Harvard Divinity School Dean William A. Graham will step down from his position at the helm of HDS after a decade in the position, the University announced last week. Graham, who is also a professor of divinity and of Middle Eastern studies, said that he will take a year off from his duties at the University before returning to his role in the classroom.
“Bill Graham has been a dedicated leader of the Divinity School, helping to build on its important legacy within Harvard while also guiding the significant expansion of its work across religious and cultural divides,” said University President Drew G. Faust in a statement. “I am deeply grateful for his long and varied service to the University—as a scholar, teacher, and dean—and I am pleased that he will remain an active faculty member in the years ahead.”
Graham cited many reasons for his decision to step down after a decade-long tenure—a length of time he said he believes is appropriate for such a position.
“I feel that we have accomplished much of what I set out to see accomplished when I came over to HDS from the College,” Graham told The Crimson in an email. “I think that the school will need a dean who can take it through the coming University capital campaign beginning in two or three years from now and surely continuing for some years thereafter.”
Graham said that he is looking forward to focusing more on his academic commitments without the burden of administrative work. His year off will allow him to “make up for a decade of reduced reading” and potentially revive his writings, he said.
HDS has seen a number of changes during Graham’s tenure, including the expansion of its faculty and course offerings. The past decade has seen the appointment of more than half of the current faculty of HDS and an increase in resources for the study of Buddhist, Hindu, Islamic, and Jewish religions, among others, according to a University press release.
The school’s commitment to financial aid has increased by more than 100 percent over the past decade, according to the release. More than 90 percent of their students now receive financial aid.
“I think that the strength of religious studies at Harvard, primarily in both HDS and FAS, is at an all-time high,” said Graham. “HDS will continue to be a major focal element of this strength.”
Graham added that he is hopeful that HDS will increase its collaboration with the Faculty of Arts and Sciences.
A search committee comprised of members of the faculty will be convened by Faust this fall to identify candidates to fill the position.
—Staff writer Justin C. Worland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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