For doctoral program announcements and deadlines, please visit the Dean's Newsletter
December 1, 2011
Interreligious Studies at the GTU - new area of study
A new M.A. area of
concentration in Interreligious Studies (IR) will begin in fall 2012.
Applications are due February 15 for the first class of students.
This new M.A. area will give students the opportunity to
focus their courses and thesis research on an emerging field that is
growing in importance all across the world.
This area is designed to be open to studies that are
oriented to fields within both theological studies and religious
studies. Topics of focus and methodologies might include historical and
contemporary relations between religious traditions, comparative
theology, comparative religion, interreligious dialogue, and
interreligious pastoral practices. Read more...
November 9, 2011
Alumna Laurie Zoloth elected Vice President of AAR
In an announcement today, Laurie Zoloth (Ph.D. '93) was announced as the
new Vice President for the American Academy of Religion. Zoloth is
Professor of Medical Humanities & Bioethics and Religion and
Director of the Center for Bioethics, Science, and Society at
October 8, 2011
GTU hosts delegation from China
The Asia Project was pleased to welcome
thirteen distinguished Christian leaders from the People’s Republic of
China. The group had come to the U.S. to attend a Bible exhibition in
Washington, D.C. and to visit theological seminaries in Pittsburgh,
Atlanta, and Los Angeles before coming to the GTU. A welcoming reception
and roundtable conversation was hosted by GTU Dean Arthur Holder,
Professor Thomas Cattoi from the Jesuit School of Theology, GTU Ph.D.
students Pui Fong Wong and Mary Mee-Yin Yuen, and CDSP D.Min. student
Chun Wai Lam.
Chinese visitors were particularly interested in the interreligious
dialogue taking place at the GTU. They expressed a desire that more
students from China will be able to come to the GTU to study and a hope
for continued exchanges of visits by faculty and administrators in our
August 16, 2011
Eric Alexander, new VP for Advancement
The GTU is pleased to announce the appointment of Eric Alexander as
its new Vice President for Advancement.
GTU President James Donahue said of his appointment, “I am delighted
to welcome Eric to the GTU. His range of experience in advancement, his
understanding of our mission and context, and his personal qualities and
energy will be an enormous addition to the leadership of the GTU.” Read more...
July 27, 2011
In Memoriam: Jane Newhall, Trustee Emerita
Jane Newhall (born October 4, 1913), a generous benefactor to the
Graduate Theological Union and GTU member school San Francisco
Theological Seminary (SFTS), died July 27 in Martha’s Vineyard,
Massachusetts, at the age of 97.
Newhall was an ardent supporter of the GTU and began serving on the
Board of Trustees in 1968. She served as the Board Secretary for a
number of years and was eventually named a Life Trustee (1995) and a
Trustee Emerita (1999).
Through all her support over the decades, perhaps her legacy is most
visible in the students of GTU. In 1987, she established the endowment
that funds the Newhall Fellows,
a program which encourages doctoral students through competitive awards
to engage in collaborative teaching or research with a faculty mentor. Read more...
June 17, 2011
Ted Peters (PLTS) addresses Christian Scholars' Conference
Ted Peters, Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, gave the plenary address "Stem Cells: Who's Fighting with Whom about What?" at the 31st Annual Christian Scholars' Conference hosted at Pepperdine University. Other speakers during the three conference (June 16-18) included Dr. Francis S. Collins, National Institutes of Heath Director; Rev. Dr. John Polkinghorne, founding president of the International Society for Science and Religion; and Emmy award-winning journalist and sustainability advocate Simran Sethi.
Rabbi Julia Watts Belser (Ph.D. ‘08) will be Visiting Assistant Professor of Women's Studies and Jewish Ethics at Harvard Divinity School’s Women’s Studies in Religion Program for 2011-12. She earned her Ph.D. in the Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies at the Graduate Theological Union and the University of California, Berkeley.
