Reverend Nancy leaving RWU

Reverend Nancy Soukup offers a prayer at an event in 2018, requesting a moment of silence for those lost to gun violence. 

By Sierra Gorkun l Herald Contributor

After eight years at RWU, Rev. Nancy Soukup will be leaving the school to finish her doctorate in ministry and work with students entering college on matters of spiritual guidance. 

Originally hired as the university’s part-time multi-faith chaplain, Soukup’s position quickly grew to full-time, while she also added on the title of Director of Spiritual Life. Her work as a chaplain reached the entire community of RWU, not just students. She provided pastoral care, oversaw student faith groups, coordinated faith-based student activities and worked to raise awareness about religious literacy within academics. 

Soukup plans to take the next nine months after leaving RWU to finish her doctorate in ministry — something she has attempted to do while here, though she found it nearly impossible due to the pace of working at a university. Her research is focused on the role of religion and religious groups on humanitarian crises, which is research she deems important and necessary. She also wishes to work with students entering college as they transition after confirmation, where often times they are let loose of spiritual guidance. She wants to help them develop a tool box of resources during this transition, as she claims it can be an exciting yet difficult time spiritually. 

She also plans to continue working with a church that currently cannot afford a minister, while she gets back into rowing, spends time with her family and eventually gets into congregational ministry.

Assistant Vice President and Dean of Student Life Lisa Landreman said that after Soukup leaves, it is time for the university to take a breath to evaluate the needs of the students and to identify the best way to move forward. It is undetermined whether or not that means hiring a new minister right away. 

“If we were going to fill a role, what would it look like, what would be the job responsibilities. Some of that will come from talking to the students who have accessed her for faith development and spiritual needs, ” Landreman said. 

Soukup expressed that she will miss the students the most and that it has been extraordinary to watch them grow. She said she will miss her colleagues and is honored to have worked with them. She said stepping away from the community is what makes her sad.  

Soukup is widely respected on campus and has created a positive impact on the RWU community. 

“She has been a person a lot of students could count on to go too. Not just for faith, but when you need somebody that is empathetic and willing to hear you out, she’s really good at seeing the bigger picture and seeing you as an individual,” said senior Vice President of Christian Student Fellowship Kalasia Richer.

There will be a celebration for Soukup held on Nov. 7 from 11:30-1 p.m. in the Mary Tefft White Center, to honor her accomplishments and say goodbye. 

Soukup believes that spirituality is an important component to include within student life here on campus. 

“I hope the university will continue to value the importance of keeping a spiritual, ethical, moral component to the well-being of all students,” Soukup said.

She hopes what Roger Williams himself stood for is continued to be used as a compass point for spiritual life on campus. In addition, she hopes there will be a continued focus on learning about indigenous peoples’ spiritualities, as well as more growth in inclusion and equity.

“I am really grateful to have been here,” Soukup said.