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First Catholic Woman Chaplain for Yale University to Address SCU's Graduate Students at Commencement June 10

Wednesday, Mar. 23, 2011

 SANTA CLARA, Calif., March 23, 2011—Sharon M.K. Kugler, a Santa Clara University alumna and the first Catholic woman to hold the position of University Chaplain at Yale University, will address SCU’s graduate students at their 2011 commencement ceremony Friday, June 10. The commencement will take place at 7:30 p.m. in the University’s Leavey Events Center

In attendance will be 600 or so students receiving advanced degrees from the School of Engineering, the Leavey School of Business, the School of Education and Counseling Psychology, and the College of Arts and Sciences.
“We are very happy to have Ms. Kugler speak to our graduate students this year,” said University President Michael Engh, S.J. “She has spent much of her career shaping the spiritual growth of young people, and she embodies the vital contribution of committed laypeople to the advancement of religious education and spiritual development.”
Kugler, who became the seventh Yale chaplain in July 2007, said it is “thrilling” for her to return to SCU for the commencement celebration. She received a B.S. in mathematics from SCU in 1981, before receiving her master’s degree in liberal studies from Georgetown University.
“Returning home to Santa Clara to speak at the graduate school commencement is nothing less than a true gift,” she said. “SCU remains in my heart a place of profound spiritual formation, for me and countless others. The lifelong cultivation of a kind of nimble social consciousness, appreciative intellectual curiosity, and loving open-heartedness toward this world we all share are but just a few things that my Santa Clara experience nurtured in me with great care.”
She is considered a dynamic and eloquent pastoral leader, acutely attuned to the needs of a multi-faith religious community. Richard C. Levin, President of Yale University, described Kugler as “widely recognized as one of the nation’s most creative university chaplains.”
Kugler’s work at Yale has focused on cultivating a diverse, inclusive, interconnected, and pastoral chaplaincy for students, faculty, and staff. She is a lecturer on interfaith dialogue in the Yale Divinity School, and has been a voice of peace and respect for the Yale student body through controversies and tragedies.
She also has been a pioneer in higher education before: In 1993, she was named chaplain at Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, the first layperson in the U.S. to hold that title.
Kugler is the past president of both the National Association of College and University Chaplains (NACUC) and the Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA). She is a member of the Theta Alpha Kappa National Honor Society for Religious Studies and Theology.
After graduating from SCU, she joined the Jesuit Volunteer Corps, advocating for patients at a legal clinic in Cleveland and working as a counselor in a shelter for victims of domestic violence. She was an associate campus minister at Santa Clara University before moving to Baltimore and becoming the founding director of AIDS Interfaith Residential Services, Baltimore's first residential program for adults living in the last stages of HIV/AIDS.
She is married to Duane Isabella, a former lawyer working on a master’s degree in community mental health, and has two daughters and two grandchildren.

A Commencement Liturgy will precede the ceremony at 4:00 p.m. at the Leavey Events Center.
About Santa Clara University
Santa Clara University is a comprehensive Jesuit, Catholic university located 40 miles south of San Francisco in California’s Silicon Valley. Santa Clara offers its more than 8,800 students rigorous undergraduate programs in arts and sciences, business, and engineering, plus master’s degrees in a number of professional fields, law degrees, and engineering and theology doctorates. Distinguished by one of the highest graduation rates among all U.S. master’s universities, Santa Clara educates leaders of competence, conscience, and compassion grounded in faith-inspired values. Founded in 1851, Santa Clara is California’s oldest operating institution of higher education. For more information, see
Media Contact:
Deborah Lohse | SCU Media Relations | | 408-554-5121

Tags: 2011, commencement, Graduate, Sharon Kugler, speaker, speech

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