Update From The President

Update From The President 2017-11-14T23:49:57+00:00

Due Diligence with Willamette University Continues

November 9, 2017

Faculty

September and October were filled with cultural, intellectual, and social exchanges on the beautiful Willamette campus. Faculty were given two opportunities to visit Salem, tour the campus, and have quality exchanges with Willamette faculty and staff. Willamette was a gracious host, leading tours and providing table fellowship with each group.

Rev. Dr. Kathleen Black, Gerald Kennedy Professor of Homiletics & Liturgics writes in her review, “It is clear that embedding CST in Willamette University will be financially beneficial to the school and therefore enable our mission to continue long into the 21st century and that the mission of Willamette is very much in sync with our own. We wholeheartedly affirmed the quotes around the tower outside the library – for example, ‘Knowledge is the Preface of Peace’. A University setting will also be advantageous for our PhD students (classes in cognitive studies, opportunities for teaching assistant positions at the undergraduate level, etc.) and it is clear that a primary reason Willamette wants CST to move there is for our ‘intellectual capital’ and our PhD programs.”

Read Dr. Black’s full reflection

Alumni and Supporters

An alumni event was held on the Willamette campus, giving our alumni/ae and supporters a taste of what it might be like to have CST in their neighborhood. Attendees participated in an insightful, inspiring discussion led by Dr. Frank Rogers, Muriel Bernice Roberts Professor of Spiritual Formation and Narrative Pedagogy. President Kuan updated those in attendance on the latest discussions with Willamette. Alumni/ae expressed support, recognizing that the Claremont property is no longer providing what we need and is a consistent drain on finances.

Board of Trustees

The CST Board of Trustees’ October meeting was held on the Willamette campus giving trustees opportunity to tour the campus and meet the mayor and city manager of Salem, who provided an overview of the attributes and goals of the city as well as engaged in conversation about shared values and potential collaborations. President Stephen Thorsett and his wife, Dr. Rachel Dewey Thorsett, welcomed us with a dinner party which allowed board members to meet and fellowship with representatives from the Willamette board. President Thorsett addressed the trustees earlier that day sharing his vision, what he perceived as our compatibility and their work in the due diligence process.

Dr. Marcelino Calimlim, trustee, reflects on his experience in Salem: “When I came to attend the board meeting on October 18-19, 2017, I did not have much preparation. I just came with open eyes, open ears, and an open mind. Honestly, I did not have much of an expectation either. To my surprise, it seems like the whole town of Salem and the whole university warmly greeted us with an overwhelming—Welcome.”

Read Dr. Calimlim’s full reflection

Due Dilligence Task Forces

In July 2017, President Kuan and the board of trustees formed four task forces to perform the work necessary to prepare for potential negotiations with Willamette. These taskforces are composed of board members, former board members, faculty and the executive team. The four taskforces are:

  1. Academic
  2. Governance
  3. Finance
  4. Facilities

Dr. Andrew Dreitcer, Associate Professor of Spirituality, Director of Spiritual Formation accepted the task of overseeing and coordinating the work of all four task forces so that the work is done collaboratively and information does not become siloed. Dr. Dreitcer has become an invaluable asset to the process and his leadership has facilitated significant progress.

Update on the Due Diligence Task Forces from Dr. Andrew Dreitcer

The four task forces have gathered and processed an extraordinary amount of information from a wide range of sources in a very short period of time. We now know the significant issues, commitments, and challenges that lie ahead, and have established processes for addressing these. Through their hard work, the Trustees, faculty members, and staff members on the task forces have given us a clear way forward for our potential collaboration with Willamette University.

Updates

November, 8 2017

Dear Friends,

November, 9, 2017.
I know that all of you have been anxious about the summary judgment hearing. In spite of my travels, I have been in touch and in conversation with our legal counsels and the Chair of our Board. Here is an update of where we are in the litigation.

The court issued a Tentative Ruling, prior to the day that the formal hearing on the Motion for Summary Judgment was scheduled. This is not uncommon; it in fact gives one a fair amount of insight into what can be expected from the judge on the day of the hearing.

Surprisingly, the court was attempting to find a way to avoid the analysis which would be required for the complicated issues of this motion. The court then went on to state that it was a “very complicated matter to rule on, and would be difficult to dispose of by way of summary judgment.”

