The U’s Tanner Humanities Center changed the Mormon Studies Programming Initiative fundraising goal after a $20,000 pledge from Peter and Brynn Huntsman tipped the organization past their initial $100,000 goal.

Bob Goldberg, director of the Tanner Humanities Center, said the money will go to programming, lectures and classes to further their goal of fostering respect and understanding between The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and non-members.

“In our communities we … live in tribes where our friends are the same, where our community is the same and we rarely reach out to people who are different from [our]selves,” Goldberg said.

Brenna Asplund, a senior in English and a member of the LDS church, said she hasn’t taken any classes in the program, but she’s glad it exists.

“Salt Lake City is the center of the Mormon faith,” Asplund said. “It just makes sense for it to happen here.”

The program began five years ago with the Mormon Studies Fellowship, which provided funds for doctoral students to study the beliefs, history and culture of the LDS church. This program has attracted students from the U and as far away as Dortmund University in Germany.

Goldberg said when he came to the U in 1980 he was surprised there wasn’t a Mormon studies program because several universities have programs studying the local dominant religions.

Asplund said she thinks the courses could be valuable to those who are already familiar with the LDS faith.

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