The University of Aberdeen has been awarded a £1.2 million endowment by the Kirby Laing Foundation to fund postdoctoral research in New Testament Studies.
This exceptional grant will allow the University to offer a recurrent three-year postdoctoral research fellowship for talented emerging scholars to advance and share their research as well as to broaden and deepen their competence as university educators.
The Kirby Laing Foundation already generously supports the Kirby Laing Chair of New Testament Exegesis at the University, which is currently held by Professor Grant Macaskill. He will act as a mentor to the research fellows.
The University of Aberdeen has a pedigree in Divinity dating back more than 500 years and Professor Philip Ziegler, Director of Research for the School of Divinity, History and Philosophy, said the award would help secure the institution’s position as a top international destination for the most promising new academics.
“This significant endowment from the Kirby Laing Foundation will enable us to offer a model of post-doctoral training which is highly successful elsewhere but for which few opportunities exist in the UK.
“Drawn from the best of the coming generation of doctoral graduates, these Fellows will benefit greatly, developing their own research and professional formation while also making valuable contributions to what is already an international centre for excellence for Divinity teaching and research.”
The Kirby Laing Foundation was established in 1972 by Sir Kirby Laing Trust and supports a wide range of charities both in the UK and abroad, reflecting the personal interests and philanthropic concerns of Sir Kirby and those of the Trustees.
Professor Sir Ian Diamond, Principal and Vice-Chancellor of the University of Aberdeen, added: “We are delighted that the Kirby Laing Foundation has recognised that, as one of the UK’s leading centres for teaching and advanced research in Divinity, the University is well placed to make the most of a significant philanthropic investment.
“This generous gift will allow the University of Aberdeen to consistently recruit the finest of the coming generation of scholars from an international field which will not only advance Divinity research but make a valuable contribution to core teaching in biblical studies and the history of early Christianity.
“In addition to the University’s strength in supporting those who wish to focus exclusively on studying or researching Divinity, its unique flexible undergraduate degree structure means that more students than ever – from the widest selection of disciplines – now have the chance to meaningfully engage with the subject.”
Professor Macaskill said: “Investment in the Kirby Laing Chair in New Testament Exegesis has already made a tremendous contribution to the School of Divinity History and Philosophy at Aberdeen and provides an excellent foundation on which to build a broader, long-term partnership.
“This exceptionally generous new investment will make a major contribution to the overall health and vitality of the discipline across the UK.
“In recent years, fixed periods of full-time postdoctoral research and teaching have become an increasingly important stage in the early careers of scholars in the humanities generally, and in biblical studies and theology in particular. I look forward to supporting the talented junior research fellows selected through the programme.”