History of the Department

From 1950s to the Present Day…

1954 The academic study of religion at UCSB began under the leadership of a professor in Political Science, D. Mackenzie Brown. In February, he chaired a committee of professors from various departments, the function of which committee was to consider the possible introduction of courses in the study of religion at UCSB.
1958 A course entitled “Religious Institutions” was offered for the first time in the fall in the Political Science Department of the College of Letters and Sciences.
1959-1960 Two more courses were added in 1959; and in fall of 1960, “Religious Institutions” became a separate program administered by a faculty committee, composed of D. Mackenzie Brown as chair, Cornelius Muller of Botany, and William Kennedy from Economics.
1961 In December, the committee drafted a proposal for a major in Religious Institutions, designed to offer “a preparatory background of studies for individuals planning post-graduate work or careers in the field of theology.”
1962 Following negative responses from already established departments, the theological emphasis was dropped entirely, and a second proposal “designed for students desiring a general education with emphasis upon this aspect of Western civilization and comparative cultures” was submitted and approved.
1963 Paul Tillich was appointed as a visiting lecturer in the spring.
In the fall, W. Richard Comstock became the first full-time appointment, and the title of the major was changed to Religious Studies.
1964 The Department of Religious Studies was officially established on July 1, 1964 with a faculty of four:

  • D. Mackenzie Brown as chair;
  • Paul Tillich, returning as a visiting professor for Spring Quarter, 1964;
  • W. Richard Comstock;
  • Walter Capps, who arrived in July, becoming the second full-time appointment
At this time there were eight courses in the major, two of them from cognate departments, plus a list of related courses.
1965 D. Mackenzie Brown left UCSB in July, and was replaced as chairperson by Robert Michaelsen, who thus became the third full-time appointment in the new Department of Religious Studies.
Proposals for an Institute of Religious Studies and for a graduate program were already being considered at this time. In September, the Department submitted a formal proposal for an Institute of Religious Studies. It was “designed to do what a department cannot do adequately, that is, to stimulate and support research in the phenomenon of religion by scholars from a variety of disciplines and fields.” The position of director was defined as a half-time position, the other half to be devoted to work in some department of the university, as determined by the field of competence of the director.
1966 The Institute of Religious Studies was officially established on July 1,1966.
A proposal for a graduate program leading to an M.A. degree in Religious Studies was drafted in October. It suggested a timetable of fall of 1967 for inaugurating the M.A. program, and fall of 1970 for the addition of a Ph.D. program in Religious Studies.
1967 Thomas F. O’Dea came to UCSB in January as a professor in the departments of Religious Studies and Sociology and as the first director of the Institute of Religious Studies. O’Dea worked closely with Robert Michaelsen and other faculty in Religious Studies in developing the proposal for a graduate program.
The M.A. program in Religious Studies was officially launched on July 1, 1967.
The ladder faculty at this time included:

  • Walter Capps;
  • W. Richard Comstock;
  • Robert Michaelsen;
  • Thomas F. O’Dea;
  • newly-appointed assistant professor, Wilbur M. Fridell;
  • acting assistant professor, Jonathan Z. Smith.

Two lecturers and and associates were also included on the staff.

The new M.A. program in Religious Studies required:

  • reading proficiency in French or German;
  • thirty units in upper division and graduate level course work;
  • a thesis.

Moreover, all graduate students were required to take a two-quarter graduate seminar entitled Religious Studies 230, “Seminar in the History and Theory of Religion.” The required seminar was taught by Thomas F. O’Dea with the specific intention of making the interdisciplinary work of the Institute, which O’Dea directed, available to graduate students. Beyond the required seminar, graduate students were expected to focus their course work in three general areas of preparation:

  • history of religions;
  • religious thought; or
  • theories of religion and religious behavior.

Ten graduate level courses were introduced.

1969 A proposal for a program offering the Ph.D. degree in Religious Studies was drafted in spring of 1969 and officially approved and established on July 1 of the same year.
One additional full-time faculty was added to the department in 1969-70, Birger Pearson.
Mircea Eliade was appointed as a visiting professor for one quarter.
The new Ph.D. program in Religious Studies required:

  • reading proficiency in French and German;
  • the two-quarter “Seminar in the History and Theory of Religion,”
    taught by O’Dea;
  • a residence requirement of two academic years;
  • a comprehensive examination;
  • an oral qualifying examination;
  • a dissertation.

