November 21, 2019
I write to provide an update to those constituents keeping CST in their thoughts and prayers as we litigate with The Claremont Colleges, Inc. (“The Colleges”). As stated in a prior update, a judgment was entered in the matter of Claremont School of Theology v. Claremont Graduate University et al., Case No. KC068691 (“Action”), and the judgment was appealed by The Colleges. CST did not appeal the judgment because CST believed that the judgment allowed CST to achieve its goal of receiving market value whenever it decides to sell its property, which CST has owned since 1957. The Colleges’ appeal is still pending and CST is waiting for The Colleges to file its Opening Brief, which has been delayed following The Colleges’multiple requests for extensions of time to file the opening brief totaling over 100 days.
After the judgment, CST filed a motion requesting that the Court order The Colleges and Claremont Graduate University (“CGU”) to pay CST a portion of its attorneys’ fees as the prevailing party on a cross-claim asserted in the Action. We are pleased to announce the that Court granted the motion and ordered The Colleges and CGU to pay CST attorneys’ fees in the amount of $369,811.50. The Colleges and CGU have also appealed this order.
We will continue to provide updates and, as always, we appreciate the support of our constituents in this unfortunate ongoing matter.
May 8, 2019
Dear Willamette University and Claremont School of Theology communities,
It is with pleasure and excitement that we announce that the Boards of Trustees at our respective institutions have jointly approved an affiliation agreement, the next and critical step towards a shared future.
This formal affiliation agreement brings together two institutions that share a common mission to educate students and prepare them for lives that contribute to and transform their communities.
Willamette seeks to be the Northwest’s premier liberal arts university, educating leaders for our region and the world by building distinctive programs that leverage collaborative partnerships between its undergraduate and graduate schools. The Claremont School of Theology (CST) aims to position itself as the foremost theological school in the western United States by providing transformative ecumenical and inter-religious theological education that engages local and global communities.
Together, the two institutions will have immediate opportunities for improving and enhancing student experiences in existing programs. CST students will have the advantage of additional student support services available at a larger university, and Willamette students will have a greater breadth of curricular offerings. But most exciting will be entirely new opportunities for joint and collaborative work in areas of great interest to faculty and students from both institutions.
CST will incrementally move its programs to Salem, and collaborative activities of the two institutions will increase. Work will continue on CST’s planned sale of its California campus, as well as on obtaining the necessary legal, regulatory, and accreditation approvals.
The entire CST faculty is committed to the relocation. However, first to arrive to Salem will be several CST faculty and staff members, who will serve about 120 students in the hybrid (online, low-residency) and residential Master’s programs during the 2019-20 academic year. A much larger relocation of people and programs is planned for the 2020-21 academic year. Active planning has begun for the relocation of the core of CST’s library resources. More information is available here.
The relocation of the internationally-renowned programs of CST to Salem also promises to fundamentally reshape progressive theological education throughout the Pacific Northwest, deepen Willamette’s connection to the diverse faith communities of the region, and strengthen CST’s commitment to serving the western United States. Together, the combined institutions have the potential to add value not only to the experiences of our students, but also to society and the communities in which our graduates live and work.
Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan
President, Claremont School of Theology
Stephen E. Thorsett
President, Willamette University
Letter from President Kuan
January 25, 2019
Judgment was entered in our litigation against Claremont Graduate University and The Claremont Colleges, Inc. In summary, the Judgment, and Statement of Decision underlying the Judgment, allows us to receive fair market value for the sale of our property—clearing the way for us to move forward with next steps for evaluating the proposal to embed CST within Willamette University in Salem, OR.
As part of that evaluation, both CST and Willamette’s Board of Trustees took action in October to affirm mission alignment of our two institutions by signing a joint Memorandum of Understanding.
Like CST, Willamette is made up of students, faculty, and staff from a variety of religious, social, and cultural backgrounds. Our progressive approach to theological education—coupled with our shared commitment to educating students to contribute to and enrich their communities—will enhance academic offerings for students and further both CST’s and Willamette’s missions.
Our Board of Trustees has directed us to continue pursuing due diligence regarding a possible merger, and that work is underway. Although an appeal of today’s court decision is possible, it is unlikely to interfere with our ability to take next steps.
Our goal, upon completing due diligence, is to make final recommendations to our Board of Trustees this spring about the viability of merging our two institutions. Should the financial, legal, and accreditation-related reviews support moving forward, we anticipate reaching an affiliation agreement this spring. We foresee initiating some programs and operations for our students on Willamette’s campus in the fall of 2019. Assuming all goes well, a final merger agreement would be brought to the Board in the spring of 2020.
FAQs are available above.
We will continue to keep you apprised as this work continues and will keep our website updated here.
