National Association of College
and University Chaplains

A multifaith professional community supporting spiritual and ethical life in higher education

The Decade of the 2000s

In 2000, we had a smaller gathering at Stony Point Conference Center (just north of New York City), in support of the Global Chaplain's Conference scheduled for Vancouver that summer. We looked at the idea of spiritual guidance, with Carol Ochs, author of Jewish Spiritual Guidance. We ventured into the city and met with faculty at the Jewish Theological Seminary.

Back to the Mercy Center outside of San Francisco in 2001, for a conference looking at "Engaging the Big Questions: College Chaplaincy in the New Millenium." Our keynote speaker was Sharon Daloz Parks (a former member of NACUC) and author of a number of books about faith development of college students, particularly their developmental task of "meaning-making." Chaplains at Stanford University also presented on their work.

We headed south again to Olive Branch, MS, to take advantage of historical Memphis in 2002, addressing the theme of "Redeeming the Dream: The Role of College Chaplaincy in Civil Rights & Race Relations." Dr. Calvin Butts was our keynote speaker. Highlights of the conference included a visit to the Civil Rights Museum in Memphis, as well as good barbecue and blues. NACUC reaffirmed its support of the Global Conference for College Chaplains to be held in Brisbane, Australia, in 2004 and selected Jim Davis to represent NACUC on the planning committee.

In 2003, we were again on the west coast, at the Dumas Bay Centre outside of Seattle. Our topic was "Spiritual, but not Religious: Problem and Promise for Campus and Culture." Amanda Porterfield, David Gold, Philip Red Eagle, and Fritz and Vivienne Hull all contributed their insights and reflections, challenging us to do the same. Conferees were surprised and delighted to have warm sunny weather throughout the conference and enjoyed various settings in Seattle for the traditional Night on the Town.

We returned to the Southeast in 2004 and convened at the Sheraton Hotel in downtown Atlanta. The secular setting prompted increasing concerns that accommodations and menu reflect our desire to be inclusive and cognizant of religious dietary needs. The theme was “A Mosaic of Faith: Practices and Purposes of Campus Religious Life.” Presentations were made by representatives from World Relief and the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. These were followed by a keynote address about Christian-Muslim Relations by Ingrid Mattson and by Barbara Brown Taylor at the annual association banquet. While attending the global conference in Brisbane, Australia in July of 2004, several NACUC members gathered together to discuss possible official association membership in an International Association of College Chaplains.

Presidents during these first years of the new millennium were Sharon Kugler (1999-2000), Deanna Shorb (2001-2002), Laura Walters-Baskett (2002-2003), and Charles Wallace (2003-2004).

NACUC continued to work at what it means to be a multi-faith organization, particularly as we are gradually adding Muslim chaplains to our midst. Vice-president Ashley Cook has described NACUC as "a professional interfaith organization rather than a faith community." We gather as religious professionals of different traditions, to share our experiences and our questions, to explore our common ground and our different ways of thinking and being.

Interest in practical themes for the conferences increased during the 2000’s, with keynote speakers invited to present their perspectives on day-to-day issues and challenges for chaplains on their campuses. Examples were working with students on multi-faith issues, gay and lesbian concerns, and dealing with mental health needs of students.

The 2005 conference was held in San Antonio from February 20-23, with the theme being “The Spirituality of Identity: Gender and Sexuality”. Featured speakers were Tony and Peggy Campolo, Kenneth Cohen, and Ritch Savin-Williams, with a special presentation on current trends of chaplaincy and higher education by NACUC member Paul Sorrentino. A scintillating Chaplain Narrative was presented by Ian Oliver, Protestant Chaplain at Bucknell.

In preparation for the 3rd Global Conference for College Chaplains, Serena Fujita and Wayne Clark were selected to be delegates to the international committee on behalf of NACUC. The conference to be held in Tampere, Finland in 2008 was promoted strongly as a good opportunity for NACUC members to develop relationships with chaplains elsewhere and to learn more about chaplaincy practices in other countries.

