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Release: Sept. 26, 2002

Exhibit Marks 75 Years of Religious Education at UI

An exhibit commemorating the 75th anniversary of formal religious education at the University of Iowa is on display through November in the department of special collections on the third floor of the Main Library.

In the fall semester of 1927, the newly formed School of Religion opened its doors to students for the first time. That term, eight courses were offered with an average class size of 12 students. Courses included studies in Christian ethics, Hebrew language, and a seminar entitled "Persistent Problems in Religion."

The school's opening was an historic milestone, as the university was the first public university in the nation to offer degrees in religious studies. It remained the only public university to do so for 40 years. Since its inception, the program has offered instruction in the world's religions, but has never functioned as a seminary.

The exhibit recounts the founding of the school and offers examples of the program's many accomplishments in its 75 years. It also considers the question of separation of church and state, and the role of a program in religious studies at a public institution.

Earlier this year the program was renamed the department of religious studies. As before, the program is part of the University's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. It is chaired by David E. Klemm, Ph.D.

The exhibit is free and open to the public during library service hours.