Grace Cathedral dean to become Stanford’s dean for religious life

Posted Jul 21, 2014

[Stanford University Press release] The Very Rev. Dr. Jane Shaw, dean of Grace Cathedral in San Francisco, has been named dean for religious life at Stanford University, Provost John Etchemendy announced today. Shaw will also be joining the faculty in Stanford’s Department of Religious Studies.

Shaw, a historian and theologian who is at present also a visiting scholar at Stanford’s Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences, has served as dean of the Episcopal Grace Cathedral since 2010. She previously taught at the University of Oxford.

Shaw, 51, will succeed the Rev. William “Scotty” McLennan Jr., who is stepping down after 14 years. She will assume her position as Stanford’s spiritual leader this fall.

At Stanford, Shaw will provide spiritual, religious and ethical leadership to the university community, serve as minister of Memorial Church and also teach undergraduates and graduate students as a professor of religious studies.

“We are lucky to have found in Jane Shaw both a charismatic leader and an accomplished academic to lead our Office for Religious Life,” said Etchemendy. “Dean Shaw is equally committed to the educational mission of the university and the ecumenical mission of Memorial Church.”

“I am delighted to be joining Stanford as dean for religious life,” Shaw said. “The opportunity to serve at this extraordinary university is a great privilege. It will be my pleasure to work with so many wonderful colleagues and students to relate religious and ethical questions to the cutting-edge work being done at Stanford University, and to provide spiritual leadership for this exceptional academic community. I am also thrilled to be joining the excellent Religious Studies Department as a professor.”

At Grace Cathedral, Shaw has been responsible for overseeing its mission, vision and spiritual life, and has provided leadership to the extended community of an iconic house of prayer known locally, nationally and internationally. The inclusive Grace Cathedral congregation is known for welcoming pilgrims, seekers and believers; embracing innovation; fostering open-minded conversation; and putting beliefs into action.

During her time as dean of Grace Cathedral, Shaw has overseen growth in all areas of the cathedral community’s life, not least in its artistic, cultural and educational events, which have tripled over the past four years. She founded a resident artist program, and also developed educational programming that related questions of values and ethics to the issues of the day, such as the environment and technology.

“Jane Shaw will bring her vision, broad experience and deep commitment to service to the Office for Religious Life,” said William Damon, a professor in the Graduate School of Education at Stanford and co-chair of the search committee for the position. “The Stanford community will be enhanced by her spiritual leadership.”

Shaw joined Grace Cathedral from the University of Oxford, where she taught history and theology for 16 years and was Dean of Divinity and Fellow of New College. A historian of modern religion, she is the author ofMiracles in Enlightenment England (Yale, 2006); Octavia, Daughter of God: The Story of a Female Messiah and Her Followers (Yale, 2011), which won the San Francisco Book Festival History Prize; and A Practical Christianity: Meditations for the Season of Lent (Morehouse, 2012).

Shaw has given several lectures at Stanford on topics including the role of the modern cathedral and reasons behind the 20th-century flight from institutional religion. In 2009, Shaw delivered the Palm Sunday sermon in Memorial Church. While at Stanford this spring, on a short sabbatical leave from Grace Cathedral, she has been researching the moral imagination, a project she is working on with actress, playwright and Grace Cathedral trustee Anna Deavere Smith. Shaw is also working on a book on spirituality and mysticism in the early 20th century.

Shaw was educated as an undergraduate at Oxford; she holds an MDiv from Harvard and a PhD in history from the University of California, Berkeley. She has been awarded honorary doctorates by Colgate University and Episcopal Divinity School.


Comments (2)

  1. Janet M. Diehl says:

    The same as Barbara’s comment. Too much is missing at the end of each line to even guess what has been written. I do hope it can be resolved and resent corrected!!

  2. John Warfel says:

    Excellent choice!

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