$3 million McDonald Agape gift supports creation of endowed professorship

With support from the McDonald Agape Foundation, Yale Divinity School has established a new endowed professorship: the McDonald Agape Professor of New Testament and Early Christianity.

Its inaugural holder will be Teresa Morgan, who is joining YDS from the University of Oxford in 2022.


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Dean Greg Sterling thanked the foundation for the $3 million gift, which supplements an existing faculty budget line. The gift, Sterling said, recognizes and helps sustain “the faculty excellence that has long distinguished Yale Divinity School.”

Sterling, who occupies an endowed profes­sorship himself as Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament, added: “The faculty are the heart of the Divinity School’s mission, driving gains in research that address pressing issues and nurturing the transfor­mation of students who will be the future leaders of churches and society. The challenges of the twenty-first century demand that we have exceptional faculty capable of equipping our students with new forms of creative and entrepreneurial leadership in a shifting landscape.”

Currently, 16 YDS faculty members hold endowed professorships. Several pursue scholarship closely related to that of the newly appointed Teresa Morgan, including Harry Attridge, Sterling Professor of Divinity; John Collins, Holmes Professor of Old Testament Criticism and Interpretation; and Laura Nasrallah, Buckingham Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation.

Dedicated to a mission of “encouraging distinguished scholars for Christ,” the McDonald Agape Foundation supports the study of Christianity by high-achieving scholars and select universities.

Sterling expressed a special word of appreciation to the Foundation’s founder, Alonzo McDonald, and his wife, Suzie, as well as their son, Peter, who is the President of the Foundation. Because of the prestige they command, endowed chairs serve as an indispensable tool to recruit and retain highly accomplished professors, Sterling said. Their presence, in turn, helps attract a critical mass of other high-achieving faculty members, as well as students, postdoctoral fellows, and practitioners.

“This gift from the McDonald Agape Foundation promises to have a catalytic effect on our work to fulfill our mission of service to church and world through our shaping of future ministry leaders,” Sterling said. “The McDonalds, as well as the Foundation’s trustees, have our deepest gratitude.”

September 16, 2019