I am grateful to our Jackson Tidus legal team of Charles Clark, Kathryn Casey, Ron DeFelice, and Chris Green for the outstanding work they have done in navigating through the entire legal process and proceedings. I am also thankful for so many of you who have been steadfast and supportive through this long and arduous process with your prayers and your faith in the school’s mission and future. I know this has not been easy and that our potential move out of southern California is stressful. But I also know we are strong, and I take courage in our resilience, in the hope and callings of our students, and in the continuation of our mission. Together, we can do hard things.
January 24, 2019
Claremont School of Theology Litigation Press Release
January 24, 2019
CLAREMONT SCHOOL OF THEOLOGY PLEASED WITH LITIGATION RESULTS
CLAREMONT, CA— Judgment was entered in Claremont School of Theology’s (CST) litigation against Claremont Graduate University and The Claremont Colleges, Inc., formerly known as Claremont University Consortium (CUC), and related cross-claims. In summary, the Judgment, and Statement of Decision underlying the Judgment, allows CST to receive fair market value if it desires to sell its property.
Charles Clark of Jackson Tidus, CST’s lead attorney, said, “We are very pleased with the judgment. Our overarching goal in pursuing the litigation was for CST to be able to receive fair market value for its property, and I believe this decision allows CST to achieve this goal.”
A dispute between the parties arose, in part, over whether CST’s Property was encumbered by a Right of First Offer Restriction providing that once CST desired to sell its property, it was required to sell the property to CUC for the price CST paid for the property in 1957, plus improvements and property taxes and minus depreciation. The Judgment converted the Right of First Offer to a Right of First Refusal whereby CST is now able to obtain fair market offers from third parties, and CUC has the right to purchase CST’s property for the purchase price and other material economic terms of a third-party offer accepted by CST. If CUC does not want to purchase CST’s property pursuant to the terms of the third-party offer, then CST can close the transaction with the qualified third party.
Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, President of CST, expressed his satisfaction, stating, “This judgment allows us to move forward with our plans to sell the property and work toward an embedding partnership with Willamette University in Salem, OR. That’s what we wanted, and I’m so grateful to our Jackson Tidus legal team of Charles Clark, Kathryn Casey, Ron DeFelice, and Chris Green for the outstanding work they have done in navigating through the entire legal process and proceedings. I am also thankful for the continuing support of our Board of Trustees, faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, donors, and friends through this long and arduous process, and for their faith in the school’s mission and future.”
Established in 1885, Claremont School of Theology is fully recognized and approved as one of thirteen official theological schools of The United Methodist Church, with close relationships with other Protestant denominations, as well as many interreligious partnerships. CST offers graduate level programs, including Master of Arts, Master of Divinity, Doctor of Ministry, and Doctor of Philosophy degrees in religion and practical theology.
Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan
October 5, 2018
Claremont School of Theology Update
October 5, 2018
The complaint that CST filed on Aug. 31, 2016 against CUC and CGU for claims, including quiet title and declaratory relief, and CUC and CGU’s cross-claims against CST, finally came to trial on September 24, 2018. I am happy to report that the trial portion is now over and that all the documents and testimony are in evidence. The parties must each submit Closing Briefs on October 19, 2018. After that, each party will submit a Reply Brief on November 2, 2018.
I wanted to give you general overview of the trial.
Day 1 began on Monday morning, September 24. Our Chair of the Board, Tricia Farris, Game Quan, and Mike Brown were in court, along with our legal team, Charles Clark and Kathryn Casey. Ron DeFelice, a real estate transactional lawyer from Charles and Kathryn’s firm, attended as well.
After opening statements by Charles and the opposing counsel, I was put on the stand. I remained there for the rest of the day and the beginning of Day 2. The opposing counsel took hours to cross-examine me. On Day 2, Game Quan, our VP for Business Affairs/CFO, was called to the stand. His testimony and cross-examination were focused on finances and didn’t take long. Charles then called Dr. Brenda Barham Hill, the former CEO of CUC. Her testimony lasted the remainder of Day 2 and continued on through the morning of Day 3. Charles spent more time questioning her than any other witness, and I believe this was also the case for opposing counsel.
Charles next called Dominic Dutra, who had flown in from vacation in Boston, to take the stand. Dominic’s testimony and cross-examination were not very long, partly because some of the documents he was going to testify about were excluded by the Court. The final witness we called for Day 3 was Stig Lanesskog, the current CEO of CUC. His testimony also did not last long, partly because opposing counsel could not discuss historical documents with Mr. Lanesskog as the Court determined that he lacked sufficient knowledge. On Day 4 Leslie Negitto, the VP of finance and administration and treasurer at CGU, and Jeffrey Slavin, one of our consultants at DCG Strategies, took the stand. Both their testimonies were short. Mr. Slavin was the last live witness to testify. CST put on a number of witnesses through designations from the witnesses’ deposition transcripts. Those designations will come into evidence and be considered the same as if the witnesses testified in Court. CUC and CGU did not call any additional witness to provide live testimony after CST closed its case.
Thereafter, Judge Oki dealt with administrative