Harvard Divinity School today announced a $25 million gift from artist and philanthropist Susan Shallcross Swartz and her husband, investor James R. Swartz, AB '64. The gift—the largest in the School’s 200-year history—will enable HDS to move forward on the renewal of its main campus building, Andover Hall.
Drew Faust, Harvard's President and Lincoln Professor of History, says that the Swartz gift will not only benefit the Divinity School, but also the University whose history and mission it exemplifies.
“For more than two hundred years, Harvard Divinity School has expanded its extraordinary inquiry and influence, and created important connections across the University and around the world in the process,” Faust says. “Now, thanks to a wonderful act of generosity by the Swartzes, the School’s most important teaching and learning space will be renewed, generating more opportunities for students and scholars to consider lasting questions and seek meaningful answers. This is a signal moment for HDS, and we are all very grateful to Susan and Jim for their remarkable support.”
HDS Dean David N. Hempton notes that the Swartzes have been devoted supporters of every aspect of the School’s mission. He says their new gift will transform HDS’s ability to advance knowledge of global religion, to form ministers and chaplains from many different faith traditions, and to educate ethical, religiously literate leaders in all fields.
“Susan and Jim Swartz have supported every priority of the Campaign for HDS— student scholarships, professorships, events and programming, and much more,” Hempton says. “By revitalizing our main campus building, this extraordinary gift will enable us to reimagine our entire campus to meet the needs of a diverse 21st century faculty and student body. On behalf of the entire HDS community—both today and for generations to come—I extend to Susan and Jim our most profound thanks.”
The new Andover Hall will be a modern learning and research environment that will enable scholars and students of religion to engage the world and each other. School leaders envision a true campus center that brings core academic resources together with student services and social space; creates new space for conferences and public conversations on religion; modernizes classrooms with a new multimedia infrastructure; and provides full access to people of all physical abilities. The project represents the first major overhaul of the building since its construction over 100 years ago.
Andover renewal will also advance the University’s effort to combat climate change and to make Harvard a fossil-free campus by 2050. With the addition of ultra-energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, improved air quality, use of sustainable materials, and other improvements, the new Andover Hall will earn at least Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the United States Green Building Council.
An American impressionist painter whose work is housed in private, corporate, and museum collections around the world, Susan Swartz has received international recognition with solo exhibitions in numerous museums throughout the United States and Europe, most recently The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg. Swartz serves on the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and the Utah Film Center. She co-founded the Christian Center of Park City and Impact Partners, the leading funder of award-winning social impact documentaries.
James R. Swartz is the co-founder of the global venture capital firm Accel. A long-time industry leader, Swartz is former chairman of the National Venture Capital Association and a 2007 recipient of its Lifetime Achievement Award. His philanthropic initiatives include dozens of academic, athletic, arts, health, scholarship and social impact programs.
Susan Swartz, a member of the HDS Dean’s Council, says that she and her husband wanted to extend their support of the School’s mission with a gift that would truly transform HDS as it begins its third century.
“Jim and I have seen the impact our previous gifts have had on the lives of HDS graduates and the communities they serve,” she says. “We wanted to do more, and especially want to acknowledge the extraordinary leadership of Dean David Hempton and President Drew Faust. We are thrilled to be their partners in ensuring that this unique and historic building will become an innovation lab for the future of religious education and ethical leadership.”
About Harvard Divinity School
Founded in 1816, Harvard Divinity School is the first nonsectarian theological school in the country and the second professional school established at Harvard (Harvard Medical School was founded in 1788). The School has a distinguished history of fostering scholarship and critical thinking, as well as supporting service and ministry. HDS faculty are among the world’s leading scholars in Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, and Buddhist belief and practice.
HDS offers four degree programs that educate students who assume leadership roles in ministry, education, journalism, government, public service, and many other fields. The HDS campus welcomes students from over 30 denominations, who reflect a broad spectrum of academic interests and backgrounds.
—by Paul Massari