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New chair endowed in Byzantine Theology

Observer Staff Report | Tuesday, September 6, 2011

As part of University efforts to expand its renowned Medieval Institute, Notre Dame established an endowed chair in Byzantine Theology this fall, according to a Friday press release.

The position will focus on the theology of the Medieval Greek speaking Church and is named in honor of Archbishop Demetrios Trakatellis, primate of the Greek Orthodox Church of America.

The new professorship will include teaching and research on the Eastern Roman Empire, the release stated.

University President Fr. John Jenkins said the professor selected to fill the position will continue to develop the Medieval Institute and its strengths.

“The new chair in Byzantine Theology will complement the mission of our Medieval Institute and, more broadly, the University’s acknowledged strengths in patristic and western medieval theology,” Jenkins said. “We are pleased to honor Archbishop Demetrios with the naming of this chair, as we are extremely thankful for his integral role in strengthening relations between Roman Catholics and Orthodox Christians around the world.”

The chair holder will be a member of both the Department of Theology and the Medieval Institute, the release stated. The Department of Theology includes more than 50 full-time faculty members.

Demetrios said he was “humbled and deeply grateful” to be the chair’s namesake.

“The University’s decision [to put the chair in my name] constitutes a great honor for me,” Demetrios said. “I pray that this gracious gesture by your prominent university will serve as another meaningful step in promoting understanding, respect and enrichment, thereby enabling our churches to more fully respond to God’s call for Christian unity.”

The creation of the chair contributes to the goals of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant issued to Notre Dame in 2007, according to the release. The NEH grant totaled $800,000, and was contingent upon the University raising additional funds to develop its Byzantine studies program.

Grants from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation, each $800,000, brought Notre Dame closer to its $3.2 million goal. The funds will contribute to library collections, graduate fellowships, professorships and educational programs.