Graduate Theological Union
Kathleen Kook helps shape a dynamic, groundbreaking community
Despite the diversity among the students of incoming classes, they all share one thing in common: Kathleen Kook has been the gateway for their matriculation at GTU. But her responsibility as Associate Dean for Admissions doesn’t stop there. She and her team personally respond throughout the year to all those who inquire about the GTU. Then Kook walks prospective students through the application process and helps them decide what area and program best suits their situation and interests -- an honor according to Kook. She believes that the Admissions department’s strength derives from intentional personal attention to applicants and warmth in receiving them into the community fold. But she says, “The whole GTU is part of the Admissions team,” acknowledging the participation of the many “extraordinary” faculty members and current students who engage prospective students. Kook says that following a scholarly path is a momentous decision, and one of her goals is to ease the transition.
Just as many GTU students arrive here following a personal, spiritual journey, Kook arrived by a similar path. During her doctoral studies in history at University of California, Berkeley, she was drawn to understand the experience of the early North American settlers seeking to live out their religious commitments by venturing to a “new” world. She worked at The Hunger Project — a non-profit agency dedicated to ending hunger and poverty through educational initiatives — following graduation. After a career in freelance writing, Kook brought her interests in education, religion, and meditation to the GTU in 1991 to work in communications. Former Academic Dean Judith Berling recognized that Kook’s interests and skills could fit well in Student Services, and, in 1993, Kook transferred to Admissions.
Kook says Admissions is always fascinating, due to the continual influx of new and different people. She was recognized in December as the Staff Person of the Year, for her work with faculty, students, and staff throughout the consortium, not just in finding a place for new students, but in helping to create an environment engaged in groundbreaking forms of religious study and dialogue. The creative work which takes place at the GTU occurs while students are here and continues after they leave. A regenerative and progressive cycle where teaching alumni send their students to GTU for graduate studies encourages Kook in her work that shapes this dynamic community.