With the introduction of the Ph.D. program, a significant change in the requirements for the M.A. degree was also brought about. The M.A. thesis requirement was dropped, and a comprehensive examination was put in its place. Students in the Ph.D. program generally worked in history of religions, religious thought or theories of religion and religious behavior, and it was the intention of the department to design a particular program for each doctoral student that reflected the student’s needs as well as the strengths of the department and the cognate resources at UCSB.

1970-1971 Gerald J. Larson joined the full-time faculty in the summer of 1970, and succeeded Robert Michaelsen as chair of the department on July 1971.
Robert Michaelsen was elected president of the AAR for 1971-72.
1971-1972 During the 1971-72 academic year a curriculum committee made up of faculty, graduate students and undergraduate students was formed to revise the undergraduate major in Religious Studies. The process of revision was completed by fall of 1973.
The structure of the undergraduate major consisted of forty-eight upper division units, eight each in the three areas of Western Religious Studies, Asian Religious Studies, and Religion and Culture. From four to twelve units were expected to be taken from cognate courses in other departments.
Discussions by the faculty regarding the revision of the graduate programs also began in the 1971-72 academic year. Continuing self-criticism by the department, the appearance of the Welch report (a publication of the American Academy of Religion that questioned the validity of the Department’s graduate program) and the addition of Raimundo Panikkarto the full-time faculty in January of 1972 were all factors leading to a reconsideration of the scope and structure of the graduate programs. As discussions about the graduate program unfolded, a consensus emerged that it would be desirable, if possible:

  • to sharpen the description of the intention of the graduate program so that prospective students would have a clearer impression of the kind of work being pursued in Religious Studies at UCSB;
  • to devise areas of special work which reflected the particular strengths of the UCSB faculty in Religious Studies; and
  • to shape the special programs in Religious Studies in a way that would allow optimal use of cognate resources at UCSB — the latter including such elements as faculty in other departments, possibilities for language-study at UCSB, library resources, etc.
1973 The M.A. program was separated from the Ph.D. program and was reinterpreted as a general rather than a specialized program. It was designed for those wishing to do general graduate-level work in Religious Studies either for the purpose of general education or for the purpose of primary and secondary school teaching, etc. More specialized work could be pursued by M.A. students, but it was not required. Requirements for the degree included:

  • reading proficiency in French or German,
  • thirty-six units of course work (eighteen of which must be at the graduate
  • a required one-quarter “Proseminar in Theoretical Approaches
    to the Study of Religion” (Religious Studies 201), and
  • a comprehensive examination.

Moreover, M.A. students would not ordinarily proceed into a Ph.D. program, at least at UCSB.

The Ph.D. program was reinterpreted, entitled Cross-Cultural & Interdisciplinary Studies in Religion, and was divided into three areas or tracks for special concentration:

  • Cross-Cultural Studies in Religious Traditions;
  • Sociology of Religion; and
  • Coordinated Studies in Religion and the Humanities.

Raimundom Panikkar and Gerald J. Larson assumed responsibility for coordinating Cross-Cultural Studies; Thomas F. O’Dea and Robert Michaelsen were to be responsible for Sociology of Religion and W. Richard Comstock and Walter Capps for Coordinated Studies in Religion and the Humanities. It was also decided that only five students would be admitted in residence in any one track.

Requirements for the new Ph.D. program included:

