Willamette/CST Partnership: Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the questions below for answers to frequently asked questions about a potential partnership between Willamette University and Claremont School of Theology. Additional questions may be directed to willamette-cst@willamette.edu.

  1. What has been decided about Willamette University and Claremont School of Theology (CST)?
  2. Why is CST proceeding with the plan to embed with Willamette University?
  3. What does a due diligence process entail?
  4. How long will the due diligence process last?
  5. Does embedding CST within Willamette mean a move for CST?
  6. Would CST become a third graduate school at Willamette?
  7. Who is coming from CST to Willamette, and where will they be?
  8. Would embedding CST make Willamette more of a “religious school?”
  9. What can you tell me about CST?

1. What has been decided about Willamette University and Claremont School of Theology (CST)?

These two institutions are thoughtfully structuring this as a three-stage process: MOU, affiliation, combination.

The MOU has been in place since February 2019. The affiliation period begins with the signing of the affiliation agreement by the two presidents with the approval of their Boards of Trustees in May 2019.

During the affiliation period, the schools will continue as separate institutions, and some of CST’s operations will move to Willamette University’s campus in Salem, Oregon.  During this period, the schools will continue due diligence (see #3, below), and seek to obtain accreditation approvals and federal approvals for international enrollments; resolution of all pending legal matters; and approval by the California Attorney General the transfer of CST’s assets to Willamette. This may take 2-3 years to complete.

After successful outcome and resolution of matters addressed during the affiliation period, the schools will work to formally establish CST as the third graduate school of Willamette University.


2. Why is CST proceeding with the plan to embed with Willamette University?

Over the past year, CST’s leadership spent a significant amount of time determining a strategy that would set up the school for long term success and best serve its students and faculty. During this process, CST was drawn to Willamette because the two institutions share common values and a commitment to high quality education programs.

CST is known for its theological diversity. While rooted in the Methodist tradition, the school is one of only a handful to be truly inter-faith in its approach. It offers study in Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and other religious practices/traditions.

Like Willamette, CST is made up of students, faculty and staff from a variety of religious, social and cultural backgrounds. More than 40 faiths are represented amongst those studying at the school.

Since 2017, Willamette University and the Claremont School of Theology have been working toward the possibility of CST transitioning from Claremont, California to Willamette’s campus in Salem, Oregon, and the presence of mission alignment has been central to the conversation.  Both institutions work to foster academic excellence and social engagement; both embrace lived cultural diversity and strive to deepen cultural fluency on every level of their institutions; and both seek to expand the global reach of their institutions.

These goals and values create a strong foundation for collaboration.

Willamette values CST’s mission, high-quality degree programs and vibrant faculty. CST believes Willamette’s dedication to quality and values-based approach to education makes the university and Salem, Oregon a good home for CST’s programs. We believe CST embedding in Willamette will enable growth for both CST and Willamette and will enhance the educational experiences of all CST and Willamette students.

The schools are excited about the potential opportunities for collaboration and program development between them.  For instance, the Master of Divinity program may offer possible connections to the MBA programs on campus. Similarly, current Willamette Centers (e.g. Asian Studies and Law and Religion) may find interesting partnerships with CST. We anticipate that additional opportunities will emerge.


3. What does a due diligence process entail?

DueDue diligence is an important process to evaluate whether embedding would be mutually beneficial and successful - strategically, financially and legally. In addition, it is the hope of CST and Willamette to provide opportunities for students, faculty and staff members from both institutions to connect with one another.


4. How long will the due diligence process last?

There is no set timeline for the due diligence process. Both Willamette and CST would like to move expeditiously to ensure there is as little disruption in the student experience as possible. The due diligence process will be ongoing throughout the affiliation period so that the schools can continually evaluate and plan for the ultimate integration of CST’s operations and programs on the Willamette campus. Also, should the combination move forward, both Willamette and CST would like to give as much time as possible to transition CST from California to Oregon.


