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The Carletonian

The Carletonian

Chaplain Carolyn Fure-Slocum retires after 26 years at Carleton

After 26 years and 91 terms at Carleton, Carolyn Fure-Slocum ‘82 will retire at the end of this term. She has been integral to the fabric of the chapel for as long as she has held the role; spending countless hours organizing celebrations and events, leading discussion groups and committees and guiding students through the rewarding and sometimes tumultuous experience of college.

When Fure-Slocum graduated from Carleton in 1982 with a Bachelor of Arts in religion, she didn’t necessarily expect to spend her career at Carleton, and her path back was certainly not linear. Before settling back down in Northfield, she spent time traveling throughout Asia, working as a community organizer in Southern Minnesota and traveling in Asia again — this time spending time at the Asian Rural Institute, attending seminary at Berkeley with intent to pursue faith-based community organizing and then working as a campus minister at the University of Iowa. 

It was during a meeting with a former professor during a visit back to Carleton that encouraged Fure-Slocum to apply for the chaplain position at Carleton. “It was a very creative committee that saw I might be able to do the job. I didn’t have the same kind of background that I think they often look for,” she said. 

One of her favorite parts of her job throughout the years has been that there is no typical day. Each week, the chapel hosts 12 to 15 different events, ranging from religious services to discussions, including things like the interfaith dialogue group Council for Religious Understanding and the Christen Vespers group Even Song. This past week in particular has been a busy and exciting intersection of significant holidays for Islam, Christianity and Judaism,  with the chapel planning and hosting events for Ramadan, Holy Week and Passover. 

Throughout the years, Fure-Slocum has enjoyed engaging with and witnessing how the student body has changed. “Carleton has grown hugely in its diversity,” she said, and this growth has led to the broadening of religious events and groups offered by the chapel. There are a wide variety of groups offered, including, but not limited to, Queer Spirits, Foods of Faith and Interfaith Social Action — all of which were the brainchildren of students. 

One of the events Fure-Slocum enjoys the most, and finds unique to Carleton, is Holi-Purim. The event is a combined celebration of the Jewish holiday Purim and the Hindu holiday Holi. The holidays fall within days of each other, but are rarely combined. “We think we’re the only people in the world who do this joint celebration,” said Fure-Slocum.

The contributions Fure-Slocum has made to the chapel and to the Carleton community have not gone unnoticed by students. Chaplain’s Associate Isaac Fried ’23 remarked, “I so admire how much Carolyn has given to Carleton. She has been a student, parent and staff member, which is incredible and shows her love for and dedication to the community. Her retirement is well-deserved, and I hope she enjoys spending time with her family.” Chaplain’s Associate Annabel Cohen ’23 had similarly positive things to say about Fure-Slocum: “[I will miss] how easy Carolyn is to talk to [and] how much of a resource she has been when I have been trying to make decisions or just needed an adult opinion. I will miss her presence, which really helps the chapel feel like a home.”

Upon departure, Fure-Slocum wanted to leave some words of advice for Carleton students: “I really hope this trend of being grounded in one’s tradition and one’s identity and yet open to others stays alive and well. Because it’s pretty special to be able to think deeply and openly. There’s a humbleness that goes with that — and an unusual sense of humor, creativity and curiosity.” 

She will spend her retirement between California, Colorado and Northfield, helping care for her new grandchildren. 

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    Joe NathanSep 7, 2023 at 5:14 pm

    Hope she enjoys retirement. She has given a lot to many people