Belser, who is Assistant Professor of Judaism at Missouri State University, strives to teach classic Jewish texts in ways that speak to contemporary longings. While at HDS, she will set contemporary postcolonial, queer, womanist, and feminist theorists and poets in provocative conversation with the Babylonian Talmud to articulate a critical Jewish feminist ethics that responds to gender and queer violence, poverty, sexual exploitation, and ecological catastrophe. She is currently completing her book, Narrative Dialectics: Theology and Ecology in Bavli Taanit.
She co-authored A Health Handbook for Women with Disabilities, distributed to grassroots groups and health workers around the world. Her poetry, fiction, and essays have appeared in Midstream: A Journal of Jewish Thought, The Journal of Women and Religion, Kalliope: A Journal of Women's Art and Literature, and Fireweed: A Feminist Quarterly.
June 6, 2011
Benny Liew (PSR) at Drew's Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures
Tat-Siong Benny Liew will be a keynote speaker at Drew University's Tipple-Vosburgh Lectures, October 18-20, 2011. Liew, Professor of New Testament at Pacific School of Religion, will deliver "What Has Been Done? What Can We Learn? Racial/Ethnic Minority Readings of the Bible." Also present at the lectures will be former PSR faculty members Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, current Dean of Drew Theological School, and Mayra Rivera, currently at Harvard Divinity School.
June 2, 2011
GTU Alumna at the helm of new Keshet Bay Area office
Sasha Goldberg (M.A. Judaism '09) heads the new Bay Area office of Keshet, a Jewish LGBT group. Prior to her new position, she was associate director at Nehirim which runs retreats for LGBT Jews. Goldberg is also a consultant on LGBT issues. Read article in j...
June 2, 2011
GTU Doctoral Student Carmen Lansdowne Selected to Receive Second Prestigious FTE Fellowship
Carmen Lansdowne, a GTU doctoral student in Interdisciplinary Studies, has been selected to receive a 2011 Fund for Theological Education (FTE) North American Doctoral Fellowship, a competitive national award with a stipend of between $5,000 and $10,000. Lansdowne, whose research interests include urging the prophetic witness of churches to address the continuing injustices facing native peoples in the Americas, was also a North American Doctoral Fellow in 2010.
May 14, 2011
In Memoriam: Nicholas V. Riasanovsky
Nicholas Valentine Riasanovsky, an emeritus professor of European history at the University of California, Berkeley, and a leading authority on the history of Russia, died May 14 in an Oakland, Calif., nursing home following a long illness. He was 87.
Riasanovsky had close ties to the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley and was a founder of its Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, serving as an institute board member from 1986 to 2005.
Stephen Lucas De Staebler, noted Bay Area sculptor, passed away at
his home in Berkeley, California, from complications from cancer on May
13, 2011, with family by his side. He was 78.
De Staebler is known for his fractured, fragmented figurative
sculptures in fired clay and for cast
bronze sculptures. His work focused on
the suffering of humanity and the transcendence of the human spirit. His sculpture Winged Figure is a focal point in the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library.
A prominent figure in Bay Area art world, De Staebler was also an
emeritus member of the Board of Trustees for the Center for Arts,
Religion and Education (CARE), a GTU affiliate.
A special Space for Faiths issue (January 2011) of ARTS
(Arts in Religious and Theological Studies) magazine was dedicated to
De Staebler’s works and Art and Religion education at the Graduate
May 12, 2011
Commencement Exercises, Sarlo Award Recipient Announced
The May 12 Commencement ceremonies marked the beginning of a new
journey for 62 graduates who completed their degrees in Fall 2010 or
Spring 2011. Thirty-three students graduated with a Master of Arts degree, four received a
Master of Arts with a concentration in Biblical Languages, and 25 received the Doctor of Philosophy
degree. See a list of graduates and view photos.
Departing faculty member Richard M. Gula, S.S., Professor of Moral Theology at the Franciscan School of Theology, delivered the faculty remarks and Sharon R. Fennema, Ph.D. Liturgical Studies, spoke on behalf of her fellow graduates.
During the ceremony, Dr. Ronald Y. Nakasone, Professor of Buddhist Art
and Culture, Graduate Theological Union and Center for Art, Religion,
and Education, received this year's Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award.
