The UCSB Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Religion and Public Life is receiving more than half a million dollars from a Santa Barbara resident.

Leinie Schilling Bard is giving $580,000 to the Capps Center to support its endowment. Bard said she gave the money to honor Capps’ memory and because the center does important work.

“I decided to include the Capps Center in my estate to help continue the important work of the center long into the future, and to honor Walter Capps, a man of kindness, compassion, sensitivity and wisdom,” Bard said in a press release.

Capps was a professor at UCSB for 33 years, where he taught a popular religious studies course. He was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1996 and served the 22nd District. He died in 1997 during his first term in office. His wife, Lois Capps, was elected to succeed him in Congress.

Wade Roof, the center’s director and Religious Studies Dept. chair, called the gift a vote of confidence for the Capps Center’s work.

“We are deeply grateful to Leinie Schilling Bard for this extraordinary gift,” he said in a press release. “It will assure that the Capps Center will be able to expand its programs in the future.”

Established in 2002, the Capps Center sponsors lectures on topics including religious pluralism, war, violence, environmental ethics and civic engagement.