Duke Receives Lilly Grant for Divinity School Programs

Amid all the excitement over Duke University's fifth NCAA men's basketball title after defeating Wisconsin 68-63, we understand if you missed this other Duke-related news item. The Durham, N.C., school was just awarded a $6 million grant from the Lilly Endowment for its divinity school.

The grant from Lilly will support leadership education at the Duke Divinity program, which Lily funding helped establish in 2008. The program provides professional development and education for church leaders and the heads of nonprofit ministries. The grant also will fund other Duke Divinity School programs, including Foundations of Christian Leadership, a two-week seminar for institutional religious leaders.

A $14 million grant from Lilly Endowment in 2008 enabled Duke to create the leadership education program at Duke. The grant also led to the creation of other programs at Duke Divinity School, including denominational leadership, and the online magazine Faith and Leadership.

While the Indianapolis-based Lilly Endowment is well known for its support of business programs at universities across the country, regular readers of this blog also know that the funder operates a religion-oriented grantmaking program (See here for our coverage of funders that support religious higher education). Lilly’s grantmaking in this area emphasizes the education of new ministers, as well as the continuing education of existing religious leaders—something the funded programs at Duke emphasize.

Despite growth in the number of Americans, especially millenials, who claim no religious affiliation, the U.S. remains one of the world’s most religious nations in terms of church affiliation and attendance. Religious education will likely remain a vibrant part of the nation’s higher education landscape, and funders such as Lilly will continue to invest in the training and professional development of current and future religious leaders.