  • French and German (and for Cross-Cultural Studies an additional fundamental language, classical or modern),
  • a residence requirement,
  • a comprehensive examination,
  • the one-quarter course entitled “Proseminar in Theoretical Approaches to the Study of Religion” (Religious Studies 201),
  • an oral qualifying examination, and
  • a dissertation.
1974 In the fall, the Department of Religious Studies at UCSB was invited to become a member of the Council on Graduate Studies in Religion. (The Council serves as a quality-control agency with respect to graduate studies in religion, and membership on the Council is made available only to established graduate programs, and is by invitation only.)
Richard Hecht joined the faculty as a lecturer in the area of Judaica.
Thomas F. O’Dea died in November, with a High Funeral Mass for Professor O’Dea celebrated at the Santa Barbara Mission. The Sociology of Religion track was therefore set aside, and the Ph.D. program consisted of two areas of specialization — namely, Cross-Cultural Studies in Religious Traditions and
Coordinated Studies in Religion and the Humanities.
1975 Robert Gimello joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the areas of Chinese and Buddhist studies.
1976 Ninian Smart joined the faculty as Professor in the areas of Philosophy of Religion and Comparative Religion.
Birger Pearson succeeded Gerald Larson as department chairperson.
Richard Hecht was advanced to Assistant Professor.
1977 The Religious Studies Graduate and Faculty Colloquium series was initiated to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas of common interest and to provide a focus for on-going departmental discussions of the study of religion.
1978 Phillip Hammond joined the faculty as Professor in the area of Sociology of Religion and Inés Talamentez joined the faculty as an Assistant Professor in the area of Native American Religious Traditions.
The Institute of Religious Studies was discontinued as an active research center for inter-disciplinary studies in religion and the humanities at UCSB.
1979 W. Richard Comstock succeeded Birger Pearson as chairperson.
Robert Gimello resigned and took a position at the University of Arizona.
In the spring, Gerald Larson wrote a grant application for and chaired a conference and mounted an art exhibition entitled “In Her Image,” which compared images between the Catholic Virgin Mary and various Hindu goddesses.
1980 The number of units required for the undergraduate major was reduced from forty-eight to forty-four, and a double major was encouraged.
1981 Charles Wendell, who held part-time positions in the Religious Studies Department and the German Department teaching Islamic Studies and Arabic, died in the spring. A memorial service was held in the University Center. The German Department decided not to teach Arabic. Consequently, the Religious Studies Department was given a full FTE position for the purposes of Arabic instruction and Islamic studies generally.
An Undergraduate Honors program was added to the major. The student submits a formal petition (accompanied by one faculty reference) to the chairperson of the Department. In order to participate in the program, students had to have:

  • residence at UCSB of at least one year,
  • a cumulative G.P.A. of 3.5,
  • a G.P.A. of 3.7 in Religious Studies, and
  • Religious Studies 195, “Senior Honors Program Seminar.
1982 William Powell joined the Department, replacing Robert Gimello‘s position in the area of Buddhist and Chinese Studies.
1983 Juan E. Campo joined the Department as an assistant professor in the areas of History of Religions, Islamic Studies and Arabic.
For the first time, a three-hour field exam is required of Ph.D. students.
1984 Phillip Hammond assumed the chair of the Department.
The Japan Bamboo Association (Take no Kai) sponsored a trip to Santa Barbara by Gudo Wafu Nishijima, a Buddhist priest. At the suggestion of Professor Wilbur Fridell, the Department of Religious Studies cosponsored two lectures by the Rev. Nishijima and initiated discussions with Hisanao Ichikawa, the head of the JBA’s International Allotment Section. These discussions culminated in 1986 with the establishment of the Bamboo Fund.
1985 Allan Grapard was appointed as a visiting professor in Japanese Religions while Wilbur M. Fridell was on leave.
In the spring, working again from a NEH grant secured by Gerald Larson, the Department held a series of conferences on graduate education, with the title: “Religion Within the Limits of Reason Alone: The Future of Graduate Education in Religious Studies.” The proceedings of the conferences became a special publication in the journal Soundings. The Department’s own graduate program was affected by the conference in the addition of Religious Studies 200C to its graduate requirements. RS 200C addressed the perceived need for some acquaintance with questions of empirical evidence.
The number of upper division units required for the undergraduate major further decreased from forty-four to thirty-six, to encourage a double major.
Kurt Rudolf, an expert on Gnosticism, joined the faculty after a year’s visiting professorship at Chicago, thereby defecting from behind the Iron Curtain. For years a professor at the University of Leipzig, Rudolf returned in 1987 to what was then West Germany (University of Marburg).
1985-1986 The Department held a three-day conference on ritual, chaired by Allan Grapard. The proceedings were published in the journal Ritual Studies.
1985-1987 The Department received two grants from the California Council of the Humanities to create and conduct an ongoing program entitled “The Religious Contours of California.” William Powell served as coordinator. The program involved training high school teachers and various volunteer groups in the greater Santa Barbara area in how to educate their students about the diversity of religious traditions represented in California and thereby in the world. The program also planned for a nine volume series targeting secondary education and sought to generate among high school students and others an appreciation for “living religious traditions on the ground.”
Wilbur M. Fridell retired.
Allan Grapard joined the faculty as an associate professor in Japanese Religions.
In the spring, Brian Wilson, an Oxford scholar, visited the Department as the UCSB Distinguished Visiting Professor of the Humanities.
Phillip Hammond was elected to a two-year term as President of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
Professor William Powell and Mr. Ichikawacoordinated a donation of $102,000 from the Japan Bamboo Association to the Department, to be used to further teaching and research in the study of Japanese religions and/or to fund research in Japan. The current use stipulations (as of 1990) are primarily for the support of graduate students; alternatively the funds may be used for:

