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College of Arts and Sciences Newsroom

Neomi De Anda appointed executive director of International Marian Research Institute

By Dave Larsen

Neomi De Anda plans to develop the University of Dayton’s International Marian Research Institute into a world-class research center on the study of Mary through a commitment to ecumenical, interreligious and secular scholarship. 

“The research conducted through IMRI will thoroughly engage the diversity of the collections of the University’s Marian Library, as well as bring expertise of Marian scholars from around the world for synergistic conversations,” said De Anda, who will become the institute’s new executive director, effective July 1. “The vast majority of the work conducted through IMRI will use the methodology of pastoral y teología de y en conjunto, which means the care for life is deeply connected to theology, and is done with and for communities.”

De Anda, associate professor in the Department of Religious Studies, is a lay member of the Marianist family and past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians of the United States. In her new role, she will prioritize faculty and student engagement, development and scholarship, creating a culture of Marian research and establishing formal relationships with the Marian Library.

De Anda’s five-year plan for the institute calls for hosting conversations about Mary with the Dayton community and local religious leaders; publishing a white paper on Marianist intellectual tradition with an emphasis on Mary in the 21th century; hosting symposia on the topic of Mary; and establishing a peer-reviewed journal as well as an endowed chair at the University for the study of Mary.

“I am thrilled Neomi DeAnda will become the next executive director of IMRI,” said Paul Benson, University provost. “Neomi's deep expertise in Marian scholarship, her broad experience as a Marianist educator, and her active national network among theologians doing groundbreaking work in Latinx and Hispanic contexts place her in an excellent position to lead IMRI as it shapes this next era of its mission and continues its development within the College of Arts and Sciences.”

As a scholar and lay Marianist, De Anda “brings a depth to the understanding of and a sharing about the gift that Mary is in our Christian spiritual tradition,” said Fr. James Fitz, S.M., vice president for mission and rector.

“From her experience as a professor at two Marianist universities and as the past president of the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians, she brings a cultural diversity to the work that will enrich the Institute and its impact on Marian studies in this country and beyond,” Fitz said.

Established in 1974 as part of the Marian Library, IMRI offered academic programs from 1983 to 2021 on behalf of the Pontifical Theology Faculty Marianum. Bishop Frank Leo, who in February was appointed the 14th Archbishop of Toronto by Pope Francis, received his license of sacred theology in 2002 and his doctorate of sacred theology in 2004 from the institute. Bishop Leo also served as an IMRI faculty member.

In summer 2021, after a long-term strategic planning process to re-envision IMRI’s structure and mission, the institute awarded its final degrees and began its transition from the University Libraries to the College of Arts and Sciences. The Department of Religious Studies now offers doctoral and graduate certificates in Marian studies, as well as an undergraduate minor in Marianist studies, continuing the curricular degree-granting portion of IMRI’s mission. 

Currently, IMRI sponsors the annual Marian Forum and offers two library fellowships to support the research and artistic use of the Marian Library’s collections. The fellowships are made possible by a generous gift from the Marianist Province of the United States.

“I believe Neomi’s ability to connect with popular audiences, scholarly audiences and the global community will elevate IMRI’s already impressive reputation,” said Danielle Poe, College dean. “She has successfully planned conferences, curricular innovation and collaborations with the other Marianist Universities. I am also excited that Neomi’s expertise will allow IMRI to emphasize and expand theology’s appreciation for multicultural Marian studies.”

De Anda holds a doctorate in constructive theology from Loyola University Chicago; master’s degrees in theology from Oblate School of Theology and in educational leadership from St. Mary’s University; and a bachelor’s degree in English and psychology from St. Mary’s University. She joined the UD faculty in 2013 and is the recipient of the 2021 University of Dayton Faculty Award for teaching; the 2021 College of Arts and Sciences Faculty Award for outstanding service; and a First Book Grant for Minority Scholars from the Louisville Institute, where she now serves on the board.

For more information, visit the International Marian Research Institute website.

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