William A. Graham steps down as dean of Harvard Divinity School at the end of the 2011–12 academic year. After a year’s leave in 2012–13, he will return to teaching as a Harvard University Distinguished Service Professor. HDS M.Div. candidate Matt Bieber caught up with Graham in April to discuss his tenure as dean and what’s next for him.
MB: How did you go through the process of choosing to step down?
WG: I had never planned to be here 10 years. I had been thinking that I would probably step down after eight, but I felt I had to stay on until the School came out on the other side of the financial downturn. Another factor in staying on was that the University will be going into a capital campaign in the future, and I felt that any new dean had to have at least some time to get to know our donors and potential donors and also to be engaged in the rampup to campaign mode, which for a dean is usually pretty intense in terms of the travel commitments. Also, I felt that we had pretty much rebuilt the faculty, having made over 30 appointments in nine years. Last, I felt that I am at the last possible time to be able to return fully to the classroom and writing and can hope to have 5 to 10 years of good health to do some serious academic work again.