Granger couple donate $ 15 million to Notre-Dame for religion studies
SOUTH BEND – A Granger couple donated $ 15 million to the University of Notre Dame to create an institute focused on the study of religion.
Drs. Rafat and Zoreen Ansari and their adult children give the gift to create the Rafat and Zoreen Ansari Institute for Global Engagement with Religion.
The institute, which will be part of the university’s Keough School of Global Affairs (which will open this year), will study how religious teachings, traditions, history, practice and thought influence evolving patterns. rapid global migration, conflict and peacebuilding, culture and human development policies.
The couple, both Pakistani doctors, are also Muslims.
Dr Rafat Ansari is a local oncologist. Dr. Zoreen Ansari is a family physician.
“We came as immigrants, and this country has given us so much,” Zoreen Ansari told The New York Times. “We want to give something back to America, but also to humanity. We want to promote the idea of equality.”
“The need for believers to focus on what unites us rather than what divides us has never been more urgent,” said Reverend John I. Jenkins, President of Notre Dame, in a written statement. “This extraordinary gift from an esteemed local Muslim family, longtime friends of Notre Dame, will allow us to bring together first-rate scholars to foster dialogue and deepen understanding. We are immensely grateful to the Ansaris for making this aspiration a reality.
The Ansari Institute will appoint faculty members who will study the roles that religions play in the public sphere and in crucial sectors such as healthcare, education and the economy, according to the university.
The couple moved to the South Bend area in 1980 and raised their three children – Sarah, Adam and Sonya – here.
Sarah Ansari graduated from Notre Dame Law School.
In 2008, the couple made a large donation to the South Bend Regional Autism Center to help the center expand its services to teens and young adults. One of their children, Sonya, has autism. The facility was renamed the Sonya Ansari Center for Autism in her honor.
The Ansari in 2011 were inducted into the South Bend Community Hall of Fame for their contributions to the community.
Over 30 years ago, Rafat Ansari helped form the Hoosier Oncology Group, a statewide network of physicians that provides access to clinical trials for patients closer to their homes, guided by the Simon Indiana University Cancer Center, according to Tribune files. The couple have also contributed to Reins for Life and have organized numerous fundraisers for Logan, March of Dimes and other organizations.