Outgoing Harvard Divinity School Dean Hempton to Remain Until August as Search for Successor Continues


Harvard Divinity School Dean David N. Hempton will continue his tenure through Aug. 31 as the search for his successor continues, University President-elect Claudine Gay announced in an email to affiliates Tuesday.

Hempton announced his departure from the role in October 2022 and was set to leave at the end of the 2022-23 academic year. In the October announcement, Hempton, who joined HDS as a professor in 2007 and became dean of the faculty in 2012, said he would continue teaching at the school.

In the message, Gay described Hempton as a “wonderfully generous colleague” and praised the “care and skill with which he leads and serves the University.”

“It is a gift to all of us that he has agreed to prolong his departure.” Gay wrote. “I hope you will join me in thanking him today.”


Under Hempton’s leadership, the Divinity School underwent the renovation and subsequent reopening of Swartz Hall, the school’s main campus building. The renovation project modernized the facility and included the renaming of its chapel in honor of Preston N. Williams, the first African American tenured faculty member at the Divinity School.

Hempton also expanded the school’s multireligious educational offerings and diversified the faculty. He appointed more than a third of the current Faculty of Divinity, including professors focused on African and African American religion, Islamic studies, and early Christianity and its connection to Judaism.

Gay, who will assume Harvard’s top post in July 2023, inherited the search for Hempton’s replacement and three other deans who announced their departures at the end of the current academic year.

The other searches include appointing new deans of the Faculty of the Arts and Sciences, Harvard School of Public Health, and School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.

As the academic year comes to a close, none of the open deanships have been filled with permanent successors, though Gay announced last week that health economics professor Jane J. Kim would serve as interim dean of HSPH during the search.

—Staff writer Tyler J.H. Ory can be reached at