Graduate Theological Union

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Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley
Other name
Graduate Theological Union
Motto "Where religion meets the world"
Type Private
Established 1962 (1962)
Religious affiliation
Academic affiliation
University of California, Berkeley
Chairman Harold T. Leach, Jr.
President Riess Potterveld
Dean Arthur Holder
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 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 were 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.[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 deans[edit]

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 (2001–2016)

The Dean of the GTU is the chief academic officer of the institution. The dean also chairs the GTU's Council of Deans, composed of the academic deans of consortial member schools. 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.

Council of Presidents and Council of Deans[edit]

Council of Presidents[edit]

  • Riess Potterveld (GTU)
  • Paul M. Martin (ABSW)
  • W. Mark Richardson (CDSP)
  • Peter Rogers, OP (DSPT)
  • Michael E. Engh, SJ (JST)
  • Chris Kimball (PLTS)
  • David Vásquez-Levy (PSR)
  • James L. McDonald (SFTS)
  • Rosemary Bray McNatt (SKSM)

Council of Deans[edit]

  • Arthur Holder (GTU)
  • LeAnn Snow Flesher (ABSW)
  • Ruth Meyers (CDSP)
  • Christopher Renz, OP (DSPT)
  • Thomas Massaro, SJ (JST)
  • Alicia Vargas (PLTS)
  • Bernard Schlager (PSR)
  • Jana Childers (SFTS)
  • Gabriela Lettini (SKSM)

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 houses its own in-house academic journal, 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.

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 R. Miles (1997-1998)
  • Laurie Zoloth (2013-2014)

Henry Luce III Fellows in Theology[edit]

GTU faculty and alumni have been recipients of the prestigious Henry Luce Fellowship, which is supported by the Henry Luce Foundation and administered by the Association of Theological Schools. In the following list, institutions listed indicate the affiliation of the recipient at the time of award.[7]

  • Margaret R. Miles (Harvard Divinity School): "Religion and Values in Contemporary North American Popular Film." (1994-1995)
  • J. Rebecca Lyman (CDSP): "From Error to Disease: Shifting IMages of Theological Dissent and Authority in Ancient Christian Communities" (1996-1997)
  • Judith Berling (GTU): "Entering Other Worlds: Theological Learning and Non-Christian Religions" (2001-2002)
  • Lizette Larson-Miller (CDSP): "Holy Ground: Discerning Sacred Space in Public Places" (2002-2003)
  • Philip L. Wickeri (SFTS): "Reconstructing Christianity in China: K. H. Ting and the Chinese Church" (2005-2006)
  • Jerome Baggett (JST): "Sense of the Faithful: An End and Beginning of American Catholicism" (2006-2007)
  • Mia M. Mochizuki (JST/GTU): "The Netherlandish Print Abroad, 1543-1639: Art, Religion and Economics in the Early Modern World" (2009-2010)
  • Sandra M. Schneiders (JST): "Risen Jesus, Cosmic Christ: Biblical Spirituality in the Gospel of John" (2011-2012)


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.[8] 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.[9] In one independent compilation based on the NRC’s "regression-based" rankings, the GTU appears at No. 22 overall.[10][clarification needed]

Notable alumni[edit]

Art and religion[edit]

Biblical studies[edit]

Christian spirituality[edit]

Cultural and historical studies of religions[edit]

Ethics and Social Theory[edit]



Interdisciplinary Studies[edit]

Liturgical studies[edit]

Psychology and religion[edit]

Systematic and Philosophical Theology[edit]


Notable graduates of GTU member schools[edit]

American Baptist Seminary of the West[edit]

Church Divinity School of the Pacific[edit]

Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology[edit]

Jesuit School of Theology of Santa Clara University[edit]

Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary[edit]

  • Marva J. Dawn (Th.M.), internationally renowned Evangelical writer and speaker
  • George E. Tinker (M.Div.), Clifford Baldridge Professor of American Indian Cultures and Religious Traditions at Iliff School of Theology

Pacific School of Religion[edit]

