Lynda Szymanski, interim provost, announced today the hiring of Sharon M. Howell, CSJ, as the director of the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice. In this role, Sister Sharon also will serve as the Archbishop Harry Flynn Endowed Chair in Catholic Identity and director of the Myser Initiative. She will spend some time on campus beginning in late November and will begin her full-time position in early January.
As a Sister of St. Joseph of Carondelet, Sister Sharon brings a love for academia, the church and serving others to St. Kate’s. In this role, she will follow her passion for working as a student affairs professional and church administrator within our community to serve the interests of students, staff and faculty, and promote the charism of the Sisters of St. Joseph.
"We are thrilled to have Sister Sharon join us as the new director of the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice," said Dr. Szymanski. "She brings a wealth of experience and knowledge to this position that will advance the Center as a bright and vibrant area of the University. Additionally, we look forward to the vision she will bring to the roles of Endowed Chair in Catholic Identity and Director of the Myser Initiative to further the Catholic pillar of our mission within our community."
For the past three decades, Sister Sharon has served the students, faculty and staff of the University of St. Thomas in a variety of roles. Most recently, she served as the assistant dean for students, university ombudsperson, and parent liaison. Prior to this, she served as the director of the Office for Diversity Initiatives, where she partnered with groups throughout the university to work with issues of inclusion and the promotion of respect among all members of the campus community. Other roles have included co-chair of the FLAG team to monitor the retention of students, director for multicultural student services, clinical faculty member in the Department of Undergraduate Theology, member of the GLBTQA Task Force, member of the University Strategic Planning Committee, and campus minister. She has been the executive secretary for the Archdiocesan Commission of Black Catholics since 1986.
Sister Sharon holds a BS in biology/chemistry from Xavier University, and an MA in pastoral studies from the University of St. Thomas. Before taking her vows in 1985, she was a chemist for 3M, Control Data, and the Minnesota State Department of Agriculture. From 1995–2004, she served as a Board of Trustees member for St. Kate's.
"I am honored to have been selected as the director of the Center for Spirituality and Social Justice," said Sister Sharon. "I have had a deep love of the university for many years and look forward to bringing all of who I am to the St. Catherine community."