5. Does embedding CST within Willamette mean a move for CST?

After considerable discussion, it was decided that the most viable financial option is to move CST and co-locate and embed within Willamette University in Salem, Oregon. (See #7, below). As noted above, CST’s progressive approach to theological education would be unique in the Northwest and strengthen Willamette’s commitment to having strong graduate programs as part of its university community.

Additional information about CST and its current status can be found on its “sustainable future” FAQ page.


6. Would CST become a third graduate school at Willamette?

Yes, the schools are planning for CST to ultimately become a third graduate professional school of WU, with a dean, a faculty, staff, and resources to support its operations. During the affiliation period, CST will remain a free-standing graduate professional school, just as it is today. CST's relocation to Salem will enable the two schools to begin exploring possibilities for collaboration, anticipating the time when CST may become a graduate school within Willamette. CST’s degree programs at the graduate level would be offered in a similar manner to the College of Law and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. In addition, CST would bring its own independent faculty and staff as well as financial resources (including its endowment) to support its operations, contribute to central overhead costs and assist with integrating its programs into Willamette University.


7. Who is coming from CST to Willamette, and where will they be?

The Micah building on the corner of State and Cottage will be leased for the core offices of CST at Willamette. Hybrid intensive course sessions will be held on the second floor of the Micah; other classes and events will be incorporated on the main Willamette campus.

In August 2019 CST faculty, staff and students will begin to arrive in Salem. Only CST’s Master's level courses will be in residence in 2019-2020, serving approximately 120 students, between the hybrid (online and low-residency) and residential programs.

All CST faculty are still teaching in all of CST’s programs, and covering both sites giving all students access to all the programs and faculty as they did when CST was only in Claremont. These faculty members will lead the way to Willamette:

These faculty will also be teaching in Salem in hybrid or short course programs:

Additionally, President Kuan, Dean Kujawa-Holbrook, and Associate Dean Belva Brown Jordan will be here portions of the year; some student life, admissions and advancement staff will also be on campus for portions of the year.


8. Would embedding CST make Willamette more of a “religious school?”

Although Willamette University has historic ties to the United Methodist Church, the university is independent and nonsectarian and seeks to provide a vibrant and intellectually stimulating learning environment.

Understanding religion and the role it plays in people’s lives is important to any discipline and has the potential to deepen the academic experience for students and faculty.

The two institutions share a common United Methodist heritage, though they both advocate for the scholarly, interreligious, and ecumenical study and engagement of belief. To read the response of the two Presidents to the recent decisions of the United Methodist Church, please see:


9. What can you tell me about CST?

Additional information about CST and its current status can be found on its “sustainable future” FAQ page and more information about the school is listed below.

https://cst.edu/update-from-the-president/



About Claremont School of Theology:

CST traces its roots to the 1885 founding of Maclay College in California’s San Fernando Valley. The School is celebrating 60 years in Claremont, California, offering graduate level programs, including Master of Art, Masters of Divinity, Doctorate of Ministry and Ph.D. degrees in religion and theology. CST is fully recognized and approved as one of thirteen official theological schools of The United Methodist Church, with close relationships with other Protestant denominations, especially the Disciples of Christ and United Church of Christ, the Episcopal Church, and the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America - as well as interreligious partnerships with Bayan Claremont, an Islamic Graduate Institute; Academy for Jewish Religion, California; and University of the West (Buddhist).

About Willamette University:

Willamette University is a nationally renowned private liberal arts university based in Salem, Oregon. It was founded in 1842 as the first university established in the western United States and commemorated its 175th anniversary in 2017. Today, Willamette enrolls approximately 2,600 students in its undergraduate College of Liberal Arts and in its two graduate schools, the College of Law and the Atkinson Graduate School of Management. The university is recognized for providing students with a challenging, exciting, and engaging classroom experience and a strong emphasis on sustainability, civic engagement and place-based learning.