Actually, according to the statute describing summary judgments, that is precisely what the motions are for: to narrow the scope of issues prior to the time of trial. Thus, the motion has not technically been heard, as it was taken off calendar after the issuance of the tentative ruling. Also, the court never presumed, even in the tentative ruling, to rule on the actual merits of the motion for summary judgment.

Our lead counsel, Charles Clark, is preparing to file a “streamlined” Motion for Summary Judgment, to be heard in mid-January. It will be limited to simple, straightforward issues, which will make it easier for the judge.

While the court’s reluctance to perform its statutory obligations is frustrating, we believe that there was a huge advantage in filing the Motion for Summary Judgment. CUC and CGU now understand the strength of our position, and the difficulty that CUC and CGU will have in opposing CST at the time of trial.

CST and the Claremont Colleges have had a long relationship. We are all part of the wonderful community of Claremont and work hard to be good and valuable neighbors. We are hopeful that the end result of this current dispute will be a win-win situation for all our institutions.

Blessings,

Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan
CST President

Feel free to get in touch with my office jkuan@cst.edu, 909-447-2552 or the Office of Advancement and Communications, Rev. Sharalyn Hamilton at 909-447-6361 or shamilton@cst.edu

July, 26 2017

On Wednesday, July 26, 2017, Willamette University leaders made a daytrip to Claremont, California to meet and talk with Claremont School of Theology staff, faculty, and Board of Trustees members. Dr. Steve Thorsett, President, and Carol Long, Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, spent the day taking questions, listening, and discussing what our future partnership may mean.

Thorsett and Long made the trip three weeks after CST and Willamette announced a possible partnership, embedding CST within Willamette University. (Read the original announcement here).

“We are in the due-diligence phase of this process,” explained Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, CST President. “This is a crucial time. We agree that it is wise to move deliberately, meticulously, and make sure we have a relationship we can support for many decades to come.”

Meanwhile, CST formed four task forces – Academic, Facilities, Finance, and Governance – made up of seven representatives from faculty, the board, and executive leadership. All groups report to Dr. Andy Dreitcer, task force coordinator.

“The task forces are busy gathering input from many sources for wise, well-informed recommendations within the next two months,” added Dr. Dreitcer.

July, 6 2017

Salem, Ore. and Claremont, Calif., July 6, 2017 – Willamette University President Steve Thorsett and Claremont School of Theology (CST) President Jeffrey Kuan announced Monday 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.

More information about the potential partnership is available on CST’s website at https://cst.edu/update-from-the-president/

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).

Dear Alumni/ae and Friends, I am writing to share with you the latest information regarding our efforts to secure Claremont School of Theology’s future.

As you know, we are facing serious financial challenges due, in large part, to the maintenance costs associated with our aging campus and the rising cost of higher education. To insure CST’s mission not only survives, but thrives, your executive leadership team, board members, and faculty have engaged in preliminary conversations with Willamette University, based in Salem, Oregon.

On Thursday, June 22, the Executive Committee of Willamette’s Board of Trustees endorsed moving forward with a due diligence process to determine if such a partnership to embed CST within Willamette would be financially mutually beneficial. The following day, CST’s Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees voted in favor of initiating the process as well.

This process takes time and we are in the very early stages. We will share a timeline as the process unfolds over the next several months.

During our preliminary conversations with Willamette, it became apparent that embedding CST within Willamette provided a number of interesting opportunities to strengthen both institutions.

  • Willamette University is also United Methodist in origin and affiliation.
  • Its core commitments mesh nicely with CST’s commitment to create a difference for the world we live in, such as:
    • Pursuing academic excellence in teaching, research, and student learning
    • Fostering a diverse, vibrant, and intellectually stimulating learning and social community
    • Preparing global-minded students for meaningful lives of professional achievement and civic contribution
  • A partnership with Willamette has the potential of expanding academic programs at both institutions – including dual degree programs and even joint degree programs with Willamette’s current graduate schools (Atkinson Graduate School of Management and the College of Law), as well as coursework for Willamette undergraduates.

CST and Willamette leadership are working on a timeline for the due diligence process, which will include exploring the feasibility of maintaining a vital CST presence in Southern California. 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.

