SJU celebrates 40th anniversary of Jay Phillips Chair in Jewish Studies with Colman Barry Award presentation

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September 29, 2009

Top photo (l to r): Fr. Colman Barry, OSB; Jay Phillips and Rabbi Nahum Schulman. Below photo: Edward J. Phillips.

In 1969, Jay Phillips (1898-1992), chairman of the Ed Phillips and Sons Company and president of the Phillips Foundation of Minneapolis, endowed the Jay Phillips Chair in Jewish Studies at Saint John’s University – the first chair in Jewish studies at a Christian college or university in the United States.

SJU will present the 17th Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society to Edward J. Phillips, grandson of Jay Phillips, in honor of his outstanding leadership and participation in civic and humanitarian organizations and for continuing his family’s commitment to Jewish-Christian dialogue and learning.

The award will be presented, at an invitation-only event, on Monday, Oct. 12, in the Great Hall on the Saint John’s campus.

The chair was established to permanently fund a faculty position for a Jewish scholar to offer courses in the study of Judaism and Jewish-Christian dialogue at Saint John’s and to sponsor programs for the wider public.

In 1996, The Jay Phillips Chair in Jewish Studies at Saint John’s University and the Center for Jewish-Christian Learning at the University of St. Thomas were brought together to establish the Jay Phillips Center for Jewish-Christian Learning. The chair remains at Saint John’s and continues to be an integral part of the center. In 2009, the center changed its name to the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning to reflect its expanded mission to promote interfaith learning and friendship among people of various religions.

Edward J. Phillips is chairman and chief executive officer of Phillips Beverage Company. He is an alumnus of Stanford University, and received a master’s degree in child clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota, where he also graduated from law school. He is also a graduate of the advanced management program at Harvard University.

He serves as a trustee and a member of the executive committee of The Jay and Rose Phillips Family Foundation, the charitable foundation established by his grandparents in 1944. Phillips is a founder of The Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning and serves as a member of its advisory board.

Phillips has been chairman of the executive committee of Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota, and served on the Board of Regents of Saint John’s University from 1987-93. He has held board positions with numerous organizations and championed an unprecedented Alzheimer’s research grant to the Mayo Clinic in honor of his mother.

The Rev. Colman J. Barry was president of SJU from 1964-71. He left an enormous legacy at Saint John’s, including the creation of Minnesota Public Radio, the Hill Museum & Manuscript Library and the Jay Phillips Center for Interfaith Learning. The Colman J. Barry Award for Distinguished Contributions to Religion and Society is given annually to those who, like Barry, have made significant contributions to human knowledge, understanding or communication in religion and society.