Graduate Theological Union

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search
Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley
Motto Where religion meets the world
Established 1962
Type Private
Affiliation University of California Berkeley
Religious affiliation
President Riess Potterveld
Dean Arthur Holder
Academic staff
Students 285[1]
Location Berkeley, California, United States

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is a consortium of eight independent American theological schools and eleven centers and affiliates. Seven of the theological schools are located in Berkeley, California. The GTU was founded in 1962 and is affiliated with the University of California, Berkeley, with students from both institutions enjoying privileges accorded to their own students. Additionally, some of the GTU consortial schools are part of other California universities such as Santa Clara University (Jesuit School of Theology) and California Lutheran University (Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary). Most of the GTU consortial schools are located in Berkeley around the University of California, Berkeley campus, with the majority north of the campus in a neighborhood known as "Holy Hill."

History and Administration[edit]

Many of the GTU's constituent seminaries have been established at various locations throughout the Bay Area in the early 20th or even the late 19th centuries. Due to the foundation of the University of California, several of them relocated to Berkeley and established cooperative relationships with the University. In the wake of the formation of the World Council of Churches and the Second Vatican Council, Bay Area seminaries began negotiations to form a cooperative degree program. In 1962, agreement between the Berkeley Baptist Divinity School (now the American Baptist Seminary of the West), Church Divinity School of the Pacific, Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and San Francisco Theological Seminary enabled for the incorporation of the Graduate Theological Union in 1962. In 1964, the Pacific School of Religion, St. Albert's College (now the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology and Starr King School for the Ministry joined the GTU consortium. In 1966, Alma College relocated to Berkeley and was renamed the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. In 1968, the Franciscan School of Theology moved to Berkeley from Santa Barbara and joined the GTU consortium, although in 2013 it merged with the University of San Diego, leaving the consortium and relocating to Oceanside, California . By 1971, the GTU was fully accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.

In 1969, the GTU common library was established and the individual libraries of the seminaries were merged into one collection. In the 1970s, construction began on a Louis I. Kahn-designed building to house the GTU library. The main library building was completed in 1987 and was named the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library in honor of the Hewlett Foundation.

Presidents of the GTU[edit]

  • John Dillenberger (1967-1971)
  • Claude Welch (1971-1982)
  • Michael Blecker, OSB (1982-1987)
  • Robert Barr (1987-1992)
  • Glenn R. Bucher (1992-1999)
  • James Donahue (2000-2012)
  • Riess Potterveld (2013-Present)

Deans of the GTU[edit]

  • Sherman E. Johnson (1962-1963)
  • John Dillenberger (1963-1971)
  • Claude Welch (1971-1987)
  • Judith Berling (1987-1996)
  • Margaret Miles (1996-2001)
  • Arthur Holder (2001-Present)

The Dean of the GTU is the chief academic officer of the institution. S/he also chairs the GTU's Council of Deans, composed of the academic deans of consortial seminaries. Traditionally, the GTU's dean holds the John Dillenberger Professorship in their general field of specialization. The 5th Dean of the GTU, Margaret Miles, was John Dillenberger Professor of Historical Theology while the 6th and current dean, Arthur Holder, is John Dillenberger Professor of Christian Spirituality.


Religious traditions represented include Protestant, Catholic, Unitarian Universalist, Eastern Orthodox, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist. Curricula amongst the schools includes the arts, biblical studies, cultural and historical studies, ethics, social theory, spirituality, interreligious and interdisciplinary studies, in addition to subjects in systematic and philosophical theology. GTU offers M.A. in cooperation with member seminaries and Doctor of Theology degrees as well as the Ph.D program in cooperation with the University of California at Berkeley. GTU consortial seminaries variously offer M.Th., M.Div, Doctor of Ministry, S.T.B., S.T.L., and S.T.D. degrees.

The GTU also offers certificates in specialized studies. These are open to all GTU students. Currently, certificates are offered in the following fields:

  • Asian and Oceanic Cultures and Faith Traditions
  • Black Church/Africana Religious Studies
  • Islamic Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Orthodox Christian Studies
  • Women's Studies in Religion

All degree seeking students at GTU may take any classes offered at the University of California, Berkeley, and have access and borrowing privileges at the University of California, Berkeley and Stanford University libraries. Only Ph.D. students have unrestricted access to registering for UCB classes (subject to approval of course instructors); Th.D. and M.A. students can only take a maximum of 1 class per semester. Ph.D. students taking courses at UCB are able to obtain Cal 1 Cards, which can be loaded with funds for photocopying or for other purposes.

