The gift supports a professorship in the pastoral studies program, with a focus on Muslim studies.

Posted on October 12, 2018

Victoria University received an extraordinary gift of $1 million from an anonymous donor to support a professorship in Muslim Studies at Emmanuel College. The Master of Pastoral Studies (MPS) degree at Emmanuel offers a Muslim, Christian or Buddhist focus. This gift ensures funding for the professorship within the Muslim focus. “It also demonstrates outstanding leadership and belief in Emmanuel’s vision for Muslim Studies,” says William Robins, president of Victoria University. “It is an extraordinary commitment.”

Fostering interfaith dialogue

“Our students and professors are exploring how particular religious identities enrich each other in a learning community where Christians, Muslims, Buddhists and those from other faith traditions engage in respectful discussion,” says Phyllis Airhart, interim principal of Emmanuel College. “The generous gift we’ve received for the professorship in Muslim Studies is the latest expression of the remarkable support for our innovative programs.”

In anticipation of this and other gifts in support of Muslim Studies at Emmanuel College, the Victoria University Board of Regents recently passed an amendment to its Statement of Investment Policies permitting alternative investment of certain endowed funds to accommodate Muslim donors’ concerns regarding investment.

Lectureship in contemporary Islamic thought

Nearly all Muslim students at Emmanuel College pursue the MPS degree. They may also opt to take the Certificate in Spiritual Care and Psychotherapy as part of the MPS. The MPS is a two-year, full-time academic degree made up of 20 courses, six of which focus on the three faiths. The Muslim focus includes courses in the Qur’an, the history and theological tradition of Islam, Islamic law and ethics, Islamic spirituality and Islamic thought. Students are also required to take one course in another faith focus.

This year the College also received a donation to create the Mohamed Mansour Lectureship in Contemporary Islamic Thought. This funding will support two lectures and will attract major thinkers to the University campus. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah delivered the inaugural lecture last spring on the topic “Islam and the Cultural Imperative.”

“It is an exciting time to be at Emmanuel College,” says Nevin Reda, assistant professor of Muslim Studies. “The Muslim Studies focus grounds students in Islamic thought and equips them with the practical skills and understanding of the Canadian context needed to become spiritual and community leaders, with careers in chaplaincy, spiritual care and psycho-spiritual therapy.”