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Harvard Divinity School community

Dear Members of the Harvard Divinity School Community,

In light of his announcement earlier today, I write to express my thanks to David Hempton for his outstanding service as dean of Harvard Divinity School.

A year ago next week, I joined David at Swartz Hall on a perfect fall day for a long-anticipated ribbon cutting. As we moved together through newly renovated spaces, I was struck by how much the building reminded me of David himself: inviting and open, authentic and dignified, dynamic and engaging. Throughout a decade of leadership, he has realized those same qualities more fully across the Divinity School—in the faculty and students you attract, in the research and scholarship you pursue, and in the initiatives and programs you launch. With inspiring conviction, he has expanded and elevated ambitions and perspectives, ever faithful to the ideal of a just world, a world at peace.

This talent is not to your sole benefit. At Academic Council, David is often the last to speak on an issue, and, when he does, everyone listens attentively because he is as gifted a teacher among his peers as he is in any classroom. With careful counsel, he guides others to see things differently, to consider new ways of approaching challenges and seeking resolution. These moments of wisdom have made him indispensable to his fellow deans—and to me. Fortunately, there is some road left to run with him, and we will cherish every step.

Provost Garber and I will soon launch a search for your next dean, and we will have more to say about that process in the time ahead. For now, we hope you will join us in thanking David for his service and in wishing him well as he begins to contemplate a well-deserved turn to a new book and a waiting family.

All the best,


P.S. If you have thoughts on the opportunities and challenges facing the School, or on the deanship, you may share them in confidence at