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Alumni donate for new campus centers

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Two alumni and College regents pledged $1 million gifts to St. Olaf to establish centers in their names. The Glenn and Myretta Taylor Center for Equity and Inclusion, named after Glenn Taylor ’73 and his wife Myretta Taylor, will bolster the services currently provided by the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement (CMIE). Donations by Tim Maudlin ’73 and his wife Jan Maudlin ’72 will support the foundation of the Lutheran Center for Faith, Values and Community. The College will match both the pledge amounts through a program that uses their endowment to accelerate the gifts of important College initiatives.

President David Anderson ’74 announced the two donations in an email to the school, stating that both exhibit core elements of the College’s identity.

“These two gifts lift up two of our College’s foundational commitments that are knit together in our mission statement,” Anderson wrote. “One is to ‘examine faith and values, and explore meaningful vocation’ and the other is to welcome all into ‘an inclusive, globally engaged community nourished by Lutheran tradition.’”

The Taylor Center will provide programs for students of color and international students, bringing in speakers and hosting public events as well as offering training for students, faculty and staff, according to Associate Director of Media Relations, Kari VanDerVeen. The Taylors hope to make St. Olaf “an inclusive environment across the intersections of race and identity,” VanDerVeen wrote in St. Olaf News.

“My wife and I feel that our gift will help the College continue the progress already being made toward becoming a more welcoming environment for students, faculty and staff,” Taylor wrote in an email to the Manitou Messenger. They began this discussion around the same time that the Working Group on Equity and Inclusion released its Report to the Community this past May.

“We felt that the campaign provided a timely opportunity to make a large gift that would expand the resources available to the Center for Multicultural and International Engagement,” Taylor wrote. “We hope that by expanding the resources available to CMIE, we will provide a boost to the engagement, training and outreach necessary to removing barriers. That includes making sure that the St. Olaf culture supports students’ well-being and success.”

The Lutheran Center, which will be developed over five years, will provide opportunities for interfaith dialogue within and beyond the St. Olaf campus. Some programs offered through the Center will include a seminary exploration program that will pair students with faith-based internships, orientation programming for new students and faculty and staff workshops about the Lutheran tradition in a modern context.

“The Center will create opportunities for reflection on religious belief, including reasoned consideration of Christian faith and other traditions that engage questions of truth and meaning,” Maudlin wrote to the Manitou Messenger.

The Maudlins’ gift was a response to what they saw as the “pressing need for expertise in interreligious dialogue and relationship” in the St. Olaf community.

“Because the St. Olaf community includes people of many religions and no religion, the Center will champion a spirit of mutual respect and inclusion,” Maudlin wrote. The Center will create opportunities for reflection on religious belief, considering Christian faith and other traditions and will impose no doctrinal filters on the College community.

“We pray that the Center’s programs will empower the St. Olaf community to more fully be a place of welcome and wholeness while concurrently engaging every Ole to be blessed through a well-lived life of purpose and service in the community and the world,” Maudlin wrote.

Both Centers will provide openings for new directors who will be hired this year, according to VanDerVeen. After hiring the new directors, planning and fundraising, the programs will begin next year.