History of the Department

Dec. 1978

A&S faculty recommend addition of a Department of Religious Studies. The resolution advocates a national search for a chair, and normal procedures for approval of curriculum.


Search Committee for Chair of Department formed.

Aug. 1981

Jill Raitt hired as Department Chair.

Aug. 1982

Three more regular faculty added to department in the areas of South Asia, Indigenous Religions, and Biblical Studies.

Aug. 1985

Fifth faculty position added: religion in America.

Sept. 1985

UM Board of Curators approves degree program for BA in Religious Studies.

July 1986

BA program approved by Commissioner of Higher Education under authority of the State of Missouri's Coordinating Board for Higher Education (CBHE).

Dec. 1986

First BA in Religious Studies awarded.

Winter 1992

First department meeting to plan MA program.

Aug. 1994

Sixth faculty position added.

Winter 1996

MU Graduate Faculty Senate approval of plans for MA program.

Summer 1996

MA proposal sent to CBHE by Chancellor and Provost.

Winter 1997

Final approval of MA program by CBHE.

Aug. 1998

Seventh faculty position in department: East Asian religions

Aug. 1998

First students enroll in MA program in Religious Studies.

May 2000

First MA in Religious Studies awarded.

April 2001

Twentieth anniversary celebration in honor of retirement of Jill Raitt. Jill Raitt Fund for Opportunities for Excellence established.

Jan. 2002

Department moves to new Religious Studies Suite in 221 Arts & Science Building.

April 2003

Center for Religion, the Professions, and the Public established as a Pew Charitable Trusts Center of Excellence.

Feb. 2004

Department hosts the Moving Boundaries: American Religion(s) Through the Louisiana Purchase conference.

April 2008

First Annual Distinguished Lecture on Religion and Public Life

Aug. 2011

Eighth faculty position added: Islam