Greg Sterling was reappointed to a second five-year term as dean of the Divinity School, University President Peter Salovey announced Wednesday.
Sterling, who is the Lillian Clark Professor of New Testament and professor of Religious Studies, was appointed to his first term in 2012 after spending more than two decades at the University of Notre Dame. Sterling will begin his second term on July 1 and serve through June 2022.
In his announcement, Salovey cited positive feedback from alumni, students and faculty during the dean’s review process.
“I’m honored to be in this position. I think this is the leading divinity school in the United States and even in the world,” Sterling said. “I think that the school has a track record of making a difference and my hope is that we even increase the difference that we can make.”
The Divinity School faculty interviewed said that under Sterling’s leadership, the school has increased diversity within its faculty and staff, student body and curricula. In an interview with the News, Sterling cited the addition of a Master of Arts in Religion concentration in Latinx Christianity and changes in iconography of the walls as evidence of the school’s commitment to diversity.
He added that the Divinity School has worked to recognize nonwhite alumni of the school, with the best example being the renaming one of the Divinity School’s largest classrooms after James Pennington, a student at the school and the first African-American to study at Yale.
Sterling is also working to secure a permanent affiliation between the Divinity School and Andover Newton Theological School, which, if successful, will result in a relocation of Andover to the Sterling Divinity Quadrangle.
During Sterling’s tenure as dean, the Divinity School has also established a leadership program that brings speakers with theological backgrounds who are not in academia to offer case studies in effective leadership in one-hour courses. Past speakers include Habitat for Humanity CEO Jonathan Reckford and founder of Moral Mondays William Barber.
Professor of Liturgical Studies and Catholic Theology Teresa Berger, who chaired the school’s diversity committee, said she appreciated how Sterling’s commitment to diversity manifested itself through concrete actions such as the recent appointments of a large number of racially and ethnically diverse faculty members.
“I think those of us on faculty appreciate his leadership skills, his incredible dedication to YDS and the stamina he has in sustaining a daunting schedule of meetings and research and teaching and travels,” she said.
John Collins, professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation, said faculty members are happy with Sterling’s work over the past five years and added that he would have been “shocked” had Sterling not been reappointed. According to Collins, Sterling’s two greatest achievements in his first term as dean were his diversification of the faculty and the establishment of a partnership between Andover Newton and the Divinity School.
Julia Johnson DIV ’18, the second year Master of Divinity representative on the Divinity School’s student government, said that both she and many of her classmates reacted positively to Sterling’s reappointment. She added that Sterling made himself accessible to students and took their suggestions and ideas for the betterment of the school seriously. Johnson, who is also co-coordinator of the school’s environmental group on campus, called Sterling an “eco-warrior,” saying that he was a big supporter of her group and, overall, interested in making the Divinity School more eco-friendly.
In his second term, Sterling plans to continue working on a fundraising campaign to provide full aid to all students with demonstrated financial need by 2022. Sterling is also raising money to replace the old Divinity School dormitories with a solar-powered, environmentally sustainable regenerative village, as part of the school’s effort to promote sustainability and environmental responsibility.
“He is not somebody to rest on his laurels,” Collins said. “He’s always looking for ways to improve the place.”