Konkol Elected to ACURA Executive Committee

The Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA) has already made an impact at Gustavus -- and vice versa.
Posted on December 9th, 2016 by

Rev. Dr. Brian Konkol

Gustavus Adolphus College Chaplain Brian E. Konkol was elected to the Executive Committee of the Association of College and University Religious Affairs (ACURA) at a recent national gathering that was held in Washington DC. ACURA brings together professionals from higher education to support pluralistic, inclusive approaches to claiming the role of religion, spirituality, and ethical identity in colleges and universities.

The ACURA board consists of leaders from various institutions around the country including Duke, Yale, Stanford, Northwestern and Johns Hopkins. Rev. Dr. Konkol, who also teaches in the Peace Studies program and Three Crowns Curriculum at Gustavus, says that it is a tremendous opportunity to be working and learning alongside people from these respected institutions.

Now that Konkol is a member of the Executive Committee he has a number of new responsibilities that include helping to administer the various programs of ACURA, assisting in the planning of national gatherings, and making other necessary and strategic decisions to help ACURA flourish into the future. The committee is meeting at Yale University in late February to review planning for the 2017 national gathering, which will be held at Chapman University in California.

The annual ACURA gatherings present opportunities for spiritual and religious leaders in the higher education system to grow in their knowledge and consider important subject matters that influence the intersections of faith and learning. The theme for the conference this year was, “Compassion and Disruption: Chaplaincy in Polarizing Times.” There were local activists, government administrators and interfaith advocates who presented.

Konkol (right) with Rev. Grady St. Dennis ’92

Konkol greatly appreciates what ACURA has given both him and the Gustavus community. “When Chaplain Erickson and I first started with ACURA in the fall of 2013, it was such a breath of fresh air. To be around such committed people who understand both the joys and struggles associated with college chaplaincy is a tremendous gift,” he recalled.

ACURA has already made an impact at Gustavus. Last year, Rev. Joanne Sanders from Stanford University came to the College to visit with students and community members. This January, Plummer Professor of Christian Morals and Pusey Minister Jonathan L. Walton, from Harvard University, will offer the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Day Memorial Lecture, and the Rev. Dr. Charles Howard, Chaplain of the University of Pennsylvania, will visit campus in the spring to speak about faith, learning, and peacemaking. In addition, the Chaplains’ Office has received several ideas from ACURA members across the country about how to best equip students to live and lead in a religiously diverse world. The relationship Gustavus Adolphus College has with ACURA has also granted Konkol a number of opportunities to visit other colleges and universities around the country. In addition to guest preaching at Stanford University, he has visited campuses such as Harvard, Colorado College, Yale, Tufts, Vanderbilt to explore best practices and share ideas.

Konkol explains that working with ACURA has brought his colleagues around the nation an immense amount of interest and respect for Gustavus. “We’re a unique college with a unique chaplaincy. We are firmly rooted in our Swedish-Lutheran mission and identity, and such roots provide the freedom that allows us to be fully open and hospitable to the increasing religious and cultural diversity of our world. Our colleagues, as I am repeatedly told, have learned a great deal from what we’re doing at Gustavus,” Konkol explained.

“Because of ACURA we receive insights into the future of religion and higher education, which is important, as it is all not only changing, but it is changing quickly. People identify themselves with religious and spiritual categories that didn’t exist 40 or 50 years ago. We at Gustavus now have an important opportunity to accompany our students in the midst of such change.”

To learn more about the Office of the Chaplains at Gustavus, visit the departmental website.

The Association of College and University Religious Affairs brings together professionals working in higher education to support pluralistic, inclusive approaches to claiming the role of religion, spirituality, and ethical identity in colleges and universities. 


Media Contact: Director of Media Relations and Internal Communication JJ Akin


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