Briar Cliff President Rachelle Karstens.

Briar Cliff University has received a $2 million endowment gift from the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque.

President Rachelle Karstens says the legacy gift is one of the largest in the University’s history and establishes the Sisters of St. Francis Endowed Chair in Theology. “It’s so exciting and in theology none the less,” Karstens says, “which really just goes to the heart of who we are, how we started and our mission.”

The first time an endowed chair has been gifted to Briar Cliff. Sister Kate Katoski, President of the Sisters of St. Francis, says the endowment will support and expand Briar Cliff’s theology program and infuse Catholic Franciscan values throughout Briar Cliff and into the community.

“We are a declining community — as are many religious communities — and so as our numbers lesson we’re looking at how do we continue our mission and our ministry, and how do we continue to leave a legacy. This was the first place we wanted to focus,” Katoski says. The chair of the university’s Theology Department, Paul Korchin, says the department will expand thanks to the gift.

“We absolutely do anticipate new course offerings, making our curriculum even more robust. And integrating it even more with the visions and values of Briar Cliff University,” according to Korchin. Briar Cliff was founded in 1929 by the Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, with the approval of the Bishop of the Sioux City Diocese.

The Sisters of St. Francis have given $6 million to Briar Cliff since the University’s inception.

(By Woody Gottburg, KSCJ , Sioux City)