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Lilly Fellows Program 2005 National Conference

About the Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts


The Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts, established in 1991, addresses two critical problems faced by church-related institutions of higher learning in the United States. First, though many church-related colleges and universities are seeking to recover or refortify a sense of purpose and identity, there has been no sustained national conversation expressly designed to renew and deepen a sense of corporate vocation among these schools. Second, settings for the formation of younger scholars who wish to pursue their vocational commitments at church-related colleges and universities scarcely exist in the United States. In brief, the hegemony of the secular research university has gradually eroded both institutional and individual senses of Christian vocation, leaving many schools and many Christian scholars in need of renewed vision and mutual support.

The Lilly Fellows Program therefore consists of two distinct but integrated programmatic initiatives. First, it established a national network of church-related institutions of higher learning and sustain among them a discussion of Christian understandings of the nature of the academic vocation. The network represents a diversity of denominational traditions, institutional types, and geographical locations. Representatives from the network institutions meet annually for a national conference. Additionally, several workshops and mini-conferences are scheduled annually on the campuses of the network institutions. A biannual newsletter reports network activities, provides listings of young scholars interested in teaching at church-related institutions, and includes reports from conferences and workshops.

In 1995, the Program established a National Network Board, consisting of twelve Network representatives. Together with the Lilly Fellows Program staff, this Board has devised and supervised a number of Network projects including the following:

  • Mentoring Programs on Network campuses intended to provide new faculty members the opportunity to acculturate themselves into the ethos and traditions of a particular institution;
  • Annual Network Exchange Programs allowing Network schools to showcase distinctive features or programs that highlight the Christian character of their institutions.
  • Summer Seminars for College Teachers designed for new faculty from Network School;
  • Undergraduate Conferences to encourage the best undergraduates at Network schools to consider seriously finding their vocations in Christian higher education;
  • Annual National Research Conferences to encourage Christian research and scholarship among faculty at Network institutions;
  • Administrative Workshops offering administrators from Network schools practical counsel and opportunities to discuss particular common issues such as "Hiring for Mission."

Second, the Lilly Fellows Program offers young scholars in the humanities and the arts a chance to renew and deepen their sense of vocation, and to enrich their postdoctoral intellectual and spiritual life within a Christian community of learning. Each academic year Postdoctoral Fellows are appointed for two-year periods, selected from candidates interested in considering the relationship between Christianity and the academic vocation. The Fellows are prepared through a variety of teaching experiences, participation in a weekly colloquium, and regular association with mentors, to seek permanent employment within church-related institutions of higher learning. A total of thirty-three postdoctoral fellowships have been awarded to date.

The current Lilly Fellows are:

Sara Running Danger (English), 2004-06
Mary J. Streufert (Theology), 2004-06
Franklin Harkins (Theology), 2005-07
Matthew S. Hedstrom (American Studies), 2005-07
Joanne E. Myers (English), 2005-07

These initiatives bring focus, clarity, and energy to a critical aspect of a much larger project: the imaginative reformulation and implementation of an agenda for church-related higher learning for the twenty-first century.


The Lilly Fellows Program in Humanities and the Arts is based in Christ College, the interdisciplinary honors college of Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, Indiana. For more information, please consult the Lilly Fellows Program website at www.lillyfellows.org.