  • faculty research and travel,
  • student summer language study in the U.S. or Japan,
  • student travel and/or residency in Japan, and
  • acquisition of library materials.
The Rowny endowment fund was secured. In 1980, J.F. Rowny, a publisher of new-age books, died, leaving a handwritten will stipulating that his assets be used to create a foundation for the study of non-sectarian religion. In 1984, Phillip Hammond, then Chairman of the Department of Religious Studies, was appointed to the board of trustees of the Rowny Foundation. In 1986, the Rowny Foundation trustees deeded the entire Rowny estate to the UCSB Religious Studies Department. The property, at the top of Mission Canyon, was placed under conservation easement, with the exception of six acres, which were put up for bid and sold for $650,000. The remainder of the estate was worth $200,000-$250,000.
The Department voted to use $700,000 to create two endowed chairs, the J.F. Rowny Chair in Religion and Society and the J.F. Rowny Chair in Comparative Religion, and to invest the funds in the Regents’ Investment Pool. The income from the combined total is limited to improve graduate education. The Department established the Rowny Fellowship program, which funds approximately six new graduate students each year. The number of years of financial support that could be expected is limited to four years (five for those students needing time for language study or study abroad).
Professor Robert S. Michaelsen was named to the J.F. Rowny Chair in Religion and Society, and Professor Ninian Smart to the J.F. Rowny Chair in Comparative Religion.
Steve Allen was the Department’s guest as a Regents’ Lecturer.
1987 Catherine L. Albanese joined the Department as a professor in American Religious History.
W. Randall Garr joined the Department as an assistant professor in Semitic Languages.
Raimundo Panikkar retired and Barbara Holdrege joined the faculty as an assistant professor in Comparative Religions in place of Panikkar.
Richard Turner was hired to teach African and African American religion.
Foreign language study began to be heavily recommended as part of the undergraduate major. The Undergraduate Honors program offered honors sections in lower-division courses, inviting students to design their own contract courses and independent study. The Edward C. Truman award was established for outstanding freshman, sophomore, or junior religious studies students.
In the graduate curriculum, Religious Studies 200C was added, providing instruction in empirical studies in the study of religion.
1989 Robert Michaelsen retired.
Ninian Smart assumed the department chair.
Walter Capps received the Corita Kent Peace Award from Immaculate Heart College Center.
Gerald Larson gave the Swami Dayananda Endowed Lectures at the Ramakrishna Institute of Culture in Calcutta, India.
Barbara Holdrege won the Harold J. Plous Memorial Award for assistant professor or instructor who demonstrates outstanding performance in creative action, contribution to research, teaching and intellectual life of the college community
1990 Wade Clark Roof joined the faculty as the J.F. Rowny Professor of Religion and Society, succeeding Robert Michaelsen in the position upon his retirement in 1989.
In December, Wade Clark Roof‘s research on the Baby Boomers was featured as the cover-story in Newsweek.
Raimundo Panikkar received the Spanish National Prize Antonio Machado for his book, Paz y desarmo cultural.
Once again both an MA I and MA II were offered. The requirements for the MA I are:

  • completion of RS 200ABC;
  • a comprehensive exam following RS 200B;
  • a language exam in either French or German;
  • thirty-six units of religious studies courses, no less that twenty-four of which are graduate courses; and
  • a thesis.

