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Berkeley, CA—The Graduate Theological Union’s Board of Trustees this week announced the appointment of Dr. Uriah Y. Kim as the institution’s Ninth President, effective immediately. Serving as Interim President since February 2020, Dr. Kim was unanimously selected during a special convening of the Board, which includes representation from the presidents of all consortium member schools.
“As Interim President these past few months, he has been a key partner among the leaders of the schools in the consortium as we collaborate to develop a vision for the future of the GTU,” said Dr. Ray Pickett, President of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. “He is the right president for the GTU—especially at such a time as this.”
Amidst this time of rapid change and uncertainty, Dr. Kim has expertly and adeptly led the GTU through numerous unforeseen challenges, from the COVID-19 global health crisis and its associated impacts, to the ongoing transformation of the higher education landscape, to the urgent and pressing need to address persistent, systemic inequalities that compromise the political, social, and cultural fabric of communities on a local, national, and global scale. Throughout this most extraordinary set of circumstances, the Board recognized that in Dr. Kim, the GTU was gifted with a proven, outstanding leader to provide the steady, yet agile direction needed to navigate these complexities.
“Dr. Kim has demonstrated not only effective, but exceptional leadership in the midst of extraordinary circumstances,” stated William D. Glenn, Chair of the Board of Trustees. “He possesses that rare mix of qualities so often sought and rarely found in a leader: agility, humility, resolve and vision. His people-centered approach, coupled with his collaborative style and decisive direction has uniquely prepared him to expertly spearhead entrepreneurial ventures and crisis response plans alike—all in service to the values, culture and core mission of the GTU.”
Earning his PhD from the GTU in 2004 and standing as a highly regarded member of the larger religious and theological academy, Dr. Kim was honored as the GTU’s alumnus of the year in 2013 and served as Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs beginning in January 2017. Undergoing an extensive, rigorous, and competitive vetting process prior to his appointment as Dean, Dr. Kim joined the GTU following his tenure as Dean of Hartford Seminary in Connecticut. As Dean of the GTU, he proved instrumental in crafting a new vision for the institution, while building trusting, collaborative partnerships with academic leadership, faculty, and other stakeholders across the school and consortium—a further reflection of Dr. Kim’s deep and unwavering commitment to the values and mission of the GTU.
“From the outset of his appointment as Dean three years ago, I found Dr. Kim to be a knowledgeable and innovative partner,” said Dr. Rita D. Sherma, Director of the Center for Dharma Studies and Chair of the Department for Theology & Ethics. “He is not only an eminent scholar, but known for pushing forward research by integrating excluded voices. He has collaborated with various GTU faculty to foster groundbreaking programs, and encouraged the initiation of important new disciplines. His visionary reach and strategic agility will advance and strengthen GTU’s vision of applied, interreligious, interdisciplinary research.”
Bearing out these expectations with exceptional success, as Dean and Interim President Dr. Kim led the GTU to break new ground in the realm of remote learning and industry engagement. Continuing the work of his collaboration with former GTU President Rabbi Daniel Lehmann, Dr. Kim accelerated the GTU’s entry into both sectors, including launching the GTU’s first fully online program; initiating the formation of a new, state-of-the-art recording studio for online course development; overseeing institution of the Interreligious Chaplaincy Program; and establishing the GTU’s Center for Values, Ethics, and Culture.
“Uriah embodies what is best about the consortium, with a commitment and skill to bring the strengths of our various communities together for the common good,” stated Rev. Dr. David Vasquez-Levy, President of the Pacific School of Religion. “His scholarship, vision, and dedication have already strengthened our shared mission and will inform his leadership as President of the GTU and a trusted partner in the Consortium.”