Dr. Jennifer W. Davidson Named GTU Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs

BERKELEY, CA – February 11, 2022 – The Graduate Theological Union is pleased to announce that Dr. Jennifer W. Davidson has been named the new Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs. Dr. Davidson will formally begin her tenure as Dean on July 1, 2022.

Dr. Davidson is intimately familiar with the GTU’s mission and vision as both a former student and a current faculty member, bringing a wealth of experience and passion to the role of Dean. As Professor of Theology & Worship at Berkeley School of Theology (BST), where she has taught for the past 15 years, and a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty at the GTU, Dr. Davidson employs a liberative and contemplative pedagogy to foster dynamic learning environments. In her innovative scholarship, Dr. Davidson has focused on a method of constructive liturgical theology that places the voices, work, and words of diverse peoples from an array of worshipping communities at the center of study.

“Following a comprehensive internal search process, we are delighted to welcome Dr. Davidson as the GTU’s new Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs,” said Dr. Uriah Kim, GTU President. “Our educational landscape is shifting in profound ways. Dr. Davidson’s sensibilities in the classroom, her proven commitment to interreligious and interdisciplinary scholarship and dialogue, and her first-hand experience as a GTU student and faculty all uniquely prepare her to lead our academic interests as we live into GTU 2.0.”

Dr. Davidson’s selection arrived through the unanimous agreement of a diverse panel of representatives of various constituencies across the GTU, including faculty, students, staff, and members of the Board of Trustees. Dr. Elizabeth S. Peña, Interim Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs, chaired the Search Committee.

“The Search Committee firmly believes that Dr. Davidson has the preparation, the temperament, and the vision to be the academic leader that the GTU needs at this critical juncture in its history,” said Dr. Peña. “Her understanding of theological education is deep, and her vision is creative. She doesn’t shy away from the administrative details that anchor the work of the Dean. Dr. Davidson demonstrates a thoughtful and true commitment to DEI, modeling genuine allyship. She embodies the emotional intelligence to excel as Dean with the ability to inspire others, work collaboratively, and listen with intent.”

Dr. Davidson’s experience at the GTU extends across the consortium. Serving on the GTU’s Strategic Planning Committee in 2020, Dr. Davidson has been intimately involved in the planning and creation of GTU 2.0. She previously chaired the Women’s Studies in Religion (WSR) academic certificate program at the GTU, mentoring women and creating programming in a diverse, ecumenical, and interreligious setting. Most recently, Dr. Davidson served as chair of the Religion and Practice Department, embracing opportunities to mentor students, support faculty, and reconnect with GTU alums. As Co-Editor of the peer-reviewed journal Teaching Theology and Religion, Dr. Davidson has amplified the voices of emerging scholars in the field of pedagogy. 

Dr. Davidson earned her PhD from the GTU in 2011 in Liturgical Studies with an expertise in Systematic and Philosophical Theology, an MDiv from the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia (now United Lutheran Seminary), and a BA in English and Secondary Education from Eastern University. She is the author of River of Life, Feast of Grace: Baptism, Communion, and Discipleship (Valley Forge, PA: Judson Press, 2019). Her most recent work focuses on trauma-informed pedagogy and has been published in multiple academic journals.

As Dean, Dr. Davidson said that she is looking forward to collaborating with the GTU community to build on its historic and present strengths to meet the future with alacrity, reaching new audiences, and co-creating a sustainable culture that supports the wellbeing of the GTU community and the planet.

“Rooted in a history of radical collaboration and bold innovation, the GTU is uniquely poised to face current challenges and continue as a leader in shaping the future of graduate education in theology, religious studies, spirituality, and wisdom traditions,” Dr. Davidson said. “Accelerated changes in higher education over the last two years have compelled staff, faculty, and students to lean into our agility, inventiveness, creativity, and resiliency. I am devoted to the people, work, and mission of the GTU, where we dedicate ourselves to interdisciplinary and interreligious scholarship that is holistic, sustainable, and committed to equity and belonging.”

A virtual town hall meet-and-greet event will be held via Zoom at 5:00 pm (PT) on Tuesday, February 15. GTU community members are invited to join this event to meet Dr. Davidson, to welcome her as Dean, and to bring their questions about her plans for this role. All are invited to register to attend.


About the Graduate Theological Union

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is one of the world’s most comprehensive centers for religious education, and one of the largest and most diverse partnerships of seminaries and graduate schools in the United States. 

More than a consortium and academy, the GTU is a dynamic laboratory that provides scholar-innovators with a staging ground to reimagine the future of interreligious life. An education with the GTU equips leaders to translate learning into action that will have tangible impact in the world.

Since its founding in 1962, the GTU has been at the forefront of interreligious education and dialogue. The work of our eminent alumni, students, and faculty across cultures, traditions, and technologies continues to create new pathways to a truly pluralistic future.

Discover more about our programs and the work of our alumni and community at gtu.edu.