The requirements for the MA II are:

  • completion of RS 201, a new course entitled “Core Issues in the Study of Religion”
  • a comprehensive exam following RS 201; and
  • the same unit requirements as the MA I (no thesis is required).

The only new addition to the Ph.D. requirements is the stipulation that students must advance to candidacy by the 10th quarter if they entered without an MA, and by the 7th if they entered with an MA.

1991 An endowment was given by the Saudi Royal Family providing for a chair in the field of Islamic History in the History Department. As part of this package, Religious Studies assumed the responsibility for teaching first-year Arabic.
Dwight F. Reynolds joined the department as an assistant professor in the area of Arabic Language and Literature.
Kenneth Woodward (editor in religion for Newsweek) visited UCSB as the Regents’ Lecturer.
Catherine Albanese was named Alumna of the Year by the Divinity School of the University of Chicago.
Wade Clark Roof served as President of the Religious Research Association for 1991-1992.
Walter Capps‘ class, “The Impact of the Vietnam War” was featured on 60 Minutes.
William Powell conducted a study on sacred geography at Jihua Mountain in China and participated in an interdisciplinary conference held on the mountain by Chinese scholars.
Juan E. Campo took a two-year appointment as Director of the U.C. Education Abroad center in Cairo.
The Dalai Lama visited UCSB on a tour of the United States to inaugurate the Year of Tibet. The Dalai Lama took part in a panel discussion at the Centennial House moderated by Gerald Larson, with Ninian Smart, William Powell and Kenneth Woodward participating. He then spoke at the UCSB Events Center on “Global Peace and Security.”
1992 Charles Long joined the faculty as Professor. He also assumed the position of Director of the Center for Black Studies.
1993 W. Richard Comstock retired. Approval was obtained to begin a search for a full appointment to replace his position in the area of Religion in Western Culture.
The Religious Studies Department voted not to extend tenure to Richard Turner, who then transferred to a full-time position in the Black Studies Department.
Walter Capps assumed leadership of the Department.
The Department established a Vice-Chair first held by Richard Hecht.
The Department held a three-day conference on Tibetan religion and culture that mixed popular lectures, academic papers, panel discussions and an illustrated art presentation to cater to a variety of interests. The conference drew an audience of one thousand people.
The Center for the Study of Religion was established under the directorship of Wade Clark Roof. It is designed to seek extramural funding for research projects on religion, and to train students in conducting research.
1994 Birger Pearson retired.
Nandini Iyer retired but was retained as a Visiting Lecturer in first-year Sanskrit.
Wilbur M. Fridell passed away.
Walter Capps became the Democratic candidate for California’s 22nd Congressional District while being Chair of the department. He lost the race for the Congressional seat by a narrow margin.
In recognition of his service to the Department, and especially of his efforts with the Rowny Endowment, Professor Phillip Hammond was named to the D. Mackenzie Brown Chair in Religious Studies.
Catherine Albanese was elected President of the American Academy of Religion for the 1993-1994 term.
Wade Clark Roof was President-elect of the Society for the Scientific Study of Religion.
The Department established an electronic mail network.
1995 Ninian Smart was named Faculty Research Lecturer, the highest recognition the UCSB Faculty gives to one of its own.
The Department, along with the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, organized a major three-day conference on “Religious Forces in the New World [Dis]Order” and a second conference on Tibetan Buddhism.
Juan E. Campo secured a donation of $20,000 to establish the Hani Sadek Endowment for Islamic Studies.
Richard Hecht became chair of the Department.
1996 Walter Capps defeated Andrea Seastrand for California’s 22nd Congressional District seat in the United States House of Representatives. Capps won the election by more than 12,000 votes. He retired from the department after 32 years of service.
The Department participated in organizing and hosting, along with the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center, Santa Barbara City College, the Fielding Institute, Antioch University, Westmont College, and Pacifica Graduate Institute, a day-long, city-wide conference on “Religion and the American Future.” Among the speakers were Andrew Greeley, National Opinion Research Center, University of Chicago, and Ruben Martinez, journalist and writer from Los Angeles.
