Attridge to retire as dean of the Divinity School

UPDATED 11:50 a.m. Yale Divinity School Dean Harold Attridge will be retiring from his position as dean on June 30, 2012. He will have been dean for ten years.

Attridge announced his decision in a May 3 letter to the Divinity School community, stating that he wanted to answer colleagues who had been asking him about his long-term plans. According to an announcement on the Yale Divinity School website, Attridge plans to take a sabbatical year in 2012-’13 after which he will return to teach at the school. He added that he had discussed his decision with University President Richard Levin the previous week.

“I think I have been able to accomplish a good deal in my ten years as dean,” he told the News Monday. “But I think now is just the right time to turn things over to a new generation of leadership.”

Attridge added that over his tenure as dean, he has been most proud of the strength of his faculty appointments, the conclusion of the campus renovations and the improvement of financial aid. In the press release, Levin said Attridge’s “scholarship, devotion, loyalty, good humor and deeply caring nature” made him a unique and successful dean.

“The Divinity School and the University are fortunate to have the services of such a loyal and deeply devoted leader, and I am grateful to Harry for giving me ample time to carry out a search for his successor,” said Levin, adding he will soon announce information on the search committee that will identify Attridge’s successor. “I know we all look forward to working with him in his final year as Dean.”

Attridge will spend his final year as dean focusing on funding scholarships for Roman Catholic students and students involved in the joint program in religion and ecology with the School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, according to the announcement. He will also work with faculty to appoint faculty in fields such as theology, Bible and ethics, as well as seeking funds to support the school’s international exchange programs.

He added that he is looking forward to “reading, writing and thinking” without the daily constraints of administrative work, after he steps down as dean. But, he said he will miss working with his administrative colleagues on a day-to-day basis.

Attridge, who began his tenure as dean in 2002, focused on faculty recruitment, increasing student financial aid, and leading the school’s capital campaign —a $38 million campaign to benefit joint degree programs, global partnerships and scholarships, among others. He came to Yale in 1997 after teaching and serving as dean of the College of Arts and Letters at the University of Notre Dame.

He was named the Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of Yale Divinity School after the endowed deanship was formed in 2009.

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