The Harvard Divinity School announced a $10 million gift from James R. Swartz ’64 and former Divinity School artist-in-residence Susan Shallcross Swartz last Wednesday. The donation—one of the largest in the school’s history—will fund the creation of the Susan Shallcross Swartz Endowment for Christian Studies, supporting new professorships, fellowships, and programming at the Divinity School.
“My hope is that the endowment will inspire scholarship and reinvigorate debate, service, and teaching for generations to come,” Susan Swartz said in a press release.
The gift comes as Harvard plans to embark on a University-wide capital campaign as soon as late 2013.
Swartz said she hopes the endowment will “allow [Divinity School] Dean [David N.] Hempton to take the School into the future, and to improve the currency of the leadership that HDS exercises.”
The donation is the first notable gift received by the school since Hempton became its dean in 2012.
“The Swartz Endowment will expand our ability to assemble the leading scholars and thinkers in the field—and to draw the talented students that they attract. We are deeply grateful to Susan and Jim for their generosity, and for their continued faith in our mission,” Hempton said in the press release.
Susan Swartz served as the Divinity School’s first artist-in-residence in 2005 and has also served on the school’s Dean’s Council. She now works as a professional American landscape painter, working from studios based in Massachusetts and Utah.
According to her website, Swartz is "inspired by the natural world and the intersection of spirituality and art” in her paintings.
Swartz, who served as artist-in-residence at the Divinity School under former dean William A. Graham’s tenure, said in the statement that she was impressed by Graham’s commitment during his leadership to “keeping the oldest divinity school in the country a vibrant place of scholarship and reflection” and hopes that the $10 million donation will help keep this energy alive and flourishing.
James Swartz is active in venture capital, serving as a founding partner of Accel Partners—a global venture and growth equity firm that funds companies from their inception and throughout their growth.
The last major donation to the Divinity School prior to Susan and James Swartz’s donation happened in Oct. 2011, when the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation gave $2.7 million to support the founding of The Buddhist Ministry Initiative—a program to foster the training of Buddhist ministers at the Divinity School.
The school has a history of attracting substantial donations, dating back to January 1954 when John D. Rockefeller Jr. gave $1 million towards the Divinity School’s endowment.
The Divinity School and Susan and James Swartz could not be reached for comment Sunday.
—Staff writer Zohra D. Yaqhubi can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @zohradyaqhubi.