Acting Dean George H. Williams yesterday announced detailed preliminary plans for Divinity school renovation which will "make the school one of the world's outstanding centers of religious learning."
The program will utilize already-existing graduate School facilities in fields related to religion-such as middle eastern studies, psychiatry, and education-to present broad opportunities for research. Announcement of the new plan was made after the passing of the halfway mark in the School's five-million dollar fund drive.
Six new professorships will include chairs in Interdenominational Churchmanship, Old Testament and Post-Biblical Judaism, American Church History, Byzantine Theology, Culture, Christian ethics, and Christian Education and Religious Psychology.
When the chair of Byzantine Theology is added, the university will become, according to Gordon Huggins '29, Executive Secretary of the fund drive, "The only place in the world to do graduate study in the theology of the Orthodox Church, principal religious group of Russia and the Middle East." Students in the Byzantine-Middle Eastern program will be able to use such facilities as the Russian Research Center and the Jewett, Hancock, Littauer, and Fry professorships. Newly-appointed University Professor Sir Hamilton A. R. Gibb, world-famed Oxford authority on the Middle East, may also give courses of Islam.
The establishment of the Byzantine chair stems in part, according to Huggins, from a letter sent by Charles Malik, Lebanese Ambassador to the U.N., to President Emeritus Conant in 1952. Malik wrote, "At the bottom of the great division in the world today certainly lies the spiritual estrangement between Rome and Byzantium which occurred a thousand years ago. The healing of this breach is an indispensable condition for real peace and understanding. I hope... Harvard will stand out in the Western Hemisphere as the place most clearly indicated for that purpose. I think such an act of charity on the part of Western Protestantism is absolutely necessary for any eventual spiritual conciliation with Russia."
Cooperation with Education School
The Divinity School will also work with the Education School. Dean Williams said, "With the proposed expansion of the Graduate school of Education under Dean Keppel, it is clear that the divinity School must very quickly make a major appointment in the field of Christian Education." This man, according to Williams, would be able to cross departmental frontiers to investigate problems such as teaching of moral values, and religious instruction in the public schools.
With expansion in these and other fields, the school, according to Williams, will be able to fulfill its "dual role." It will be a center of religious learning open to graduate study by adherents of any of the world's living religions as well as fulfilling its primary function of training professional leaders for the Protestant ministry.