Also, we have revised our list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) in anticipation of your interest and will continue to do so as this process moves forward. The FAQs are attached here and are available on the “Update from the President” page on our website.

Thank you for your love, prayers, words of support, and continued loyalty to CST as we determine what is best for the School. Blessings,

Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan
CST President

May, 26 2017

At a time when Claremont School of Theology is experiencing its greatest success, we are facing our greatest challenge.  Our spring 2017 enrollment of 414 students is our largest in the last 35 years.  At CST’s Commencement 2017 ceremonies, I had the pleasure of sharing the School’s most recent accomplishments with our newest alumni/ae:

The Class of 2017 is CST’s largest-ever graduating class. Nearly 80 students received their degrees.

CST also graduated its first class of Hybrid/Online students. We committed to offering a distance learning option just three years ago and now it’s our fastest growing area of interest.

Even while educating more leaders than ever in our 60-year history, because of our financial challenges, our leadership and Board of Trustees have concluded that CST cannot sustain its mission in its current location. We have been diligently exploring many options toward financial stability and a thriving mission and have come to the conclusion that CST’s best path forward may include relocation.

We are working hard to create a new and sustainable model for educating our future leaders who will create a difference for the world we live in. We know that the world needs our voice now more than ever, as evidenced by our rising enrollment.

We acknowledge that any change to our beloved CST will cause discomfort. We ask you to make this courageous journey toward a new vision with us. We will keep you posted on plans and possibilities. Other seminaries are facing this dilemma, too. What gives us an advantage is our world-class faculty, our approach to theological education – people of many faiths learning and living side-by-side – and our Hybrid/Online degree offerings.

We will keep you posted when we have solid plans to announce and will host a series of Town Hall/Conference Call events. We ask for your prayers, your presence at informational meetings, and your continued financial support.

Blessings,

Jeffrey Kuan

P.S. Feel free to get in touch with my office jkuan@cst.edu, 909-447-2552.
If you would like to help us financially, call V.P. Rev. Sharalyn Hamilton at 909-447-6361 or shamilton@cst.edu

Dearest Students,

We are looking forward to your arrival on the Claremont School of Theology campus in a little more than one month. Since we last wrote to you in June, Pres. Kuan and CST’s Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees have made additional decisions to secure CST’s sustainable future. We are writing to update you on the latest developments.

Under the direction of our president and executive committee, CST has entered into discussions with Willamette University in Salem, Oregon as a potential partner in securing CST’s future through embedding. We have entered into a due diligence process to determine if such a partnership to embed CST within Willamette would be financially mutually beneficial.

Attached here, you will find Pres. Kuan’s letter to all CST supporters and friends – faculty, staff, students, alumni/ae, and donors – along with an updated list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs). We have asked many of the questions you are likely pondering. At this time, partnering with Willamette University provides CST the opportunity to not just survive, but thrive.

This process takes time and we are in the very early stages. As this potential embedding process unfolds, we will share more regarding what matriculation at Willamette would look like. No matter what physical form CST takes, our students – on-campus, hybrid, and online – will be well cared for. Any full-time student who begins a program in Fall 2017 should be able to finish coursework in Claremont, California. As an institution of higher learning, we follow the laws set forth by the Department of Education to ensure that arrangements are always in place so that all enrolled students can either complete the course of study or transition to a mutually agreed course at no disadvantage to the student.

As we have emphasized in previous communications: You remain at the center of all of our evaluations, conversations, and considerations. Your needs and concerns are consistently examined in every possible decision. You will be kept apprised of any developments as they come about. We are committed to providing you, our students and prospective students, with the quality education, exceptional faculty, and opportunities that you have come to expect from a world-renown theological school.

If you have additional questions, please feel free to contact the following offices at any time:

Deans’ Office
Dean Sheryl Kujawa-Holbrook  SKujawa-Holbrook@cst.edu
Dean Belva Brown Jordan  BJordan@cst.edu
Lea Appleton  LAppleton@cst.edu
Christine Whang CWhang@cst.edu

Admissions
Murad Dibbini  MDibbini@cst.edu
Nathan Araujo  NAraujo@cst.edu
Allura Davis  ADavis@cst.edu

Communications
Kim Edwards
KEdwards@cst.edu

Advancement
Sharalyn Hamilton
SHamilton@cst.edu

Thank you for your time and we look forward to seeing you soon!

