The mission of the Boniuk Institute is to understand and promote religious tolerance by using innovative methods to provide models for national and international education; deliver educational programming to Rice University students and the Houston community at large; spearhead engagement efforts that foster a dialogue within the Houston community and on a national and global level and conduct multidisciplinary, academically rigorous research. The Institute aims to serve as a pre-eminent academic organization that reaches beyond the Rice campus to have an impact locally, nationally, and globally.
History of the Boniuk Institute
The Boniuk Institute was founded in 2013 with a generous gift from Houston philanthropists Dr. Milton and Laurie Boniuk. The Institute is an expansion of the Boniuk Center that was previously established at Rice University in 2004 with a charge to study and advance religious tolerance through research, education, community engagement and the arts. In 2023, under new university leadership, the Boniuk Institute received an expanded charge--to become a premier interdisciplinary research and scholarly institute focusing on religious pluralism and tolerance.
The Boniuk Vision
The Boniuk's interest in promoting religious acceptance was sparked during Dr. Boniuk's tenure at Baylor College of Medicine, where, as the Caroline F. Elles Chair of Ophthalmology, he interacted with hundreds of medical students and residents of diverse backgrounds. Dr. Boniuk's interest grew stronger after he was asked to serve on the board of Houston's newly established Holocaust Museum. "I thought to myself, it is very difficult to teach tolerance. People are too busy. It's not a priority for them," he explained. "I decided to do something to change that."
In 2004, the Boniuks made a gift to Rice University that established the Boniuk Center, dedicated to promoting religious tolerance in Houston. In 2013, they generously funded the expansion of the Boniuk Center into the Boniuk Institute, with a charge to study and advance religious tolerance on a global level through research, education, and community engagement.
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