John Dillenberger (1918-2008), who had just arrived at SFTS in 1962, became dean (from 1963) and the union’s first president (from 1967) until 1971. He later returned as President from 1999 to 2000.

He specialized in the relationship between religion and science: his Protestant Thought and Natural Science was a standard introduction on the topic for three decades.

Under Dillenberger’s leadership, the union expanded from four schools to nine, greatly assisted by his efforts with the Catholic seminaries; centers were brought into the union that focused on Jewish studies, women and theology, religion and culture, and the Black Church; doctoral areas were expanded to represent all categories of theology and religion; and a common library was established. Upon his retirement, trustee Jane Newhall endowed a chair in historical studies in his name.