To the Editor:

I fully agree with Rabbi Jim Ponet’s call (“It’s time to rethink the role of campus chaplain,” 1/17) for an expansion of the role of the University Chaplain. When former University Chaplain William Sloane Coffin died last spring, my father (who is not a Christian and was not even at Yale during much of Rev. Coffin’s tenure) told me that Coffin had been one of his heroes while he was in college. Coffin was not only noted for his strong opposition to the Vietnam War, but was so nationally influential on a range of issues that The Nation called him “the true heir to Martin Luther King, Jr.” That is what we’re after: a chaplain who is an intellectual and spiritual hero to not just a generation of Yale students, but Americans as a whole. Both Yale and the United States need a spiritual leader who transcends religious and cultural differences and takes principled positions on domestic and international issues, however challenging and unpopular those stances may be. I implore the chaplain search committee to seek such a candidate.

David Gershkoff ’06

Jan. 17