More than ten years ago Claremont School of Theology (CST) began work to desegregate theological education and to solidify its decades-old interreligious commitment – part of which included partnering with the Islamic Center of Southern California to incubate Bayan Claremont in 2011. Undoubtedly, both institutions have benefited greatly from this partnership during these past 10 years.
As CST continues to work toward embedding with Willamette University (WU) in Salem, OR and becoming the premier theological school in the Western United States, Bayan continues its own work toward accreditation and expanding its influence across the country. This week, in keeping with this growth, Bayan announced a partnership with Chicago Theological School (CTS) to offer both an M.Div. with a concentration in Islamic Chaplaincy as well as a Certificate program.
Jihad Turk, President of Bayan Claremont, said, “Bayan is excited to be offering this program in Chicago, home to a large and historically significant Muslim community. This partnership will raise the profile of Bayan in the midwest and across the country.”
Even though Bayan is partnering with CTS, Bayan has signed a one-year operating agreement with CST that will allow current CST/Bayan students as well as new MA students to continue progress toward their degrees uninterrupted through the 2019-20 academic year.
Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook, CST Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty confirms, “CST is presently working with Bayan to achieve a satisfactory teach-out plan for the 2019-2020 academic year and beyond, and we await both ATS and WASC approval of the plans for Bayan students currently enrolled at CST.”
President Turk has expressed his commitment to ensuring a seamless transition and teach-out at CST, adding, “Bayan is indebted to CST for having the heart and wisdom to pioneer the visionary approach to interreligious education by incubating, hosting, and partnering with Bayan over the past decade. Bayan owes its very existence to CST.”
Additionally, Bayan has begun to explore potential ways to engage with WU, but those negotiations are still in the early phases and Bayan will not be moving any of its degree programs to WU with CST.
Vice President Kujawa-Holbrook says, “CST remains committed to our vision of interreligious theological education and is moving forward to expand that vision as we affiliate with Willamette University. Indeed, one of the attractions of the work of CST to our colleagues at WU is the religious diversity of our students, staff, and faculty, and our interreligious programs. At the present time, CST is doing outreach to religious communities in the Pacific Northwest, including the Muslim and Jewish communities, in an effort to expand our current offerings.”
CST President Jeffrey Kuan adds, “Over the past decade, CST has been enriched and fortified by its interreligious partners – particularly its relationship with Bayan Claremont. We are honored to have been part of the birth of this important school, and we are proud of the work our CST/Bayan alumni/ae are contributing to Islamic scholarship, local communities, and chaplaincy programs across the country. We remain committed to our current and future Muslim students, staff, and faculty and look forward to growing our interreligious education programs in the coming years.”
Bayan will continue operations as usual on the campus of CST for the 2019-20 academic year and the Bayan staff will remotely oversee the operations in Chicago for the coming year.