American Academy of Religion[edit]

GTU faculty, alumni, and students have been active in the American Academy of Religion by directing or leading sections, groups, and in other capacities. Several members of the GTU community have served as presidents of the Academy.

  • John Dillenberger (1987-1988)
  • Judith Berling (1991-1992)
  • Margaret Miles (1997-1998)
  • Laurie Zoloth (2013-2014)

Constituting schools[edit]

Research centers[edit]


Flora Lamson Hewlett Library

The Graduate Theological Union maintains the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, the largest theological library west of the Rockies, and one of the largest theological libraries in the world, with around 509,000 volumes.[2] It has a branch in San Anselmo, housed in the former library of the San Francisco Theological Seminary. Its material acquisitions are coordinated with the University of California Berkeley and Stanford University libraries. Borrowing privileges are available for all three institutions. Furthermore, GTU students are privy to borrowing from the University of Texas, Austin libraries as part of the RCLP agreement between University of California, Berkeley, Stanford University, and UT-Austin. In addition, GTU and UCB students can access the rare and special collections in both institutions' libraries. Altogether, GTU students have ready access to more than 20 million volumes of resources, more than any theological institution in the world.


The National Research Council (NRC) has released a comprehensive assessment of doctoral programs in the United States.[3]

In one independent compilation based on the NRC’s "regression-based" rankings, the GTU appears at No. 22 overall.[4]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable graduates of GTU member schools[edit]

(Acronyms: ABSW: American Baptist Seminary of the West, CDSP: Church Divinity School of the Pacific, DSPT: Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, JST-SCU: Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley, PLTS: Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, PSR: Pacific School of Religion, SFTS: San Francisco Theological Seminary, SKSM: Starr King School for the Ministry)

Notable Faculty[edit]

The GTU's president is Riess W. Potterveld, who previously was president at the Pacific School of Religion and Lancaster Theological Seminary.

The GTU's dean is Arthur Holder, who previously served as Academic Dean at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. His immediate predecessor was Judith Berling, who is professor of Chinese religions at the GTU and was president of the American Academy of Religion in 1990.

Current Faculty[edit]

  • Judith Berling, Professor of Chinese and Comparative Religions. She was formerly Dean of Academic Affairs at the GTU and former President of the American Academy of Religion.
  • Kevin F. Burke, SJ, Associate Professor of Theology at the Jesuit School of Theology. A student of Roger Haight, SJ, his scholarship focuses on Christology, spirituality, and the theology of Ignacio Ellacuria.
  • Eduardo C. Fernandez, SJ, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Ministry at Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley. HIs research focuses on Latina/o theology, social justice, religion and culture, as well as missiology. He was the recipient of the Virgilio Elizondo Award, given by the Academy of Catholic Hispanic Theologians in the United States.
  • Marion S. Grau, Associate Professor of Theology at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. Her wide-ranging, interdisciplinary scholarship ranges from the theology of economics, soteriology, environment, hermeneutics, critical theory, missiology, among others. She is a student of Catherine Keller and Jürgen Moltmann and is involved with a project on theology and pilgrimage in the Faculty of Theology at the University of Oslo.
  • Thomas Massaro, SJ, Dean of Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley and Professor of Moral Theology. His interests focus on Catholic social ethics as it pertains to economic justice, sociology of religion, and the history of Christian political thought.
  • Ted Peters, Lutheran theologian and the Distinguished Research Professor of Systematic Theology at GTU and at the Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. Editor of the Journal of Theology and Science

Former Faculty[edit]

  • John Dillenberger, Professor and President Emeritus, Graduate Theological Union Berkeley, California
  • Tat-Siong "Benny" Liew, currently Class of 1956 Professor of New Testament Studies at College of the Holy Cross. Prior to then, he was Professor of New Testament and Academic Dean at the Pacific School of Religion and a core doctoral faculty member in both the Biblical Studies and Interdisciplinary Studies areas of the GTU.
  • The Rev. Joyce Ann Mercer, currently Arthur Lee Kinsolving Professor of Practical Theology at Virginia Theological Seminary. Prior to then, she was Associate Professor of Practical Theology and Christian Education at San Francisco Theological Seminary and a core doctoral faculty member in the Interdisciplinary Studies Area of the GTU.
  • Lewis S. Mudge, Professor Emertius of Theology (SFTS)


External links[edit]