McMurry University is a member school of the Lilly Fellows Program, a national organization which explores issues related to what it means to be a church-related institution of higher education.
“As network members, we participate in an annual conference with other LFP-schools to engage in thoughtful, cross-disciplinary conversations about what it means to be a church-related institution of higher education,” said McMurry Religion Professor Dr. Bryan Stewart. “Because the network has broad constituency from Roman Catholic, mainline protestant and evangelical schools, the conversations are quite varied and enriching as participants hear and share about how faith and learning gets embodied on particular campuses around the country.
Dr. Philip LeMasters. Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Religion at McMurry, and Dr. Stewart are the current McMurry representatives and have attended several conferences.
“Part of a spin-off from those national conversations is getting similar conversations happening here at our local, institutional level. For example, Dr. Greg Schneller (Psychology) and I are presently working on a colloquium to engage our faculty colleagues with these questions and to invite them into further dialogue and conversation about these issues. We hope to present that colloquium in March or April of this year,” said Dr. Stewart.
As an LFP member, McMurry also has access to grant money. The Lilly Foundation funds grant projects from as little as $1500 (for faculty book groups) to as much as $25,000 (to run network exchange programs with other institutions). In between, there are several $12,000 grants for implementing mentoring programs, regional conferences, and workshops centered on issues related to church-affiliated schools.
“Also, there is potential benefit for our graduates. Every year, the Lilly Fellows Program selects 10 fellows who are graduates of LFP-related schools (like McMurry), and who are entering a PhD program in the humanities with an interest in teaching in a church-related university setting. That fellowship entails three $3000 stipends (total of $9000 over three years) and ongoing mentoring from senior faculty members at LFP-affiliated schools,” said Dr. Stewart. “It is my hope that we will begin to identify some of our graduates who would benefit from such a fellowship.”