Yale Divinity School

As Martin Copenhaver DIV ’80 steps down as president of Andover Newton Seminary — an affiliate of the Yale Divinity School — Sarah Drummond ’93 will take the helm, the first major leadership transition since the seminary formally joined the Divinity School in 2017.

Copenhaver announced on Tuesday afternoon that he will step down from his position as of June 30. According to a joint announcement from Divinity School Dean Greg Sterling and Andover Newton Board of Trustees Chair Linda Campanella, Drummond — the Divinty School’s assistant dean and a current visiting professor of ministerial leadership — will assume her duties as the seminary’s president following Copenhaver’s retirement. She will also take the position of founding dean of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School simaltaneously. Drummond will be the first woman to lead the seminary in its two-century-long history.

After experiencing financial stress, Andover Newton Theological School announced in November 2015 that it would sell its 23 acre campus located outside of Boston. Following the announcement, the seminary took steps to partner with Yale Divinity School. During a “visiting year” between 2016 and 2017, five Andover Newton faculty members — Drummond included — moved their offices to New Haven. The two institutions formally affiliated last fall. Andover Newton is now located on the Divinity School campus.

“The school has landed very well, and I feel confident that it will continue to be successful in its new setting, so I’m able to leave feeling really settled and confident about that,” Copenhaver told the News.

Copenhaver added that while he will be leaving the presidency — a role he assumed in 2014 — and moving back to Boston to spend more time with his family, he will serve as a senior fellow part time. In that role, Copenhaver said he will focus on the school’s external relationships that will develop the school’s reputation in its new location as well as establish and fortify a donor base.

Reflecting on his five-year presidency, Copenhaver said that he is most proud of the school’s ability to adapt to its new home while simultaneously preserving its own school mission.

“We were able to move this historic institution to a relationship with Yale and to a new setting which will be able to continue to fulfill our mission and to thrive,” Copenhaver said. “It was a very complex task and I’m proud of the institution as well for being able to be nimble enough to make such a transition.”

According to Copenhaver, the choice of Drummond for Andover Newton’s founding dean was “a serious one, but not a difficult one.” A professor at the seminary since 2005, Drummond has previously served as its associate dean, a tenured associate professor and its dean of faculty. She also served as the seminary’s senior on-site administrator during its visiting year at the Divinity School.

While a search committee also considered other candidates in the theology field, Copenhaver said Drummond was the obvious and the best choice.

In a Divinity School press release, Dean Greg Sterling said that there is “simply no one better to lead Andover Newton.” Drummond’s “unique combination of a Yale pedigree, thorough knowledge of Andover Newton, and leadership in theological education,” as well as her leadership in developing the Andover Newton program at the Divinity School make her a good fit for the position, Sterling said.

“Over the years — about every four or five years — I’ve taken on more responsibility,” Drummond said. “We as a school have been through so much change and so much innovation, and going into my 15th year, entering this new set of responsibilities will feel like natural next step, but there’s nothing natural about it. I am honored and humbled.”

Drummond said that during her upcoming tenure as dean, she would like to see the school fully settle into its new home at the Divinity School. Founded by a New England Congregationalist breakaway faction from Harvard Divinity School with the intention of educating religious leaders for local congregations, she noted that the school has gone through several major shifts in its 212-year history.

She added that Timothy Dwight — a graduate and former president of Yale and one of Andover Newton’s founders — “should have known better if he didn’t want us to come back to roost,” and that she hopes Andover Newton can do so coming out of a period of “really seismic transition with constant change.”

“I want to become bored,” Drummond said. “I want to become so bored and rooted, and I want to get roots dug into the ground … I’m not totally kidding when I say that we have been through so much transition that a chance to really bloom where we’re planted is something that I look forward to very, very much.”

Established in 1807, Andover Newton Theological School is the oldest theological school in the United States.

Asha Prihar | asha.prihar@yale.edu