A $15 million gift from a South Bend family will be used to create a new institute at the University of Notre Dame. The Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion will be dedicated to the study of religion around the world.
The institute will be housed within the university’s new Donald R. Keough School of Global Affairs. Notre Dame says it will study "how religious teachings, traditions, history, practice and thought inform the rapidly shifting patterns of global migration, conflict and peacebuilding, political culture and human development."
"The need for people of faith to focus on what unites us rather than on what divides us has never been more urgent," said Rev. John Jenkins, president of Notre Dame. "This extraordinary gift from an esteemed local Muslim family, longtime friends of Notre Dame, will allow us to bring together scholars of the first order to foster dialogue and deepen understanding. We are immensely grateful to the Ansaris for making this aspiration a reality."
Rafat and Zoreen Ansari are parents of Notre Dame students who moved to South Bend in 1980.
"Notre Dame is well positioned to understand and enhance the role of religions and religious people in addressing systematic problems like poverty and violence – something we care about deeply," said the Ansaris. "Having raised our family and built our lives in this community, so close to Notre Dame, we determined that now is the ideal time to partner with the University in this new way."