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New chaplain starts at Mills

Rev. Olandt is looking forward to her first semester being Chaplain at Mills with students. (Abbey Flentje)
Rev. Olandt is looking forward to her first semester being Chaplain at Mills with students. (Abbey Flentje)

After years of giving back to others through her faith, Mills is proud to welcome Reverend Dara Olandt as its new chaplain.

Ordained as a Unitarian Universalist minister, Olandt spent the last several years in Virginia. However, before Virginia, she spent 17 years in the Bay Area and she knows the area well.

Olandt believes that all people should be allowed to seek their own paths through spirituality and meaning. This type of ministry welcomes people of diverse backgrounds, racial identities and genders who want to create justice in the world. As the new Mills chaplain, Olandt has plans to make the chapel more accessible to students in this new academic year, including adjusting chapel quiet times and a noon meditation for anyone interested to attend – no matter their faith.

“I’ve longtime admired Mills,” Olandt said. “It’s a really special place, made so by the students [that] focus on social justice.”

She loves how social justice is part of the core learning experience here and how it is integrated into student life. To her, Mills is where social justice leaders start.

“I believe it is very important that the next generations of leaders meet the challenges of the 21st century with creativity, social responsibility and an eye toward social justice,” Olandt said when she visited Mills in February 2016, as reported by The Campanil.

Chicora Martin, vice president of student life and dean of students, thinks students will find Olandt to be very supportive of students’ different desires of practicing their spirituality and faith.

“Dara is a thoughtful, patient, compassionate leader,” Martin said. “She brings tremendous experience in community building, guiding multifaith organizations and pastoral support of individuals.”

As the new chaplin, Oldant has begun revitalizing the chapel’s program by reissuing the interfaith calendar and updating the community directory, as well as organizing the chapel library, which comprises all four walls of the chapel lounge. In the meantime, she is excited to meet new people, no matter what they spiritually or religiously identify as.

“I look forward to getting to know the students in the journey of their lives and ways that I can support them,” Olandt said.