Graduate Theological Union

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Graduate Theological Union at Berkeley
Other name
Graduate Theological Union
Motto Where religion meets the world
Established 1962 (1962)
Type Private
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
Campus University of California, Berkeley

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.


  • 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)


  • 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 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 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.[2]

  • 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)

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.[4] 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.[5]

In one independent compilation based on the NRC’s "regression-based" rankings, the GTU appears at No. 22 overall.[6]

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

Pacific School of Religion[edit]

  • Bishop Wilbur Choy (M.Div.), first Asian American Bishop in the United Methodist Church.
  • Bishop Yvette Flunder, (M.Div.), founder of the City of Refugee and Chair of the San Francisco Inter-religious Coalition on AIDS
  • 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.[27]
  • 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 of Iliff School of Theology

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 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.

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 faculty[edit]

  • Jerome Baggett, Professor of Religion and Society at the Jesuit School of Theology.
  • Judith Berling, Professor of Chinese and Comparative Religions. She was the 4th Academic Dean of 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.
  • Thomas Cattoi, Dwan Family Professor in Ecumenical and Interfaith Dialogue and Associate Professor of Christology at the Jesuit School of Theology. A student of Francis X. Clooney, his research focuses on patristics and Christian-Buddhist dialogue.
  • 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.
  • Arthur Holder, Academic Dean and Dillenberger Professor of Christian Spirituality at the GTU.
  • Munir Jiwa, Associate Professor of Islamic Studies and Founding Director of the Center for Islamic Studies at the GTU.
  • Boyung Lee, Associate Professor of Practical Theology, Education and Spiritual Formation at the Pacific School of Religion. She was a student of Thomas H. Groome of Boston College, and directs the Asian-Pacific Islanders Initiative and Changemakers Fellowship Programs at PSR.
  • 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.
  • Ronald Y. Nakasone, Professor of Buddhist Art and Culture
  • William O'Neill, SJ, Associate Professor of Social Ethics at the Jesuit School of Theology
  • Richard Payne, Dean and Professor of Buddhist Studies at the Institute for Buddhist Studies.
  • 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
  • Naomi Seidman, Koret Foundation Professor of Jewish Culture and Director of the Richard Dinner Center for Jewish Studies at the GTU.

Former faculty[edit]

  • John Dillenberger, Professor and President Emeritus, Graduate Theological Union Berkeley, California
  • Marion S. Grau, currently Professor of Systematic Theology and Missiology at MF Norwegian School of Theology, director of the Egede Institute, and editor of the Norwegian Journal of Missiology. Prior to her position, she was Associate Professor of Systematic Theology at Church Divinity School of the Pacific and member of the core doctoral faculty.
  • Mia M. Mochizuki, currently Associate Professor of the History of Art at New York University Abu Dhabi and the Institute of Fine Arts. Prior to then, she was the Thomas E. Bertelsen, Jr. Associate Professor of Art History and Religion, a position co-sponsored by the GTU and the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley.
  • Cheryl Kirk-Duggan, currently Professor of Theology and Ethics at Shaw University. Prior to then she was director of the Center for Women and Religion at the GTU.[32]
  • 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.
  • 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, Stuart Professor Emeritus of Theology (SFTS). He was professor in the faculty of Religion and Philosophy at Amherst College before joining the faculty and serving as dean at McCormick Theological Seminary until 1987 when he moved to SFTS. Mudge died in 2009.[33]

Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award[edit]

The Sarlo Execllence 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)


  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. 
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  23. ^ "Ellen Wondra elected to World Council of Churches commission". Episcopal News Service. 
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