Regis professor from Jewish background finds a home at Jesuit, Catholic university

Russ Arnold was uncertain when he first heard about an open teaching position at Regis. He wondered if an interfaith studies professor, who identifies as a Reconstructionist Jew deeply informed by the Quaker tradition, would fit well at a Jesuit, Catholic university.

“But the more I learned about Regis,” he recalled, “the more the Jesuit tradition resonated with me. I felt like ‘I do that, I just call it something else.’” In particular, he felt drawn to Regis’ commitment to education of the mind, body and spirit, and its dedication to social justice.

Russ joined the Regis community in June 2013 as an associate professor of religious studies with a focus on Jewish and interfaith studies. His academic work has focused on how different religious communities interact with sacred texts, how they act on that interpretation, and points of intersection between diverse faith communities.

In his time at Regis, Russ has been impressed by students’ interest in interfaith studies. He co-teaches a popular interfaith dialogue class, participates in a weekly interfaith prayer group and regularly talks with colleagues about how to support students in developing their own faith, while maintaining an openness to other practices.

Russ helps lay the groundwork for inclusive community in his Religion and the Human Quest class, a core course open to first-year Regis College students. In that class, students visit different local religious communities, meet with members and observe services. They discuss their own experiences as well, often sharing moments of surprise, revelation and even transformation.

“Regis is a place that cares about spiritual and religious questions,” Russ said. “It provides an atmosphere for people interested in topics like faith in action, service and justice. And it is deeply committed to the question of relevance – why does this matter and how does it change the way I live in the world?”

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