Welcome From Dean Sterling (and Final Schedule!)

Amazing as it seems, BTFO is now only ONE day away! So, here’s our penultimate blog post. First things first, here is the Final Version of the BTFO Schedule. Be sure to download it so its handy throughout the week—and I hope you’re as excited as we are about things getting started. 

But the main purpose of this post is so that you can read our wonderful Dean Sterling’s welcome to all of you. Keep your eyes posted for one final post today, introducing all our BTFO Small Group Leaders. For now, please enjoy Dean Sterling’s introduction to life at YDS.

Welcome to YDS! We are excited that you have joined us this fall. You stand in a long tradition that extends back to 1701 for Yale University and to 1822 for the Divinity School as a distinct unit within Yale. As you will learn, you are joining a distinguished group of individuals who have made significant accomplishments in a wide variety of fields, e.g., more deans and presidents have come from YDS than any other seminary or divinity school in North America. We are confident that you will make a difference with your life as well.

There are some things that you should know as you enter. Our motto is faith and intellect. We are an ecumenical Christian community that extends a warm welcome to people of other faiths and some with no faith. About a third of you will undertake to become ministers. We make an effort to cultivate a sense of community in multiple ways, but especially through daily chapel in Marquand and a coffee period after chapel. Chapel is always ecumenical and varies daily. I hope that you will view it as the worship of the community as well as an educational experience.

We are also a graduate school that makes no apologies for the rigor of serious intellectual work. You will be asked to read more, write more, and argue more than you have in your previous education. Give yourself some time to adjust; you will find that your capacities will expand. There will be a large number of special lectures and conferences that will take place throughout the year. Take advantage of these: they are part of your educational experience. I hope that you will take advantage of courses “downtown” in other units at Yale. A great advantage of being at one of the world’s premier research universities is the rich offerings throughout the University.

One of the most impressive aspects of life on the Quad is that it is creative. You will have two or three years to experiment and discover what you want to do. Some already know; others will experiment. You have the freedom to pursue what motivates and excites you.

There are two major changes that you should know. First, Andover Newton Theological School is now Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School. They have another year in Newton Centre, but are now a part of us in much the same way as BDS is. Some of you will have your formation through ANS and BDS or ISM, but you will receive your degree through Yale.

Second, this October we will reopen the back two buildings on the northeast side of the Quad. They are beloved spaces that have been closed to us for a number of years. You will also find a newly renovated Trowbridge Reading Room in the library along with updates to the lighting and painting in the Day Mission Room and the rotunda. We want the library to be an inviting space where you will feel comfortable working.

I will try to keep you posted about major developments in the school. For now, welcome to YDS! I look forward to getting to know you.