David G. White joined the faculty in the area of Hindu traditions.
1997 His Holiness, the XIV Dalai Lama, inaugurated the Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies Endowment with a lecture on the “Concept of Mind in Tibetan Buddhism” in Campbell Hall. The department hosted a formal dinner in honor of the Dalai Lama at the Coral Casino with 300 guests. The Dalai Lama spoke on the topic of Buddhism and science. The endowment reached nearly $325,000 with the expectation that it will reach its first goal of $350,000 in 1998.
B. Alan Wallace joined the Department, offering the first courses in Tibetan Buddhism and Tibetan language beginning in Summer Session.
Vesna Wallace joined the Department, offering courses in Sanskrit and South Asian Buddhism.
Kathryn McClymond, a graduate student in Religious Studies, was appointed to the University of California’s Board of Regents as Student Regent for 1997-98.
Walter Capps passed away as the result of a massive heart attack as he was returning to Washington, D.C. His funeral was held on November 3, 1997 in the Old Mission with more than 80 members of the House of Representatives present. He was eulogized by the Reverend Jesse Jackson, Nathan Brostrom, Richard Hecht, Lindsey Capps, the Honorable J. Robert Kerrey, Leander Wilkes, Roger Capps, Father Virgil Cordano, Doug Capps, Laura Capps, Lisa Capps, the Reverend Thomas Inch, and the Reverend James Ford, Chaplain of the House of Representatives; and with music composed and performed by Todd Capps, Wendy Wright, and Diane White. Leon Panetta, Former White House Chief-of-Staff, read a letter from President Clinton. The House of Representatives hosted a memorial entitled “A Celebration of the Life of Walter Capps” in the Cannon Caucus Room on November 12, 1997 with the participation of Congressman Vic Fazio (3rd District of California), the Reverend James Ford (Chaplain of the House of Representatives), the Reverend Douglas Tanner (The Faith and Politics Institute), Laura Capps, Thu Xuan Pham (Office of Representative Capps), and President William J. Clinton, with music performed by Amy Pritchard Tutt. President Clinton noted that “He sent a message to young people that public service is a noble thing and that people who commit themselves to it can make positive changes. He was an instant and consistent rebuke to the cynicism that some people try to make their way with in this day and age, especially when they talk about the political system. He taught us about our common humanity and he left us all a little better than we would have been. And if we remember not only what he said but how he lived, he would make us a lot better than we would have been.” The department held a university memorial in December with eulogies by Wilson Hubbell, Rose Sandecki, David Chidester, Ed Linenthal, Giles Gunn, Debra Sills, Mario Garcia, Richard Hecht, W. Richard Comstock, Chancellor Henry T. Yang, Robert Michaelsen, and Elliot Butler Evans, and with music performed by Jackson Browne and Betty Oberacker.
1998 Ninian Smart retired from the Department and became President-elect of the American Academy of Religion. The Department hosted a one-day symposium entitled “Smart Times” to reflect on Professor Smart‘s contributions to the study of religion, with presentations by Juha Pentikainen (Finland), Steven Katz (Boston), David Chidester (South Africa), Ivan Strenski (UC Riverside), and Giles Gunn.
Roger Friedland joined the Department by splitting his appointment between Sociology and Religious Studies.
Juan Campo was appointed as the Education Abroad Program Study Center Director in New Delhi.
Alan Wallace received major grants from the Infinity Foundation to initiate undergraduate and graduate courses in religion and science and from the Balm Foundation to offer a course with Catherine L. Albanese in global healing.
David White received a Fulbright Fellowship to study in India and Nepal.
1999 The Department hosted the third annual Tibetan Buddhism conference on “Life in Traditional Tibet” with presentations by Robert Thurman (Columbia), Rebecca French (University of Hawaii), Alan Wallace, and Raimundo Panikkar.
Thomas Carlson won the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in the Humanities.
Gurinder Singh Mann joined the Department as the first holder of the Kundan Kaur Kapany Chair in Sikh Studies in the Global and International Studies Program and in Religious Studies.
Wade Clark Roof became the tenth chair of the Department of Religious Studies.
The Department initiated the Catholic Studies Endowment named in honor of Father Virgil Cordano, OFM, of the Old Mission.
2000 Christine Thomas won the Academic Senate Distinguished Teaching Award in the Humanities.
