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Interfaith leader Eboo Patel to speak at NIU

Eboo Patel, author of “Acts of Faith: The Story of an American Muslim, the Search for the Soul of a Generation” and founder and executive director of the Interfaith Youth Core based in Chicago, will speak at Northern Illinois University at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium of the Holmes Student Center. 

“Acts of Faith” is the text for NIU’s 2013-2014 Common Reading Experience, which was initiated at NIU in 2008 as a way of bringing together the university community around a common theme.

According to Denise Rode, director of First Year Experience and Orientation at NIU, “this year’s book, “Acts of Faith” was selected because it treats a dimension of multiculturalism that we don’t often talk about on college campuses – the diversity of faith and beliefs. 

“Eboo Patel has a vision that people from different religions – as well as those who do not subscribe to a religion – should come together around their shared values on the common ground of service,” she said in a news release.

Patel is the founder and executive director of the Chicago-based Interfaith Youth Core, a regular contributor to the Washington Post, National Public Radio, and CNN. He is a former member of the President’s Advisory Council of the White House Office of Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships, and holds a doctorate in the sociology of religion from Oxford University, where he studied on a Rhodes scholarship.

Patel’s remarks at NIU are titled “Many Beliefs, One Community: Exploring Service through the Lens of Interfaith Cooperation.” The event is free and open to the public.

“Patel really wants to create a campus community where people understand one another, put aside differences, respect the differences and come together to work for a larger civic good,” NIU Vice Provost Anne Birberick said in the release.

Patel will meet with students on campus throughout the day as well as a group of leaders from DeKalb and NIU faith-based organizations to discuss networking the local social service provisions provided by faith-based organizations and harnessing the power of youth.   

“Patel’s visit will lead to a number of interfaith campus and community initiatives in the DeKalb area. We encourage members of the community to come and hear Patel’s message of finding common bonds through understanding others’ beliefs and traditions,” Rode said in the release.

Following the public presentation, Patel will autograph copies of his book, and there will be an opportunity to learn more about service opportunities on campus and in the community.

The community also is invited to attend a special reception to meet Eboo Patel from 4:30 to 6 p.m. at the Newman Student Catholic Center prior to his remarks in the Carl Sandburg Auditorium. All are welcome to attend this free presentation. 

For more information, contact Denise Rode at or call 815-753-0028.

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