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August 17, 2020

Dear students, colleagues and friends of the university chaplaincy,

I am pleased to share the news that The Reverend Elyse Nelson Winger, an ordained minister within the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, will be the next university chaplain at Tufts University, effective October 1, 2020.

We are delighted to welcome Rev. Nelson Winger to Tufts. She will be able to build on the current strength of the University Chaplaincy team and help pursue new and emerging paths in areas such as interfaith civic studies and religious literacy. Her extensive experience, in matters relating to both the Chaplaincy and student affairs, will be especially valuable as the University Chaplaincy works to meet new needs and adapt to new necessities as a result of COVID-19. The university chaplain reports to the president, with management oversight by the chief of staff.

Rev. Nelson Winger brings to Tufts an impressive record from her time at Illinois Wesleyan University (IWU), where she has most recently served as the university chaplain and associate dean of students. At IWU, she has worked to establish Evelyn Chapel as a vital place for community and dialogue. In addition, she has regularly worked alongside her student affairs colleagues from the offices of Career Services, Diversity and Inclusion, Student Involvement, and Residential Life on various programs for students, faculty, and staff related to worldview diversity, vocation, service, and social justice. She is an associate director for IWU’s Center for Human Rights and Social Justice and coordinates the annual Human Rights workshop. In her current position, she also supervises the director of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion and the coordinator of Multifaith Engagement. Prior to her time at IWU, Rev. Nelson Winger served as a pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Bloomington, Illinois and before that at St. Paul Lutheran Church in Dearborn, Michigan.

Rev. Nelson Winger graduated magna cum laude from Wellesley College with a bachelor’s degree in religion, received departmental honors for her senior thesis, and was elected to Phi Beta Kappa. She earned her M.Div. from the Divinity School of the University of Chicago and also pursued divinity studies at the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. She was ordained in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America in 2003. Rev. Nelson Winger currently serves as vice-president of the board of directors of Lutheran Social Services of Illinois and completed a two-year term as president of the governing board of the Community Cancer Center.

This search for the next university chaplain at Tufts began in fall 2019 when the firm Isaacson Miller (IM) was retained to conduct a nationwide search. The IM team, which included partner Ponneh Varho, managing associate Sabrina Singh, and senior associate Ernest Brooks, collaborated with a 10-member search committee, that included Tufts students, faculty, and staff, in conducting the search. I am incredibly grateful to all of them for their dedicated service on behalf of the Tufts community.

Special thanks are also due to Dr. Jennifer Howe Peace, who has served admirably, and with grace, as university chaplain ad interim. With the arrival of a permanent university chaplain, Dr. Peace will transition to the role of special advisor to the Office of the President until the end of the calendar year. Dr. Peace will assist in the onboarding process for the new chaplain, serve as a resource to Rev. Nelson Winger, and work on special projects.

Again, I am thrilled that Rev. Nelson Winger has agreed to join Tufts during this important moment, and I have no doubt that she will be a wonderful new addition to our community. I look forward to welcoming her this fall.

Best wishes,

Tony Monaco