Santa Clara University

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Sharon Kugler: Tradition, Beauty, and Mystery

Sharon Kugler '81Sharon Kugler ’81 made history in February 2007 when she was named University Chaplain at Yale University. The first woman and the first Catholic appointed to the position, Kugler has been recognized nationwide for cultivating a chaplaincy that defines itself by serving diverse cultural and religious traditions.

“The basic tenets of our faith are about caring for your neighbor, about love and compassion,” she says. As part of a campus community in particular, that means encouraging spiritual engagement along with mutual respect and understanding.

The increasing globalization of educational communities demands the kind of innovative leadership Kugler has shown in her ministry—work that included serving as associate campus minister at SCU and, since 1993, as campus minister at Johns Hopkins University. In the support she has provided to interfaith dialogue on campus, Kugler says, “We don’t look to blend everyone together and say this is one happy religion.… Each tradition has a beauty, majesty, and mystery that are gifts to the world.”

Kugler is a past president of the National Association of College and University Chaplains. Her master’s thesis, “The Limits and Possibilities of Building a Religiously Plural Community,” has been used by the U.S. Department of Defense Office of the Chief of Chaplains for training new chaplains in the military.