The Council of Presidents of the Claremont Colleges announced yesterday, Dec. 3, that it has authorized the hiring of a full-time Protestant and a full-time Muslim chaplain/spiritual leader in the 7C Office of the Chaplaincy. Currently, the chaplaincy includes a full-time Catholic chaplain, a full-time Jewish chaplain, an interim part-time Protestant chaplain and an interim part-time Muslim life coordinator.
The Chaplaincy had maintained a three-chaplain system since 1973 with full-time Catholic, Protestant, and Jewish Chaplains. But due to demands from Muslim students for Muslim representation within the the chaplaincy, the Claremont University Consortium (CUC) hired Safa Plenty in September as the interim part-time Muslim life coordinator. CUC also hired Reverend O. Leon Wood in September as the interim part-time Protestant chaplain to replace the full-time chaplain who had left last fall.
In an email to the 7C community, the Council of Presidents wrote that the decision to increase the number of full-time chaplains from three to four follows a review of the chaplaincy that was conducted last semester by a committee made up of faculty, students and staff. The review was commissioned by the Council of Presidents to evalute how the colleges could best meet the spiritual and religious needs of all students, faculty and staff.
The committee had also considered possible alternatives to the current model, such as replacing the chaplaincy with an administrative position of a director of religious life. The committee submitted a report of their findings and suggestions to conclude the review in May.
Pomona College history professor Kenneth Wolf, who chaired the review committee, said that he was “delighted to see that the presidents have decided not only to affirm coequality but also to add to the number of chaplains.”
“The original vision in 1973 in creating a co-equal chaplaincy … was to attempt to reflect in MacAlister something like the religious demographies of the Claremont Colleges, so it's quite appropriate number one, to stick to that model, and number two to expand it in the face of changing demographics at the colleges.”
The Council of Presidents wrote in the Dec. 3 email that it has authorized CUC CEO Stig Lanesskog to initiate searches for the two full-time positions in order to create a chaplaincy “with four, co-equal and full-time positions representing the Catholic, Jewish, Protestant and Muslim faiths.”
In an email to TSL, Pomona President David Oxtoby wrote, “I am really pleased that we are proceeding with searches right away for full time Muslim and Protestant chaplains. This is an important extension of our historic mission that will serve a broader group of students in the future.”
The chaplains and 7C deans of students will also collaborate to draft job descriptions for all four full-time chaplain positions to “reflect this emphasis on serving students of all faiths,” according to the Dec. 3 email from the council.
The council also announced the formation of an advisory committee for the chaplaincy that will assist with the search process for the Protestant and Muslim positions. The committee, which will consist of one faculty member and one student from each of the seven colleges as well as two deans of students, will be put together by the Academic Deans Committee and the Student Deans Committee by next spring “to ensure a diverse representation on the committee.”
Lauren Ison contributed reporting.