Source: Huffington Post
A national organization of university religious leaders elected its first Muslim president last week in a move that could influence college diversity for years.
The National Association of College and University Chaplains recently elected Imam Adeel Zeb to be its next president. Zeb serves as the Muslim chaplain at the Claremont University Consortium in Southern California and will assume the one-year, volunteer position at NACUC this summer.
For Zeb, his election serves not only as a personal milestone but also as one he hopes will inspire other non-Christian religious leaders to enter the field of college chaplaincy.
“When we were being sworn into our new positions, it felt like a civil rights moment,” Zeb told The Huffington Post.
College chaplaincy has traditionally been dominated by Christians. And it still is, with the exception of a handful of non-Christian deans of religious life and top university chaplains around the country.
There are a number of reasons for that lack of diversity. One is that the majority of Americans identify as Christians, though the percentage appears to be dwindling. “So when they’re looking to hire chaplains, universities typically hire Christians,” Zeb said.
Another issue is that colleges frequently have one position that fills the roles of both top spiritual director and minister of the campus chapel. Since many colleges have Protestant roots, that role typically needs to be filled by a minister of that faith.
“It’s important to remember that many of our universities started affiliated to a seminary or with some denomination, all Christian,” Rabbi Dena Bodian, current NACUC president, told HuffPost.