YDS receives largest gift in school history

Editor’s Note: Dean Greg Sterling sent the following announcement to the YDS community today.


Dear Colleagues,

I have exciting news. Thanks to the generosity and commitment of George and Carol Bauer, two of the Divinity School’s dearest friends, YDS has received the largest gift commitment in our history and one of the largest gifts ever given to a divinity school. George and Carol and their family are contributing $15 million to YDS to support construction of our Living Village.

This project will ease students’ financial burdens, enable us to enhance community life, and make an important eco-theological statement. The two-phase 155-unit village will consist of a complex of buildings that are constructed with environmentally friendly materials and are off the utility grid, meeting the stringent requirements of the Living Building Challenge. All their energy will come from the sun and all their water from onsite precipitation, and all waste will be processed on site.

Once completed, it will be the largest living-building residential complex in the world and will accomplish several other “firsts.” It will be:

  • the first building ever constructed by a divinity school or seminary that meets the “triple net zero” standards of the Living Building Challenge (LBC)
  • the first LBC building project in Connecticut
  • the first LBC building project in the Ivy League

The Village will restore the close-knit community life that once characterized the Divinity School. The buildings will be brought into close relationship with the existing quad in a holistic architectural design that unites learning and living. Students will learn how to live sustainably, serve as tour guides for visitors in sustainable living, and interact with colleagues across the University who share this commitment. The Village will send a powerful message to churches and society—the message that it is both imperative and feasible to live sustainably in a world threatened by climate change and other environmental challenges. We believe that through this project we will have an exponential impact, by inspiring other individuals and institutions and by sending out alumni who will have a transformed understanding of sustainable living and standards.

The Village will also address the pressing need to provide financial assistance to students by offering below-market-rate housing options, reducing the overall cost of attending YDS. That, combined with the scholarship fundraising we’re undertaking to become tuition-free for all students with demonstrated need, will bring us closer to our goal of freeing students to choose their career paths on the basis of vocation, not financial pressures.

George and Carol are great examples of individuals who did not have Yale educational ties but who believe in the same causes for which we stand. George began his relationship with YDS back in the nineties after hearing a sermon by then-Dean Thomas Ogletree at the United Methodist church the Bauers attend. He is a longtime member of our Dean’s Advisory Council and is a former Trustee of Andover Newton. Carol, too, has been a loyal friend to YDS, both as a financial supporter and contributor to our students’ career preparation. One of the chaplains at Norwalk Hospital, she has participated in our CPE program for many years, training students who are aspiring to go into chaplaincy after Yale. Both George and Carol care deeply about the role YDS plays in creating community, and in training students to build community in the churches and other settings where they will lead and serve after Yale.

Our deepest thanks go to George and Carol Bauer for supporting this transformative project. They were the first to step forward at every stage of the Living Village project: the first to step forward when we needed funds for a feasibility study, the first to step forward when we needed to hire architects to create the design, and now, the first to step forward with a cornerstone gift for construction. They are visionaries who embody Christianity and who have consistently used their resources to express their values both at YDS and elsewhere.

Please continue to follow our progress via the YDS website and Notes from the Quad. Thank you for your dedication to the YDS community.

Best wishes,


Gregory E. Sterling
The Reverend Henry L. Slack Dean
The Lillian Claus Professor of New Testament

February 7, 2020