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Utah State University's endowed faculty position for the study of Mormon culture and history got a $1 million boost from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the university announced Monday.
The donation from the LDS Church, as well as an anonymous pledged donation of $500,000, was made in support of the Leonard J. Arrington Chair of Mormon History and Culture, one of two endowed chairs within USU's religious studies department.
USU professor Philip Barlow has held the Arrington Chair position since its creation in 2007. The professorship's namesake was a USU professor who founded the Mormon History Association and became the first appointed historian of the LDS Church.
In a news release, Arrington Council Chairman Jonathan Bullen described Arrington as "a champion of people of all faiths." The Arrington Council is composed of volunteers who provide input and support to the Mormon and religious studies programs at USU.
"We need a champion today," Bullen said. "I think the field is ripe for young, bright minds to study in religious and Mormon studies programs to help lead us to a much better civic dialogue where we can find bridges and ways to cooperate, rather than be fearful of one another."
In addition to the Arrington Chair, USU also sponsors the annual Leonard J. Arrington Mormon History Lecture Series. The lecture series is partially supported by the $500,000 pledge, which is structured to match future donations made to the university.