Scotty McLennan

Lecturer, Political Economy
+1 (650) 725-1762

Scotty McLennan

Lecturer in Political Economy

Academic Area:

Research Statement

Scotty McLennan’s research has been at the interface of religion, ethics, and the professions. He interviews professionals who have found novels, plays, and short stories helpful in examining moral and spiritual issues in their own careers.

Research Interests

  • Business ethics
  • Spirituality in business

Teaching Statement

Mclennan teaches about the moral and spiritual aspects of business leadership and of the business environment, illuminating both the character of individuals and the cultural contexts of values and beliefs in which commercial activities take place in a global economy. His courses are organized around the interplay of religious traditions and national identities and taught in a Socratic, discussion-based style, using a two-text method, encouraging students to examine their own personal stories along with the literature studied.


William L. (Scotty) McLennan, Jr. is an attorney and a Unitarian Universalist minister. He was the Dean for Religious Life at Stanford from 2001-2014 and the University Chaplain at Tufts University from 1984-2000. He was also a Senior Lecturer at the Harvard Business School for ten of the years he was at Tufts.

Rev. McLennan received a BA from Yale University in 1970 as a Scholar of the House working in the area of computers and the mind. He received MDiv and JD degrees from Harvard Divinity and Law Schools in 1975. In 1975 he was ordained to the ministry and admitted to the Massachusetts Bar.

From 1975 to 1984 McLennan practiced church-sponsored poverty law in the Dorchester area of Boston. He represented low-income people in the general practice of law, including consumer, landlord-tenant, government benefits, immigration, family, and criminal law. In the early 1980s he developed and directed the Unitarian Universalist Legal Ministry, which used largely non-adversary means of dispute resolution, attempted to see clients’ legal problems in relation to their whole life situation, and sought reconciliation with other parties.

At Stanford, Dean McLennan has taught undergraduate courses through the Ethics in Society Program (“Ethics and the Professions” and “The Meaning of Life”); Urban Studies, with the associate deans for religious life (“Spirituality and Nonviolent Social Transformation”); and the Graduate School of Business (“The Business World: Moral and Spiritual Inquiry Through Literature”). He has also taught in the Masters of Liberal Arts and Continuing Studies programs. His primary research interests are in the interface of religion, ethics, and the professions.

McLennan is the author of Finding Your Religion: When the Faith You Grew Up With Has Lost Its Meaning (HarperSanFrancisco, 1999) and Jesus Was a Liberal: Reclaiming Christianity for All (Palgrave MacMillan 2009). He is coauthor with Laura Nash of Church on Sunday, Work on Monday: The Challenge of Fusing Christian Values With Business Life (Jossey-Bass, 2001).

Academic Degrees

  • JD (cum laude) in Law, Harvard Law School, 1975
  • MDiv (cum laude) in Theology, Harvard Divinity School, 1975
  • BA (magna cum laude, phi beta kappa) in Communications, Yale University, 1970

Academic Appointments

  • Lecturer, Stanford Graduate School of Business, 2003-
  • Dean for Religious Life, Stanford University, 2000-2014
  • Senior Lecturer, Harvard Business School, 1993-2000
  • Lecturer, Harvard Business School, 1988-1991
  • University Chaplain, Tufts University, 1984 - 2000

Professional Experience

  • Director, Unitarian Universalist Legal Ministry, 1981-1984
  • Associate Minister-at-Large, Unitarian Universalist Urban Ministry, 1975 - 1984
  • Attorney, Massachusetts Bar, 1975-present
  • Minister, Unitarian Universalist Association, 1975-present

Awards and Honors

  • Gandhi, King, Ikeda Award, Morehouse College, 2004,
  • Harvard Divinity School Alumni Award (in honor of Rabbi Martin Katzenstein), Harvard Divinity School, 1994
  • Hotchkiss School Community Service Award, Hotchkiss School, 1992


Journal Articles

Scotty McLennan
Harvard Business School Publishing
Scotty McLennan
The story of business ethics : legend and corporate ethical climate

Stanford GSB Affiliations

  • Faculty Center for Social Innovation 2003-present

Stanford University Affiliations

  • Faculty Fellow Bowen H. McCoy Family Center for Ethics in Society, Stanford University 2013-present

Insights by Stanford Business

March 19, 2021
An interview with Zoom’s CEO. A crisis-leadership playbook. A podcast on virtual presentations. And a word on how to close shop gracefully.
April 23, 2020
A Stanford business scholar discusses the literature that can sustain us in a crisis.
December 19, 2018
Stanford GSB faculty recommend books, articles, and movies related to the concept.
August 24, 2018
As businesses go global, it pays to understand the beliefs underpinning behaviors that might seem strange.
July 24, 2015
Scotty McLennan explains why studying the classics can give you new perspective in life and work.
April 02, 2015
Stanford’s former Dean for Religious Life says there’s no need to check your religion at the door on Monday.
February 10, 2015
Many successful business people integrate religion into their careers.

School News

April 14, 2021
How the Stanford GSB campus and community responded to the pandemic — as told through images.