  • Bishop Wilbur Choy (M.Div.), first Asian American Bishop in the United Methodist Church.
  • Dorothy Donnelly (Th.D. 1973). A Roman Catholic nun, she was the first full-time female professor of theology at the Jesuit School of Theology.[38]
  • Bishop Yvette Flunder, (M.Div.), founder of the City of Refugee and Chair of the San Francisco Inter-religious Coalition on AIDS
  • Rev. M. Linda Jaramillo, (M.Div.), executive minister of the United Church of Christ Justice and Witness Ministries and a member of the UCC Collegium of Officers.[39]
  • Rev. John Kemper (D.Min.), Provincial Superior of the US Province of the Society of Saint-Sulpice.
  • Hon. Victoria Kolakowski, (M.Div.), Alameda County Superior Court judge; first openly transgender trial judge in the United States.
  • Rt. Rev. Christopher Lowson (S.T.M., 1976), the 72nd Bishop of Lincoln.[40]
  • 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.
  • Traci C. West (M.Div.), James W. Pearsall Professor of Christian Ethics and African American Studies at Drew University Theological School
  • Thomas V. Wolfe (M.Div.), President and Bishop Henry White Warren Professor of Leader and Ministry Praxis at Iliff School of Theology[41]

San Francisco Theological Seminary[edit]

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 previously was president at the Pacific School of Religion and Lancaster Theological Seminary.

The GTU's 6th and current dean is Arthur Holder, who previously served as Academic Dean at the Church Divinity School of the Pacific. One of his predecessors was Judith Berling, who is professor of Chinese religions at the GTU and was president of the American Academy of Religion in 1990.

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. Thus, the GTU arguably possesses the largest faculty in religious and theological studies in the world, with more than 50 members.

Current core doctoral faculty[edit]

Former faculty[edit]

Distinguished lectures and awards[edit]

Distinguished Faculty Lecture[edit]

Since 1976, GTU faculty annually nominates a consortial faculty member that embodies the scholarly standards, teaching excellence, and interdisciplinary and ecumenical ethos, all of which are represented in the GTU. Nominations are first considered by the Council of Deans, comprising the academic deans of all GTU seminaries.[49]

  • 1976: Massey H. Shepherd (CDSP)
  • 1977: Bernard Loomer, (GTU)
  • 1978: Michael J. Buckley, SJ (JST)
  • 1979: Karen Lebacqz (PSR)
  • 1980: Kenan B. Osborne, OFM (FST)
  • 1981: Robert J. Goeser (PLTS)
  • 1982: Claude Welch (GTU)
  • 1983: Robert McAfee Brown (PSR)
  • 1984: William R. Herzog (SFTS)
  • 1985: Benjamin A. Reist (SFTS)
  • 1986: Clare Benedicks Fischer (SKSM)
  • 1987: Sandra M. Schneiders, IHM (JST)
  • 1988: Daniel C. Matt (CJS, GTU)
  • 1989: John R. Donahue, SJ (JST)
  • 1990: Ted Peters (PLTS)
  • 1991: Durwood Foster (PSR)
  • 1992: Antoinette Wire (SFTS)
  • 1993: Mary Ann Donovan, SC (JST)
  • 1994: John Hilary Martin, OP (DSPT)
  • 1995: John Coleman, SJ (JST)
  • 1996: J. Rebecca Lyman (CDSP)
  • 1997: Eldon Ernst (ABSW)
  • 1998: Martha Ellen Stortz (PLTS)
  • 1999: Archie Smith (PSR)
  • 2000: Judith Berling (GTU)
  • 2001: Robert J. Russell (CTNS, GTU)
  • 2002: Alejandro Garcia-Rivera (JST)
  • 2003: Lewis S. Mudge (SFTS)
  • 2004: Barbara Green (DSPT)
  • 2005: Gina Hens-Piazza (JST)
  • 2006: L. William Countryman (CDSP)
  • 2007: Richard Gula, SS (FST)
  • 2008: Fumitaka Matsuoka (PSR)
  • 2009: Philip L. Wickeri (SFTS)
  • 2010: Arthur Holder (GTU)
  • 2011: Mary Ann Tolbert (PSR)
  • 2012: James Noel (SFTS)
  • 2013: William Short, OFM (FST)
  • 2014: Christopher Ocker (SFTS)
  • 2015: William O'Neill (JST)

Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award[edit]

The Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award was funded by a gift from the Sarlo Foundation and is given annually to a member of the core doctoral faculty whose teaching and mentoring of doctoral students embodies the values of interreligious dialogue and interdisciplinary approach to teaching. A monetary award is accompanied with this award, along with an announcement at the GTU Commencement.

