MICHELLE XU/THE HOYA The Kennedy Institute of Ethics received a $3.6 million donation.
The Kennedy Institute of Ethics received a $3.6 million donation.

Georgetown’s Kennedy Institute of Ethics received a $3.6 million donation from Kathleen McNamara Hugin (COL ’82) and her husband, Robert, this week to fund a faculty chair in ethics and help develop Georgetown’s Ethics Lab.

The donation will be split with $3 million going toward endowing the faculty chair in ethics and the remaining $600,000 being used for phase two of Ethics Lab, according to a news release put out by the university.

“The gift is truly transformative for the Kennedy Institute of Ethics,” KIE Head of Communications Kelly Heuer wrote in an email to The Hoya. “It represents both a commitment [to] the continued stre`ngth of its faculty — historically a great strength — as well as an investment in the future of the institute and its experiments in what engaged ethics can be and do here at Georgetown and in the world at large.”

The gift was given in honor of Hugin’s father, Francis J. McNamara Jr. (C ’49, LAW ’51).
The Kennedy Institute of Ethics was founded in 1971 and is a center for “practically engaged ethics” with a scope that spans all areas of applied ethics, according to Heuer. Ethics Lab began its second phase last year and gives students hands-on experience with solving complex ethical dilemmas.

One of the projects undertaken by Ethics Lab this year is led by Spencer Wells, the founder of the National Geographic Genographic Project and a current Ethics Lab Scholar in Residence. Wells’ class is exploring the ethical dilemmas of testing individual genomes. After discussion, students are allowed the chance to test their genomes or the opportunity to refrain from testing. The students’ findings will be shared with National Geographic at the end of the semester.

Blake Meza (NHS ’15) participated in an Ethics Lab class last year.

“I didn’t realize how much of an impact it had on me until it was all over. My creative thinking, participation in ethical discussions and confidence in presenting material all skyrocketed. It’s amazing how much one class can change how you view so many things,” Meza said in a university news release about Hugin’s gift.

The donation will help to ensure that Georgetown is at the forefront of ethical debates in the world as well as help develop a strong foundation of ethics in Georgetown students, according to Heuer.

“I believe that the work we are doing with Ethics Lab has the potential to change how moral issues are addressed in a fundamental way, and we are so grateful for the vision and generosity of Kathy Hugin and her husband Bob for investing in this potential,” Heuer said.

The university’s Director of Media Relations Rachel Pugh said that the university appreciates the donation. as it makes bioethics research possible.

“We are grateful that members of our community support the academic work of the university, and especially the important and groundbreaking bioethics research taking place at our Kennedy Institute of Ethics,” Pugh wrote in an email to The Hoya. “Supporting the research of our faculty is an institutional priority for us and we support that work with university funding and resources. Philanthropy advances this work even further, and makes transformative research possible.”

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