A Message of Thanks

November 4, 2021
Lori Stevens
Lori Stevens, Associate Dean for Development and External Relations

This is a remarkable moment in the 200+ year history of Harvard Divinity School. We’re celebrating the return to campus and the ability to gather in community once more after more than a year of remote teaching, learning, and working. We’re also celebrating the renewal of Swartz Hall—the heart of our campus and community—after a careful renovation to better serve our community’s needs while preserving the building’s historical charm.

I want to recognize the power of your collective generosity and its ripple effect on our community and all communities HDS serves. I think of the dedicated group of supporters of the Women’s Studies in Religion Program, who this year, led by Dean’s Council member Arlene Hirschfeld, achieved a goal to raise $1 million for the Constance H. Buchanan Endowment for the Women’s Studies in Religion Program. This endowment honors Connie Buchanan, the past director who passed away last year, and enables us to fund crucial research about the role of women in the study of religion.

Many of you joined us in celebrating the ongoing impact of Preston and Connie Williams as a part of the renaming of Andover Chapel to the Preston N. Williams Chapel and establishment of the Constance W. and Preston N. Williams Scholarship Fund. Your kindness helps us honor their service to HDS and the broader Harvard communities by ensuring support to future generations of HDS students actively working toward belonging and inclusion, including anti-racism work.

We also offer our deep appreciation to Susan and Jim Swartz, the James Family, including Ralph and Janice James, Cathy James Paglia and Louis Paglia, their father Robert James, and other donors to the building for their generous contributions. This extends to the many members of the HDS community—including a record-breaking number of alumni—who gave to the HDS Fund this year. Supporters of the HDS Fund have provided vital unrestricted funding for the renewal of Swartz Hall and other priority areas, such as financial aid. Gifts of all sizes advance our work in religious scholarship, ethical leadership, and compassionate ministry. Your dedication helps the HDS community sustain a home for future generations of scholars and leaders for years to come.

As I think about your care and commitment, I remember the words of Rumi:

Your acts of kindness
are iridescent wings
of divine love
which linger and continue
to uplift others
long after your sharing

With your collective support, you lift up so many at Harvard Divinity School and around the world. It is our honor to celebrate you and your acts of kindness that will resonate long after your sharing. Thank you.


Lori Stevens
Associate Dean for Development and External Relations