For a recent book, Dr. John Schmalzbauer, a professor of religious studies, spent years researching and collaborating with experts from around the nation.
In 2018, he and a co-author published “The Resilience of Religion in American Higher Education.”
“It’s an overview of all the work that’s been done on the heightened role of religion in higher education,” he said.
The book documents an openness to religion in collegiate communities. It challenges the notion that religion on campuses has declined or disappeared.
Schmalzbauer was able to conduct this notable research because he holds a faculty endowment as the Blanche Gorman Strong Chair in Protestant Studies.
“People around the country know about MSU”
Schmalzbauer first came to Missouri State in 2004.
His endowed position was created thanks to a private donation from a university supporter.
This chair is a special role within his department.
With the extra funding he receives, Schmalzbauer is able to prioritize his research, create projects like his book and pursue global collaborations.
He brings his expertise into the classroom as he teaches and advises students.
“It’s been very rewarding to see these scholars in the making,” he said.
“People around the country know about MSU’s department of religious studies. Our students go to prestigious graduate programs and become part of the field.”
These gifts show “we’re a place on the move”
“Faculty endowments enrich many aspects of university life,” Schmalzbauer said.
“They call attention to Missouri State in the landscape of American higher education,” Schmalzbauer said.
“They show that we’re a place on the move, doing serious hiring in several different areas. They show that MSU allows faculty members to be part of conversations around the country.”
Schmalzbauer is thankful his endowed position brought him to the Ozarks 15 years ago.
“I wouldn’t have been able to come to this part of the world without it,” he said. “It is a privilege to live here. It’s so fascinating, complex and diverse.”
He encourages potential donors to consider supporting endowments because they benefit future generations.
“It’s a way to put tangible resources into an area of study you are passionate about.”