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Board of Regents funding boosts Loyola's commitment to Catholic studies

May 10, 2013

Further distinguishing Loyola University New Orleans as an important center for the study of Catholicism, the Louisiana Board of Regents announced this week it is contributing $400,000 to support the university’s scholarly activities and programming in that field. The funding will match a private donation of $1.3 million to endow The Rev. Stephen Duffy Chair in Catholic Studies at Loyola University, the South’s largest Catholic, Jesuit higher education institution.

“The Duffy chair will not only strengthen the intellectual infrastructure of Loyola, it will distinguish Louisiana as a center for scholarship and innovative public programs that promote dialogue across religious and cultural borders,” said Loyola President the Rev. Kevin Wm. Wildes, S.J., Ph.D. “This investment in Catholic studies will benefit the community and the state for years to come.”

The chair is named for the late religious studies professor, the Rev. Stephen Duffy, Ph.D., who died March 2007. Duffy taught at Notre Dame Seminary for more than 20 years before serving on the faculty at Loyola from 1971 to 2007. He received Loyola’s highest honor for faculty as the Dux Academicus Award winner in 1999.

Years before he passed away, Duffy included Loyola in his estate plans in order to establish an endowed chair for Catholic studies. “It was important to Fr. Duffy that his gift would ensure that study of Catholic theology would continue to take place at a high level at Loyola,” said Robert Gross, Loyola’s director of planned giving.

The chair is currently held by Jesuit and nationally known scholar, the Rev. Edward Vacek, S.J., Ph.D., and is the first endowed chair in the humanities field at Loyola. In addition to teaching theology courses, Vacek also holds free, public lectures on religion and Catholicism. Loyola’s focus on religions and Catholic studies aims to prepare students to be informed, ethically-minded and socially conscious citizens.

“The College of Humanities and Natural Sciences is honored by this deserved recognition from the Louisiana Board of Regents. Fr. Duffy was very important to our college. His dedication to teaching and the study of Catholic theology were transformative for our students,” said Maria Calzada, Ph.D., dean of the College of Humanities and Natural Sciences. “We are extremely happy that Fr. Vacek will continue his legacy.”

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