Raw Faith, a surprisingly intimate and revealing documentary featuring an original song by Sheryl Crow, follows two years in the private life of Marilyn Sewell, an outspoken and socially progressive Unitarian minister who has re-energized her Portland community. Sewell graduated 1991 with a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union.
About the film (according to the Raw Faith website www.rawfaith.com): “Marilyn Sewell is successful and beloved in the pulpit, but behind the scenes she is lonely and yearning for change. As she considers leaving the ministry, she realizes she will be leaving her only social network. Yet when she falls in love for the first time, she realizes she does not trust intimacy. A study in contrasts, Marilyn must rely on raw faith as she questions her future, her difficult past, her God and, most importantly, her ability to love.”
May 7, 2011
Alumnus Named Next President of Holy Cross
The College of the Holy Cross (Worchester, Mass.) has selected Rev. Philip L. Boroughs, S.J., as the College’s 32nd president beginning January 2012. Fr. Boroughs, who has served as a member of the Holy Cross Board of Trustees since 2008, has been professionally involved in Jesuit higher education for 20 years as a faculty member and administrator at Gonzaga, Seattle, and Georgetown universities.
He graduated in 1989 with a Ph.D. in Christian Spirituality from the Graduate Theological Union. His doctoral dissertation was on John Woolman (1720-1772), the itinerant Quaker preacher in Colonial America, who advocated against slavery and whose journal is considered a spiritual classic. Fr. Boroughs also holds a Licentiate of Sacred Theology from the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley; and a Master of Divinity from the Jesuit School of Theology in Chicago. He received his B.A. from Gonzaga University in Spokane, Wash.
Father Donald Louis Gelpi, S.J., a member of the New Orleans Province, died on Friday, May 6, 2011 in St. Louis, Missouri, following a long illness.
Fr. Gelpi taught at Loyola University before joining the faculty of the Jesuit School of Theology in 1973, where he helped found and coordinate the Institute for Spirituality and Worship, a one-year theological renewal program. Among Fr. Gelpi’s many accomplishments, he was a Luce Fellow at the Graduate Theological Union during the academic year 1993-1994, when he studied the problem of inculturation in Korea, Japan, and Taiwan. In 1999, he became Emeritus Professor but remained active in the JST community teaching and publishing until his departure in the summer of 2009.
May 3, 2011
Alumnus Ferguson New Dean of Bexley Hall
The Rev. Thomas J. Ferguson will become the dean of Bexley Hall, an Episcopal Church-affiliated seminary. Since 2010, he has served as the Episcopal Church's ecumenical and interreligious relations officer working to foster ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and cooperation with other Christian communions and world religions. He is also the part-time chaplain of the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Ferguson has taught as an adjunct faculty member at Wartburg Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology, Union Theological Seminary and Church Divinity School of the Pacific (a Graduate Theological Union member school). He graduated in 2002 with a Ph.D. from the Graduate Theological Union and is also a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Yale Divinity School and Wesleyan University.
April 1, 2011
How well does the GTU prepare doctoral students to teach? And how can we do a better job?
Those were the questions that the GTU recently asked ten alums from five years ago who came back to Berkeley for a consultation sponsored by the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion as part of their Graduate Programs Teaching Initiative. Read more…
Uriah Y. Kim (Ph.D. ’04), Professor of Hebrew Bible at Hartford
Seminary, has received a prestigious 2011-2012 Lilly Theological
Research Grant for his new book, The Politics of Othering in the Book
Kim will spend the fall 2011 semester researching. His project is a
multi-layered historical-critical and postcolonial reading of the Book
of Judges in conversation with biblical studies, American history, and
postcolonial interpretations. Read more about the book project.
February 22, 2011
Who among us is good? … and who is “us”?
Nargis Virani, Naomi Seidman, Arthur Holder,
Last month 50 Jewish, Christian, and Muslim theologians and academics
from more than 10 countries gathered at the Shalom Hartman Institute in
Jerusalem to study together on the theme of “The Good Person.” Among
them were GTU’s Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs Arthur
Holder, Center for Islamic Studies Director Munir Jiwa, Center for
Jewish Studies Director Naomi Seidman, and visiting faculty member at
the Center for Islamic Studies Nargis Virani.
