Professor Tom Greggs was a student at the Blue Coat School from 1992-99, and was Head of School in his final year. After graduating with the highest first class honours degree in his year from the University of Oxford and teaching at the Manchester Grammar School, he took a PhD at Cambridge University, where he was a tutor in Theology. He was appointed Professor of Systematic Theology at the University of Chester at the age of 28, and was the youngest person in the country to hold a Professorship. He is currently Chair of Historical and Doctrinal Theology and Director of Research at the University of Aberdeen. he has published five books, and was recently elected a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland.
How would you describe your time at the School?
I loved my time at the school. It shaped me, and saw my transition into adulthood. I really think the school broadened my horizons vastly, and helped me not only in terms of my academic work but in building interpersonal skills and forming my concerns to create good working communities and institutions.
How did your experience at the School prepare you for your career?
The school gave me a first class education, which is always going to be the most important thing for someone like me who is an academic. As head of school (as it was then called), I learned a lot about leadership and about trying to get the best out of people, as well as having to have pretty good time management. But more than that, the Blue Coat School instilled its ethos in me – not for oneself but for all. I think the creative institution building work I have been involved with (within universities and between faith communities) is in many ways of that formation in the school’s ethos.
What has been your path since leaving The Blue Coat?
I studied Theology at the University of Oxford, qualifying as well as a preacher in the Methodist Church, and then worked for two years as a teacher of Philosophy and Religion at the Manchester Grammar School. I then took a PhD in Systematic Theology at the University of Cambridge, where I worked as a tutor in Christian Doctrine as well. At the end of my PhD, I was appointed senior lecturer in Christian Theology at the University of Chester, and rose within two years to the chair (full professor) in Systematic Theology. During this time, I was also secretary of Society for the Study of Theology; project manager for Scriptural Reasoning in the University (an inter-faith project involving Muslims, Jews and Christians); and co-chair of the American Academy of Religion Scriptural Reasoning Panel. My work has involved governmental components, advising churches and on secondary education, and I have worked across the USA, Israel and Germany.
What do you do now?
I am currently the Professor in Historical and Doctrinal Theology at the University of Aberdeen, which is one of the four ancient Scottish Universities. I am also a founding member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh Young Academy of Scotland (young is a relative term in academia!), and member elect of the World Council of Church’s Faith and Order Committee. I continue to write, and my research focuses on faith in a complexly multi-religious and secular world.
What would be your advice to students at the Blue Coat today?
My advice would be to make the most of every opportunity you have at the school. Do everything you can: play sport; act; debate; support school functions and life. The school gives you the opportunity to broaden your horizons. Try to make them as broad as possible, and stretch yourself to be the very best you can be. Be ambitious; but let your ambitions be about the good you can do for others in the world.