Committee begins university minister search

Story by Jenna Stanbrough

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A search committee is preparing to sort through applications for a new university minister. Applications will continue until the Nov. 1 deadline. The committee hopes to make a decision by Feb. 15.

“They’re hoping to name a new university president by Christmas,” current University Minister Ira DeSpain said. “So they want to position this in such a way that the university president can have some input as to who the minister is going to be.”

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The search committee consists of Nanette Roberts, chair; Martha Harris, co-chair; Dennis Ackerman; Robyn Long, assistant professor of psychology; Ruth Sarna, director of student health services; Diane Bottorf, School of Nursing assistant professor; Tami Carver, School of Professional and Graduate Studies assistant director of information management; and junior Jacob Mogle.

Mogle is a Baker Ambassador who is active in chapel and represents the voice of the student body in the committee.

“The way I hope to represent the student body is asking people what they need from a university minister and then weighing what I think would make a good minister based on things that are outlined in (the job description),” Mogle said.

The job requirements call for applicants to have a master of divinity or equivalent seminary degree, demonstrated skill in preaching, interest in supporting a diverse religious community, and effective communication skills. DeSpain said the job ad was distributed in locally and nationally two to three weeks ago.

“Even though this position is minister to the whole university, staff or faculty, everybody — certainly the focus is on our students and the relationship they would have with this person,” Harris said. “This is very different position for a minister than having his or her own church. It is kind of like one big church, but you’ve got multiple locations. You’ve got the same variety of experiences to deal with, … so I think that’s the main thing is somebody that’s passionate about doing that and that can really relate well to the students.”

DeSpain said even though he has no official role in the process, he has helped by contacting individuals who he feels should apply for the position.

“To hand this position off to someone who can take it to the next level is really actually kind of exciting to me,” DeSpain said. “To be able to bring some ideas and some new energy and perspectives into the life of the campus is really exciting.”