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University of Virginia campaign seeks endowment for chair of Catholic Studies

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (The Catholic Virginian) - A campaign to fund an endowed Chair for Catholic Studies has been initiated at the University of Virginia.

An endowed chair is usually designated for a particular field or area of scholarship with significant income from the endowment to assure a competitive salary for a senior professor.

The campaign to establish the endowed chair seeks to raise $2 million. This is normally the minimum amount needed to attract a distinguished scholar.

“We have secured a challenge grant from an alumna who has pledged $25,000 and will also match every $100,000 we raise with an additional $25,000 up to a total contribution of $250,000,” Jesuit Father Gerald P. Fogarty told The Catholic Virginian.

Father Fogarty, a native of Baltimore who wrote “Commonwealth Catholicism: A History of the Catholic Church in Virginia,” is the William R. Kenan Jr. Professor of Religious Studies and History at the University of Virginia.

The chair would be designated for modern Catholic studies, such as post-Reformation, “to build upon the strengths already present in the departments of religious studies, history and philosophy,” Father Fogarty said.

“This designation would guarantee that the holder of the chair actually teach Catholicism and not merely general Christianity,” he said.

He estimated that 40 percent of the undergraduates on the Charlottesville campus are Catholic. A recent study indicates that 91 percent of Catholics in colleges are attending non-Catholic institutions, he added.

Father Fogarty said the University of Virginia’s Department of Religious Studies is rated on the graduate level as one of the top six programs in the nation.

In 2005 Virginia Commonwealth University established the Walter F. Sullivan Chair for Catholic Studies, in honor of the 11th Bishop of Richmond. The first visiting professor will be Dr. Andrew Chestnut of the University of Houston, a scholar of Latin American Catholic studies.

In several other states universities have a Chair for Roman Catholic Studies. They include Yale University, Vanderbilt University, the University of Chicago and Iowa State University.

For more information on how to give to the Chair, call (434) 924–7213, or write to Arts and Sciences, PO Box 400801, Charlottesville, VA 22904.

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This story was made available to Catholic Online by permission of The Catholic Virginian (www.catholicvirginian.org), official newspaper of the Diocese of Richmond, Va.

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