College Chaplain search continues

by Kascha B. Semon | 10/20/98 5:00am

The College is searching for the perfect person. The College's religious leaders and community members are trying to find one individual of a strong religious faith who can relate to people of all faiths, who can administrate, relate to students and faculty and do all this in a visible, public manner. This person will be the new College Chaplain.

Associate Provost Margaret Dyer Chamberlain chairs the search committee and said it hopes to hire "someone firmly grounded in their own faith and who is able to relate to a diverse group [of faiths]."

She and other committee members have been meeting since May, gathering perspectives from various campus groups, including graduating seniors, campus ministers and persons from counseling and human development.

Responses suggest that the community wants the chaplain to be visible and known to students and an active participant on campus, as well as a strong member of any faith who dfcan relate to people from all faiths and areas of the campus.

The committee itself includes members of many, although not all, backgrounds and faiths on campus: Carla Bailey, a Protestant minister at the United Church of Christ, History and Native American Studies Professor Colin Calloway, Engineering Professor Eric Hansen, Director of Counseling and Human Development Jeffrey Hersh, Assistant Dean to the First-Year Office Stephanie Hull, and Associate Chaplain to the Aquinas House Anna Mae Mayer.

The small but active Islamic community on campus is not directly represented, but Dyer Chamberlain said "we definitely have wanted to seek input from [this group]."

The committee recruited student members, but due to the time commitment required by the committee, none have joined. Members actively seek student advice, however, and will hold several informal discussion sessions next week. Dyer Chamberlain said the committee hopes to include a student interview in the final selection process.

Dean of the Tucker Foundation Scott Brown suggested restructuring of College religious administrators and initiated the chaplain search.

With the opening of the new Roth Center for Jewish Life, the Upper Valley Jewish community decided to employ the College Rabbi in order "to be more directly responsible for Jewish leadership so they could have more fully developed religious [relationships]," Brown said.

This relationship between the campus and surrounding community faith groups is similar to that of other religions, such as the United Church of Christ.

Previously, the College employed two chaplains, one of the Jewish faith and one Christian who shared the chaplaincy responsibilities. As a result of the change, Brown thought that a new, unaffiliated chaplain would be more appropriate. The new chaplain will not necessarily be more involved in administrating, but will be more visible and have more responsibilities.

Brown said he feels this arrangement will "better serve the interests of religious students," a group which he said is markedly increasing as well as diversifying on campus.

Brown said the consequences of the reorganization for the current Christian chaplain, Reverend Gwendolyn King, are not clear and will depend on a number of factors.

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