Kip Lynch ’22
The application period closed on Friday, Apr. 9 for the position of College Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life. The job description was posted on Mar. 5, leaving potential applicants slightly over one month to submit application materials. However, while applications will be considered past the deadline, the search committee noted that applications must be submitted prior to Apr. 9 in order to receive “full consideration.” It is expected that the search committee will begin looking at applications soon, with the intended start date being July 1.
Headed by Dean of Student Life and Director of the Bantam Network Jody Goodman, the search committee was finalized after the job description was posted. Given that the role of College Chaplain involves work with all faiths rather than just the Episcopal community on campus, it is notable that the Roman Catholic, Buddhist, and Jewish faith traditions are not represented on the search committee.
The Tripod reached out to Lisa Kassow, the director of Hillel, for comment. Kassow described how members of the Jewish community were involved in the multiple focus groups put together by the administration before it began the search but acknowledged that they were not represented within the search committee itself. She noted that to her knowledge Hillel had never been directly involved in prior searches and stated her belief that it was not “essential that there be a Jewish representative on the search committee…what I do think is essential though is that there be somebody on the search committee with demonstrated knowledge and appreciation of the breadth of Jewish life, beyond religious practice, including Jewish culture, history, the arts, philosophy, etc.” While emphasizing that everyone on the search committee was valuable members of the community, Kassow indicated that including someone with these qualifications would have been a welcome step.
The Tripod spoke to the Rev. Dr. Bob Flanagan ’85, an ordained priest in the Episcopal Church and former chaplain at Brooks School. Noting that the job description specified that applicants must conduct services according to “the provisions of the Episcopal Church” while not including ordination in the Episcopal Church as a minimum qualification, Flanagan remarked on the possibility of a non-Episcopalian chaplain, stating “I’d hate to see the Chapel lose that ethos.” He further stated that “as an alum and as an Episcopal priest, it would be disappointing to see the College with such a strong Episcopal tradition not go with an Episcopalian…it would be a shame because there are many fine Episcopal priests that would make a wonderful chaplain at the College.” Flanagan opined that the chaplaincy is “really not broken. Allison [Read] did a wonderful job and it would be a shame not to honor that.”
Observing the short timeframe of the search for a new chaplain, Flanagan commented “It is really short,” noting that “it can take time to find a really good candidate.” He additionally stated, “I understand from the College’s point-of-view why they want to hire [starting on] July 1 because that’s the [beginning] of the fiscal year with all academic institutions…but it would be shame for the committee to give in to a fixed timeline and not get a really good feel of the candidates.”
Former trustee and Secretary of the College Bill Reynolds ’71 similarly spoke of his concerns about the timeframe to the Tripod. A member of Trinity’s Cornerstone Capital Campaign Executive Committee, he was also awarded an Alumni Medal for Excellence for his contributions to the College. He remarked that “that’s a very short period” and noted that the search for the last chaplain, the Rev. Allison Read, took “a year and for a lot of positions at the College, that’s not unusual, obviously, looking for a new President, or a new dean, or sometimes even new faculty members can take a long time.”