Graduate Theological Union

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Graduate Theological Union
Other name
Graduate Theological Union
Motto "Where religion meets the world"
Type Private
Established 1962 (1962)
Religious affiliation
Ecumenical and interreligious
Academic affiliation
University of California, Berkeley
Chairman Susan Cook Hoganson
President Riess Potterveld
Dean Judith A. Berling
Dean of Students Kathleen Kook
Academic staff
Students 245[1]
Location Berkeley, California
37°52′32″N 122°15′43″W / 37.875524°N 122.262079°W / 37.875524; -122.262079Coordinates: 37°52′32″N 122°15′43″W / 37.875524°N 122.262079°W / 37.875524; -122.262079

The Graduate Theological Union (GTU) is a consortium of eight private 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 has established a relationship with the University of California, Berkeley that allows 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 campus of University of California, Berkeley, with the majority north of the campus in a neighborhood known as "Holy Hill" due to the cluster of GTU seminaries and centers located there.

History and administration[edit]

Many of the GTU's constituent seminaries were established at various locations throughout the Bay Area in the early 20th or even the late 19th centuries. Because of 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.[2]

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.[3]

Presidents and academic deans[edit]


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

Academic deans[edit]

  • Sherman E. Johnson (1962–1963)
  • John Dillenberger (1963–1971)
  • Claude Welch (1971–1987)
  • Judith Berling (1987–1996; interim, 2016)
  • Margaret Miles (1996–2001)
  • Arthur Holder (2001–2016)
  • Uriah Kim (2017–present)

The dean of the GTU is the chief academic officer. The dean also chairs the GTU's council of deans composed of the academic deans of consortial member schools. Traditionally, deans have held the John Dillenberger Professorship in their general field of specialization. The fifith dean, Margaret Miles, was the John Dillenberger Professor of Historical Theology while the sixth dean, Arthur Holder, was the John Dillenberger Professor of Christian Spirituality.

Member seminaries and research centers[edit]

Consortial seminaries[edit]

Affiliated research centers[edit]


The GTU offers Doctor of Philosophy cooperatively with the University of California at Berkeley and Doctor of Theology and Master of Arts programs in cooperation with its member seminaries. GTU consortial seminaries variously offer M.Th., M.Div, Doctor of Ministry, S.T.B., S.T.L., and S.T.D. degrees. Ph.D. students are encouraged not only to take advantage of the academic resources available to them at the University of California at Berkeley, but are required to include a non-GTU scholar in their exams or dissertation committees. As such, students have collaborated with UC-B faculty members in the anthropology, critical theory, ethnic studies, history, philosophy, sociology, etc. departments.

There are four doctoral departments, with more than 30 concentrations, encompassing the breadth of religious and theological scholarship at the GTU. The Sacred Texts and Interpretation department focuses on Hebrew Bible, New Testament, Rabbinic Literature, and studies in the sacred texts of Islamic and Hindu traditions. Historical and Cultural Studies of Religions encompasses studies in history of religions, art and religion, interreligious studies, and sociology of religion. Theology and Ethics focuses on theological and ethical reflections in the Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and Hindu traditions. Other concentrations include comparative theology/ethics, philosophical theology, theology and science, and aesthetics. Religion and Practice focuses on homiletics, liturgical studies, missiology, practical theology, and religious education.

The GTU also offers certificates in specialized studies including the following:

  • Asian and Oceanic Cultures and Faith Traditions
  • Black Church/Africana Religious Studies
  • Hindu Studies
  • Islamic Studies
  • Jewish Studies
  • Orthodox Christian Studies
  • Buddhist Chaplaincy
  • 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. Cross-registration opportunities are also available for GTU students at Dominican University of California, Holy Names University, and Mills College. Additionally, students can participate in international exchange programs with the University of Heidelberg, Catholic University of Eichstatt-Ingolstadt, the Indonesian Consortium for Religious Studies, Ryukoku University in Japan, and the Dharma Drum University in Taiwan.[5]

Berkeley Journal of Religion and Theology[edit]

The GTU's in-house academic journal is the Berkeley Journal of Religion and Theology.[6] The journal is managed by current doctoral students, although peer-reviewers include members of the consortial doctoral faculty. It publishes many of the lectures occurring throughout the year around the consortium, as well as several original articles and book reviews. Occasionally, special issues are commissioned to celebrate important milestones in the life of the GTU. The journal welcomes submissions from scholars from and outside of the GTU, and publishes one regular issue a year. All issues are available free online.


