Commemorating the Life and Contributions of GTU President Robert Barr (1939-2021)

The Graduate Theological Union mourns the loss of our fourth president, Robert “Bob” Barr, who tragically passed away at his home in San Diego, CA, on Wednesday, January 6, 2021, due to COVID-19 related complications. He was 81.

President Barr led the GTU from 1988-1992, and also served on the Board of Trustees. Before coming to Holy Hill, he led member school San Francisco Theological Seminary as acting president from 1984-1985 and was a notable member of the business community in Colorado from 1973-1983. As a student, he earned his Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts at Ohio Wesleyan University.

A devoted Protestant described as a “plain-dealing individual who inspired trust,” it was his strong moral character and gifts as an administrator that catapulted him into his role as president of the GTU, with a tenure marked by a renewed sense of strength and stability across the institution.

“The GTU is indeed unique in this country,” he once commented during an interview, “Nowhere else will you find the rich ecumenical representation of the faculty and scholars from a variety of denominations and the strength that we also gather because of our relationship with the University of California.”

President Barr is survived by his wife, Joan, and their two children, Katie and Judson.