Courtesy of trinitywallstreet.org

The Rev. Dr. Cathy George, who is currently serving as assistant dean of Yale Divinity School, has chosen not to seek reappointment, effective in Spring 2021. 

In January, George, who is also the Associate Dean and director of formation of Berkeley Divinity School — the Episcopal seminary at Yale Divinity School — will leave the Yale community to become the Chaplain of the Epiphany School in Dorchester, Mass., an Episcopal school serving economically disadvantaged families. Andrew McGowan, the dean and president of Berkeley Divinity School and the McFaddin Professor of Anglican Studies and Pastoral Theology, will be leading the search for her successor. He expects George’s successor will join the community by summer of 2021.

“I will greatly miss teaching and mentoring the divinity school students that have enriched my life as an Associate Dean,” George wrote to the News in an email. “I have decided to move on, convicted by the needs of those with little educational and economic opportunity which the pandemic and racial injustice has combined to make abundantly clear to us at this time.” 

George will be leaving Berkeley after her five-year appointment concluded this past June. According to Berkeley’s online announcement, she expressed interest in becoming Chaplain at the Episcopal School in Dorchester, where she had previously served two parishes prior to arriving at Yale. 

“Even in the twenty-first century, few women occupy senior leadership roles in the Church and the Academy,” the Reverend Dr. Gabrielle Thomas and Lecturer in Early Christianity and Anglican Studies wrote in an email. “As such, we need to do the work as pioneers. To this end, Dean George has forged new paths throughout her career.” 

Thomas described how George was acting dean in March, when the COVID-19 pandemic halted life as usual at Yale. George, according to Thomas, led the community during this challenging time with “strength, commitment and care.” 

Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling echoed similar sentiments about George’s role as acting Berkeley dean. 

“Throughout the entire process, Cathy has been a dependable and important voice: from the meeting in which we had to make the decision to cancel spring break trips abroad to the weekly or bi-weekly meetings of the leadership team to work through the issues that we faced in dealing with COVID-19,” Sterling told the News in an email. “In particular, I want to recognize Cathy’s pastoral role with the students and her capacities as an administrator when we had to make abrupt shifts, e.g., reworking our annual budgets in a two-week period. Her equanimity, decisiveness, and commitment to serve were exemplary.”  

Felicity Harley, a lecturer in the Divinity School and Department of Religious Studies, considers George a “friend rather than colleague” and told the News that she is “excited” that George “has found an opportunity to continue her work with children, and specifically those from disadvantaged backgrounds, which she was passionate about before she came to Yale.” Still, Harley said she will miss George’s support and friendship. 

In addition to her administrative role, George taught students at Yale Divinity School and Berkeley Divinity School in homiletics, or preaching, as well as aspects of the Anglican Studies program. McGowan told the News that George has “been greatly admired and appreciated by Berkeley Divinity School students as mentor and teacher.” 

Linford Ranck DIV ’21 said that while he only recently joined the Berkeley community last spring, he has already developed a relationship with George. 

“Before and after joining, I’ve appreciated her unwavering belief in the importance of formation in [the] community,” Ranck wrote to the News in an email. “As I wrote to her in a personal email recently, I admire her ‘deep spirituality, sense of purpose, and commitment to students’ formation,’ and I will miss her steady presence at Berkeley and YDS.”

McGowan said conversations about appointing George’s successor in Fall 2021 have “already begun” with students and alumni. He added that he and his colleagues will make “specific efforts” to identify diverse candidates and give “strong consideration” to people of color. This comes a month after the Divinity School established an anti-racism task force. 

McGowan told the News in an email that George helped students “in particular pastoral need” in addition to “sharing in wider leadership” with him during his sabbatical last spring when the pandemic left him “stranded overseas” for a period of time. 

“Cathy has always had a strong commitment to issues of equity and diversity and worked in numerous ways to deepen Berkeley’s engagement with anti-racism,” McGowan wrote. “We will miss her contributions but seek to build on them too.” 

Students who successfully complete Berkeley’s program earn a diploma or certificate in Anglican Studies in addition to their Yale Divinity School degree. 

Larissa Jimenez | larissa.jimenez@yale.edu