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50th Anniversary

The Department of Religious Studies will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary throughout the 2016-2017 academic year.

To mark fifty years of scholarly research and teaching about religions—both close to home and throughout the world—we have organized an exciting series of lectures, ranging from distinguished senior visitors to exemplary young scholars.  We are especially pleased that this list of speakers includes some of our own alumni, and that one of our junior faculty will extend our tradition of inaugural lectures to showcase our research for colleagues in related fields.

In addition, we will host a Fall Homecoming reunion for our alumni.  This will coincide with a VolStarter campaign to launch a much-needed Undergraduate Research and Travel Fund for our department. 

As the centerpiece of our fundraising during this landmark year, we have also launched a Religious Studies Endowment Fund, beginning from the generosity of our founding head Ralph Norman and our longest serving head Charles H. Reynolds. Our goal is 50k for the 50th to provide increased research opportunities for our faculty and students!  For information on the work of our active and productive faculty, click here.

Please join us for these anniversary events and consider a special gift to support our 50k of the 50th goals.  We also would greatly appreciate your support for our ongoing work in teaching and outreach through initiatives such as the F. Stanley Lusby and John O. Hodges Teaching Fund, the Joan Nicoll Riedl Book Award, our Schools Outreach Project and Religion in the Workplace Project

With religion ever more prominent in the public sphere and on the world stage, our new slogan rightly states: “We are needed more than ever before” for the next 50 years!

Founding department head and member of the Board of Visitors Professor Emeritus Ralph V. Norman offered the following message regarding the department's prospects for a second half century of service to the university, the profession, and the world:  

"Our prospects at the outset fifty years ago seem in retrospect to have been so much less fraught with a sense of surrounding uncertainty and endangerment than today, though that may be a characteristic trick of perspective that takes over the imagination of oldtimers like me.   It was with great excitement and expectation that we looked to the future in 1966, and I am sure there are excellent reasons here in the second half of the second decade of the twenty- first century for students of religion to look ahead with other and equivalent enthusiasms.  Not the same reasons, but compelling ones nonetheless, and we salute you in your good fortune as you conclude the early parts of our common adventure and move on toward new and unanticipated parts yet to  come.”

Joan Riedl, secretary, Dept. of Religious Studies (1976-2010).

"I never cease to be amazed at the quality, the poise, the confident  and articulate manner of the Religious Studies students who speak so positively about their constant appreciation of and devotion to the department, which, as one said, is the Family of The Religious Studies Department.  The quality of the current faculty is amazing, but remembering the quality of the “founders” is also to be remembered with pride. “


Religious studies

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