The GTU Bids Dean Davidson a Fond Farewell and Warmly Welcomes Interim Dean Ocker

The GTU Bids Dean Davidson a Fond Farewell and Warmly Welcomes Interim Dean Ocker

BERKELEY, CA - May 10, 2024 - After two years of providing strong leadership during a period of dynamic change, Dr. Jennifer W. Davidson is stepping away from her role as Dean and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the Graduate Theological Union (GTU). Dr. Davidson’s roots at the GTU run deep. She earned her PhD from the GTU in 2011 in Liturgical Studies with an allied field in Systematic and Philosophical Theology. She served as a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty and as Professor of Theology & Worship at the Berkeley School of Theology (BST) from 2007-2022. In addition to her many scholarly and pedagogical accomplishments, Dr. Davidson has further cemented her legacy by adeptly guiding the organization through a rigorous self-study process that helped clarify the GTU’s identity and purpose. 

“I am so proud of the intelligence, grace, and hard work everyone brought to the self-study project we recently completed,” said Dean Davidson. “This was a monumental effort that compelled colleagues across the organization to push well beyond their comfort zones and collaborate in unique ways. The reason we completed the project so successfully is due to outstanding contributions from the faculty and the staff with unwavering support and visionary guidance from President Uriah Kim.”  

Dean Davidson will be succeeded by Dr. Christopher Ocker, Professor of the History of Christianity at San Francisco Theological Seminary of the University of Redlands, who will assume the role on an interim basis. 

“It was with great reluctance that I accepted Dean Davidson’s resignation,” stated GTU President Dr. Uriah Kim. “We have all benefited greatly from her extensive talents and deep commitment to theological education. While I will miss her considerably, I am grateful that Dr. Ocker has elected to join us as Interim Dean and look forward to working with him.”

Dr. Christopher Ocker joined the San Francisco Theological Seminary in 1991 and has been a member of the Core Doctoral Faculty of the GTU since 1992. He formerly served as Associate Director of the GTU’s Center for Hermeneutical Studies, Co-Director of its Center for the Study of Religion and Culture, and Chair of its Department for Cultural and Historical Studies. He is also affiliated with the Department of History, the Medieval Studies Program, and the Berkeley Center for the Study of Religion at the University of California. 

“I couldn’t be more excited to collaborate with the faculty and staff at the GTU to build on Dean Davidson’s excellent accomplishments to help ensure the longevity of this extraordinary locus of learning,” said Dr. Ocker. “There is no other place in the world that compares to the GTU. It is a singularly unique institution of higher theological education because of its interreligious nature and its vibrant Berkeley setting. There is an intellectual adventurousness here that exists nowhere else.” 

Dr. Davidson and Dr. Ocker will work together to ensure a smooth transition and transfer of knowledge. Dr. Ocker will officially assume the role of Interim Dean on July 1. 




About the Graduate Theological Union
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