The participants attempted to look outside their own religious
communities to evaluate who among us is good - and whether “us” is an
attribute of their own communities, of religious people, or of all
So what makes a good person? And how does the answer pertain to what
we do at the GTU? “The truly good person often marches to a different
Read more in the March Dean’s Newsletter and in the .
February 4, 2011
Katharine Jefferts Schori named to President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships
Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Dr. Katharine Jefferts Schori (CDSP MDiv '94, DD '01, CDSP Trustee) was named to the President's Advisory Council on Faith-Based and Neighborhood Partnerships. In 2008, she was number two on the London Daily Telegraph's list of 50 most influential Anglicans. Read full list of nominations.
December 29, 2010
In Memoriam: Yolande Adelson
Yolande Adelson, GTU Trustee, died December 29 following a battle with cancer.
A former lawyer, arbitrator, mediator, and higher education
administrator, Mrs. Adelson was a vital and strong presence in the GTU
community since 2003, working assiduously on behalf of students and to
help the GTU address the challenges and opportunities of being a diverse
She is survived by her husband, Marvin, and her daughter, Esther
Chambers. Condolences may be sent to the family at 725 Gelston Place, El
Cerrito, CA 94530. A Memorial Service is planned for the near future;
details will be posted as they become available.
December 13, 2010
In Memoriam: Alejandro García-Rivera
Dr. Alejandro García-Rivera, faculty member at the Jesuit School of
Theology of Santa Clara University, passed away Monday morning, December
13. His death is a sorrow for all, particularly for his family and the
many colleagues at JST who were so attentive to him and to his wife
during his illness. He leaves behind a wife, Kathryn, and two daughters,
Sophia and Elizabeth. Read more...
November 30, 2010
Steed V. Davidson — panelist at Trinity Institute's 2011 Conference
Steed V. Davidson, associate professor of Old Testament at the
Graduate Theological Union and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary,
will be a featured panelist at Trinity Institute's January 19-21, 2011,
conference, Reading Scripture through Other Eyes. Renowned Biblical
scholar Walter Bruggemann is another keynote speaker.
Although the conference is centered in New York City, people can
attend at partner sites throughout the U.S. and the world via webcast.
Check out thefor more information.
November 26, 2010
Two GTU Trustees join National Catholic Reporter's Board of Directors
The National Catholic Reporter recently welcomed two additions to its
Board of Directors — Joan McGrath and John Weiser, seasoned veterans of
the Graduate Theological Union's Board of Trustees. Both have served
terms as GTU Board Chair. Currently, McGrath serves at-large on the GTU
Board while Weiser sits on the GTU President's Advisory Council.
October 7, 2010
Boston or Bust for Fr. Buckley
E. Buckley, SJ, a professor of Modern Christian History at the Jesuit
School of Theology of Santa Clara University, will hold the Gasson Chair
for the 2010-2011 academic year at Boston College. The Gasson Chair was
established in 1975 to support a distinguished Jesuit scholar’s visiting
professorship in any discipline.
Fr. Buckley has written and lectured extensively on Thomas Jefferson,
Patrick Henry, and the struggle to establish religious freedom in the
early republic. He is currently completing a study of Virginia’s efforts
to understand and implement Thomas Jefferson’s Statute for Religious
In addition to teaching Pacifism and Peace Movements this fall and
English Reformation next spring, Fr. Buckley will deliver the fall
Gasson Lecture, “Mentoring and Jesuit Education: Ignatius Loyola, Thomas
Jefferson, and Us” on November 15.
August 5, 2010
Ted Peters named Alumnus of the Year at U. Chicago Divinity School
Theodore “Ted” Peters, Professor of Systematic Theology at the
Graduate Theological Union (GTU) and the Pacific Lutheran Theological
Seminary (PLTS) was recently named University of Chicago Divinity
School’s Alumnus of the Year for 2011. Peters received his M.A. (1970)
and Ph.D. (1973) from U. Chicago.
