Scotty McLennan

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Scotty McLennan
Rev. Scotty McLennan
William L. McLennan, Jr.

(1948-11-21) November 21, 1948 (age 71)
Chicago, Illinois, U.S.
Alma materYale University (BA)
Harvard University (J.D.)
Harvard University (MDiv)
OccupationAuthor, Professor, minister, lawyer
Years active1975—present
EmployerStanford University
Known forauthor, public speaker, Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University,lecturer Stanford Graduate School of Business
Home townLake Forest, Illinois
Spouse(s)Ellen S McLennan (1981–present)
ChildrenWill, Dan
AwardsThe Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Award
Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award
The Hotchkiss School Alumni of the Year 2018[1]

The Reverend William L. McLennan, Jr. — better known as "Scotty McLennan" — was born on November 21, 1948, son of William L. McLennan and Alice Polk Warner (and the grandson of Donald R. McLennan, who co-founded Marsh & McLennan). He is an ordained minister, lawyer, professor, published author, public speaker and senior administrator at Stanford University in Stanford, California. From January 1, 2001 until August 2014,[2] McLennan served as the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University, where he oversaw campus-wide religious affairs, supervised over 30 university student groups that constituted the Stanford Associated Religions, and was the minister of Stanford Memorial Church. He currently teaches in Political Economy at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.[3]

Early life and education[edit]

Originally from Lake Forest, Illinois, McLennan attended the Hotchkiss School in Connecticut. In 1970, he received his BA degree (Magna Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa) from Yale University, where he was a member of the Wolf's Head Secret Society. Along with former Yale Chaplain and McLennan's mentor William Sloane Coffin,[4] McLennan is the real-life inspiration for the Doonesbury cartoon character Reverend Scot Sloan in his college roommate Garry Trudeau's Pulitzer Prize-winning comic strip,[5] which also was adapted into a film and nominated for an Academy Award for Best Animated Short Film. [6]

His senior year at Yale, McLennan was chosen to be a "Scholar of the House", whereby he was exempt from attending class in order to focus the year on scholarly research. For his graduate education, he earned both Master of Divinity and Juris Doctor degrees cum laude from Harvard Divinity School and Harvard Law School respectively in 1975.


He was ordained in 1975 as a Unitarian Universalist minister (and is a Unitarian Universalist Christian), and admitted to the Massachusetts bar in 1975. After practicing church-sponsored poverty law in a low-income region of Boston for nearly ten years and founding the Unitarian Universalist Legal Ministry, he was appointed University Chaplain at Tufts University in Massachusetts, serving from 1984 to 2000, and senior lecturer at Harvard Business School, serving from 1988 to 2000. From 2001 until 2014, McLennan served as the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford University. Since 2003, McLennan has been teaching at the Stanford Graduate School of Business in Political Economy.[7]


In 1994, he was the recipient of The Rabbi Martin Katzenstein Award, the oldest annual award given to Harvard Divinity School Alumni "to honor among its graduates one who exhibits a passionate and helpful interest in the lives of other people."[8]

McLennan was honored with the Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award in 2004.[9] [10] The award was "established to recognize leaders who promote peace and world reconciliation" by Morehouse College.[11]

In 2018, McLennan was the recipient of The Hotchkiss School Alumni Award,[12] the most prestigious and highest honor given to alumni. As stated by the school, which was founded in 1891, "The Nominating/Awards Committee of the Alumni Board of Governors seeks candidates who have made significant contributions in their fields and earned the recognition of their peers on a national or international level". Previous recipients include US Supreme Court Justices, US Governors, Nobel laureates, Pulitzer Prize winners and Academy Award Winners.[13]


McLennan's first book, Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning, was published in 1999 by HarperSanFrancisco.[14] His second book, Church on Sunday, Work on Monday: The Challenge of Fusing Christian Values with Business Life, was co-authored with Laura Nash and published in 2001 by Jossey-Bass.[15] His third book, Jesus Was a Liberal: Reclaiming Christianity for All, was published by Palgrave-Macmillan on May 12, 2009.[16] McLennan's fourth and most recent book, Christ for Unitarian Universalists: A New Dialogue with Traditional Christianity, was published by Skinner House Books on May 1, 2016.[17]

In 2009, he went on a national book tour for Jesus Was a Liberal, presenting at more than a dozen book signings in Northern and Southern California, including a presentation for Authors@Google[18] at the company's Mountain View, CA headquarters. Other book events took place in Chicago, Minneapolis, Dallas, Greenwich, CT, Boston, New York City and Washington, D.C.[19]

News and media[edit]

McLennan and His Holiness the Dalai Lama
The Rev. Scotty McLennan with spiritual mentor, the Dalai Lama, pictured in 2008 in Seattle, WA.

