilly Project for the Theological, Spiritual and Ethical Exploration of Vocation is a university-wide program dedicated to helping students to engage the larger questions of meaning and purpose, and to discern their vocation, their calling in life. Funded by a generous grant from the Lilly Endowment, Inc., the Lilly Project is embedded in the intellectual and residential life of the Willamette University community, offering opportunities for members of the community to consider issues of vocation, service, meaning-making and life choices through a variety of academic and co-curricular programs.
The Lilly Project provides resources to support a number of visiting lectureships each year, including two visiting scholars and one scholar in residence who bring resources and insights on vocation to campus, for periods of one week and one month, respectively. Faculty benefit from grants for research and course development, and from an annual workshop focusing on helping develop mentoring and advising skills. Student opportunities for exploration of vocation through the Lilly Project include summer research grants on vocation, and summer internships for students interested in testing and exploring religious vocations in congregations and faith-related organizations. Students who are considering graduate study in religion may apply for funding to visit seminaries and graduate theological schools or may choose to study for a semester at a seminary. A vocational retreat for students each fall and spring provides opportunities for reflection and beginning the discernment process that leads to a sense of calling. Counseling and testing related to vocation and call is available to all students in the Career Services Office. For students interested in community outreach, the Lilly Project enables each residence hall, Greek Chapter and student organization to organize and realize significant community service project yearly, as well as supporting service-oriented alternative spring breaks. Programmatic activities for the Lilly Project range from speakers at weekly convocations to major artistic opportunities, including plays, readings, concerts, films and exhibits that raise vocational issues.