Peters' areas of interest include systematic theology, science and
religion, the evolution controversy, genetics and society, and
bioethics. He is an ordained pastor in the Evangelical Lutheran Church
He will deliver his Alumnus of the Year address, "Can We Enhance the Imago Dei? A Theological
Assessment of Genetic Alteration, Pharmacological Enhancement,
Nanotechnology, and Transhumanism," on October 28.
July 1, 2010
Alumnus Randall Miller appointed assistant professor of Christian ethics at PSR
Pacific School of Religion (PSR) Dean Mary A. Tolbert has announced the appointment of Randall Miller as assistant professor of Christian ethics and social thought, effective July 1, 2010. Under his two-year, half-time appointment, Miller will teach two courses per year, including “Introduction to Ethics,” and will be responsible for advising all PSR ethics MA and DMin students.
Miller received his PhD from the GTU in 2007 with a dissertation titled “Colored Justice: Situating Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Contextual Justice Ethic in Normative Discourse.” At PSR, he has co-taught “The Bible, Queer Theory, and Ethics” with Mary Tolbert, and, while a graduate student at the GTU, served as a teaching assistant for three of Karen Lebacqz’s courses.
His research interests are focused on “providing a deeper understanding of the conceptual frameworks of social justice and fostering a greater awareness of the links between faith, moral values, and politics.”
June 23, 2010
Thomas Ferguson named ecumenical and interreligious relations officer for the Episcopal Church
The Rev. Thomas Ferguson (Ph.D. ’02) has been named as ecumenical and interreligious relations officer for the Episcopal Church. He will seek to foster ecumenical and interreligious dialogue and cooperation with other Christian communions and world religions, developing and implementing strategies and actions to support the efforts of Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori’s ministry as chief ecumenical officer.
"Given many of the changes we are facing in society, our ecumenical and interreligious engagement is of critical importance to the life of the church," noted Ferguson.
His appointment follows the June 7 announcement that the memberships of five Episcopalians serving on the communion's ecumenical dialogues have been discontinued. Until the announcement, Ferguson was a member of the Anglican-Orthodox Theological Dialogue.
Ferguson has taught as adjunct faculty at Union Theological Seminary, Claremont School of Theology and Wartburg Theological Seminary.
In addition to his degree from GTU, he is a graduate of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology, Yale Divinity School and Wesleyan University.
June 16, 2010
Jeffrey Kuan named new Dean of Drew Theological School
Beginning January 2011, Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan will take on the mantle of Dean of Drew Theological School (DTS) in Madison, NJ, a United Methodist institution. He will be the first Asian American to serve in this capacity.
Kuan teaches Hebrew Bible/Old Testament, Ancient Near Eastern Studies, and Hebrew and other Semitic languages at the GTU and Pacific School of Religion (PSR). He is chair of GTU’s Asia Project and served as PSR’s acting VP for Academic Affairs and Dean for 2007-08. Kuan, who is also ordained in the United Methodist Church (UMC), has served on the board of directors of UMC’s General Board of Higher Education and Ministry since 2004.
“There is a perfect match between my values and [DTS'] values—a deep commitment to the church, to diversity and justice, and to academic excellence.” said Kuan.
“Jeffrey brings with him a wealth of experience and high ambition for Drew,” said Drew University President Robert Weisbuch.
Kuan holds a Ph.D. in Old Testament from Emory University, a master of theological studies degree from Southern Methodist University and a bachelor of theology degree from Trinity Theological College in Singapore.
June 7, 2010
Munir Jiwa makes E Pluribus Umma presentation at UNESCO in Paris
In the framework of the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization's (UNESCO) Intellectual Watch series, Dr. Munir Jiwa, the founding Director and Assistant Professor at the Center for Islamic Studies at the Graduate Theological Union, presents his latest research and engages in a discussion on Muslim cultural producers — comedians, performers, musicians, visual artists... — who put into question the divide between the secular and the religious.
UNESCO’s mission is to contribute to the building of peace, the
eradication of poverty, sustainable development and intercultural
dialogue through education, the sciences, culture, communication and
information. UNESCO works to create the conditions for dialogue among civilizations, cultures and peoples, based upon respect for commonly shared values.
