Butler University announced the planned creation of The Desmond Tutu Center in partnership with Christian Theological Seminary. They made the announcement prior to Archbishop Tutu’s speech at Clowes Memorial Hall last Thursday.
The academic center will be the only in North America to be named after Tutu.
“We’re interested in peace and justice and reconciliation,” CTS President Matthew Myer Boulton said. “(Tutu) is one of the most iconic figures when it comes to putting faith into action for the common good.”
Butler University President James Danko said the university must be able to support a budget of at least $300,000 when the center opens.
“It’s not credible to talk about a center unless you have a reasonable annual budget,” Danko said. “I would really expect, over time, this thing to move from a couple hundred thousand a year to half a million a year in budget.”
It is not immediately clear when the center will begin operation.
The center will focus on research, teaching and learning around the themes of justice and reconciliation, according to a Butler press release.
Some of the center’s goals include improving communication about global issues, such as peace, justice and human dignity. Another goal is to explore non-violent actions and reactions in situations of conflict and injustice, as well as working with local religious and academic institutions on projects helping those involved better understand peace and justice.
“You hope we gain international stature as a university that is on the leading edge of dialogue and thought leadership in this area,” Danko said.
Allan Boesak, who was named the Desmond Tutu Chair for Peace, Global Justice and Reconciliation Studies in June, will head the center’s efforts.
Boesak, a South African cleric and anti-apartheid activist, was brought to Butler under a visiting appointment at the beginning of the last academic school year. He will teach two academic courses at CTS this fall and one on Butler’s campus in spring 2014.
Boesak did not respond to The Collegian’s request for comment.
Danko said Boesak expressed a desire to stay in Indianapolis after his visiting appointment expired. As a result, Boesak came up with the idea of a center—something he had also discussed with his close friend Tutu, who approved such a center bearing his name.
Boulton said he believes this center will be important for more than just Butler and CTS students.
“Any great education that happens here should engage the city in its global dimensions,” Boulton said.
Butler will begin fundraising for the center’s initial budget, Danko said.
The Dungy Family Foundation—a Florida-based organization founded by former Indianapolis Colts’ coach Tony Dungy—is a primary sponsor of the center.
The foundation “believes in strengthening, sustaining and empowering communities by providing opportunities to those in need,” according to its website.
Danko said a luncheon was held at Butler last Friday, and “a number of potential donors” were present.
The center’s creation will not necessarily mean the construction of a new building on either Butler’s or the CTS’s campus. Danko said the center may start at the offices Butler has on CTS’ campus.
Boulton said breaking up who provides what resources is “not a mathematical equation,” but it’s a 50-50 project in spirit.
“This is a center we are committed to together,” Boulton said. “Both (Butler and CTS) will be working together and traveling side by side.”