Wake Forest University has received a $1.9 million grant from the Lilly Endowment of Indianapolis to establish a center for vocational exploration for undergraduate students. The center will be named after the university’s motto “Pro Humanitate,” which means, “for the good of humanity.” It will open in 2002.
The grant will support the Pro Humanitate Center for five years. It is part of a major Lilly Endowment initiative that recently awarded $55.3 million to 28 American colleges and universities to support programs that help students explore vocations from a religious perspective. At Wake Forest, Bill J. Leonard, dean of the Divinity School, and Paul D. Escott, dean of the undergraduate College, are directing use of the Lilly Endowment grant.
The Pro Humanitate Center will offer a variety of programs including first-year student seminars, workshops and annual theme years or symposiums. The programs will encourage students to explore the nature of vocation as they consider possible careers, including the ministry. They will also stress the importance of values, spirituality and traditions in professional life.
Faculty members will receive support for research to develop new academic courses such as first-year seminars on topics that relate to the grant. Those topics may include subjects like morality in politics, the benefits and drawbacks of faith-based organizations in the social network and moral decision-making in global business environments.
Another function of the Pro Humanitate Center will be coordination of service-learning initiatives that promote reflection on vocation. These initiatives will provide public service opportunities for students that tie into their academic work.
Embodying the university motto, more than half of Wake Forest students participate in service programs in Winston-Salem, their hometowns and abroad during college.
“An increasing number of Wake Forest students ask for more guidance in career development once they have participated in service activities,” Escott said. “Many of these students are looking for ways to put their values and faith to work in service for humanity. The Lilly Endowment grant will help us provide effective guidance for these students, as we do for those who are heading to graduate school or into the corporate world.”
The Lilly Endowment grant also will be used for scholarships for students interested in vocations within the ministry and to create a theme house for them. New student advising teams also will be created to assist those students.
The Divinity School will host summer programs for high school seniors and college undergraduates who are considering questions of calling and vocation as they relate to their faith.
Founded in 1937, the Lilly Endowment is a private family foundation that supports the causes of religion, community development and education.