University chaplains, most often employed by colleges and universities, join campus ministers employed by outside organizations in providing religious and spiritual support on campuses today. Evidence suggests that growing numbers of lay people and women have been employed as university chaplains over time. Key organizations include the following; please contact us if you have additional information:
Association for College and University Religious Affairs
ACURA is a collegial association that brings together professionals working in higher education to support pluralistic, inclusive approaches to claiming the role of religion, spirituality, and ethical identity in colleges and universities. Members include Deans, Directors, and Chaplains of various roles; large research universities and small liberal arts colleges; and leaders of a wide range of religious, spiritual, and ethical traditions. What we hold in common is a commitment to work within the structures of higher education to engage issues of meaning in the lives of the whole college. ACURA also promotes the following principles:
- Religious life structures: The institution is well served by an office established by the university or college, dedicated to religious, spiritual and ethical life. That office and its director will be strategically placed within the university structure so as to promote effectiveness and influence. The office will fulfill a coordinating and liaison function for religious professionals assigned to the campus. It will also create and sustain one or more student interfaith bodies. This office will enlarge its impact on campus through a variety of partnerships. These activities will be funded by the institution at an appropriate level.
- Access and oversight: Our universities and colleges are obliged to accommodate diversity of religious expression. This office has both advocacy and oversight functions for our institutions – promoting free religious exercise and association as well as maintaining a welcoming environment that is free from religious coercion. Through its loyalty to the institution and professional expertise, the office enhances religious freedom while also securing compliance with general university policies, calibrated to the particular forms of abuse endemic to religion.
- Intellectual inquiry and religious practice: The office brings to bear on faith and religious practice the academic values of inquiry, research, multiple perspectives and critical thinking. Likewise, the office translates beliefs, values and convictions born of religious study and commitment into the academic arena. The office affirms the compatibility of religious commitment and free intellectual inquiry.
- Religious Pluralism: The office advocates for the well being of the entire community with special concern for the needs of religious observance and practice. Encouraging an understanding and respect for the multifaith reality of higher education, while embracing and engaging the particularity of each tradition, is a principal focus. Extending hospitality and meeting the needs of religious groups and individuals, especially under-represented traditions, is crucial. An important dimension of the institutional mission is educating the entire community about religious, spiritual and ethical life.
For more information, visit the ACURA website or contact the Association by email.
National Association of College and University Chaplains
- To further the spirit of ecumenicity and understanding among all religious groups as they relate to the university environment
- To educate the broader communities of higher education and national religious organizations about the role of religion and spirituality in higher education
- To address, as religious professionals, issues in the larger society as they impact higher education and/or as they arise from our context within higher education
- To provide means for more responsible and effective participation in religion in higher education by college chaplains and persons with similar functions
- To provide for expression of convictions relative to the vital religious concerns of students, faculties and administrations
- To search for solutions to common problems in the religious life of colleges and universities and share mutual interests
- To provide a continuing professional fellowship for chaplains and directors of religious life.