Seymour Library

Knox Alumna Endows Chair for Study of Religion and Culture

$2 million gift from anonymous donor will add full time faculty position in 2010

July 13, 2009

"Making the gift now gives me the pleasure and honor of helping Knox to establish a full-fledged religion and culture program during my lifetime."

That's how a Knox graduate who has endowed a $2 million Distinguished Chair for the Study of Religion and Culture and who wishes to remain anonymous explained her generosity last month to Knox President Roger Taylor.

"It gave me chills," Taylor said. "Because she has made her gift now, the College can begin right away to seek an experienced professor for the new position."

A search will be conducted during the 2009-10 academic year, with an appointment anticipated to begin in the fall of 2010.

"For some time, Knox students interested in studying religion have benefited from classes taught by specialists from a number of academic fields. By adding a full-time position focused on religion and culture, our program will be substantially enriched," said Lawrence Breitborde, Vice President for Academic Affairs and Dean of the College.

Knox has offered a minor in religious studies since 1984, using an interdisciplinary approach. Faculty from the disciplines of anthropology, history, classics, philosophy and political science provide perspectives on the relationship between religion, culture and history. Prior to 1984, religious studies courses were offered as part of the philosophy department.

"Religion plays a significant role in the human condition. Studying its varieties, its power, and its relationship to the rest of culture is requisite to an education that will prepare students to understand their world," Breitborde adds.

Founded in 1837, Knox is a national liberal arts college in Galesburg, Illinois, with students from 47 states and 48 nations. Knox's 'Old Main' is a National Historic Landmark and the only building remaining from the 1858 Lincoln-Douglas debates.