Dr. Riess Potterveld Elected President of the Graduate Theological Union

Berkeley, CA - The Board of Trustees of the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) has announced the election of Riess Potterveld as the next president of the GTU. Dr. Potterveld, who has served as the GTU’s acting president since July 1, 2013, was elected by the unanimous vote of attending board members at a meeting on June 20, 2014.

GTU Board chair Hal Leach commented, “Throughout his year as acting president, Riess Potterveld has worked tirelessly to create new partnerships, open new possibilities, and expand the representation of the world’s religious traditions at the Graduate Theological Union. Dr. Potterveld’s continuing leadership will provide the stability and consistency of vision that will enable the GTU to enhance its position as a premier institution for the scholarly study of religion in our world.”

Under Potterveld’s leadership, the GTU has prioritized the advancement of its unique character as a center of interreligious learning, while continuing to cultivate ecumenical engagement within the Christian tradition.  Several new initiatives are currently in process. These include new partnerships with Hindus and other Asian religions that will lead directly to new GTU course offerings in the coming year and, hopefully, the development of full academic centers in those religions.

 “With nearly twenty member schools, centers, institutes, and affiliates from across the spectrum of the world’s religious traditions, the GTU is an unparalleled center of ecumenical and interreligious scholarship.” says Potterveld. “At a time when interreligious dialogue and understanding are absolutely essential and the yearning for deeper spirituality continues to grow, the GTU provides a place where practitioners of the world’s faiths can come together in a diverse context of academic excellence and rigorous dialogue. The Graduate Theological Union offers an unparalleled environment for students, scholars, and the wider public to explore the deep wisdom of the great religious traditions of the world.”

Before becoming the acting president of the GTU in July 2013, Potterveld served for three years as president of the Pacific School of Religion (PSR), one of the member schools of the GTU. Previously, he was president of Lancaster Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania for eight years. Potterveld also served as PSR’s vice president for institutional advancement from 1993 to 2002, and its acting dean from 2000 to 2002.

Dr. Potterveld earned his M.Div. from Yale Divinity School and his M.A. and Ph.D. from Claremont Graduate University. He is an ordained minister in the United Church of Christ. He and his wife Tara, an accomplished artist and nationally-known sign language interpreter, share four sons and seven grandchildren.

About the GTU

The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, is home to the largest Ph.D. program in religious studies in North America. As a consortium of independent theological schools, the Graduate Theological Union includes eight seminaries, two of which are Roman Catholic, five Protestant, and one Unitarian Universalist. In addition, the GTU features a variety of centers and affiliates, including the Center for Jewish Studies, the Center for Islamic Studies, the Institute of Buddhist Studies, the Patriarch Athenagoras Orthodox Institute, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, and the Center for Arts, Religion and Education. Founded in 1962, the Graduate Theological Union is dedicated to building bridges within and across different religious traditions by educating students for teaching, research, ministry, and service. The GTU works collaboratively with the University of California, Berkeley, and is the home of the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, one of the largest theological libraries in the U.S.