Div. School nets $1.5M for student financial aid

The Yale Divinity School has received a total of $1.5 million toward student financial aid and scholarships from two anonymous donors.

The contributions, which were announced Oct. 9 during the Divinity School’s annual alumni reunions, are an important step in the school’s long-term goal of subsidizing tuition for all its students, Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge said.

Two anonymous donors gave gifts totalling $1.5 million to the Yale Divinity School. The funds will be used to reduce students’ financial aid burdens.
Ed Stein
Two anonymous donors gave gifts totalling $1.5 million to the Yale Divinity School. The funds will be used to reduce students’ financial aid burdens.

“We were thrilled when we found out — absolutely delighted,” Attridge said. “We’ll be meeting with the donors very soon and having a conversation about how this money will be distributed to the students.”

One of the donations, valued at $1 million, will establish the Sidney Lovett Scholarship Fund, named in honor of the man who served as University chaplain between 1932 and 1958. The second donation — which is worth $500,000 — will be used as a challenge grant and will match future gifts of between $10,000 and $100,000 dollar-for-dollar, said Gus Spohn, the Divinity School’s director of communications. Both donors were alumni of Yale College but not of the Divinity School, he said.

The money from the funds may be used either to provide a few students with full-tuition scholarships or to provide a larger number of partial scholarships, Spohn said. Divinity School administrators and the donors will reach a decision about how to spend the money in the next few weeks, he said. The Divinity School currently subsidizes an average of 65 percent of each student’s tuition, Attridge said, and he hopes this figure will rise to 75 percent in the next five years as a result of the grants.

“Much of that goal depends on the success of the current capital campaign,” Attridge said. “But the long-term goal [of fully subsidizing tuition] depends on the Divinity School finding big donors like those of the Music School.”

In November 2005, the Yale School of Music received an anonymous donation of $100 million, which it used to waive tuition for all its students, beginning in the 2006-2007 school year. Applications to the School of Music jumped from 600 to 800 applications per year between 2002 and 2005 to 1,496 in 2006, Music School Dean of Admissions Daniel Pellegrini said in April.

Three Divinity School students interviewed by the News said they hope that with increased financial aid and scholarships, the Divinity School will experience similar success in attracting a growing cross section of students.

“This school has some of the best faculty in the country, probably in the world,” Kim Bauser DIV ’09 said. “Being able to give that to more students is a worthy goal, and it’s a gift and a blessing for people who want to become ministers.”

Unlike students from the medical school or the Law School, Divinity School students do not often expect to make six-figure salaries upon graduation, Michael Stoops DIV ’08 said.

“Being a minister is not a highly paid profession, and the Divinity School ends up with a lot of smaller donors with humble means,” he said. “I know a lot of people who wouldn’t be able to come here without financial aid. I think that this [$1.5 million donation] is fantastic — it makes a place like Yale more accessible to a wider range of people.”

Sidney Lovett ’50 said he was surprised and pleased to hear that the $1 million donation was to be named for his father, the Rev. Sidney Lovett.

“My father was devoted to Yale,” Lovett’s son said. “He was a great resource for the University, and also a great fundraiser for the University. I’m glad to see that his hand still carries water to the Yale Divinity School.”

In addition to serving as the University’s chaplain, Lovett was also master of Pierson College and executive director of the Yale-China program in Hong Kong.

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