St. Olaf College Professor of Religion and Philosophy Edmund Santurri has been named the Morrison Family Director of the Institute for Freedom and Community, a new chair endowed by former St. Olaf Regent Thomas Truxtun “Truck” Morrison and his family.
The Morrison family’s gift provides the director with the time and resources necessary to guide the Institute’s programming and continued development.
“We strongly believe in the Liberal Arts form of education and feel that this program offers a wonderful opportunity for respectful, intellectual dialogue,” says Truck Morrison. “Having spent many years in international business, I understand the value of open and honest conversation with people of varied cultures and backgrounds. Robust debate broadens one’s understanding of differing views, often resulting in mutually beneficial goals.”
By exploring diverse ideas about politics, markets, and society, the Institute for Freedom and Community aims to challenge presuppositions, question easy answers, and foster constructive dialogue among those with differing values and contending points of view. Through its programs and educational offerings, the Institute underscores the value of having open and spirited exchanges on highly controversial subjects in a respectful and productive manner.
Santurri has served as the Institute’s director since 2016, and he also directs St. Olaf’s Public Affairs Conversation program. Santurri has taught at St. Olaf since 1980 and served in various leadership positions during his tenure, including Religion Department chair and director of the Great Conversation and St. Olaf’s Ethical Issues and Normative Perspectives Program.
Although his area of specialization is ethics, Santurri’s teaching, over a 37 year career, has ranged over a wide variety of topics in ethics, theology, philosophy, and religion and culture. His scholarship has included work in political ethics with emphases on Christian political realism, political liberalism and pluralism, and the ethics of political violence. He has also published on the theoretical question of moral dilemmas and the nature of Christian love. Formerly Santurri held the Martin E. Marty Chair in Religion and the Academy.
“It’s a great honor,” says Santurri, “especially since I’m a firm believer in the Institute’s principles of intellectual diversity as articulated conditions of academic freedom. I welcome the opportunity to lead the Institute in promoting those principles, and I am deeply grateful for this support.”
As a regent from 1992 to 2005, Truck Morrison and his wife, Adrienne, co-chaired St. Olaf’s $125-million Fram! Fram! Forward St. Olaf! capital campaign; their daughter, Mimi ’85, and son, Truck Jr. ’90, attended St. Olaf, as do two of their grandchildren.
“Our children had wonderful experiences at St. Olaf,” Truck Morrison says. “Our involvement with the college really started with their experiences.”