David White was appointed as the Education Abroad Program Study Center Director in Bordeaux, France. White became the fifth departmental faculty member to direct an EAP study center (Birger Pearson in Lund, Sweden, Gerald Larson in New Delhi, India, Richard Hecht in Jerusalem, Israel, and Juan Campo in Cairo, Egypt and in New Delhi, India).
Robert and Florence Michaelsen donated funds creating the Michaelsen
Endowed Visiting Scholar Program.
The Middle East Studies Center, under the direction of Dwight Reynolds and with funding from the U.S. Department of Education, was established as a national resource center in May. This is a center for research, teaching, and outreach to public schools.
Robert S. Michaelsen died on 6 November.
2001 Ninian Smart died on 29 January. The funeral service was held on 5 February at Lancaster University. Professor Richard Hecht represented the department at the service.
José Cabezón was appointed to the newly-established XIV Dalai Lama Chair in Tibetan Buddhism and Cultural Studies in July.
Vesna Wallace was appointed as Assistant Professor of Religious Studies in the areas of Sanskrit and South Asian Buddhism in July.
Charles Schwab donated $1 million toward the establishment of the Virgil Cordano, OFM, Endowment for Catholic Studies.
The department and La Casa de Maria Retreat and Conference Center sponsored “Acts of Service: A Conference on Religion and Public Life – Honoring the Legacy of Walter H. Capps.” The Honorable Bob Kerry, President of The New School University and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, gave the keynote address for this three-day conference.
Martin E. Marty was the first Michaelsen Visiting Scholar. Along with a remembrance of Robert Michaelsen, his public lecture was presented on 27 November.
2002 The Ninian Smart Memorial Lectureship was jointly established at UCSB and Lancaster University. Mary Douglas gave the inaugural lecture on 28 January, video-streamed to UCSB.
The Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life was established with a $500,000 award from the US Congress.
The Department hosted a Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute for 18 foreign scholars. Theme: “Religion in the US: Pluralism and Public Presence.”
Professor Dwight Reynolds was appointed director of the EAP in Granada, Spain.
The Capps Center Inaugural Event was held on 6 October at Victoria Hall in downtown Santa Barbara. Commentator Garry Wills spoke, his address entitled “Citizen Believers.”>
The Capps Center received a $500,000 3-1 matching award from the National Endowment for the Humanities in November.
Mark Juergensmeyer received the 2003 Grawemeyer Award for his book, Terror in the Mind of God, with a monetary value of $200,000.
2003 Stanley Tambiah was appointed Distinguished Visiting Professor, in residence once each year.
Rudy V. Busto was appointed Assistant Professor in Asian American/Pacific Islander and Chicano/Latino Religious Traditions in January.
Jonathan Z. Smith, University of Chicago, gave the Second Ninian Smart Memorial Lecture.>
Jane Smith, Hartford Seminary, presented the second Robert S. Michaelsen Lecture.
Gregory A. Hillis joined the faculty teaching in the areas of Tibetan and Sanskrit languages.
Leonard Wallock joined the Walter H. Capps Center as its Associate Director.
The department hosted the second Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute on “Pluralism and Public Presence: Religion in the United States.”
Jolie Bernal joined the department’s staff as the Undergraduate Program staff advisor.
Stephen Prothero from Boston University was named the first Capps Visiting Professor in residence in Spring Quarter.
2004 The J. E. and Lillian Tipton Foundation gave $1.1M to establish the J. E. and Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies.
On January 23, on the occasion of Father Virgil Cordano’s 85th birthday, it was announced that the Virgil Cordano, OFM Endowment in Catholic Studies would be established with $2M of support.
The Capps Center received $580,000 as a planned charitable trust from Leinie Shilling Bard.
David White became chairperson of the department.
Mayfair Yang, whose research interests include religion in China, ethnography, critical theory, gender, media, religion, and state power, joined the department.>
Joy Davis joined the department’s staff, becoming the personnel assistant, computer liaison, and webmistress for the department’s activities.
Vincent Wimbush, Claremont Graduate School, presented the third Robert S. Michaelsen Lecture.
The Program in Buddhist Studies at UCSB, in which Religious Studies is one among several areas of concentration, began. The Center for Buddhist Studies was established.
The department hosted the third Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute on “Pluralism and Public Presence: Religion in the United States.”
