Citing medical concerns, Saint Paul School of Theology President Sharon Howell will step down from her leadership post, effective March 1.
Although passionate about the United Methodist seminary’s mission and future, Rev. Howell said she made her decision at the urging of her physician.
"This is a tough moment for me. There is no other institution that could have called me out of retirement," she said. "I step back into retirement knowing that Saint Paul is positioned for future growth."
She was named president in 2014. The seminary has two campuses, at Oklahoma City University and at Church of the Resurrection in greater Kansas City, Mo.
In her February president’s e-newsletter, Howell noted the seminary is in its eighth year at OCU and its second year since gaining full accreditation to offer all classes there. One-third of total enrollment is at the OCU location.
Saint Paul at OCU also is the new home for the denomination’s deaconess and home missioner core studies program, affiliated with United Methodist Women.
Howell praised the "amazing collaboration" the seminary has with OCU, the Oklahoma Conference, and the Oklahoma Indian Missionary Conference. The Oklahoma United Methodist Foundation provides significant scholarship support, which includes the first funding for a Saint Paul-Oklahoma Fellow.
She wrote, "Bishop Robert E. Hayes Jr. has been and is a strong advocate for Saint Paul. The bishop and district superintendents have worked to provide student appointments and other ministry opportunities. It has been delightful to be on the OCU campus, working with President (Robert) Henry and his fine staff and faculty.
"I anticipate the collaboration will continue to grow and expand. I’ll watch with you from a distance," Howell concluded, "but I’ll treasure these new friends forever."
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