A look into Dr. Diane Mowrey’s office on the second floor of Watkins could serve the purpose of a profile in itself. Her dog, Maeve, happily pads across her office, posters of Dr. Martin Luther King are displayed on the walls, while flyers for religious events on campus cover the door.
Dr. Mowrey serves as chaplain for the university and often accompanies students on international trips. She also played a role in the silent protest that took place on campus shortly after the officer-involved shooting of Keith Lamont Scott, as she led a prayer near the end.
Dr. Mowrey was asked to be a part of the event, but she is quick to point out that her role was not one of leading or organizing. “I was just a cheerleader,” Mowrey said, reminiscing on the leadership the students involved took.
Her outreach efforts don’t just stop with work on campus, however. That Sunday, Dr. Mowrey went to uptown with local clergy members to play a peacekeeping role during potential protests, although that night turned out to be pretty quiet.
As chaplain, Dr. Mowrey is both a religious leader and a teacher. She says she has to challenge and nurture both professors and student to look at their own selves and spirituality to find what they do and don’t believe for themselves.
As university students across the country become less religious than in previous years according to Pew Research Center, Mowrey sees the challenge in her role as students talk about not believing in anything rather than believing in something different. However, she still engages them in discussion about the subject to fulfill a similar role. Mowrey says the campus is enriched by its religious diversity, as there are more Muslim and Jewish students at Queens than ever before.
In fact, Dr. Mowrey often works with the other religious leaders on campus to create programs together. In fact, one program they are working on is “Interfaith Text Talks”, in which those participating discuss what different religious texts say about topics such as food, afterlife, the environment and so on.
The cooperation between campus religious leaders should only get better as all the faiths on campus will benefit from the Pamela Davies Center for Faith and Outreach, the end result of renovations for Belk Chapel. Dr. Mowrey is most excited about the facility’s prayer and mediation room, which she said will provide for, “a place that is quiet.” The center’s kitchen and lounge area will welcome all students of all faiths and beliefs, says Mowrey. There will also be showers to provide for a better experience for guests doing Room at the Inn, which will move to the Davies Center.
It would be a mistake to leave international travel out of a profile about Dr. Mowrey. “I’ll go almost anywhere,” she said, and almost anywhere she has indeed gone. Her travels include Guatemala, multiple places in Europe, China, Tibet, India, Nepal, Cuba and South Africa. Mowrey says that she is particularly interested in places that have been in conflict and are in some kind of process to overcome conflict. More specifically, she has an interest in the involvement of religion in such conflicts, both in being the justification for conflict and in being the solution to escape it.
As an example, Mowrey describes how many in South Africa used religion to justify apartheid, but that many also used religion to heal the nation after it. Guatemala, where Dr. Mowrey will be going for the 18th year in a row this Spring, has had conflicts between the high church Catholics and Mayan population. There is also Northern Ireland, which had been plagued by The Troubles, a conflict between the Protestants and Catholics there. Of all the places she has studied and visited, she finds the case of Northern Ireland and The Troubles to be the most fascinating.
Regardless of where she goes, Dr. Mowrey always tries to use her experiences and what she learns from her international travel to try and better the Queens community.