ST. BONAVENTURE, N.Y. — In a move designed to strengthen both academics and mission, St. Bonaventure University has merged the Department of Theology and School of Franciscan Studies.

The university’s Faculty Senate officially dissolved the School of Franciscan Studies to pave the way for the consolidation. The new department, to be called Theology and Franciscan Studies, will be housed under the School of Arts and Sciences.

The School of Franciscan Studies had been housed under the internationally renowned Franciscan Institute, which has been based at SBU since the 1940s. The school was established in 1991 to distinguish the teaching program from the research and publication work of the Institute.

The administrative reorganization will allow the Institute to focus its attention on scholarly research and publishing, said Friar David Couturier OFM Cap., executive director of the Institute.

The merger, he said, will strengthen theology and Franciscan studies offerings to undergraduates.

“This will put a greater number of professors with a wide range of expertise at the service of our students looking for a wider variety of courses in theology,” David said.

Five Institute faculty members with wide-ranging expertise will bolster a distinguished theology faculty featuring three full professors, each having more than 17 years of classroom experience at SBU.

“These (Institute) professors have special skills in historical theology, Islamic theology, Jewish theology and pastoral theology,” said David. “At the same time, this expertise will allow us to strengthen our Catholic Franciscan offerings.”

Friars Dominic Monti OFM, Michael Calabria OFM, Kyle Haden OFM, David, and Bob Donius will be transitioning from the Institute to the new department. They’ll also continue their scholarly work in the Institute.

The move will enable the department to offer more courses and strengthen majors and minors in theology and Franciscan studies, David said.

A search to hire a new chair to oversee the department will begin soon, said Dr. David Hilmey, dean of the School of Arts and Sciences.

Both Hilmey and David said the merger will only enhance the Franciscan mission of the university by making the core values of the mission more accessible academically.

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