Willamette University has received a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment

Willamette University has received a $2 million grant from the Lilly Endowment to create a series of programs, projects and opportunities for students interested in pursuing a theological/pastoral vocation. This is the third-largest foundation grant in the University's history.

To address the decline in the number of priests, ministers and rabbis nationwide, the grant will assist undergraduates who have an inclination to pursue a master's degree in theology once they obtain their undergraduate degree from Willamette.

The primary goals of the five-year " Lilly Project at Willamette University" are to deepen students' understanding of "vocation" in both theological and secular terms; to awaken their interest in vocational leadership in both the religious and secular life; and to provide students with the means of testing this understanding in intellectual, artistic, and practical ways.

Once the students identify their own interest in a vocation, the program will provide several layers of support that include faculty advising workshops; an annual sophomore retreat; campus and community opportunities for volunteer service; summer research grants; internships at churches, synagogues, and other non-profit agencies; a seminary exchange program in the junior or senior year; and support for travel to seminaries for those students who wish to pursue further education and training following their graduation from Willamette.

Faculty at Willamette will have several new opportunities intended to deepen awareness of vocation and its implications for students. They include special training in advising through workshops that address vocational direction and leadership; release time for individual research or creative projects connected to vocation; summer stipend support for course development related to questions of vocation (i.e., historical, philosophical, literary, etc.); cross-disciplinary simulation from visiting scholars and scholars-in-residence; and opportunities to create artistic events which articulate, dramatize, or embody ways to understand vocation.

The grant will also benefit the general public through lectures, conferences, art exhibitions, and music, dance, and theatre productions focused on themes of religion and spirituality in the arts. These events will be free and open to the public.

Other schools in the Pacific Northwest that have received generous grants from the Lilly Endowment in this round of the competition include Whitworth College (Spokane, Washington) and Seattle Pacific University (Seattle, Washington). In all, 28 institutions received grants ranging from $1,425,486 to $2 million. Some familiar names include Duke University, Grinnell College, Howard University, Indiana Wesleyan University, Marquette University, Pepperdine University, University of the South, and Wake Forest University. Willamette University is proud to be part of this prestigious group.

Thanks go to all the members of the planning committee, including Charlie Wallace and Patricia Alley, who took the lead in writing the grant; Lane McGaughy, Joe Bowersox, and David Kenagy, among the faculty; Virginia Furtwangler and Cesie Delve Scheuermann, consultants; Deborah Loers, Nancy Norton, and Mari Morando, among the Campus Life administrative staff; CLA students Katie Christensen, Tyler Kelly, and Courtney McHill; alumni Dale Harris and Brett Strobel.