June 3, 2010
Three GTU doctoral students receive prestigious national fellowships
Michael S. Campos, Andrea E. Davidson and Carmen R. Lansdowne, doctoral students at Graduate Theological Union, have been selected to receive a 2010 Fund for Theological Education (FTE) Fellowship, a competitive national award. Both Campos and Lansdowne were recognized as 2010 North American Doctoral Fellows while Davidson received recognition as a 2010 Doctoral Fellow.
As FTE Fellows, Campos, Davidson and Lansdowne will receive stipends of up to $20,000 for expenses from FTE, an ecumenical nonprofit organization that advocates for excellence and diversity in pastoral ministry and theological scholarship.
FTE supports rising scholars from underrepresented racial/ethnic groups who plan to teach religion, theology and biblical studies in theological schools and universities. “The pace of change to a pluralistic society adds a sense of urgency to this work of developing diverse educators to teach, lead and serve diverse communities,” said Dr. Sharon Watson Fluker, FTE Vice President for Doctoral Programs and Administration.
May 6, 2010
GTU alumna named Teacher of the Year at Dominican University
“I’m 72 – a relic!” says Gay Lynch, recently named Teacher of the
Year at Dominican University of California. While she may have a few
years over other faculty, it didn’t take her long to win this
prestigious honor, awarded to her for “in-depth subject knowledge,
dedication to students, and kind heart.”
Gay Lynch (Ph.D. '05, center) with
Lynch started college at age 50 when her youngest child, Andrew, also
started college. Her first class at UC Berkeley — World Religions,
taught by Mark Juergensmeyer — enchanted her. But just before she
graduated in 1992, Andrew died suddenly in his sleep of myocarditis.
Propelled by her loss and grief, she continued her studies, earning a
Masters in Theological Studies at Harvard and her Ph.D. in the Cultural
and Historical Study of Religion from the GTU. At Dominican she teaches
World Religions; The Rhetoric of Belief; Myth, Symbol, and Ritual; and
Dance & Spirituality.
Lynch says, “This (award) would not have happened without my loss or
without the support and humor of the GTU’s Judith Berling, Margaret
Miles, Richard Payne, Naomi Seidman, Clare Fischer, and Maureen Maloney.
“Now my courses are full, and so is my heart.”
March 3, 2010
Alumna Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe confirmed as U.S. Representative to the Human Rights Council
In November, President Barack Obama nominated Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe (Ph.D. '06) as the U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Human Rights Council. She was confirmed by the Senate March 3 following the expected 3 month confirmation process.
Her research has focused on norms of use of force, UN reform, and the
international rule of law. Her 2006 Ph.D. dissertation entitled:
“Humanitarian Military Intervention: The Moral Imperative Versus the
Rule of Law,” addressed conflicting legal and ethical justifications
for humanitarian military intervention.
January 20, 2010
Brother Paige, a GTU alumnus, named president-elect of Holy Cross College
Holy Cross Brother John R. Paige (M.A. Applied Theology '83) was formally introduced as the next president of Holy Cross College in South Bend, IN, at a press conference on January 20, the liturgical feast day of the Holy Cross Congregation founder Blessed Basil Anthony Moreau, C.S.C. Paige will assume the presidency in January 2011 after he concludes a six-year term in Rome as vicar general of the Congregation of the Holy Cross.
The GTU in cooperation with affiliate Institute of Buddhist Studies
(IBS) has added a Buddhist Studies track within the Cultural and
Historical Studies of Religion doctoral program. Students will have
access to resources at both UC Berkeley and Ryukoku University (Kyoto,
Japan), a member of the Kyoto Graduate Union of Religious Studies. Application deadline for the Fall 2011 term is December 15, 2010 — apply now.
January 11, 2010
Professor Martha “Marty” Stortz leaves GTU/PLTS after 25 years
Martha Stortz, professor of Historical Theology and Ethics, leaves Berkeley after 25 years for Augsburg College in Minneapolis, MN, where she will be the Bernhard M. Christensen Chair in Religion and Vocation beginning July 1. "Marty will be a role model for our students of how a life of the mind and a life of faithful service in the world are linked," says Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow.
For stories prior to 2010, visit our News Archive