University of Chicago seeks $250 million for divinity school naming rights – Education News

on Sep16

15 September 2017 | 4:45 pm

The University of Chicago is seeking $250 million for the naming rights to its divinity school as the new dean sets out an ambitious plan for growth and new funding.

Dean Laurie Zoloth, who started at the school in July, said yesterday that the school is seeking that large donation and others to support her goal of covering tuition for every one of the school’s graduate students, increasing its faculty ranks and sponsoring more visiting scholars. She delivered the same message in a speech on the topic to other school officials earlier this week.

“I’m a new dean and I’m definitely committed to raising funds from our community because we have ambitious ideas,” Zoloth said. “We would be happy to work with any family. We’re also looking internationally,” she said of the fundraising effort.

The University of Chicago Divinity School is the oldest school at the university, dating back to 1890. Zoloth arrived this year just a few years after the renovation of Bond Chapel on the campus. The school is unique in teaching five major religions of the world, and not being bound to any one in particular.

Zoloth, who teaches Jewish studies and bioethics, hasn’t set a total target for the schools’ fundraising campaign, which she says she kicked off the day she arrived. Currently she has 40 full-time faculty and 325 graduate students, mostly studying toward doctoral degrees. “We want our graduate students to be fully funded,” she said.

Currently, there are four visiting scholars, but she’d like to have 20 annually, giving them time to research and write about complex religious issues and the spiritual questions that face humanity, namely: “What does it mean to be human? What does it mean to be free? What must I do about the suffering of others?”

The scholars impact the school’s students and the city, and then they return to their countries with the experiences, she says.

In addition, Zoloth wants the school to be involved in its South Side community, and its neighborhood religious institutions in particular, she said.



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