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Renowned author and civic leader Eboo Patel named U Impact Scholar

Eboo Patel

Eboo Patel, founder and president of Interfaith America, a leading national interfaith organization, has been named a University of Utah Impact Scholar.

Declared “one of America’s best leaders” by U.S. News and World Report, Patel is a civic leader who believes religious diversity is an essential and inspiring dimension of American democracy and civil society. During his tenure, he has led Interfaith America in its work with governments, universities, private companies, and civic organizations to brand faith as a symbol of cooperation rather than one of divisiveness.

“Many of those who study wellness and belonging have noted recently the importance of faith in human experience,” said Mary Ann Villarreal, Vice President of Equity, Diversion & Inclusion at the U of U. “As the founder and president of Interfaith America, Dr. Patel is a leading scholar in this area and has studied extensively the role that religion and faith play in our lives–from our social arrangements to our work, to how we relax and play.

“EDI is excited to continue working within the U to promote greater inclusivity for our entire campus,” she added. “This appointment will bolster our efforts to build communities of trust, care, and inclusivity at the U and in the broader community.”

A Rhodes Scholar and author of five books, including “We Need to Build: Field Notes for Diverse Democracy,” Patel is an Ashoka Fellow who holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University. He also served on President Obama’s Inaugural Faith Council. Patel is a contributing writer for the Deseret News and the host of the podcast, “Interfaith America with Eboo Patel.”

“I am thrilled to be an impact scholar at the University of Utah,” Patel said. “In this role, I will be looking to work with administrators, faculty, staff, students and the wider Utah community on critical issues related to religion, diversity and social cohesion.”

Patel joins two other visiting university impact scholars—Arthur C. Brooks, columnist at The Atlantic and professor of the practice of public leadership at the Harvard Kennedy School, and Tim Shriver, chair of The Special Olympics and founder and chair of UNITE.

“The University of Utah is proud to welcome Dr. Eboo Patel as an impact scholar. His leadership as founder and president of Interfaith America aligns directly with our commitment to include people from all faith traditions into our expansive U community,” said Taylor Randall, University of Utah president. “His knowledge and expertise will be valuable as we work to develop a greater sense of belonging for all faiths at the U and across Utah. We look forward to including his informed and scholarly perspectives into our campus dialogue.”

University impact scholars and the knowledge and experience they bring to the U are an intrinsic part of President Randall’s vision of making the university a top 10 public institution with unsurpassed societal impact. Visiting university impact scholars are appointed for two years and visit the university’s Salt Lake City campus two to three times a year. Patel is slated to meet with university leaders and students Aug. 29-31.