February 20, 2019
The Rev. Dr. Maurice Charles has been named dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel at the University of Chicago, effective July 1. Charles has deep ties to UChicago, having earned his MDiv and PhD from the Divinity School. He was most recently the dean for spiritual engagement and chaplain at Hobart and William Smith Colleges in Geneva, New York, having previously served as associate dean for religious life at Stanford University.
As dean of Rockefeller Chapel, Charles, MDiv’90, PhD’13, will be the primary steward of both Rockefeller and Bond Chapel, which are centers for a variety of spiritual, artistic and intellectual pursuits.
“I am delighted that Maurice will be returning to the University of Chicago as the next dean of Rockefeller Chapel,” said Michele Rasmussen, dean of students at the University of Chicago. “He brings exactly the right kind of experience and disposition to ensure that the iconic spaces on campus continue to serve as meaningful venues for our campus and neighboring communities.”
Charles also will oversee the chapels’ music and arts programming, spiritual life, ceremonies and religious services.
“I am profoundly grateful to return to Rockefeller Chapel, the place where I first brought my highest aspirations and deep longing to attend the Divinity School in preparation for a lifetime of service,” Charles said. “I look forward to joining accomplished colleagues and exploring together creative ways to enrich the lives of those on campus and in the surrounding communities through performing arts, spiritual exploration and by expanding partnerships with other faith communities.”
Charles began his decade-long career in university chaplaincy as associate dean for religious life at Stanford University, where he served for six years. At Hobart and William Smith Colleges, Charles was responsible for providing spiritual care, supporting campus ministries and providing multi-faith opportunities for reflection. He served on the president’s senior staff, taught in the Department of Religious Studies and collaborated closely with colleagues in the Office of Title IX. A student of vocal performance and a general lover of music, Charles led a weekly service at HWS’s chapel with singing and organ performances.
Charles was selected by a UChicago search committee led by Rasmussen, and met with more than 50 students, faculty and staff during the interview process.
“Maurice’s warmth, empathy and commitment to supporting spiritual life on campus was clear to the search committee from our first meeting,” Rasmussen said.
His religious service includes extensive work with the spiritual communities in Chicago. While a student at the Divinity School, Charles was sponsored for ordination to the Episcopal priesthood by St. Paul and the Redeemer Church in Hyde Park. The Cleveland native earned his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Case Western Reserve University.