March 2011

I last wrote in the midst of the transition surrounding my installation as President and Dean, and in the whirlwind of change that accompanies the new, both for me and for CDSP. This inaugural event was a wonderful affirmation of the ministry of the school, and encouraging support for me personally. Since then the seminary has carried on the rhythms of community life — of study, chapel and shared meals and social time — that are the signature features many of you will remember.

Some of the transitional activities continued through the semester. My wife, Brenda, and I moved into the Deanery in November. Only blocks from the campus, the Deanery is a beautiful example of Spanish Revival architecture, situated just above Berkeley downtown so that we enjoy a spectacular view of the Bay. Its open spaces are ideal for hosting the school community and we look for ward to this. Right now it is simply a relief to have most of our things out of their boxes and put in their places. Only now are the personal books coming out of boxes into my school office bookshelves. This too adds to the feel of really being here and “on the job’.”

Through class retreats I had the pleasure of getting acquainted with the wonderful student body at CDSP, though I must confess that the change from classroom professor to president and dean makes it difficult to find regular times to enjoy their company. As the pattern of this new work unfolds I look forward to creating regular opportunities for getting to know our students. It is a talented, dynamic and committed student body at CDSP.

This has also been the season of getting to know the faculty and staff of the school. We are no longer strangers after hours together carrying out the business of the school. And the more I get to know, the more impressed I am by the talent and dedication of the CDSP team.

I have traveled to meet friends and alumni, and to get acquainted with our partners. I look forward to the same kind of face-to-face meeting with loyal supporters and members of the school’s wider community as well. These visits always impress upon me the vital connection between church and seminary, and the blessing of truly wonderful people surrounding the school as supporters. The work of advancement and building partnerships is most rewarding when it is clear that all gifts of various kinds are really acts of self-fulfillment. We have much to be grateful for in the friends who have supported us faithfully over the years, through thick and thin, and found their vocation in part by serving theological education.

Much of my attention this fall went toward serving on the Steering Committee of the Task Force for Structural Change. (Please see the separate report in this issue of Crossings.) I wish to acknowledge the very faithful, effective, and time-consuming efforts of Rod Davis as Chair of the Task Force, and Eliza Linley, Board Chair, who also served on the steering committee. The three of us have met weekly to guide the study of the school’s program and property, and how it might more effectively serve the mission of theological education. I have come away from this work and the meeting of the full Task Force group quite hopeful that we can become better stewards of the gifts we have been given, more efficient in finance and operation, and all for the sake of a still more exhilarating and effective program in the service of the church.

At this midpoint in the academic year, we have had a dynamic and full fall semester at CDSP. With all the challenges before us, I remain convinced that we will create a more vibrant and focused seminary through addressing the challenges we presently face. And one very important key to this will be renewal throughout the GTU community. There is much at stake but also much promise. And we trust that it is God’s spirit working through us toward ends we only faintly recognize now.

W. Mark Richardson

© 2012 Church Divinity School of the Pacific