The science hall at Siena Heights University now has a new name: the Sister Sharon Weber, OP, PhD Science Hall. The hall was dedicated in recognition of Sister Sharon as she prepares to retire after serving at Siena Heights University for 40 years as Associate Professor of Chemistry, Academic Dean, and currently as Vice President of Academic Affairs.
The brief dedication ceremony took place May 9, 2022, during a week of workshops and celebrations after the May 7 and 8, 2022, Commencement Ceremonies.
“Sister Sharon exemplifies what it means to be a true Dominican,” said Sister Peg Albert, OP, PhD, President. “She prays. She studies. She helps create community, and she preaches with words and by her example. She searches for truth and shares it with others.” Sister Peg also held Sister Sharon up as an advocate for students, faculty, and staff and as a scientist who brings a scientific perspective to discussions.
“Sharon, your legacy here is graced,” Sister Peg concluded. “You have seen this university through many changes. We thank you for your outstanding service, and we pray that the future will hold many blessings for you.”
In response, Sister Sharon shared many of her memories of Siena Heights University, particularly of her time in the science building. “The students have taught me much over the years, and possibly the student I remember best was a young man who, as we were walking down this hallway, said to me, ‘Sister, how do people go through life and not appreciate the wonders of our natural world, all that science can teach us?’”
Sister Sharon also expressed her gratitude to her colleagues on the faculty and in administration for all that they taught her over the years. In particular, she noted Professor Carl Kaster, who taught in the science department for 40 years. “Carl has taught me that you can respect your students and expect more out of them and really encourage them to do that,” she said.
Daniel Peña, Vice President of Institutional Advancement, presided over the highlight of the celebration: the unveiling of a mural of Sister Sharon, placed prominently on the wall of the science hall.
During the final blessing, Sister Mary Jones, OP, Director of Mission and Ministry, noted that the mural would keep Sister Sharon present to the Siena Heights community even when she is not physically there.
“Sister Sharon has woven a special thread into the fabric that is Siena Heights,” Sister Mary said. “In all the positions she has held here, the one that most defines her is teacher, for even in her administrative roles, her thoughtfulness and questions were opportunities for those of us around her to learn, to view a situation differently.”
Sister Mary led the assembly in the ritual of blessing the hall with water from the well of St. Catherine from Siena, Italy, the Patroness of Siena Heights University.
This was one of several celebrations throughout the Commencement season in which the Siena Heights University honored its Dominican roots. During the April 29, 2022, Honors Convocation, Siena Heights bestowed Honorary Doctorate degrees on members of the General Council of the Adrian Dominican Sisters, honoring them as elected leaders and representatives of the Congregation that founded and sponsors the University.