Xavier University was one of only seven colleges and universities in the nation to receive a National Endowment for the Humanities Challenge Grant for fiscal year 1998.The grant of $400,000 (to be matched by funds raised by Xavier in a 4:1 ratio) was given to support the further development of the E/RS Program. To date, Xavier has received more than $1.3 million in pledges for support of the E/RS Program.
The criteria used in the selection of the E/RS Program as a recipient of a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities Grant were intellectual quality, the capability of the institution to support and sustain outstanding endeavors in the humanities, and the potential for significant impact. William R. Ferris, NEH chairman, made the following observation about Xavier's E/RS Proposal:
... NEH challenge grants are awarded only after a demanding peer review process. Your proposal was reviewed by faculty and administrators from colleges and universities with expertise in research, teaching and long-term planning for the humanities. These evaluators were especially impressed with the major institutional planning process that resulted in this effective core focus on ethics/religion and society. They applauded the plans to begin with a series of visiting lecturers prior to choosing a visiting scholar ... We are delighted to be a funding partner for this exciting endeavor, and I hope others will join with us in supporting the enrichment of the humanities in America (Letter of December 19, 1997).
The money received through the NEH Challenge Grant has been used to establish an endowed chair/distinguished visiting professorships, support the E/RS Lecture Series, purchase library and computer resources and provide continuing education opportunities for faculty.
In 1997 the McGregor Fund awarded a grant of $75,000 to Xavier University to support development of team-taught, interdisciplinary courses for the Ethics/Religion and Society Focus. Established in 1925, the McGregor Fund is a private foundation which supports efforts "to relieve the misfortunes and promote the well-being of mankind." The foundation awards grants to organizations in the following areas: human services; education; health care; arts and culture; and public benefit.
In response to the NEH Challenge Grant, in 1998 the Louise Taft Semple Foundation awarded $225,000 to Xavier University to support the E/RS Lecture Series. The Lecture Series brings to campus prominent intellectuals and public leaders having diverse perspectives on a specific issue.
In 1999 the John Templeton Foundation recognized the E/RS Program for leadership in the field of character development. The E/RS Program was chosen as one of 45 exemplary faculty and curriculum programs in the nation to be profiled in The Templeton Guide: Colleges that Encourage Character Development. "Xavier University's strong commitment to character development and the strength of its program make it a model for colleges and universities nationwide," said Arthur J. Schwartz, Ed.D., director of character development programs at the John Templeton Foundation. He added, "The Templeton Guide identifies colleges that encourage students to understand the importance of personal and civic responsibility, which will help them succeed in college and beyond. Xavier's work in this area is most impressive."
Robert White, editorial page editor for The Cincinnati Post called the E/RS Lecture Series a valuable contribution to the life of the city. In his September 14, 1998 editorial on the lectures dealing with Justice and Race, he noted:"Xavier University will launch an exceptional lecture series this month, part of a welcome effort to engage students, faculty and the entire Greater Cincinnati community in discussions about the ethical issues that underlay contemporary events....It's healthy to see the discussion broadened to take in the intellectual life of the city--and, further, to see participation by the region's leading religious leaders."