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ABILENE, Texas – McMurry University is pleased to announce its recent acceptance for membership in the Lilly Fellows Program National Network of Church Related Colleges and Universities. Established in 1991, the National Network consists of nearly 100 church-related colleges and universities representing a wide array of institutional types and religious affiliations within both Protestant and Roman Catholic traditions. This ecumenical network exists as a consortium of church-related schools interested in exploring what it means to be a church-related academic institution, the relationship between Christian faith and intellectual scholarship, and the nature of the academic vocation at a Christian institution.

The benefits of affiliation with the LFP are multiple. First, McMurry will have the opportunity to participate in the ongoing, national conversation about church-related higher education through the annual LFP National Conference, and through smaller, regional conferences, workshops, seminars, and exchange programs. In all of these activities, LFP-affiliated schools are interested in conversing and sharing various perspectives on and models for deepening and enhancing the connection between Christianity and the academic vocation.

In addition to these national and regional venues for learning and conversation, the LFP-affiliation provides McMurry with access to numerous grant opportunities to provide book discussion groups to stimulate conversations about church-related higher education, to establish faculty mentoring programs to nurture new and junior faculty members at McMurry, and to offer regional conferences, seminars, and exchange programs related to the questions and concerns particular to a Christian intellectual community.

Finally, as a member of the LFP network, McMurry will have the opportunity each year to nominate up to three undergraduates for the Lilly Graduate Fellows Program. This program is designed to support, during the course of graduate studies, young men and women who have a bachelor degree from LFP Network schools and who are interested in a teacher-scholar vocation at church-related colleges and universities in the United States. In addition to receiving a three-year annual scholarship, recipients of this award will also be provided with senior mentors and the opportunity to participate in discussion colloquia and annual conferences to engage questions of research, teaching, vocation, and their interest in church-related higher education.

McMurry’s membership begins in the fall 2012. For the first year of membership, McMurry President John Russell has appointed Dr. Philip LeMasters, Dean of the School of Social Sciences and Religion, and Dr. Bryan Stewart, Assistant Professor of Religion, as McMurry University’s official representatives and liaisons.