Willamette University, Claremont School of Theology to explore partnership

Willamette University President Steve Thorsett and Claremont School of Theology (CST) President Jeffrey Kuan announced in July 2017 that the two schools would begin the due diligence process to explore moving and embedding CST within Willamette University on its campus in Salem, Oregon.

“Willamette and CST are both excellent schools with much in common – a focus on quality, and a mission to educate students and prepare them for lives that contribute to and transform their communities,” said Thorsett. “Embedding CST at Willamette is an exciting opportunity to bring CST’s progressive approach to theological education to the Northwest, strengthen both institutions and support Willamette’s role as a liberal arts university with strong graduate programs.”

“CST is experiencing a period of enrollment and programmatic growth – and an opportunity to become part of Willamette has the potential of sustaining and supporting this momentum,” said Kuan. “I believe CST’s world-class faculty and our approach to theological education – with people of many faiths learning and living side-by-side – is an excellent addition to Willamette’s own dynamic community.”

The two institutions see a number of opportunities in partnering that would use the expertise of their faculties, as well as add to the experience of students.

  • Embedding CST at Willamette adds curricular and co-curricular programs for undergraduate students, and creates expanded options for graduate study.
  • Some of CST’s graduate programs could also pair with Willamette’s existing graduate programs – a graduate school of management and a college of law – as well as deepen coursework, research and connections with Willamette’s faculty and students at all levels of study.
  • Embedding also allows CST to reduce overhead, more efficiently address the rising costs of higher education, and focus on student scholarship rather than maintaining an aging campus. Moving from Southern California gives CST the resources to continue their programs in Oregon and contribute to shared overhead costs.

The Schools are working on a timeline for the due diligence process, and faculty, staff, students and alumni from both institutions are expected to be able to connect with one another and share experiences as part of the process.

About Willamette University:

Willamette University is a nationally renowned private liberal arts university based in Salem, Oregon and founded in 1842 as the first university established in the western United States. Today Willamette enrolls approximately 2,600 students in its undergraduate College of Liberal Arts (CLA) 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.

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, Doctor of Ministry and Ph.D. degrees in religion and practical 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).

Willamette President Stephen Thorsett

Willamette University President Steve Thorsett

CST President Jeffrey Kuan

CST President Jeffrey Kuan

Willamette University

Claremont School of Theology

For questions about CST courses and programs contact Stephanie Rice


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