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As Muslim chaplain, Rosen will be a religious, programmatic, and educational resource to Muslim students and will work in collaboration with the other chaplains to foster and enrich the religious and spiritual life of the entire Williams community. As the assistant director of the Center for Learning in Action, he will promote and encourage student service, advise key student service organizations, and help develop community partnerships.
“We’re very excited about the partnership because we believe this is the path to building a strong culture of community engagement on campus,” says Paula Consolini, director of the Center for Learning in Action.
Rosen comes to Williams from Dartmouth College, where he served as Muslim and Multi-Faith Advisor. For the campus’ Muslim students, he coordinated Muslim education, worship, and multi-faith programming; advised student groups; and taught Arabic and Quranic recitation. Rosen, who has served as a volunteer prison chaplain, is also a trained sexual assault responder.
“The experience Sharif brings as a coordinator of engagement in educational as well as community-based organizations will serve him particularly well in his concurrent role at Williams as Muslim chaplain and assistant director of the Center for Learning in Action,” says Rick Spalding, chaplain to the college. “He brings a deep grounding in his own spirituality and in well-informed respect for other religious and spiritual practices.”
Rosen was raised in southern California. His mother’s roots are in the Roman Catholic tradition, and he describes his father as an “orthodox Agnostic” from a Jewish family. “Dinner every night growing up was an interfaith discussion,” Rosen says. He began exploring Islam during his early teens and committed himself to the faith and practice while in college.
“I found a vibrancy in the example of the Prophet Muhammad (peace and blessings be upon him) that only resonated more fully when I saw its traces—in all its beauty—among those dedicated to living by and preserving it,” Rosen says. “For me, it offers an example of compassion, restraint, and balance that I feel is deeply needed in these times.”
Rosen earned his B.A. in history from Loyola Marymount University and later led community relations at the UMMA Clinic in South Los Angeles. For nearly five years, he served as director of student services at Qasid Arabic Institute in Amman, Jordan, where he also studied a traditional Islamic curriculum. Rosen is currently continuing his graduate studies at Hartford Seminary in Connecticut and is at work on the translation of a treatise on Islamic ritual worship.
“There’s no doubt that Sharif will be a gift not only to religious and spiritual life on campus, but to the well-being of our whole community,” Spalding says. “We simply can’t wait to begin working with him, and to welcome his delightful family as neighbors and friends.”
Founded in 1793, Williams College is the second-oldest institution of higher learning in Massachusetts. The college’s 2,000 students are taught by a faculty noted for the quality of their teaching and research, and the achievement of academic goals includes active participation of students with faculty in their research. Students’ educational experience is enriched by the residential campus environment in Williamstown, Mass., which provides a host of opportunities for interaction with one another and with faculty beyond the classroom. Admission decisions on U.S. applicants are made regardless of a student’s financial ability, and the college provides grants and other assistance to meet the demonstrated needs of all who are admitted.
Published January 29, 2015