Elon University Chaplain Jan Fuller was appointed president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains in February.
This is Fuller’s second time serving as the president of the association, the other time being in the mid-1990s. The president is voted in by members of the organization, but nominated by a select board.
The organization serves to connect hundreds of chaplains at universities across the country in order to share resources and advice that they may not have access to.
“Now, chaplains are religious bias officers, we’re experts in multi-faiths, we’re experts in all the faiths including our own, we think about access to all the religious traditions and practices, we’re thinking about student mental health, so we’re counselors,” Fuller said.
“Our conference in February is really about the changing role, how is chaplaincy changing, and where might it be in 20 years,” Fuller said. “It sort of seems apt to me to take on this role since I’m the person in this organization who has been doing it longest.”
Because of this, it is important to offer a place to connect with others in their profession.
As president of the association, Fuller will help set the agenda for the annual conference, deal with day-to-day business and make decisions on actions the organization will take.
On campus, she is still actively involved in many multi-faith events and services to support the Elon community. One such event was the candlelight vigil to promote gun safety. While Fuller spoke at the event, it was more focused on providing community support.
Peter Tremblay, associate chaplain for Catholic life, said, “She has a beautiful imagination around the potential of multi-faith work, the potential of the skills to cross difference, the ability of creating spaces where students get to experience other cultures and other traditions.”
Fuller has been instrumental in building up Elon’s spiritual life, organizing a group that serves the various needs of the Elon community.
“Now chaplains are building teams of other volunteers, of other paid staff,” Fuller said.
The Truitt Center for Religious & Spiritual Life has leaders of many faiths, including various Christian chaplains, a Jewish Rabbi and a Muslim Imam.
“She works very hard to empower others, to let them use their gifts and talents, to support them, to encourage them and to mentor them, without micro-managing. That, I think is her single greatest strength,” Tremblay said. “Her passion is very much aimed at those in need, those who are hurting, those on the margins and those that are underrepresented. That comes from a deep and profound empathy.”
Fuller says that she is appreciative of the support Elon has given her to pursue her presidency because many chaplains look to Elon as a model of how to incorporate faith into their schools, giving it a national awareness. Instead of pushing it to the side, Elon allows faith to be a central part of its community development.