Maryville College receives nearly $2 million from Lilly Endowment

January 10, 2002

Award will fund the College's 'Initiative on Vocation'

Maryville College is one of 28 colleges and universities in the country to receive a $1 million-plus grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to create or enhance programs that enable young people to draw upon the resources of religious wisdom as they think through their vocational choices and to consider the ministry as a profession they might pursue.

Maryville received $1,999,906 for its implementation grant proposal written by Dr. Bill Meyer, Maryville College associate professor of religion and philosophy, entitled "The Maryville College Initiative on Vocation." The grant will support the College's Initiative on Vocation from January 2002 through August 2006.

"Since Sept. 11, young Americans have begun to look to their faith and to their futures with a greater seriousness and sense of purpose," Meyer said. "The Maryville College Initiative on Vocation will give students an integrated four-year opportunity to explore and consider their future lives and work in relation to a sense of calling and wider purpose - and how that purpose relates to their religious faith or existential convictions.

"The Initiative will help students discern whether their calling is into areas such as business, education, medicine, law or ministry by enabling them to examine their own interests and talents, as well as to listen and talk to people experienced in and dedicated to various callings and professions," he added.

The Initiative includes the establishment of a Center for Calling and Career and integrates into the Maryville experience and curriculum the concept of "calling" or vocation through advisor/mentor retreats, vocation dinners, summer internships, expanded service and diagnostic inventories.

Encouragement for students to consider ordained ministry and/or serious lay-leadership in the church is outlined in the Initiative. Funding will be available for Isaac Anderson Fellowships for Church Leadership, which are premier scholarships offered to attract and educate outstanding students who show interest in and promise for leadership in the church. With Endowment funding, students interested in church leadership will have learning experiences and interactive opportunities through a minister-in-residence program, retreats for vocational and spiritual discernment, summer church internships and seminary visits.

The Initiative will also make possible summer retreats for church youths and workshops for pastors that will focus on issues of leadership, vocation and ministry.

In the grant proposal, the College's House in the Woods was earmarked as a location for retreats, dinners and workshops. With outdated plumbing and inadequate wiring, the house has seen limited use in the last 10 years. Approximately 12 percent of the total award will go to renovate the House in the Woods, which was built in 1917 to serve as the campus minister's residence.

"I am deeply indebted to Dr. Bill Meyer for taking on the huge task of planning for this initiative on vocation, and to all those who participated in the 'Lilly Summit' that was part of that planning," said Dr. Gerald W. Gibson, president of Maryville College. "I have great confidence that their work, and the investment of Lilly Endowment, will prove to be nothing short of transformational for the Maryville College campus."

Craig Dykstra, vice president for religion at the Indianapolis-based foundation said: "These exciting grants directly address one of the major themes of the Endowment's grantmaking in religion, and that is to help identify, recruit, call and nurture into Christian ministry a new generation of talented pastors."

Totaling $55.3 million, the grants awarded by the Endowment will fund programs affecting students, faculty and staff at all the schools. Schools have planned activities such as student retreats, enhancing worship on campus, changing career-planning services, curricular changes, lecture series and conferences, special courses, semesters of study in seminaries and divinity schools, internships in congregations and faith-based organizations and mentoring projects.

"It is clear that these schools thought through their missions and strengths and that they were very intentional in devising these proposals," Dykstra said. "The caliber of proposals was outstanding, and it is obvious that all these schools thought seriously and productively about how to encourage young people to consider questions of faith and commitment as they choose their careers."

Founded in 1937, the Endowment is an Indianapolis-based private family foundation that follows its founders' wishes by supporting the causes of religion, community development and education.

For further information, Email Dr. Bill Meyer.