Frequently Asked Questions

On July 6, 2017, CST President, the Rev. Dr. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, announced that Claremont School of Theology is in the early stages of exploring the possibility of embedding within Willamette University, in Salem, Oregon. Below, you will find our expanding list of Frequently Asked Questions provided to update our students, staff, faculty, alumni/ae, donors, and friends as the process evolves. Please check back periodically.

Shortly after Pres. Kuan’s arrival as CST’s seventh president, the School’s leadership – including student, faculty, and alumni representatives – unveiled a strategic plan (2015) that focused on three primary goals:

  • Promoting Transformative Education
  • Engaging Local and Global Communities
  • Achieving Long-Term Institutional Sustainability

Embedding within Willamette University helps insure long-term institutional sustainability. CST’s groundbreaking approach to theological education is leading the way; however, our endowment has never been particularly robust. With an aging campus and the rising cost of higher education, we are running a budget deficit. Many free-standing seminaries are experiencing this problem, too. One way of ensuring a healthy future is to embed in a like-minded university.

For more background on CST’s current financial situation, please visit our “Update from the President” page at https://cst.edu/update-from-the-president/

Willamette is one of few United Methodist universities in the western U.S., which makes it possible for CST to retain both its affiliation as a United Methodist seminary and its reputation as an excellent academic program with a renowned Ph.D. program and library. Also, partnering with Willamette provides a number of interesting opportunities to strengthen both institutions. Willamette’s core commitments mesh nicely with CST’s commitment to create a difference for the world we live in, such as:

  • Pursuing academic excellence in teaching, research, and student learning
  • Fostering a diverse, vibrant, and intellectually stimulating learning and social community
  • Preparing global-minded students for meaningful lives of professional achievement and civic contribution

The partnership has the potential of expanding academic programs at both institutions – including dual degree programs and even joint degree programs with Willamette’s current graduate schools (Atkinson Graduate School of Management and the College of Law) – as well as coursework for Willamette undergraduates.

CST has always met challenges with courage – from its founding in 1885 in San Fernando Valley to its affiliation with and later break from University of Southern California, to its 60 years in Claremont – CST’s mission has always survived. Embedding within Willamette allows us the opportunity to thrive in a new way.

Pres. Kuan and CST’s Board of Trustees have examined every possible resource and angle regarding staying in Southern California. Without an infusion of $50 to $90 million, our current location is cost prohibitive. Embedding within Willamette University is our best chance for not only surviving, but thriving as a provider of theological education. Willamette’s faculty is very supportive of this idea, as are our faculty members. We are each bringing something the other partner would like.

We’re working on it. There are many moving parts in a decision such as this. Most immediately, we are in the “due diligence” phase of our partnership exploration. 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. Pres. Kuan and Board of Trustees Chair, Rev. Patricia Farris, have created four Task Forces – academic, finance, governance, and facilities – to begin this due diligence process and work. These task forces will be composed of Board members, faculty, and the Executive Team, and will begin their work in July. Also, should the partnership move forward, both Willamette and CST would like to give as much time as possible to transition CST from California to Oregon.

Yes. Claremont School of Theology enjoys a world-renowned faculty and a way of doing theological education that is essential to who we are and who studies at CST. Founded by Methodists, we value our Christian roots while learning alongside our brothers and sisters of all faiths and traditions. Our graduates are prepared to lead with their minds and their hearts. In a world divided by opposing views on religion, race, sexuality and gender, climate change, poverty and privilege, CST prepares graduates to become agents of transformation and healing in churches, mosques, temples, local communities, schools, non-profit institutions, and the world at large.

CST will maintain its diversity and mission which includes many ecumenical and interreligious partnerships. All of our partner organizations have been brought into these discussions.

CST is proceeding with its plan to sell the property once a lawsuit against Claremont University Consortium is successfully resolved. For more background on this situation, please visit our “Update from the President” page at https://cst.edu/update-from-the-president/

Right now, unless a donor indicates otherwise, any donation you make will go directly toward student scholarships. Moving forward, donations to CST would remain with CST.