In 2006 NACUC abandoned its long-held penchant for holding the Annual Conferences in warm climes and set its meetings for Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois. Members found the theme, “Seeking Religious Dialogue: Conversations, Collaborations, and Communities” to be provocative and engaging. The program included keynote speakers Amy Jill Levine, Margaret Barr, and Eboo Patel and Mariah Neuroth of the Interfaith Youth Core. In addition conferees were able to attend an inter-faith program with student speakers from Northwestern University sharing their own distinctive faith tenets. Bridgette Young of Emory University presented the Chaplain’s Narrative.

The year 2007 brought the association’s conference to Hampton, Virginia, with the vital theme of “Privilege, Prejudice & Power: Race, Class and Religion on Campus”. The Conference, held at the Embassy Suites Hotel and Convention Center, provided provocative presentations by Cain Hope Felder, Jeffrey Spence, J. Siafa Johnson, Kelly Brown Douglas, and Jonathon Zur. The justice themes resonated strongly with members and recalled the historic commitment of college chaplains to racial justice. A Chaplaincy Narrative presented by NACUC past-president Cynthia Terry was enthusiastically received by conferees.

Not to be outdone by the rising tide of concern for the environment on campus, the Executive Committee responded enthusiastically to Chaplain Karen Wood’s proposal that the next conference deal with environmental sustainability. Portland, Oregon, a leader in urban environmental protection, was chosen for the 2008 conference. In fact, the Doubletree hotel at Lloyd Center was chosen as the site for the conference because the facility had been recognized as a leader in the hotel industry for doing business in a sustainable way. The conference theme was “Sustainable Chaplaincies: Earth Ethics and Campus Community.” Access to Portland’s light rail system from the airport and throughout the downtown area provided a way for conferees to “live out” the conference theme. Keynote speakers included author Jay McDaniel, Anila Muhammad and Jonathan Seidel. Chaplaincy narratives were given by Serena Fujita, NACUC Vice President and Jonathon Moody of Hiram College. Historian Jim Davis was invited to give a historical sketch of NACUC’s first 60 years, which was celebrated at this conference of 2008. Further, members voted to endorse the constitution of the International Association of Chaplains in Higher Education, joining the Australian and New Zealand chaplains’ associations that had already approved the proposal. In response to a shooting tragedy at Northern Illinois University, the members voted to authorize the NACUC Executive Committee to send a letter of condolence and sympathy to the ministries servicing the community of NIU at this time and to send a donation of $300 to provide food or other supplies as needed.

The NACUC conference returned to Texas in 2009 and was held in Austin at the Embassy Suites Central Hotel from February 8-10. A practical theme focusing upon current student needs and trends led to a conference on “Transformations: The Changing Nature of Students & Student Life in Higher Education.” The conference provided not only pleasant, warm weather, but also great hospitality and time for collegiality, rest and relaxation. A visit to Huston-Tillotson College was led by Chaplain Don Brewington. Author Jean Twenge spoke regarding her research on the “Me Generation”, prompting a lively discussion about student interests and characteristics. Alison Malmon, founder of Active Minds, delivered a keynote address and a follow up workshop on understanding student minds and interests.

Richard McBride, Elon College Chaplain, delivered the Chaplaincy narrative, focusing on his many years of service as a college chaplain. Historian Jim Davis presented Richard McBride and Jonathon Moody as nominees for election to the status of Lifetime Members of NACUC. Those eligible for this honor are members retiring from college chaplaincy with 10 or more years of distinctive service to NACUC. McBride and Moody were elected by a unanimous vote with expressions of appreciation for their service to NACUC.

Presidents of the Association during this period were:
2004-2005 Ashley Cook, Piedmont College
2005-2006 Wayne Clark, Hendrix College
2006-2007 Erica Brown, Northwestern University
2007-2008 Timothy (Tee) Boddie, Hampton Institute
2008-2009 Serena Fujita, Bucknell University

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