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Kathleen Kook helps shape a dynamic, groundbreaking community

Kathleen KookDespite 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.

Lewis Rambo - 2009 Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award Recipient

Lewis RamboA Godsend. A delight. A surprise. Humbling. These are Lewis Rambo’s words, describing his feelings as the 2009 recipient of the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award. The award recognizes the values of interreligious sensitivity and commitment, interdisciplinary approach and content in teaching, sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, and creative classroom pedagogical methods and performance.

Why humbling? “Because,” Rambo says, “at this stage in the 30th year of my career at the GTU, I know how much I don’t know.”

MA student Adam Strater receives Haas/Koshland Memorial Award from Jewish Community Endowment Fund

Center for Jewish Studies (CJS) MA student Adam Strater has been awarded the prestigious Haas/Koshland Memorial Award from the Jewish Community Endowment Fund of the Jewish Community Federation of San Francisco, Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. The award provides the opportunity for a student to spend one year in Israel engaged in study and personal development.
Strater is the second student from the CJS MA program to receive the Haas/Koshland Memorial Award, following Luke Noach Dzmura who received the honor in 2006.

Erin Brigham, PhD student in Systematic and Philosophical Theology, continually explores how other fields may contribute to her work in ecumenism

Erin BrighamThe journey which led PhD student Erin Brigham from her general interest in Religious Studies at Alverno College in Milwaukee, Wisconsin to her current dissertation topic was shaped by questions and detours along the pathway. Like many who travel in theological discourse, she began pursuing answers to the big questions theology attempts to answer — those of meaning and purpose. She landed at the Jesuit School of Theology at Berkeley as a Systematic and Philosophical Theology MA student, and then she fell in love with the works of Elizabeth A. Johnson. Johnson’s premise that the symbol of God functions in community led Brigham to recognize that Christians have a social responsibility for how we talk about God.

State of the GTU

Dear Friends of the Graduate Theological Union,
The financial and economic crisis facing our nation has presented challenges for the GTU as well as for many other institutions and for many people in their personal lives. Many GTU friends, alumni, and staff have asked about how GTU is faring and what people can do to help. We are so grateful that our well being is on your minds and in your hearts. We especially thank those, who in this difficult time, are stepping forward to support our students and the unique interreligious programs that make us the most diverse partnership of graduate schools in the United States.

Consortial Registrar Sharon-Gay Smith Leaves GTU after 37 Years

“My job isn’t a job. It’s a ministry. And the GTU has given me community and allowed me to practice my ministry.”

Sharon-Gay SmithThat’s what Sharon-Gay Smith says of her 37 years of work at the Graduate Theological Union. In return, from 1971 when she worked the GTU’s PBX system (remember those?) and typed transcripts by hand, to 1989 when she became common registrar, to 2008, Smith has given the GTU her loyalty. Day in and day out, she has given students down-to-earth, day-to-day practical help, ranging from advice about where to find affordable housing to how to register for classes.

Learning to Speak a New Tongue: Imagining a Way that Holds People Together

Fumitaka Matsuoka"Who are we as Americans? What will bring people together as Americans today and tomorrow?" Fumitaka Matsuoka attempts to answer these questions in the 2008 GTU Distinguished Faculty Lecture on November 11.

Holger Zellentin, Assistant Professor of Rabbinics and Late Antique Judaism, anticipates community outreach and interreligious collaboration

Holger ZellentinA member of the faculty of the Center for Jewish Studies, Holger Zellentin celebrates the center’s 40th birthday.  He believes that CJS is a pioneering institution with a bright future as it faces new challenges, one of them being adapting to the evolving needs of the GTU’s students, and surrounding community.  He hopes to see more community outreach as a means of growing the center.  In addition, Zellentin would like to see more collaboration among academic institutions, especially between GTU and the University of California, Berkeley.  CJS is focusing on working with the Center for Islamic Studies for interreligious events, the first this year being a co-celebration of Rosh Hashanah and Eid al-Fitr.

Joan McGrath Set To Not Just Survive, But Thrive

Joan McGrathJoan McGrath, chair of the Graduate Theological Union board of trustees, is fascinated by the power of groups to survive and thrive -- the first Christians whose tiny movement grew to today’s two billion; her own successful company built on teamwork and caring ethics; and the GTU, founded by people of distinct faiths committed to learning about one another and bringing a healing message to a world in need. 

Jerome Baggett Wins 2008 Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award

Jerome BaggettSnake-handling Pentecostals in Appalachia, Muslim feminists in the Middle East, and leaders in the Central American peace movement: These are a few of the many religious groups Jerome Baggett encourages his students to explore and “to see.” Baggett is the 2008 recipient of the Sarlo Excellence in Teaching Award, which recognizes the values of interreligious sensitivity and commitment, interdisciplinary approach and content in teaching, sensitivity to ethnic and cultural diversity, and creative classroom pedagogical methods and performance.

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