Although the GTU consortium occupies many buildings throughout the Bay Area, only three buildings are owned by the GTU. The largest of the buildings is the Flora Lamson Hewlett Library, the largest theological library west of the Rocky Mountains, and one of the largest theological libraries in the world, with around 509,000 volumes.[7] 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 building has three floors. The main stacks and other library services occupy the bottom two floors, while the top floor house GTU administrative offices and the Richard Dinner Board Room, used for lectures and other campus-wide events.

The GTU's Le Conte Building, located on 2465 Le Conte Avenue, is a "student services building". Two study spaces are available: a basement study space and a much larger lounge on the first floor. The lounge is often used for student events and campus workshops. A mezzanine floor contains examination rooms. Administrative and faculty offices, as well as the HEDCO Seminar Room, occupy the second and third floors. The building is home to the GTU's Center for Jewish Studies, located on the second floor.

The GTU Annex, located behind the Le Conte Building, is home to the Center for Islamic Studies, the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences, the Shingal Center for Dharma Studies, and other GTU administrative offices.

Points of interest[edit]


The National Research Council (NRC) has released a comprehensive assessment of doctoral programs in the United States.[8] In one independent compilation based on the NRC's "regression-based" rankings, the GTU appears at No. 22 overall.[9][clarification needed]

Notable alumni[edit]

Notable graduates of GTU member schools[edit]

Church Divinity School of the Pacific[edit]

  • Ellen K. Wondra (M.Div.), research professor of theology and ethics at Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation and member of the World Council of Churches Commission on Faith and Order.[12]

Pacific School of Religion[edit]

  • Bishop Yvette Flunder, (M.Div.), founder of the City of Refugee and Chair of the San Francisco Inter-religious Coalition on AIDS
  • The Rt. Rev. Christopher Lowson (S.T.M., 1976), the 72nd Bishop of Lincoln.[13]
  • Robert John Russell (M.Div.), Ian Barbour Professor of Theology at the Graduate Theological Union and Director of the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences.

San Francisco Theological Seminary[edit]

  • The Rev. Glenda Hope, founder of San Francisco Network Ministries. Her work among the homeless in San Francisco's Tenderloin district has earned her recognition by the Dalai Lama as an Unsung Hero of Compassion and U.S. Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey.[14]
  • Bishop Yvette Flunder, founder of the City of Refugee and Chair of the San Francisco Inter-religious Coalition on AIDS
  • The Rev. Bruce Reyes-Chow, Moderator of the 218th General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church (USA)[15]

Starr King School for the Ministry[edit]

  • The Rev. Robert Fulghum, author of eight best-selling books of non-fiction, including All I Really Need To Know I Learned in Kindergarten and It Was On Fire When I Lay Down On It


The GTU's 7th and current president is Riess W. Potterveld, who had been president at the Pacific School of Religion and Lancaster Theological Seminary.

The GTU's 7th and current dean is Uriah Y. Kim, who had served as Academic Dean at Hartford Seminary. His predecessors include Arthur Holder, who previously served as Academic Dean at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. He received his Ph.D. from the GTU in 2004 in Biblical Studies.

The GTU draws its consortial faculty from its constituent seminaries and centers. Although faculty members are employed at their respective seminaries and centers, they commit to supervising doctoral and masters students, as well as occasionally teaching GTU-wide courses.

Among the current faculty are Aaron Brody, John Klentos, Christopher Ocker, Ted Peters, and Robert John Russell.

Former faculty members include David Alexander, John Dillenberger, Roy I. Sano, and Choan Seng Song.


  1. ^ a b "Graduate Theological Union". ATS. The Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada The Commission on Accrediting. Retrieved 30 May 2015. 
  2. ^ "History of the GTU". Graduate Theological Union. 
  3. ^ "Library History". Graduate Theological Union. 
  4. ^ "Swedenborgian House of Studies". Retrieved 2015-08-25. 
  5. ^
  6. ^
  7. ^ "2013–2014 Annual Data Tables" (PDF). Retrieved 2015-08-25. 
  8. ^ "A Data-Based Assessment of Research-Doctorate Programs in the United States". 
  9. ^ "Religion Rankings - Graduate School Guide". 
  10. ^ "FSI - CISAC - Eileen Chamberlain Donahoe". 
  11. ^ "Murphy, Nancey :: Faculty :: Fuller". 
  12. ^ "Ellen Wondra elected to World Council of Churches commission". Episcopal News Service. 
  13. ^ "Alum Class Notes - Pacific School of Religion". 
  14. ^ larry pickard. "HOPE in San Francisco's Tenderloin". San Francisco Theological Seminary. 
  15. ^ [1] Archived February 6, 2015, at the Wayback Machine.

External links[edit]