Graduate Theological Union

Called to Create Leaders

Karen Lebacqz, photo by Cheryl BowlanKaren Lebacqz, GTU professor of ethics for 31 years, now retired, returns to the GTU from the Mendocino coast each spring for Commencement. “When I stand with students at the pre-Commencement reception where they describe their work, I am staggered,” she says. “Staggered by the range of their studies, the resources and energy they bring to their work, and the fact that they really want to make a difference in the world.”

Anyone standing with Karen Lebacqz, might likewise be staggered. In retirement, she is a bioethics consultant, teacher, speaker, minister, feminist, liberation theologian, photographer, quilter, and chorister. She gives glimpses of her life before retirement: While she was teaching, she served in the mid 1970s on the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research — which set the standards for the policies in place today. Then in the mid-1980s, she served at the GTU in the Center for Ethics and Social Policy, which prompted her to study professional ethics for clergy, and she ultimately shifted her perspective to liberation theology. She says, “When I approach a topic,” I ask, “what kind of response on this topic will be the most liberating to people? What will free them to have the most abundant life?”

“My gift comes from a deep sense of gratitude for what I’ve received from the GTU over the years.”

Lebacqz speaks of her career as a “calling.”

“I think about my work not just as scholarship and teaching but about helping people become leaders. What’s remarkable about GTU is it melds high standards of scholarship with an active concern for what’s happening in the world, and a goal, through preparing leaders, to make the world a better place.”

In July 2008, Lebacqz pledged $100,000 to establish the Karen Lebacqz Endowment in Ethics at the GTU. The fund will support and strengthen GTU’s offerings in ethics and social theory. “My gift,” she says, “comes from a deep sense of gratitude for what I’ve received from the GTU over the years. GTU has been an anchor in my life.”

For more information on how to contribute to the GTU, visit:

New Gifts to the GTU

GTU Trustee Dale Walker and his wife, Weixing Xiao, pledged $50,000 in November 2008 to the GTU’s Asia Project. The Asia Project is jointly sponsored by the GTU and the United Board for Christian Higher Education in Asia. The project seeks to transform theological education by addressing Asian theologies and contexts. It furthers the GTU’s mission to educate students for teaching, research, ministry, and service — preparing future global leaders with a knowledge of Asian theologies.

Trustee Dennis Stradford pledged $50,000 in January 2009 to the GTU’s Unrestricted Endowment. The Unrestricted Endowment is an investment in the overall GTU mission. It provides funds for new projects; supports existing programs whose funding may be at risk; and serves as a reserve fund for the GTU’s emerging needs and priorities. Donors who make gifts to the Unrestricted Endowment can be confident that their gifts will make an important difference to students, faculty, and staff. Their gifts extend to the world community, as GTU graduates are making a difference in world of differences and conflict.

Coming in April!

Keep a lookout for GTU Legacy, a newsletter for the GTU community on planned giving at the GTU and new developments in estate planning. There are many ways to create a legacy at the GTU. Visit for more information.

Our staff is happy to answer your questions about how you may create your legacy at the GTU. For a confidential appointment, call Linda Frank, Vice President for Advancement: 510-649-2425 or email her.

Sign up for the new GTU Legacy.