Since 2007,the Institute has organized a lecture series at USC which provides a venue for examining religion and public life through the reflections of scholars, journalists, artists, and leaders. Supported by a generous gift from Robert and Elizabeth Plumleigh in 2009, this series has explored a wide range of topics, from religion and violence, to immigration policy, to Catholic political life. Local, national, and international scholars are invited to speak on the rich and varied dimensions of Catholicism, examining its history and development, its current condition and possibilities, and the multiple ways in which it has and ought to interact with society, governments, and other religions
All speeches are free and open to the public and include a question-and-answer period. They are typically held at 5:00 PM during weekdays so that not only students and faculty, but people from the city may attend.
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Special Announcement about Changes in Format for
Spring 2013 Institute Plumleigh Lecture Series
Thursday, February 12, 2013
The Honorable Miguel Diaz
United States Ambassador to the Holy See
Professor of Theology, Saint John’s School of Theology
Interview is available here.
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
Professor of Catholic Studies at DePaul University
Director, Center for World Catholicism and Intercultural Theology
Video is available here.
Tuesday April 16, 2013
Myron and Marian Casden, Director and Professor of Religion, USC
Director, USC Archaeological Research Center
USC Davidson Conference Center
4:30 pm Reception
5:00 pm Lecture
Lecture is free and open to the public
These lectures are free and open to the public at USC.
For information contact: Shelia Garrison by phone 213.740.1864
or via e-mail at email@example.com
Previous Lecture Series
The Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies, a research-oriented institution
dedicated to developing and disseminating a greater understanding of
the Catholic tradition, also supports ecumenical and inter-faith explorations.
Located at the University of Southern California, it offers free of
charge an annual lecture series for the benefit of people on and beyond
the campus. Local, national, and international scholars are invited
to speak on the rich and varied dimensions of Catholicism, examining
its history and development, its current condition and possibilities,
and the multiple ways in which it has and ought to interact with society,
governments, and other religions. MORE
The Institute is especially grateful to Bob and Betty Plumleigh for their generosity and support of this important program.
Elizabeth and Robert Plumleigh with Fr. Heft
Elizabeth and Robert Plumleigh:
In Philanthropy and Adventure, One Very Special Couple
By Ginny DeFrank
"If you don't talk to people, you don't hear!"
"And you don't learn anything!"
These thoughts from Bob and Betty Plumleigh, respectively, encapsulate this dynamic duo's philosophy for living life to the fullest. For Betty and Bob, life is an adventure, and they take great joy in making new friends along the way – learning about these friends' interests and passions. Fortunately for the Institute of the Advancement of Catholic Studies at USC, Father James L. Heft, S.M., is one such friend.
When askde about the beginnings of their friendship, Mr. Plumleigh explained, "We met Fr. Heft on the way to a football game!" Apparently Fr. Heft mistook the couple's flamboyant USC shirts for Halloween costumes, as the game coincided with Halloween weekend. Fr. Heft jokingly explained his collar was not a costume, and he was surprised to learn from the Plumleighs that they too were wearing their typical game day garb.
Enthusiastic supporters of a wide variety of programs, initiatives, and schools at the University of Southern California, the Plumleighs are renowned for their generosity toward organizations doing work they believe in. Through their friendship with Father Heft, the Plumleighs have become great supporters of the Institute, pledging $150,000 to its needs over the next three years.
Mrs. Plumleigh gave Fr. Heft's work with the Institute a ringing endorsement. "I think he's doing a great job! We enjoy coming to campus for events and lectures." Her husband was equally impressed with Fr. Heft, saying, "He's very friendly, very warm, and always gathering people around him. Every time you have a discussion, you're always learning something more about him and through him."
But beyond his scholarship and leadership, the Plumleighs felt Fr. Heft's friendship and devotion to their family is what truly makes him a remarkable priest. When Mr. Plumleigh fell ill, Fr. Heft visited their Orange County home and celebrated mass. "That was outstanding," said Mrs. Plumleigh, "Just outstanding."
"We've been fortunate in that the priests we have been involved with are like family to us. Our faith has been much more interesting because of it, and we're much more involved with the Church," said Mr. Plumleigh.
The Plumleighs' commitment to the Institute extends well beyond their close relationship with Fr. Heft, however, as they are strong supporters of its mission to engage scholars in dialogue about the most pressing issues facing faith in modern society. "What a great thing the Institute is doing by bringing churches and the understanding of churches together. It is great for us, and it is great for people on the whole," said Mr. Plumleigh. "We need it! We need to bring people together," Mrs. Plumleigh added emphatically.
The Plumleighs are certainly experts at bringing people together. This cosmopolitan couple regularly travels internationally to spend time with business associates from Mr. Plumleigh's importing business who have since become life-long friends. From participating in wedding ceremonies in France, to sharing an interfaith Seder dinner with their good friend and former USC professor, Shelley Berman, the Plumleighs are enthusiastic about celebrating the joys of friendship, wherever and whenever possible. "We have the best time," Mrs. Plumleigh said smiling.
Wherever they go, the Plumleighs find ways to help those in need, sharing their resources with organizations and individuals who have goals and visions that would not possible without philanthropic support. Those who benefit from their incredible generosity, like the Institute for the Advancement of Catholic Studies, really understand the meaning of the Plumleighs' friendship.