A nationally prominent speaker on religion and ethics, McLennan has been featured in major news publications, such as USA Today,[20] People Magazine,[21] The Huffington Post,[22] The Dallas Morning News,[23] and The Boston Globe,[20][24] as well as a guest on national and regional television and radio programs, including The CW Television Network, The O'Reilly Factor,[25] National Public Radio[26] and Sirius Satellite Radio.[27][28]

Personal life[edit]

Scotty McLennan is married to Ellen. They wed in 1981 in Boston, Massachusetts. They are the parents of two sons: Will McLennan (b. 1982) and Dan McLennan (b. 1984), both of whom are alumni of Stanford University.

During his tenure at Stanford, McLennan has hosted and publicly interviewed the Dalai Lama, a spiritual mentor, in 2005 and 2010 to discuss compassion and how to live a meaningful life.[29]

He serves on the board of directors for the Northern California branch of the American Civil Liberties Union.[30]

From 1966–1967, McLennan played for the Yale Bulldogs men's ice hockey team.[31]


  1. ^
  2. ^ "Jane Shaw officially welcomed into the Stanford community". Stanford Report. Stanford University. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  3. ^ "ScottyMcLennan". Graduate School of Business. Stanford University. Retrieved August 18, 2015.
  4. ^ McLennan, Scotty (April 15, 2006). "The Legacy of William Sloane Coffin". Boston Globe. Retrieved August 15, 2009.. Scotty McLennan wrote an obituary for him in the Boston Globe after his death in 2006.
  5. ^ English, Bella (November 9, 1999). "Dude of God: Doonesbury Preacher's Model has a Flock, a Message, and a Book". The Boston Globe. pp. E1. Archived from the original on October 25, 2012.
  6. ^ Slate, The. "Doonesbury@Slate: GBT's FAQs". The Slate. p. 1. Archived from the original on September 27, 2010. Retrieved June 6, 2010.
  7. ^ "About Scotty McLennan". Stanford Graduate School of Business. Stanford University. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  8. ^ "HDS – Alumni Relations – Katzenstein Award Recipients". Harvard Divinity School. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  9. ^ "Gandhi/King/Ikeda Exhibit Reception Ceremony". A Legacy of Building Peace, SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Centers. SGI-USA Culture of Peace Resource Centers. January 28, 2004. Archived from the original on July 29, 2010. Retrieved September 3, 2010.
  10. ^ "Cardinal Chronicle / weekly campus column". Stanford Report. Stanford News Service. January 28, 2004. Retrieved March 16, 2009.
  11. ^ "Spiritual Awareness Week". Morehouse College News Release. Morehouse College. March 31, 2003. Archived from the original on September 2, 2006.
  12. ^
  13. ^ "Hotchkiss School Awards and Notable Alumni". Hotchkiss School. Retrieved May 16, 2018.
  14. ^
  15. ^
  16. ^
  17. ^
  18. ^ "@Google Talks". AtGoogleTalk's YouTube Channel. February 5, 2010. Retrieved September 2, 2010.
  19. ^ McLennan, Scotty. "National Book Tour Events, Readings & Signings in 2009". Official Website of Author & Speaker Scotty McLennan. Archived from the original on April 27, 2010. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  20. ^ a b Grossman, Cathy Lynn (June 29, 2009). "'God has mellowed.' Or maybe we have". USA Today. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  21. ^ Duffy, Tom. "'Keeping the Faith'". People Magazine. Retrieved September 1, 2010.
  22. ^ Zerega, Blaise (July 10, 2009). "How the Catholic Church Fought for Interracial Marriage and What It Means for Gay Rights". The Huffington Post. Retrieved August 29, 2010.
  23. ^ Tipping, Joy. "We were there: The Rev. Scotty McLennan at Legacy Books". The Dallas Morning News. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  24. ^ McLennan, Scotty. "Media Coverage". Official Website of Author & Speaker Scotty McLennan. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  25. ^ "Jesus Was a Liberal". CW Television Network. July 26, 2009. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  26. ^ "Jesus Was a Liberal". National Public Radio, KRBC. December 24, 2009. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  27. ^ Miller, Stephanie (May 13, 2009). "LiveBlog". The Stephanie Miller Show. SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Archived from the original on September 28, 2011. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  28. ^ Cenk, Uygur (May 18, 2009). "Jesus was a Liberal". The Young Turks. SIRIUS Satellite Radio. Archived from the original on July 10, 2010. Retrieved August 28, 2010.
  29. ^ "His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama". Stanford. Retrieved July 14, 2019.
  30. ^ "ACLU of Northern California". American Civil Liberties Union. Retrieved February 26, 2010.
  31. ^ "Fanbase: The web's largest almanac of pro and college athletes". Fanbase. Archived from the original on January 22, 2013. Retrieved February 26, 2010.

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