Occidental College Receives $2 Million From the Lilly Endowment
Occidental College has received a $2 million Lilly Endowment grant that will enable students to explore the relationship between human values, spirituality, vocation and meaningful work.
The four-year effort will support new curricular initiatives and new activities in the Interfaith Center and the Career Development Center.
“The program is designed to help students connect with their own ethical, moral, spiritual and religious values as they make decisions about their majors while they are here, and their careers after they graduate,” said Occidental President Theodore R. Mitchell. “It reinforces the broad spectrum of diversity that characterizes Occidental. Most importantly, it enhances our ability to educate a new generation of leaders – in society and in religious institutions – who will better understand how their values are shaped by their own religious and cultural traditions, and how different religious traditions shape others’ decisions.”
The grant will make available new educational and internship opportunities for Occidental students at the Claremont School of Theology, Hebrew Union College, Hsi Lai University, the Islamic Center of Southern California and the Vedanta Society – representing Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Islamic and Hindu traditions. There is also room in the program for students currently unaffiliated with any major faith tradition.
Opportunities for students to benefit from the new program will be available as early as January, when the Claremont School of Theology will sponsor a class and conference on the theme of “Peacebuilding in Violent Times.” Other program activities include the formation of a residential living and learning community exploring grant themes, and the creation of a speaker’s series, travel opportunities for students, and seminars and workshops for faculty and staff.
Occidental is one of 39 colleges and universities selected from a pool of 350 applicants to receive a Lilly grant in this year’s competition. Totaling $76.8 million, the grants represent the third round of the endowment’s Programs for the Theological Exploration of Vocation initiative. This third round brings to $171.3 million the total the endowment has allotted to 88 schools since 2000, including Macalester, Grinnell, Davidson, the University of the South, and Duke.
The endowment invited colleges and universities to reflect on their particular strengths, history and mission in designing proposals that would best fit each institution. “Consequently, the result is a wonderful amalgam of creative programs that are clearly well thought out and have a real chance of success,” said Craig Dykstra, endowment vice president for religion.
Founded in 1937, the Lilly Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private foundation that supports its founders’ wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.