Thanks to an anonymous gift to Monmouth College, the Rev. Dr. Teri Ott is hoping to shine more light into the world.
Ott, who has served as college chaplain since 2011, said the $100,000 gift, which will span four years at $25,000 per year, will be used to create the “Lux Center.” Initially, the name will be abstract but in time the college plans to convert Marshall Hall into an actual facility called the Lux Center, which will be the new home of the chaplain’s office.
“When I came back to Monmouth to serve as chaplain, the words ‘Sit Lux’ (lux is Latin for ‘light’) on the arch of Dahl Chapel really jumped out at me,” said Ott, who originally served as a chaplain intern at Monmouth in 1996-97. “It occurred to me that no one on campus was really doing anything with the ‘lux,’ but it comes right out of Genesis 1:3 – ‘Let there be light.’ So I’ve been all about the ‘lux’ ever since. One of my passions is about raising leaders for the church – the kind of leaders who will spread that light as they move on from Monmouth.”
That passion is the driving force behind the mission of the Lux Center: “to nurture and equip students to be servant leaders who are spiritually enlightened, globally engaged, socially responsible and vocationally driven so they can meet the unique challenges of church and religious leadership in the 21st century.”
Ott has been working toward that lofty goal since taking the chaplaincy, but doing so on a budget of just $10,000 per year. The gift increases that budget to $35,000 per year and, said Ott, “It will mean that everything we’re doing can be picked up a notch. We can morph into so much more.”
Her office’s main facets – or, as she referred to them, the “four arms” of the Lux Center – are church and religious leadership; theological explanation of vocation; faith and the liberal arts; and service to the church.
“This very generous gift has allowed us to expand our vision,” she said. “We can bring in more speakers, have more programming and send more students to conferences. We sent one student to a conference last year, and it makes a dent in the budget. Now, we’re able to send four students to the Presbyterian Youth Triennium (in July at Purdue University). It’s a tremendous development to expose our students to national church events that they’ve never seen before.”
With the increased programming, students will also be able to do such things as serve as Lux Leadership interns, learn more about how religious studies intersects with other academic disciplines and better discern what they’re led to do in their life in regard to vocation.
Located at 740 E. Broadway, Marshall Hall is a former private home, built in 1876 and deeded to the college by the Marshall family in 1937. From 1954 to 2010, when women’s fraternities acquired their own houses, the hall served as Monmouth’s Pan-Hellenic center. It is currently vacant.
Although an actual Lux Center is still in the future, one new facility is coming this fall – Presbyterian House, which will house four students at 815 E. Broadway.
“I’m really excited with the way it’s all coming together,” said Ott of the Lux Center. “I’m also excited about it how its fits into the college’s larger goals of citizenship and civic engagement, and raising leaders for the world.”
Monmouth College was founded in 1853 as an academy by the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church. Although it is no longer governed by the church and is open to students of all faiths, it retains an affiliation with the Presbyterian Church (USA).