From the President

Authored by: 
Riess Potterveld

From Skylight Magazine, Fall 2017

Welcome to Skylight, the new publication of the Graduate Theological Union.

At the heart of the library all GTU scholars share is a skylight thorough which natural light pours into the building. This skylight provides the inspiration for our new GTU logo, which adorns these pages, our letterhead, and our newly redesigned website. For an interreligious and educational center, light streaming in and illuminating our learning space and human engagements seems appropriate. The logo’s intersecting lines suggest the converging paths and diversity found here at the GTU, as well as the energy that flows into and out of the GTU through its many programs and activities.

The development of our new logo was part of a rebranding process that began more than a year ago with focus groups sharing their experiences of the GTU and what it contributes to its students, faculty, local communities, and the wider world. Eventually, over many months, their feedback also led us to develop a new tagline, linked to our familiar GTU acronym:

Grow in knowledge.

Thrive in spirit.

Unite in solutions.

Our rebranding and website redesign represent efforts to convey our message in fresh ways amid a world of whirling change and generational shifts. But the GTU has been interreligious for a long time. This issue highlights our Center for Islamic Studies as it celebrates its tenth anniversary. In 2018, our Center for Jewish Studies will celebrate its fiftieth anniversary. The GTU continues to grow as more of the world’s great religious traditions take their seat at the table and enliven conversations. At its meeting in October, the GTU board of trustees was asked to consider the candidacy of two schools seeking to become member schools of the GTU: the Institute of Buddhist Studies (currently a GTU Affiliate) and Zaytuna College, the first Muslim undergraduate liberal arts college in the United States, which will soon be starting an MA degree program. These are the first schools to seek member school status at the GTU since the 1960s. One of our strengths is the diversity that infuses everything we do, and the board voted to open this conversation.

I have announced that I will be retiring at the end of June 2018 at age 75. I have joyfully been part of what I consider a fertile period in the GTU’s history. I am convinced that this school is uniquely poised to present the most forward-looking and substantive reflection and scholarship on issues of theology, ethics, and social justice. Our students are extraordinary and fully involved in the world they are intent upon improving.

A search committee representing many important constituencies is already busy searching for the next president of the GTU. I am certain many outstanding candidates will be attracted to the opportunity to lead this unique institution into the future. I am grateful for the outstanding faculty, staff, and trustees I have had opportunity to work with during my tenure, and for the faithful financial support of all our donors without whose generosity these dreams could not come to fruition.