Nazareth College Unveils Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue

ROCHESTER, NY (12/07/2011)(readMedia)-- Nazareth College's commitment to interfaith studies in the Rochester community and beyond is being demonstrated as Nazareth President Daan Braveman announced a major gift by Brian and Jean Hickey to name the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue at Nazareth College. Brian Hickey, Nazareth College trustee and executive vice president at M&T Bank, and his wife, Jean Hickey, Primary Therapist - Unity Behavioral Health, are giving $500,000 to name the center. The Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue (CISD) is part of the Nazareth's College of Arts and Sciences and is located within Nazareth's Golisano Academic Center. The Hickey CISD was founded in 2005 and has been a leader in advancing the power of dialogue and in teaching students and members of the community strategies for living peacefully in a religiously diverse world.

"Great work has been done for many years in the Rochester community and at Nazareth College in the area of interfaith understanding, dialogue and collaboration," said Brian and Jean Hickey. "It is our hope that our contribution will provide greater prominence to that work and inspire others to continue it in Rochester and beyond."

The second part of today's announcement is a $500,000 gift from the International Institute of Islamic Thought (based near Washington, D.C.) to fund the International Institute of Islamic Thought (IIIT) Chair of Interfaith Studies. Muhammad Shafiq, executive director of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue and a religious studies professor at Nazareth, has accepted the position as the new chair. He will split his time between teaching and his administration role at the Center. Read more on Shafiq here: .

"We expect this chair to initiate a substantial academic program in the study of religions and how people of faith interact with and influence society," said Vice President of IIIT Jamal Barzinji. "Dr. Shafiq already has the respect of his colleagues of all faiths as well as civic leaders of Rochester. He has the academic qualifications, coupled with the ability to reach out to a wider community of learners in an engaging manner."

"The gifts that we have received from Brian and Jean Hickey and the International Institutional of Islamic Thought (IIIT) encourage us not only to expand on our continuing academic and community programs, but to create more opportunities of higher education in interfaith studies," said Muhammad Shafiq, director of the Hickey Center for Interfaith Studies and Dialogue. "We just started with an undergrad interdisciplinary minor in interfaith studies, the next logical step would be a graduate studies program in the same area. We have a great support from the local community, have reputation and recognition at the national level and the next step would be increasing our efforts at international level by creating programs that would attract the world community."

"Nazareth is proud to be part of this important interfaith initiative," said Nazareth President Daan Braveman. "It is appropriate that this center is in Rochester, N.Y. Rochester has historically been a site for important movements involving social change, from the Underground Railroad to the women's rights movement. And with respect to interfaith dialogue, this area produced the earliest written agreements among Christians, Muslims and Jews to work together toward common understanding. It is noteworthy that our valuable donors Brian and Jean Hickey and leaders from the International Institute of Islamic Thought are members of the business community, individuals who understand the importance of interfaith cooperation for the global business environment."

Founded in 1924, Nazareth College is located on a close-knit, suburban campus in the dynamic, metropolitan region of Rochester, N.Y. The College offers challenging academic programs in the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs in health and human services, education, and management. Nazareth's strong cultures of service and community prepare students to be successful professionals and engaged citizens. The College enrolls approximately 2,000 undergraduate students and 1,000 graduate students.