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  • Collegian staff

Theology graduate school arrives to Salem

Reed Bertran


Begun in July of 2017 and formally completed in the spring of 2019, Willamette University has officially merged with the Claremont School of Theology (CST). 

This introduction of the school places a third graduate school on the Willamette campus and “offers graduate degrees in ministerial and theological education within the Christian tradition,” as reported by their website. 

The Claremont School of Theology, originally based in Claremont, CA, sought to merge with Willamette University to lower the increasing cost of its programs created by the upkeep of its large and aging campus. 

CST is officially recognized as one of the 13 official religious schools of the United Methodist Church and was founded in 1885. Although the graduate school is United Methodist in its origin, it is an ecumenical institution (one concerned with promoting unities within religions) and interreligious in spirit, as explained on their website. 

According to Hannah Andres, a graduated religious studies major of the Willamette College of Liberal Arts and now a student in the Master of Divinity program at CST, the school employs information from a diverse array of backgrounds to educate scholars and individuals involved in religious communities. 

“The Claremont School of Theology’s ecumenical approach has been the school’s initiative for the past 30 years. We are looking to educate religious leaders and scholars that will be able to engage with society as time and religious studies progresses.” 

Within the past two weeks, the Claremont School of Theology has kickstarted its semester with a cooperative undergraduate class collaborating with CST graduate students on CST’s still-active California campus. The class, under the guidance of CLA environmental science professor Joe Bowersox, will be using the new “Owl Classroom” to study sustainability in association with CST professor Phillip Clayton. The class will utilize Skype to connect the two campuses. 

In his Aug. 28 “Words from Waller” email to students and faculty, Willamette President Stephen Thorsett discussed the future of collaborative work and classes with CST: “We expect such collaborative work, in scholarship and service as well as teaching, to expand rapidly ahead of CST’s larger move to Salem next summer and to involve many departments and all three schools.”

Two dozen additional students are also currently in Salem engaging in an intensive week of a hybrid-online Masters in Divinity program.

Along with collaborative and hybrid classes, three CST faculty members and a small group of graduate students are currently in Salem working full-time out of the MICAH building, located between the Hallie Ford Museum and the First United Methodist Church. Several additional faculty are visiting biweekly or monthly as well. 

For more information concerning the Claremont School of Theology and its merge with Willamette University, please visit CST’s website at 

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