Wendy Doniger, University of Chicago, gave the third Ninian Smart Memorial Lecture.
The Center for Sikh and Punjab Studies was founded under the direction of Gurinder Singh Mann.
Catherine Weinberger-Thomas was appointed as Visiting Professor teaching in the area of anthropology of religion for the next three years.
2005 Catherine L. Albanese was appointed to chair the department.
Martin E. Marty inaugurated the Martin E. Marty Lectureship on Religion in American Life, an endowed lectureship at the Capps Center, with a lecture “Mapping American Spiritualities.”
Edward T. Linenthal, University of Wisconsin, Eau Clare, and now at Indiana University as the Editor of the Journal of American History, became the second Capps Visiting Professor.
William Powell was appointed to chair East Asian Languages and Cultural Studies.
Colleen McDannell, University of Utah, became the third Capps Visiting Professor.
Stefania Tutino was appointed as Acting Assistant Professor in Religious Studies and History, doing Counter-Reformation studies.
Rudy V. Busto was promoted to Associate Professor.
Vesna Wallace was promoted to Associate Professor.
Ann Taves was appointed as the first Virgil Cordano Chairholder in Catholic Studies.
Mark Tully of the British Broadcasting Company gave the fourth Ninian Smart Memorial Lecture.
The department hosted the fourth Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute on “Pluralism and Public Presence: Religion in the United States.”
2006 Racha el Omari, an Arabist whose research and teaching is in Islamic theology, was appointed as Acting Assistant Professor in Religious Studies by the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts in the College of Letters and Science.
The Walter H. Capps Memorial Park was dedicated in Isla Vista on the bluffs overlooking the Pacific by Santa Barbara County Supervisor Brooks Firestone with Congresswoman Lois Capps.
Stefania Tutino was regularized as Assistant Professor in Religious Studies and History.
The first Catholic Studies conference, on “The Catholic Church as a Global Actor,” was held. The keynote address was presented by Thomas J. Reese, former Editor of America Magazine and Visiting Scholar at Santa Clara University.
Professor Daniel Bornstein, Texas A & M University was appointed as the first J. E. and Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies during Spring Quarter.
Venus Nasri joined the department’s staff as its financial analyst.
Department hosted the fifth Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute on “Pluralism and Public Presence: Religion in the United States.”
The Walter H. Capps Center reached its goal of $2 million for its permanent endowment meeting the National Endowment for the Humanities challenge grant. Capps Center programming now included the Mendell Endowed Graduate Student Fellowship, the Henry A. Schimberg Endowment in Ethics and Enterprise, the Martin E. Marty Lectureship on Religion in American Life, and the Capps Forum on Ethics. Laurie Harris offered the first Schimberg course for advanced undergraduate students on “Ethics, Enterprise and Leadership.”
2007 Jeffrey Alexander of Yale University gave the fifth Ninian Smart Memorial Lecture.
Mark C. Taylor, Columbia University, presented the forth Robert S. Michaelsen Lecture.
Thomas Carlson was promoted to Professor.
Ahmad Atif Ahmad, whose research and teaching is in Islamic intellectual and legal history, was appointed as Acting Assistant Professor in Religious Studies by the Division of Humanities and Fine Arts in the College of Letters and Science.
The department hosted the sixth Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute on “Pluralism and Public Presence: Religion in the United States.”
Professor Bernard McGinn, University of Chicago was appointed as the secondJ. E. and Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies during Spring Quarter.
2008 Catherine L. Albanese was appointed as the J.F. Rowny Endowed Chair in Comparative Religions.
William Christian, independent scholar was appointed as the third J. E. and Lillian Byrne Tipton Distinguished Visiting Professor in Catholic Studies during Spring Quarter.
Professor Olle Qvarstrom, Lund University, was appointed as a visiting lecturer in the spring.
Samuel Heilman, Queens College, presented the fifth Robert S. Michaelsen Lecture.
Vesna Wallace was promoted to Professor.
Stefania Tutino was promoted to Associate Professor.
The Capps Center received a Ford Foundation Grant to Study the Presidential Election and the American Religious Future.
The Catholic Studies Conference “Church, Sec and the Public Sphere: Italy and the United States”.
The department hosted the seventh Fulbright/US State Department American Studies Summer Institute on “Pluralism and Public Presence: Religion in the United States.”