President Levin announces selection of new dean to YDS community

Yale President Richard Levin on March 1 announced the selection of Gregory E. Sterling, dean of the Graduate School at Notre Dame, to succeed Harold Attridge as dean of Yale Divinity School, effective Aug. 1. Levin noted that, under Sterling’s leadership, Notre Dame graduate applications increased dramatically, including those from African American and Latino applicants, whose matriculation rate more than doubled. Levin praised the work of a special search committee tasked with recommending candidates for the deanship and also thanked representatives from the YDS Advisory and Alumni Boards, and the Berkeley Divinity School Board of Trustees, for their input.

March 1, 2012

To the Divinity School Community:

LevinIt is with great pleasure that I write to announce the appointment of Gregory E. Sterling, Dean of the Graduate School of the University of Notre Dame, as The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean of the Divinity School for a period of five years, effective August 1, 2012.

Dean Sterling is the first dean of the University of Notre Dame’s independent Graduate School and he has served in that role since 2008. He has been at Notre Dame since 1989, and beginning in 2001 he served in several capacities at the College of Arts and Letters before moving over to the Graduate School.  

While serving as Dean, applications to the Graduate School have increased dramatically, including those from African-American and Latino applicants, and their matriculation has more than doubled. Dean Sterling also has been instrumental in the formation of a professional development program at the Graduate School. This program has prepared students to enter the academy as well as a variety of other careers in fields ranging from industry to government and the not-for-profit sector. Additionally, students are benefitting from training in writing competitive fellowships.

Dean Sterling grew up in California and Idaho and received his B.A. in Christianity and History in 1978 from Houston Baptist University. After a year of post-baccalaureate studies in classics at the University of Houston, he completed two M.A. programs, one in Religion at Pepperdine University and the other in Classics at the University of California, Davis. He earned his Ph.D. in Biblical Studies with a specialization in the New Testament from the Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley in 1990. His father was a minister for 46 years in California and Idaho, and when his mother died, the city of Escondido, California made the day of her funeral the Barbara M. Sterling day to recognize the work she did for the underprivileged in the city.

Greg Sterling’s academic work primarily touches on the ways in which Jews and Christians appropriated the larger Greco-Roman culture without surrendering their identities. He is a specialist in Hellenistic Judaism, exploring how Hellenistic philosophical thought influenced Jewish interpreters and, through their exegetical traditions, early Christians. He has focused on the work of Philo of Alexandria, a Jewish commentator who embraced the intellectual world of Middle Platonism, and the interpretative traditions that are preserved in his three major commentary series. He has also explored how historiographical traditions influenced authors such as the Jewish historian Josephos and the Christian author who wrote Luke-Acts in the New Testament.  

Dean Sterling is finishing a book entitled Defining the Present through the Past that examines how indigenous authors defined their people's identities through the past, and which is an extension of his earlier Historiography and Self-Definition: Josephos, Luke-Acts, and Apologetic Historiography. He has edited numerous academic series, including the Philo of Alexandria Commentary Series, the Christianity and Judaism in Antiquity Series, and The Studia Philonica Annual series.  

Extracurricular pursuits include reading American history and visiting museums or Civil War battlefields.  Dean Sterling confesses to enjoying golf, but he rarely finds time to play. He will fit right in at Yale, however, with his fascination of architecture and the design elements of engineering.  

Dean Sterling and his wife, Adrian, together have four children, none of whom will live in New Haven; the youngest is a college senior. They have one grandchild. Adrian has a bachelor’s degree in geography and an MBA from Clark University. She has worked in engineering (land surveying) and the Graduate School of Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts. Her parents designed and installed stained glass windows in churches and chapels throughout New York State.

Greg and Adrian Sterling look forward with great anticipation to the challenges and opportunities they will encounter at Yale.

The search for a new dean would not have been possible without the dedicated work of the search committee. They reached out to many people, both within and outside the Yale community. I am grateful to the entire committee for their willingness to devote so much of their time to the future of the School. Ably chaired by Professor John J. Collins, the committee included Teresa Berger, Carlos Eire, Bruce Gordon, Lamin Sanneh, Kathryn Tanner, Thomas Troeger, Nora Tisdale, Miroslav Volf, and Emily Bakemeier. I am also grateful to the representatives of the Yale Divinity School Board of Advisors, the Yale Divinity School Alumni Board, and the Berkeley Divinity School Board of Trustees, who served as advisors to the search committee. This group, chaired by Chris Sawyer ‘75M.Div., provided very helpful advice and suggestions.

At this time I wish to express my deep gratitude to Harold Attridge for his extraordinary service as dean for ten years. He has been a steady hand at the tiller, a complete master of the school’s finances, and a leader in shaping and recruiting its exceptional faculty. Under Harry’s leadership the School’s prominence both in its field and within the University has reached heights not enjoyed for decades. Harry and Jan have been a constant and welcoming presence on the campus, and we look forward to their return after they enjoy a well-deserved leave of absence next year.

Sincerely yours,

Richard C. Levin

Date Posted: Friday, March 2, 2012 - 6:40pm