Sharon Welch named provost at Meadville Lombard

Sharon Welch named provost at Meadville Lombard

Ethics scholar to lead academic program at Unitarian Universalist seminary in Chicago.


Sharon Welch, chair of the department of religious studies at the University of Missouri-Columbia, has been named to the newly created position of provost at Meadville Lombard Theological School in Chicago.

Welch will finish the academic year in her current position and begin at Meadville Lombard in September. As provost, Welch will be the chief academic and enrollment officer of the Unitarian Universalist school. Welch’s responsibilities will include shaping and maintaining the academic program, managing enrollment, ensuring the quality of the faculty and student body, and the development of the school’s research capabilities, according to Tina Porter, the school’s director of communications.

Welch earned her M.A. and her Ph.D. in theology from Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn. Before joining the faculty of the University of Missouri, she was a professor at Harvard Divinity School for nine years. She also served on Meadville Lombard’s board of trustees from 2001 to June 2006.

She is the author of After Empire: The Art and Ethos of Enduring Peace; A Feminist Ethic of Risk; Sweet Dreams in America: Making Ethics and Spirituality Work; and many articles.

Welch said she was drawn to the provost position at Meadville Lombard because she could work with UU ministers in formation, as well as help design new vocational programs. She also wants to explore “creative ways to promote dialogue between and within faith communities,” she said.

Welch grew up in the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints (now Community of Christ) in the Texas panhandle and became a Unitarian Universalist while teaching at Harvard. “My students knew I was UU before I did,” she said. She is a member of the Unitarian Universalist Church of Columbia, Mo. She is also a member of the team preparing workshop sessions on the Peacemaking Study/Action Issue adopted by UUA General Assembly delegates in 2006.

The Meadville Lombard Board of Trustees voted to create the provost position at their November 2006 meeting. The board issued a declaration at the conclusion of that meeting, titled “Changing Lives to Change the World: Moving Forward.”

“In looking at the declaration,” Welch said in a press release issued by the school, “I think Meadville Lombard, with the commitment of its administration, faculty, staff, and students, is moving forward in creative ways and is poised to be able to nurture religious leadership that is informed by the best scholarship and the most creative forms of social action. I am grateful that my vocation has led me here to be a part of this learning community.”

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