Kip Lynch ’22
Although the search committee for the next College Chaplain and Dean of Spiritual and Religious Life set an Apr. 9 deadline for applications, it is unclear when the committee is expected to make its decision. Dean of Student Life and Director of The Bantam Network Jodi Goodman previously indicated to the Tripod that the committee hopes that whoever fills the position starts on July 1. The position was open to applicants beginning on Mar. 5, leaving applicants only slightly over a month to apply.
Alumni had previously voiced concerns over the timeframe to the Tripod. Scott Reynolds ’63 described how the last search for a College Chaplain took around a year. Furthermore, the search committee at the time was forced to reach out to potential applicants because it was dissatisfied with the applicant pool. The committee eventually chose the Rev. Allison Read, who served from 2008 to 2020. Reynolds, who is leading the fundraising effort to rename the Friendship Chapel in honor of the Class of 1963, remarked that the search committee’s decision to confine the search to a month was “troubling.”
Former President of the College and Professor of History, Emeritus Borden W. Painter Jr. ’58 remarked that the search timeframe “seems rather brief. In addition, this time of year is the busiest for many clergy because of Lent, Holy Week and Easter.”
The Tripod interviewed Jim Tozer ’63 P’89 P’90 who, in addition to serving as Trustee from 2005 to 2013, established several scholarships for Trinity students, including the Tozer Family Scholarship Fund as well as the W. James Tozer ’63 Bantam Bold Scholarship. Tozer served as an advisor to Jimmy Jones during his tenure as President of the College and was a member of The Chair’s Circle from 2014 to 2015, where donors must donate between $10,000 to $24,999 each year. Tozer is also a member of the Elms Society, where individuals “have included Trinity in their estate plans or supported Trinity through a special gift vehicle.”
On the prospect of Trinity hiring a non-Episcopalian as College Chaplain, Tozer described how the previous Episcopal chaplains, the Rev. Allison Read and the Rev. Daniel Heischman, were both “extremely well-regarded.” He stated further that he “would find it surprising that if we didn’t look for a good Episcopalian, we wouldn’t find a good Episcopalian.” Tozer additionally noted that the “Episcopal Church is truly a ‘wide tent,’” referring to the Episcopal Church’s ecumenism and liberal stance on social justice issues.
Describing the timeframe of the search as “very short,” Tozer noted how “typically, the search committee is defined before they do the actual search.” He emphasized that “if there is a real search, if you engage alumni associated with the Episcopal Church and the leadership of the Episcopal Church in finding candidates, we will end up with a strong pool of candidates from which to choose.” Stating that “it takes a search process, not a sorting of applications,” Tozer pointed out that “If all [they] do is apply, you just get somebody’s friend or someone who needs a job.”
Upon learning that only one member of the search committee is involved with the Episcopal community on campus, Tozer stated “that does not make sense or looks like a deck stacked against…maintaining the heritage [of the College].” Tozer voiced his belief that people on the search committee should have experience in previous chaplain searches and felt that alumni and/or those who have been ordained in the Episcopal Church should be involved as well.
Reflecting on the possibility of a non-Episcopalian chaplain, Tozer remarked that “In breaking this tradition, there is bound to be some form of alienation with the graduated Episcopal community.” Tozer voiced his overall frustration with the current process, stating that he was “personally disappointed and think it is not in the College’s interest to back away from this [tradition].”
The Tripod reached out to two members of the search committee, Sara Barrett ’21 and Diante Dancy ’21, for an interview. Dancy did not respond to multiple requests while Barrett stated that “Members of the search committee have been asked to direct all questions to Dean Goodman.”