Lifetime Achievement

Below are a select group of people, one from each of our members, who have embodied the values and enhanced the community of the Graduate Theological Union during its first 50 years. For their legacy of service, we honor them with a Lifetime Achievement Award.

Sharon-Gay Smith

Graduate Theological Union, Consortial Registrar (1971-2008)

Sharon-Gay Smith was born in February 1942.  She spent her youth travelling around the world with her family, courtesy of the US Army and Air Force.  She graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a degree in anthropology and political science, but also attended CDSP for two quarters.

She served the GTU for 37 years until she retired in 2008.  She began in the Registrar's Office in 1971 staffing the PBX system and typing transcripts by hand. After serving as assistant to Betty Over for 18 years, she became Consortial Registrar upon Over's retirement in 1989.  It’s not easy to recognise the work that she did in writing, but everyone loved her and relied on her.  She was integral to the background work of the GTU.  She saw the GTU Consortial Registration through its transition from all paper to computers (on multiple registration systems).  While this is hardly romantic sounding, the GTU could not have operated the way it does now without her and her expertise facilitating the way.  Many who remember Sharon-Gay describe her as embodying the “spirit of the GTU.”

Sharon-Gay worked with 5 of GTU's 6 deans and all 6 presidents.

Upon learning of GTU's intentions for recognizing individuals for their contribution as part of our 50th Anniversary, all of the registrars for the member school unanimously nominated Sharon-Gay for her 37 years of service to the GTU and the community within it. 

She died in August 2009 and will be remembered and loved by the staff, students and faculty of the GTU Consortium.

Eldon Ernst

American Baptist Seminary of the West, Emeritus Professor of American Church History (1967-present)

William Countryman

Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Sherman E. Johnson Professor Emeritus in Biblical Studies

The Rev. Dr. L. William Countryman is an Episcopal priest and Sherman E. Johnson Professor Emeritus in Biblical Studies at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Countryman, who has roots in Oklahoma and was ordained there, earned his A.B., M.A. and Ph.D. degrees at the University of Chicago and his S.T.B. at the General Theological Seminary in New York City. He is a prolific author, with more than a dozen published books, including Love Human and Divine; Interpreting the Truth: Changing the Paradigm of Biblical Studies; Gifted by Otherness: Gay and Lesbian Christians in the Church with M.R. Ritley; The Poetic Imagination: An Anglican Spiritual Tradition; and Living on the Border of the Holy; Renewing the Priesthood of All.

Barbara Green, O.P.

Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology

Green has been teaching as Professor of Biblical Studies at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology for twenty years. When her religious congregation in San Rafael chose her to pursue Biblical Studies, GTU was a natural place to study for its proximity to the community in addition to its relation to UC Berkeley. Green earned a Masters in Biblical Studies and her joint doctoral degree in Near Eastern Religions.

Despite studying literature and developing a taste for Bakhtin, it was only after she graduated that she discovered a passion in writing. Green found herself immersed in collegial circles for writing and publishing during her first position at Dominican College in San Rafael.

Green describes writing as challenging and expansive, providing the opportunity to integrate huge numbers of thoughts. It’s more creative than teaching, in her opinion, because so much instruction must be focused on the foundation students require. She sees the values that she wants to instill in her students reflected in a recent book by Robert Bellah, Religion in Human Evolution. “I want them to love learning. Realize that it’s their responsibility given all the resources at their disposal. And that there is no reason to stop.”

Kenan Osborne

Franciscan School of Theology

Mary Ann Donovan

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University

Theodore F. "Ted" Peters

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary

Ted Peters was born in 1941.  After receiving a B.A. from Michigan State University, he went on to receive an M.Div. from Trinity Lutheran College.  He then earned both an M.A. and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago.  He is a Lutheran theologian, and a Professor of Systematic Theology and the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary.

Before coming to the PLTS in 1978, he served as an Assistant Professor at Newberry College an Associate Professor at Loyola University.  Ted Peters is also the editor of Dialog, a scholarly journal devoted to modern and postmodern theology, and the co-editor of Theology and Science, which is published by the Center of Theology and the Natural Sciences.

He is a prolific writer, authoring The Evolution of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Life: Where in the World is God?, The Stem Cell Debate, and Anticipating Omega.

Fumitaka Matsuoka

Pacific School of Religion

Dr. Matsuoka researches Christian theology in the Asian American context. His work seeks to articulate alternative faith paradigms rooted in Asian American dispositions, including multiracial, multicultural ways of being religious and the impact that historical injuries have had on the ways Asian American Christians construct theology. An ordained minister in the Church of the Brethren, Dr. Matsuoka has served as a pastor in California, as an educational missionary in Indonesia, in campus ministries in Japan and as academic dean both in Chicago and at PSR.  His publications include Realizing the America of Our Hearts: Theological Voices of Asian Americans, co-edited with Eleazar S. Fernandez (2003), and The Color of Faith: Building Community in a Multiracial Society (1998).

"Currently the matter of diversity is understood mostly as an increased representation of various underrepresented groups of people. In theological education I seek to emphasize an understanding that takes seriously the global and increasingly interrelated nature of life.”

Philip Wickeri

San Francisco Theological Seminary

His long experience in China and his work with worldwide ecumenical bodies make him a GTU thought leader. He has a unique perspective on the ways that the secular and religion interact in various places in the world. Much of his teaching and writing grew from experience of China and the Church in China (where he was ordained in 1991). Shaped by more than 20 years experience in teaching and lecturing in Asia, Dr. Wickeri is widely published in the area of Christianity in Asia. Dr. Wickeri graduated from Colgate University and Princeton Theological Seminary. He joined the SFTS faculty in 1998, and he also served as a doctoral faculty member for the Graduate Theological Union.

Ibrahim Farajaje

Starr King School for the Ministry, Provost, Professor of Cultural Studies and Islamic Studies