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Dean of the chapel ready for new challenges

February 8, 2011

Dr. Gail Stearns

Chapman University’s new dean of the chapel is looking forward to exploring new waters once she arrives in Orange County – literally and otherwise.

“I love to canoe,” said the Rev. Gail Stearns, speaking from her home in Washington, where she is director of Interfaith House, The Common Ministry at Washington State University.

And she’s eager to adapt the kind of interfaith work she’s done with The Common Ministry, a non-profit  serving the community of a public state university from its own facility near campus, to a private university where interfaith programming and worship services are part of campus life.

“I think it will be really different to work for a private university,” she said.

But when it comes to the work in general and college students specifically, she expects more similarities.

“I love working with college students. It’s a really formative time and I find students are thinking outside the box,” she says. “It’s energizing to watch the students and their growth.”

At Washington State, Stearns is also adjunct faculty in the Honors College and has taught in the Women’s Studies Department, including courses on world religions, spirituality and gender. She is author of Open Your Eyes: Toward Living More Deeply in the Present (Wipf & Stock, 2011) and Writing Pauline: Wisdom from a Long Life (Hamilton Press, 2005). Her doctoral degree focused on gender theory in religion, anthropology, sociology and literature. She is an ordained minister of the Presbyterian Church (USA).

Stearns’ appointment at Chapman is scheduled to become effective June 1. She replaces the Rev. Ronald Farmer, Ph.D., who in December left his role after 14 years to start an online religious studies program for Brandman University, part of the Chapman University system.

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