  • 2003: Judith Berling (GTU)
  • 2004: Fumitaka Matsuoka (PSR)
  • 2005: Clare Fischer (SKSM)
  • 2006: Doug Adams (PSR)
  • 2007: Gina Hens-Piazza (JST)
  • 2008: Jerome P. Baggett (JST)
  • 2009: Lewis Rambo (SFTS)
  • 2010: Alejandro Garcia-Rivera (JST)
  • 2011: Ron Nakasone (IBS)
  • 2012: Boyung Lee (PSR)
  • 2013: Mia Mochizuki (GTU/JST)
  • 2014: William O'Neill (JST)
  • 2015: Munir Jiwa (GTU)

Reading of the Sacred Texts Lectures[edit]

Sponsored by the Friends of the GTU's Library, the annual lecture invites a speaker connected with a "sacred text" in the broadest sense of the term. Speakers are invited to reflect on the concept in a public lecture held every spring.

  • 1993: John Pairman Brown (GTU, Visiting Scholar)
  • 1994: Barbara Oliver (actress)
  • 1995: Robert W. Funk (CDSP)
  • 1996: Ronald Nakasone (PSR)
  • 1997: Huston Smith (UC-Berkeley)
  • 1998: Margaret R. Miles (GTU)
  • 1999: Jerald C. Brauer (University of Chicago)
  • 2000: Nora Marks and Richard Dauenhauer (poets)
  • 2001: Snjezana Veljacic-Akpinar (Dharma Realm Buddhist University)
  • 2002: Luise Schottroff (PSR/GTU)
  • 2003: Rabbi Lawrence Kushner (Congregation Emanu-El, San Francisco)
  • 2004: Hon. John T. Noonan (US Circuit Judge, 9th Circuit Court of Appeals)
  • 2005: Choan-Seng Song (PSR)
  • 2006: Mia Mochizuki (JST/GTU)
  • 2007: Luis Valdez (playwright, writer)
  • 2008: Clifford Cranna (San Francisco Opera)
  • 2009: Nargis Virani (New School University)
  • 2010: Robert Alter (UC-Berkeley)
  • 2011: John P. Meier (University of Notre Dame)
  • 2012: Jonathan L. Reed (University of La Verne)
  • 2013: Arthur Holder (GTU)
  • 2014: Ted Peters and Robert John Russell (CTNS/GTU)
  • 2015: Ven. Thepo Rinpoche (Tibetan Association of Northern California)
  • 2016: Rita Sherma (GTU)

Surjit Singh Lecture in Comparative Religious Thought and Culture[edit]

  • 1991: Surjit Singh (SFTS)
  • 1992: Howard Eilberg-Schwartz (Stanford University)
  • 1993: Huston Smith (Syracuse University)
  • 1994: Wendy Doniger (University of Chicago)
  • 1995: John Cobb (Claremont School of Theology)
  • 1996: Judith Berling (GTU)
  • 1997: Seyyed Hossein Nasr (George Washington University)
  • 1998: Veer Bhadra Mishra (Banaras Hindu University)
  • 1999: Diana Eck (Harvard University)
  • 2000: Pandit Chitresh Das (Chhandam School of Kathak Dance)
  • 2001: Nancy Scheper-Hughes (UC-Berkeley)
  • 2002: Zhuo Xinping (Chinese Academy of Social Sciences)
  • 2003: S. Nomanul Haq (University of Pennsylvania)
  • 2004: Joanna Williams (UC-Berkeley)
  • 2005: Felix Wilfred (University of Madras)
  • 2006: Laurel Kendall (American Museum of Natural History)
  • 2008: Omid Safi (University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill)
  • 2009: Shibley Telhami (University of Maryland, College Park)
  • 2010: Anri Morimoto (International Christian University, Japan)
  • 2011: Kate McCarthy (California State University - Chico)
  • 2012: Robert Bellah (UC-Berkeley)
  • 2013: Jennifer Howe Peace (Andover Newton Theological Seminary)
  • 2015: Anantanand Rambachan (St. Olaf College)


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  18. ^ a b "Jerome P. Baggett". Graduate Theological Union. 
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  28. ^ "Jeanette Rodriguez, PhD". 
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  33. ^ "Nancy Pineda-Madrid". 
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  45. ^ "The Center for Women and Religion Collection". Graduate Theological Union. 
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External links[edit]