Boden departs for Princeton

By Sarah Hetherington

Dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel Alison Boden will leave the University August 1 to become dean of religious life and the chapel at Princeton University. Boden has held the position of dean of Rockefeller Memorial Chapel for the past 12 years.

“Alison has provided intellectual, spiritual, and community service leadership of the very highest order,” wrote Thomas F. Rosenbaum, the John T. Wilson Distinguished Service Professor of Physics and provost of the University, in an e-mail sent out to the University announcing Boden’s departure.

Boden taught in the College and in the Divinity School’s ministry program and served on the Human Rights Program board both as a member and as a co-chair since 2003. She also served as a resident master in Broadview Hall and Burton-Judson Courts.

Promoting interfaith dialogue has been a primary goal for Boden, as evidenced in her creation of the Interreligious Center in Rockefeller Chapel, providing prayer space for Muslim and Hindu communities.

“She has a national reputation as a preacher and leader, and she has demonstrated a deep commitment to social justice and to interfaith collaboration and dialogue,” read Princeton’s announcement of Boden’s acceptance.

“I was asked to apply for the position, and as I began to look into it I realized that there was lots of potential there for me,” Boden said in an e-mail interview. “Princeton has a wonderful and comprehensive religious life program; I’ve long respected it. It enjoys excellent and long-standing support from the administration, which is hoping that their next dean will promote a whole new period of growth. It’s a privilege (and it’s exciting) to be a part of that.”

Boden said her new position will resemble her current one, principally because of the nature of a job on a secular campus.

“Those goals are, broadly, to create a religious life program that will have relevance for people of all religious backgrounds and none; to encourage people to investigate their own belief systems, whatever they may be; to promote respect and dialogue between religions, and between people of faith and those without; to encourage active engagement in issues of social justice; and to promote a more nuanced understanding of the relationship of religion, violence, and public life,” Boden said.

She said her role at the University was an evolving one, and she hopes that she will experience similar opportunities to broaden and explore her role at Princeton.

Boden said that as she departs the University, she does so “with immense gratitude for the wonderful people I’ve gotten to work with and all that I’ve learned from them.”