Preston Williams Will Become Divinity School's Acting Dean
Preston N. Williams, Houghton Professor of Theology and Contemporary Change, has been appointed Acting Dean of the Divinity School for the 1974-75 academic year, the University announced yesterday.
Williams, a civil-rights activist and a member of President Bok's advisory committee of the W.E.B. DuBois Institute, will replace Krister Stendahl as the Divinity School's top administrator while Stendahl takes a year's leave as a Guggenheim Fellow.
"It's going to be hard work," Williams said yesterday of his new deanship. "Anything which we can do to be progressive and to improve the Divinity School we will do."
Stendahl said yesterday he is "very pleased" with William's appointment and that Williams will provide the Divinity School with "good leadership."
"I would like to think that Rev. Williams really should feel free to act as dean," Stendahl said. "One year is too long a time to fill in and just caretake."
Peter J. Gomes, acting minister in Memorial Church, said yesterday Williams was "the most logical person for appointment" because Williams is a clergyman, a graduate of the Divinity School and holder of one of Harvard's most prestigious chairs.
Gomes, a close friend of Williams, said there was no "cosmic significance" to the fact that the University appointed a black activist to administer the Divinity School.
Stendahl is currently chairman of the U.S. Presbyterian Church's committee on white racism. In recent years he served as vice president of the Massachusetts Federation for Fair Housing and on the National Committee of Black Churchmen.
Commenting on his participation in the affairs of blacks at Harvard, Williams said, "I have been involved and I will continue to be involved. My style is not the same as other blacks or whites, but nevertheless I will still be involved."
Williams also said yesterday that he has no plans to continue as an administrator after his current appointment expires. "I'm content I could be a first-class administrator but I want to stay in the classroom," he said.
Before joining the Divinity School faculty in the fall of 1971, Williams was the Martin Luther King Jr. Professor at Boston University.