LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts Installs New Endowed Chair in Catholic Theology and Professor in Jain Studies

Nancy Pineda-Madrid, Ph.D., and Christopher Miller, Ph.D., both faculty members in the Theological Studies Department and Loyola Marymount University alumni, were installed in their new roles this spring. Pineda-Madrid assumes the role of the T. Marie Chilton Chair in Catholic Theology. Miller will serve as the Bhagwan Mallinath Professor in Jain Studies, a newly established endowed professorship.

The overarching goal of these endowed positions is to encourage the research, study, and enlivenment of Catholicism and Jainism at LMU and beyond. Through this work, with an emphasis on social justice issues, Pineda-Madrid and Miller will provide opportunities for interfaith engagement that expand our perspectives and deepen our understanding of our role in the global community.

“Endowments to support research and teaching are gifts of enlightenment, gifts in perpetuity, and gifts that remain with an institution forever, contributing greatly to its intellectual capital,” said LMU President Timothy Law Snyder, Ph.D. “We are especially grateful for the generosity of spirit of our esteemed donors.”

Robbin D. Crabtree, Ph.D., dean of the LMU Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts, emphasized that LMU is the right place for Professors Pineda-Madrid and Miller to do their work. “We maintain an active commitment to the study of multiple faith traditions as part of our Catholic/Jesuit/Marymount tradition to form persons for others and educate students holistically,” said Crabtree. “Pineda-Madrid and Miller will have a profound impact on our students and their colleagues through their thoughtful scholarship and teaching.”

The T. Marie Chilton Chair in Catholic Theology
Nancy Pineda-Madrid was installed as the holder of the T. Marie Chilton Chair in Catholic Theology during a virtual event on Tuesday, Feb. 2, 2021. As part of the ceremony, Pineda-Madrid delivered a lecture titled “To Believe In the God Who Saves” that explored the enduring theological question of salvation; challenging spiritual individualism and offering a vision for a more inclusive, social salvation relevant to our present time and place.

“We must reimagine salvation by emphasizing its social dimension thereby challenging the exclusive and narrowly individual understanding,” said Pineda-Madrid. “An understanding of salvation calls all disciples of Jesus Christ to the pursuit of justice and solidarity with others who are not members of our family, who are not people we know as friends, who are not members of our religion, ethnicity, tribe, our race, our nation, our country.”

The installation event also recognized the inaugural holder of the T. Marie Chilton Chair in Catholic Theology, Thomas P. Rausch, S.J. Father Rausch’s 20 years of consequential scholarship and leadership has invigorated the entire LMU community and significantly shaped academic theological discourse. He has passed a bright torch to Pineda-Madrid who will continue the important work of attending to our common humanity, renewing our faith, and guiding us toward justice through her teaching and research.

Prior to her appointment at LMU, Pineda-Madrid was an associate professor of theology and Latinx/a ministry at Boston College, where she taught for 14 years. She earned her B.B.A. from LMU, her Master of Divinity degree from Seattle University and a Ph.D. in systematic and philosophical theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California. Pineda-Madrid is a leading voice in U.S. Latinx theologies, as well as U.S. and global feminist theologies.

In 1972, LMU received the largest single bequest in the school’s history at the time from the late T. Marie Chilton. This gift was realized in 1999, and the university used it to establish the T. Marie Chilton Chair in Catholic Theology. Through the advancement of programmatic research, inter-religious dialogue, and scholarly activities in Catholic theology, those appointed as Chilton chairs strengthen the Theological Studies Department, add value to the LMU community, and elevate the university’s visibility in the field.

Bhagwan Mallinath Professor in Jain Studies
Christopher Miller was installed as the inaugural holder of the Bhagwan Mallinath Professorship in Jain Studies during a virtual gathering on Jan. 26, 2021.

LMU’s Bhagwan Mallinath Professorship in Jain Studies was established under the guidance of longtime LMU supporters Dr. Nitin Shah and Dr. Sulek Jain, and through the generosity of primary donors Drs. Meera and Jasvant Modi and Mr. Harsha and Mrs. Raksha Shah.

The professorship’s supporters are enthusiastic about how Miller’s new position will elevate the research and study of Jain philosophy, art, culture, and history while meaningfully contributing to LMU’s commitment to interfaith and inter-religious dialogue and understanding.

“We are very thankful to LMU, a Catholic university, for embracing the Jain community and teaching Jain principles such as nonviolence, non-possessiveness, and multiplicity of views,” said donors Meera and Jasvant Modi.

Consul General of India in San Francisco Dr. T V Nagendra Prasad was one of several distinguished guests and spoke about the deep values and traditions of India and Jainism, which resonate so well with LMU. “The promotion of inter-religious understanding and harmony is very important considering the fact that many countries, like India and the U.S., are more and more multireligious, multiethnic, and multicultural,” he said.

Miller earned a B.S. in accounting and an M.A. in comparative theology from LMU, and completed his Ph.D. in religious studies at UC Davis. He shared his vision for the many ways Jain philosophy and study may intersect with what we value most at LMU: the education of the whole person, the twin practices of inquiry and discernment, and social justice.
“I want to make the Jain tradition just as well known as Hinduism, Buddhism, and other world religious traditions because it has so much to contribute to current conversations on the environment, racism, and social justice,” said Miller. “I was not born a Jain, but Jain values and the Jain way of life have transformed the way I see and interact with the world. I want to share this perspective with my students.”

Jain Studies began at LMU with the arrival of Christopher Chapple, Ph.D., the Navin and Pratima Doshi Professor of Indic and Comparative Religions, who has taught and studied Jainism since 1985.