Grant to Fund Christian Studies Pilot Program

Harold C. Smith Foundation Award helps prepare students for service leadership roles.

The Harold C. Smith Foundation has awarded Ursinus College a $150,000 grant to fund Ursinus Christian Studies and Service, a pilot program aimed at supporting the religious and spiritual development of students through experiential learning.

Research and internship opportunities will help students discover and unlock future vocational paths, bringing thems into thoughtful reflection on one of the four core questions at the heart of the College’s liberal arts mission, “What will I do?”

The late Rev. Dr. Harold C. Smith ’55, who passed away in March 2017, was a longtime member of the Ursinus Board of Trustees and a champion of Ursinus College.

“At Ursinus, we strive to provide opportunities for our students to explore their faith while encouraging them to make positive change in their local and global communities. The generous support from the Harold C. Smith Foundation allows students to come to a greater understanding of their deepest values, and by providing research and internship opportunities, helps them to discover and unlock future vocational paths,” says Christian Rice ’98, the assistant dean for civic engagement and a member of the faculty in philosophy and religious studies.

Opportunities for students to reflect on values and vocations include:

  • Vocational discernment retreats that will allow students to spend two days reflecting on the question, “What is my calling/vocation, and how do I know?”
  • Experiential learning and internships with religious-based service organizations.
  • The Melrose Conference on Religion, Justice, and Peace during spring 2018, which will focus on the intersectionality of religion, human rights, social justice, and peacemaking initiatives.
  • Religion, Justice, and Peace Summer Research Scholars, a program in which students will be encouraged to design summer research projects that build off the theme of the conference.

Additionally, the Rev. Charles W. Rice Postgraduate Research Fellowship will allow a graduating Ursinus student to design a postgraduate experience abroad. It is named for the late Rev. Rice, the longtime Ursinus College chaplain who served the pastoral needs of the college community, oversaw the chaplaincy program and advised and counseled students. Rev. Rice passed away in April 2017.

The funding will also allow for a weeklong service trip coordinated through the Moravian Church in Jamaica for Bonner leaders; an inaugural Faith Week coordinated by Ursinus interfaith groups; an alternative spring break faith and service trip; and spiritual wellness programming, including a speaker series facilitated by the Ursinus Wellness Center.

At Ursinus, Rev. Smith established the Rev. Dr. Harold C. Smith Endowed Chair in Christian Studies, which supports a faculty member and fosters scholarship and teaching. The Harold C. Smith Scholarship Fund assists United Church of Christ students interested in attending Ursinus College. Smith also supported an annual fund scholarship to help students interested in religious studies. —By Ed Moorhouse