Letter from the Dean

Dean David N. Hempton

My first year as Dean of Harvard Divinity School was exhilarating. HDS engaged with new enthusiasm in conversations about global religion and its influence on virtually every aspect of the human experience—from the transition in the Catholic Church, to women and Sharia law in the Middle East, to the radicalization and violence that, tragically, struck so close to home last April.

The need is greater than ever for institutions that study global religion critically and with rigor, and that illuminate the beliefs and practices that lie at the foundation of societies. Academic knowledge is just the beginning, though. To live in peace and security, ensure human health and well-being, promote environmental sustainability, and surmount countless other challenges, the world needs thoughtful leaders who understand not only the role faith plays in shaping individuals and cultures, but also its lessons of compassion, ethics, and moral courage. 

In these pages, you'll see how your support for HDS in 2012-13 enabled preeminent scholarship in global religion and the education of leaders of conscience who work for a better world: Professor Karen King's groundbreaking research, which is redefining the way we understand Christianity; the ministry of Arleigh Prelow, MDiv '13, which brings the thought of Howard Thurman—the theologian whose work on nonviolence helped to lay the foundation for the American civil rights movement—to a wide audience via film; the entrepreneurial vision of Tom Chappell, MTS '91, which has proven that companies can be both profitable and socially responsible; and others.

As we look ahead to the upcoming campaign, we are poised to expand the School's impact. With its interfaith approach and reputation as a global leader in advancing religious knowledge, HDS can be the place that connects not only students and scholars, but also leaders of the world's major faiths with one another to address problems that range from religious conflict to global health.

An HDS education unites intellectual rigor with compassionate, ethical leadership for every dimension of society. This experience is possible because of your generous support. 

Thank you for being our stewards and our partners. 

David N. Hempton 
Dean of the Faculty of Divinity
Alonzo L. McDonald Family Professor of Evangelical Theological Studies
John Lord O'Brian Professor of Divinity

Go to the 2013 Dean's Report.