My degree? As this potential embedding process unfolds, we will share more regarding what matriculation at Willamette would look like. No matter what physical form CST takes, our students will be well cared for. As an institution of higher learning, we follow the laws set forth by the Department of Education to ensure that arrangements are always in place so that all enrolled students can either complete the course of study or transition to a mutually agreed course at no disadvantage to the student.

My on-campus program? Should the partnership move forward, both Willamette and CST would like to give as much time as possible to transition CST from California to Oregon. Any full-time student who begins a program in Fall 2017 should be able to finish coursework in Claremont, California.

My hybrid/online program? We are committed to continue offering diverse ways to complete your studies, including on-campus/face-to-face classes, hybrid classes, and online classes. Similarly, we are committed to offering diversity in our degree programs that allow for program completion using all of these course types.

For the academic year 2017-2018, we can affirm that any signed leases will be honored through May 30th, as is standard procedure for our campus. As this potential embedding process unfolds, we will update you as soon as possible as the status of on-campus housing.

This is a very important question and it is important to your CST leadership as well. We will have more specific answers as the process unfolds and we will provide those answers as soon as possible.

As long as CST is open and operational on the Claremont Campus, CGU students will continue to enjoy our reciprocal arrangement. Online classes are also possible. And any student who chooses to enroll in hybrid classes would be invited to attend the intensive sessions at Willamette.

Willamette University is very impressed with and interested in maintaining all that our library has to offer. Thanks to the work of our Dean of the Library, Thomas Phillips, much of what we do is already online.

As with any potential partnership, there is always a possibility that things won’t work out. In our case, we feel that is a very unlikely scenario but that is exactly what the due diligence process provides. Our Board’s Sustainable Future Task Force will continue, through the due diligence process with Willamette, to explore options to ensure a strong, viable, and sustainable future for CST.

The bottom line is money. The cost of higher education is increasing and CST has operated at a budget deficit for years. Since President Kuan’s arrival, we have made major budget cuts and “right sized” our operations, yet we continue to see operational costs rise in other areas and are challenged by an aging campus.

No. CST’s leadership is doing everything in its power to secure the School’s continued and vital legacy. No matter what physical form CST takes, our students will be well cared for. As an institution of higher learning, we follow the laws set forth by the Department of Education to ensure that arrangements are always in place so that all enrolled students can either complete the course of study or transition to a mutually agreed course at no disadvantage to the student.

Technically, that is one of our options, but it is the least feasible. The physical campus is outdated, too expensive to maintain, and is taking away from our focus – our students. An aging campus forces CST to spend far too much money simply maintaining facilities. Because CST’s need for a large amount of acreage lessens as it moves toward a hybrid/online/commuter and residential model of operation, the Board of Trustees determined that five of the six parcels that form CST’s property are not essential to its core mission. We hoped to sell a portion of the land and use the proceeds to bolster our endowment and lease, rather than own, buildings. However, the CUC lawsuit makes that impossible, at this time (see #18).

Yes. Claremont University Consortium (CUC) is the central coordinating and support organization for the seven independent colleges known as The Claremont Colleges. CST currently has claims pending against CUC and Claremont Graduate University (“CGU”).  Likewise, CUC has affirmative claims against CST in the same lawsuit. All of the claims relate to real property owned in fee simple by CST, but which CUC claims is somehow still encumbered by certain restrictions that would allow CUC to purchase the property at a below-market price and thus prevent CST from selling the property at market value to a willing third-party buyer.  CST believes, and therefore asserts, that the restrictions on which CUC purports to rely are invalid and unenforceable.  In fact, CST believes that this and multiple other material restrictions that CUC asserts were terminated almost 30 years ago.  As the parties, at least currently, cannot agree on whether CUC or CGU has any ongoing interest in the real property deeded to CST, it appears the Court is going to have to adjudicate these issues.

CST is a fully accredited school. We are, as you may know, under sanction at this time. That sanction has nothing to do with our academic programs. WASC is very pleased with everything we offer and supports our mission fully. Our only problem is money. We need to fortify our endowment within the next couple years to show WASC that we have the financial ability to not only survive but thrive.   To that end, we have secured more than $4 million through gifts and loans from individuals, faculty, trustees, staff, and some of our Western Jurisdiction United Methodist Conferences.

