Harvard Divinity School Receives Christian Studies Endowment

Susan Swartz and James R. Swartz ’64 give $10 million

Susan Shallcross Swartz

Harvard Divinity School (HDS) today announced that artist and activist Susan Shallcross Swartz and her husband, James R. Swartz  ’64, have donated $10 million to establish the Susan Shallcross Swartz Endowment for Christian Studies, in support of new professorships, fellowships, and educational programs. The gift is reportedly among the largest in the school’s history.

Susan Swartz became HDS’s first artist in residence in 2005; she subsequently served on the dean’s council, and the gift is intended in part to honor the legacy of William A. Graham, who stepped down as dean last June. Read Graham's review of an exhibition of her work here.

In the announcement, Susan Swartz said:

From the beginning of my association with HDS, I was impressed with the leadership of Bill Graham and with the dean’s council’s commitment to keeping the oldest divinity school in the country a vibrant place of scholarship and reflection. This gift will allow Dean [David N.] Hempton to take the School into the future, and to improve the currency of the leadership that HDS exercises. My hope is that the endowment will inspire scholarship and reinvigorate debate, service, and teaching for generations to come.

Hempton said, “Susan and Jim’s extraordinary gift will advance teaching and research in Christianity, one of our core strengths, well into the future.”

President Drew Faust said, “The Divinity School plays a key role in the work and mission of the wider University, and Susan and Jim’s gift…helps solidify the study of religion’s place at Harvard. We are most grateful.”

Susan Swartz is on the boards of the Utah Film Center and the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and on the National Advisory Board of the National Museum of Women in the Arts. She co-founded the Christian Center of Park City and is a founding member of Impact Partners, a documentary-film organization. Her artistic work and social engagements are described on her website.

She and her husband live in Park City, Utah, where she has a studio; she also has a studio on Martha’s Vineyard.

Jim Swartz is a venture capitalist and founding partner of Accel Partners. (Newly elected Corporation member James W. Breyer is a partner of the same firm.) His Accel biography, which details some of his more than 50 corporate directorships and lead technology investments, also describes interests ranging from chairing the Swartz Foundation and the Park City Christian Center to serving as director emeritus of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Foundation and trustee of the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (on which board Breyer also serves). He is a member of the board of advisers of Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University, where he earned an M.S. in industrial administration and has created an entrepreneurial fellowship program. At Harvard, he concentrated in engineering sciences and applied physics; according to his biography, “he mostly remembers something about playing football”—but he has since graduated to Grand Prix sailboat racing.

For additional information, read the Divinity School announcement as well as coverage in the Harvard Gazette.

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