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Spartan Spotlight: David Fink, University Chaplain

Posted by on November 21, 2011

David Fink teaches religion at AU and leads Campus Ministries in the Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action. As University Chaplain, he organizes and leads public worship on campus, offers pastoral care and counseling to students in need, and provides support and mentoring for student leaders in campus ministry.

We asked him about his role at AU and how students benefit from exploring questions of faith on campus.

Why did you decide to become a professor?
I am insatiably curious — about the past, about God, about how we flourish as human beings. Being a professor means that I get paid to think about these things and bring bright young minds into the conversation. As far as I’m concerned, there’s no better job out there!

What is your previous teaching experience?
I have taught in religion and history departments at Duke, Wake Forest and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.

What do you enjoy most about teaching at AU?
I enjoy the wide range of students I encounter in my classes. We have an exceptionally diverse student body, and I think this makes our classrooms an amazing place to pursue the life of the mind.

What advice would you give to students to help them be successful?
Don’t measure success at market value. This will probably be the only time in your life when you get to focus your attention and energy on exploring your own curiosity and finding your passions. Once you leave college, your agenda will be set for you by employers, family and a whole host of factors outside your control. This freedom to think and explore is a gift most young people in this world are not fortunate enough to receive — don’t take it for granted!

How does the Wackerlin Center for Faith and Action fit into student life at AU?
We like to think of the Wackerlin Center as the center for spiritual life on campus. Our job is to nurture the spiritual lives of all our students — even our students who don’t think they have spiritual lives! In keeping with the university’s historic Christian identity, we offer regular opportunities for corporate worship through the academic year, and we support a wide range of student-led ministry organizations, including InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, a Catholic Student Association and a Jewish Hillel group. We also serve as a focal point for students who want to explore ways of giving back to the community. We organize and sponsor numerous opportunities for service, and we help students connect with churches and non-profits in the community.

How do AU students benefit from the center’s emphasis on religious life and service?
As a liberal arts college, we differ from many other kinds of institutions in that we seek to serve the whole person — mind, body and spirit. We recognize that our students come from a wide range of faith backgrounds, but we are convinced of the need to be mindful of the “big questions” in life and of the responsibility we all share to in forging the ties that make an inclusive community possible. Students of all faiths — and no faith — can all benefit from having a place where their deepest spiritual and ethical commitments can flourish in community with others, and where they can enter into meaningful dialogue with students and faculty with different perspectives.