Home July 2011 Nation’s First Interreligious University

Nation’s First Interreligious University

Claremont School of Theology announced a $50 million naming gift from Joan and David Lincoln – a gift that will establish the new Claremont Lincoln University.  The announcement was made at a celebration including leaders from the co-founding institutions, the Academy for Jewish Religion, California (AJRCA) and the Islamic Center of Southern California.  The couple’s $50 million gift includes a previous $10 million gift, and the cumulative donation represents the single largest gift since the school was founded in 1885.

“Joan and I are particularly pleased with the idea of creating a multi-faith university that reflects the power and potential of the Golden Rule, which the many faith communities have in common,” said David Lincoln.  “We believe the outcome of this kind of education will be tolerance and respect among religions and the ability to better address global problems where religious collaboration and cooperation are needed to reach solutions and repair the world.”

“This noble gift from the Lincolns shows that religion can be a powerful force for unity and love in the world,” said Rabbi Mel Gottlieb, AJRCA’s president and dean, who announced the new university’s name to much applause at the May 16 celebration.  “It is understandable to fear such a new experiment, but I believe that our support of each other and the development of trust in each other as we journey together in this common vision will strengthen other like-minded individuals who wish to create a better world in our lifetime and in the lifetime of all future generations.”

Rabbi Gottlieb continued, “It is not enough to speak in G-d’s name while ignoring the fundamental teaching of our traditions to love our neighbor as ourselves or to treat others as we would like to be treated.  How can this love develop if we have no relationship with our brothers and sisters in different religious traditions?”

Formerly called the “University Project,” Claremont Lincoln University is a degree-granting institution at the center of a new consortium of professional graduate schools for religious education. Under this historic new model, Claremont School of Theology will continue to offer clerical education in the Christian tradition.  In addition, the Academy for Jewish Religion-CA, and the Islamic Center of Southern California will offer professional religious education in their respective traditions, and the consortium will eventually include schools in Buddhist, Hindu and other traditions as well.

All the religious schools will contribute to a unique shared curriculum offered through Claremont Lincoln. The university will also offer masters and doctoral programs in key academic areas such as interreligious studies, comparative religions, conflict resolution, sustainability, politics and religion.  Its first official classes will begin this fall.

“Thanks to the leadership and generosity of people like the Lincolns,” said Claremont President, Rev. Dr. Jerry D. Campbell, “we expect Claremont Lincoln University to become a light for the world in terms of intercultural understanding, ethical integrity and religious intelligence in education.”

A noteworthy ceramic artist, Joan R. Lincoln has served as mayor and in other public offices in Paradise Valley, Arizona, where she and David reside.  An entrepreneur and philanthropist, David C. Lincoln also serves on Claremont’s board of trustees.

Claremont Lincoln University is the latest academic institution to be established in Claremont, California.  Located on the campus of Claremont School of Theology, Claremont Lincoln joins five undergraduate and three graduate schools.  Established in 1885, Claremont School of Theology is an ecumenical institution of The United Methodist Church.  The School recently embarked upon the University Project to create a multi-religious university alongside the School of Theology to educate religious professionals, scholars and leaders from all religious backgrounds for service to society and the world.  For more information, go to www.cst.edu.

On September 6 the Hon. Ebrahim Rasool, South Africa’s ambassador to the United States, will keynote Claremont’s Fall 2011 Convocation, which will inaugurate the new University and welcome its first students, as well as welcoming new and returning CST students.  Ambassador Rasool is a world leader in working for cooperation between the religions and has expressed enthusiastic support for the launch of this new model for desegregating religious education.  All are invited.

For more information on supporting this new university, go to www.ClaremontLincoln.org.  For more information on applying for this fall’s entering class, contact admission@ClaremontLincoln.org.  For general information, contact info@ClaremontLincoln.org

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