Professor Awarded $700,000 Grant to Research on Campus Ministries

( [email protected] ) Jul 07, 2004 06:56 PM EDT

A professor from the University of Northern Iowa (UNI) has received a $700,000 grant to conduct a three-year study on campus ministries nationwide, which will begin this month.

Lilly Endowment Inc., a private philantropic foundation based in Indiana, awarded its generous grant to Betty DeBerg, head of the philosophy and religion department at UNI.

The Lilly Endowment had previously funded Deberg on a separate project, entitled, "Religion on Campus."

The new project will focus on four types of campus ministries: chaplaincy programs at church-related private colleges, denominational campus ministries at state-funded schools, nondenominational organizations, and congregation-based ministry programs.

"I want to understand young adulthood in terms of religious faith and practice," DeBerg told her local newspaper. "And I want to help religious denominations to decide where campus ministries should be on their priorities."

She has chosen John Schmalzbauer of Southwest Missouri State University as a partner in the study. Doug Magnuson, a leisure, youth and human services professor at UNI will be the project manager.

Schmalzbauer and DeBerg plan to write a book based the findings of their study.

DeBerg "fell in love with the academic study of religion” while taking a theology course at a Lutheran college. She went on to earn a master's degree and a doctorate from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and has taught at UNI since 1997.

"Religious questions to me are the most interesting to think about," DeBerg said. "It's so fascinating to see how people experience their beliefs. I'm thrilled I get to do this and get paid for it."