Kathleen Kook is the Dean of Students and Vice President for Student Affairs at the GTU, where she has been an invaluable support to hundreds of students and graduates.
It Really Is All About the People
Through their courage and commitment to engage in advanced study of the philosophical and theological questions of our time, our students make an immeasurable difference in their communities and the world.
There is no place like the GTU. That is a profound truth for me.
Of course, when making such claims, one is expected to provide documentation or show outcomes. However, I feel that my countless efforts to write reports that testify to the far-reaching and profound accomplishments of our students and graduates on the local and global level never quite meet the task. The truth is: It is all about the essence of the people here at the GTU. How do I document that except to have you meet them all?
I have had the great fortune of serving in many roles at the GTU over the past twenty-seven years, most recently as Vice President for Student Affairs and Dean of Students. This means I have been blessed to meet and offer support to every incoming MA and doctoral student, and to work in partnership with the faculty who teach and mentor those students, the board members who invest themselves in this endeavor, and the staff who help make it all possible throughout the GTU and the consortium. So you may just have to trust my word about all these extraordinary spirits living as their genuine selves.
In my heart and soul, I know our students and graduates make a significant contribution in their daily existence, in their interactions with family and community, and in their professional lives. Through their courage and commitment to engage in advanced study of the philosophical and theological questions of our time, our students make an immeasurable difference in their communities and the world. The dramatic impact of religion on politics, culture, economics, and the environment (to name a few), only heightens the need for what GTU graduates and alumni can provide in their lives of teaching, writing, publishing, leadership, community engagement, and the enhanced understandings that come about through dialogue with diverse faiths and peoples.
The Student Affairs staff has spent the past few weeks in final preparations for Thursday’s 2019 GTU Commencement. We are ready for an afternoon and evening celebrating our diverse array of graduates along with their colleagues, friends, and family. For thirty-five graduates, this is a new beginning that will lead to the next part of their journey. They have established lifelong friendships while engaged in study and learning at profound levels, having put themselves forward in the most meaningful of endeavors. They have shown inexplicable trust and commitment throughout these years of hard work, in many cases without knowing what is on the other side. We get to remember this every May.
The week after commencement, we begin to plan for new student orientation in August. It is a glorious cycle. As I prepare to retire this summer, I need to trust it will all continue, as a new group of students prepares to begin a time on Holy Hill, and others of us move on to new endeavors, having become who we are because of our time in this unique place.