Swartzes make record gift to Divinity School

Susan and Jim Swartz at the launch of the Campaign for HDS in 2014. Photo by Susan Young

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Harvard Divinity School (HDS) today announced a $25 million gift from artist and philanthropist Susan Shallcross Swartz and her husband, investor James R. Swartz ’64. The gift — the largest in the School’s 200-year history — will enable HDS to move forward on the renewal of its main campus building, Andover Hall.

Drew Faust, Harvard’s President and Lincoln Professor of History, says that the Swartz gift will not only benefit the Divinity School, but also the University whose history and mission it exemplifies.

“For more than 200 years, Harvard Divinity School has expanded its extraordinary inquiry and influence, and created important connections across the University and around the world in the process,” Faust says. “Now, thanks to a wonderful act of generosity by the Swartzes, the School’s most important teaching and learning space will be renewed, generating more opportunities for students and scholars to consider lasting questions and seek meaningful answers. This is a signal moment for HDS, and we are all very grateful to Susan and Jim for their remarkable support.”

HDS Dean David N. Hempton notes that the Swartzes have been devoted supporters of every aspect of the School’s mission. He says their new gift will transform HDS’s ability to advance knowledge of global religion, to form ministers and chaplains from many different faith traditions, and to educate ethical, religiously literate leaders in all fields.

“Susan and Jim Swartz have supported every priority of the Campaign for HDS— student scholarships, professorships, events and programming, and much more,” Hempton says. “By revitalizing our main campus building, this extraordinary gift will enable us to reimagine our entire campus to meet the needs of a diverse 21st century faculty and student body. On behalf of the entire HDS community — both today and for generations to come — I extend to Susan and Jim our most profound thanks.”

The new Andover Hall will be a modern learning and research environment that will enable scholars and students of religion to engage the world and each other. School leaders envision a true campus center that brings core academic resources together with student services and social space; creates new space for conferences and public conversations on religion; modernizes classrooms with a new multimedia infrastructure; and provides full access to people of all physical abilities. The project represents the first major overhaul of the building since its construction over 100 years ago.

Andover renewal will also advance the University’s effort to combat climate change and to make Harvard a fossil-free campus by 2050. With the addition of ultra-energy-efficient heating and cooling systems, improved air quality, use of sustainable materials, and other improvements, the new Andover Hall will earn at least Gold certification for Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the United States Green Building Council.

An American impressionist painter whose work is housed in private, corporate, and museum collections around the world, Susan Swartz has received international recognition with solo exhibitions in numerous museums throughout the United States and Europe, most recently The State Russian Museum in St. Petersburg.