  • Stay in touch. Focus on our good news and pray for more.
  • Join our Fall Scholarship appeal. https://cst.edu/giving. Any monies you give will go directly toward supporting our incoming scholars.
  • Sign up to be a CST Ambassador. We will need your assistance in the coming months to help share our new vision and answer questions. Contact Noemi Ortega, Director of Alumni Relations, at 909-447-2545, NOrtega@CST.edu
  • Reflections on My Visit to Willamette

    It is clear that embedding CST in Willamette University will be financially beneficial to the school and therefore enable our mission to continue long into the 21st century and that the mission of Willamette is very much in sync with our own.  We wholeheartedly affirmed the quotes around the tower outside the library – for example: “Knowledge is the Preface of Peace”. A University setting will also be advantageous for our PhD students (classes in cognitive studies, opportunities for teaching assistant positions at the undergraduate level, etc.) and it is clear that a primary reason Willamette wants CST to move there is for our “intellectual capital” and our PhD programs. But I teach almost solely in the M.Div. degree so when the faculty visited Willamette recently, I was interested in what the University saw as the pros and cons of having a Master of Divinity degree on their campus.

    What I heard was that there were some faculty who didn’t want theological education, who supported secular education, and wanted to maintain the “Religious studies” approach to religion – critically study it from the outside looking in but requiring students to check their personal beliefs at the door to the classroom.  But many we talked to felt that Willamette’s commitment to social justice and transformation of the world was incomplete without their students being knowledgeable about and able to articulate the roots of one’s own commitments to justice and transformation (possibly religiously based), understand other religious traditions and the positive role religion plays in the lives of individuals and communities as well as the conflicts engendered by religious beliefs.  They saw being able to be rooted in one’s own tradition and still be respectful and in dialogue with others as a tremendous addition to the ethos on their undergraduate campus.  Having access to a weekly chapel service that expresses the diversity of Christian expressions of worship as well as alternative interfaith models was also seen as an enhancement to their existing program (Willamette currently has a chapel space but no weekly worship services).  In talking with the president of the undergraduate student government at dinner, one issue he named will be how to break down the divide between the undergraduate and graduate schools that currently exists at Willamette.  But breaking down walls that divide has been something CST has done for a long time so we may be able to collaboratively find creative solutions as we move forward together.

    Kathy Black

  • Date: October 24, 2017

    Reflections on the visit to Willamette University

    Before this last CST Board meeting in Willamette University, I came to visit the university in early August of this year. I walked around the campus and I went to their library and read some of their local newspapers. During that first visit, I can see the same ambiance as CST and can feel that CST would be a good fit at Willamette University.

    When I came to attend the board meeting on October 18-19, 2017, I did not have much preparation. I just came with open eyes, open ears and an open mind. Honestly, I did not have much of an expectation either. To my surprise, it seems like the whole town of Salem and of the whole university warmly greeted us with an overwhelming-Welcome. The City Mayor- Chuck Bennett and the City Manager- Steve Powers both spoke eloquently about the city of Salem: services available in the city, statistics, economic background, their strategic planning initiatives and their future goals as well.

    Willamette University President-Stephen E. Thorsett also spoke broadly about the university’s background, faculties and students and gave us open possibilities and great potential for CST’s placement or partnership. He has in-depth knowledge and detailed information about the university’s history. He was willing to elaborate more on the university services and courses that CST students may be interested in or vice versa. Lastly, he shared their own mission and vision with us and listened to what interests we might have in the process.

    But what strikes me most is the dinner at the President’s residence. We were well received by the President’s wife- Dr. Rachel Dewey-Thorsett, the faculty and board members present that evening. They catered us with a genuine hospitality and very warm greetings. I felt an immediate connection between CST and Willamette representatives. I could see their deep interest in knowing us more. To top it all, they researched us more than we researched them. Someone came up to me and introduced themselves and later in the discussion asked me questions based on my biography. I was really stunned and asked myself “do I start to google them now?” As the conversation was building up, I can see how very much engaged they are, enthusiastic and willing to collaborate with CST’s mission and vision. The big question now is, how and where to begin? How do we promote the idea of partnership with Willamette University to the students of CST? If that partnership happens, and mutual agreements exist for both schools, there will be great transformation for CST –to carry on the integrity of the school’s values, mission and vision and pursue CST’s future goals.

     

    Sincerely,
    Marcelino “Marc” Calimlim MD