Where did the idea to change the name come from?

Since at least 2005, ABSW Board members, faculty, and administrators have recommended that the possibility of a name change be explored. In 2017, the Strategic Plan called for reaching a decision on this question once and for all.  

Was research conducted on the acceptance and impact of the name change?

Yes. Over a fifteen-year period, we had two consulting firms do two comprehensive market studies (inside and out) that invited us to consider changing our name for a variety of strategic, marketing, institutional branding, and reasons related to our mission and identity. 

In the nearly one-hundred and fifty years, Berkeley School of Theology has merged with other schools at least three times officially and have had at least five different names -- more if we extend our history back prior to our official incorporation in 1871. We are the last of the twenty-six colleges, universities and seminaries affiliated with the American Baptist denomination to relinquish the name “Baptist” for purposes of marketing to a broader, more inclusive audience. 

Why the name Berkeley School of Theology and how was it chosen?

After soliciting a long list of possible names linked to geographical location, famous Baptist and other leaders, Baptist core values, “blue-sky” suggestions and after hours of deliberation, the Board unanimously settled on the name Berkeley School of Theology for the following reasons:

  • It’s a positive connection to our earlier name Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, heyday in the institution’s history, noting that Berkeley Divinity School (at Yale) was already taken.
  • Historic connections to UC Berkeley through its early famous Baptist president (Benjamin Wheeler) and major Baptist supporters (Sather Gates & Campanile)
  • Cross-registration between BST and the Graduate Theological Union & UC Berkeley
  • Research indicates its prestige-appeal to international students and scholars
  • Positive inclusive marketing for a diverse student body and new faculty
  • Positive name alignment with most other “Schools” of the Graduate Theological Union

Will the name change affect the core mission?

No. The Board of Trustees unanimously voted to add the byline: “Creating Communities of Christian Hope, Justice and Reconciliation” to be used alongside our new name because it so closely aligns with our historic mission. The core mission of BST as articulated in our Articles of Incorporation and Bylaws will remain at the center of the academic experience. We believe that this new name marks a new era, a new beginning, in which we are able to share the historic Baptist core values in ever new and appealing ways uniquely situated for the post-modern, post-millennial, post-Christian world unfolding before us. The engaging and revised curriculum and pedagogy make the education offered both special and prestigious, and it will remain true to our spiritual DNA.

Will the name change affect recruitment and admissions?

We expect the name change will open the school of theology to prospective students who wouldn’t have considered us previously and will better reflect students already here from some twenty-two denominations across the globe. The name “Baptist” is an increasingly high hurdle to overcome in promoting a positive inclusive and welcoming voice to a new generation.

As a part of the name change, will our programs change along with it?

Yes, in that we have recently undergone extensive curriculum revisions in which all of our courses now align across four themes: 1) creative church and community; 2) spirituality and resilience; 3) border-crossing and bridge-building; and 4) justice and reconciliation.

We offer certificate (BA-Equivalency) and graduate degree programs in three languages (English, Korean and Spanish) and many online options, including a complete fully online Master’s degree. A student at BST can take over one hundred different religious studies classes in any given semester from among the schools of the Graduate Theological Union, of which we are a founding school.

How will degrees/diplomas and transcripts be affected by the name change?

Diplomas and official transcripts will utilize the new name. Students enrolled before the name change will be able to choose to receive either named option on their diplomas and transcripts. After the transition period, students will receive a diplomas and transcripts under the new name. Anyone who received transcripts or diplomas in years past can request transcripts or diplomas with the new name. Graduates of any named predecessor of BST, can, if they wish, refer to the new name on their resumes and for professional identification.

Will the name change affect the institutional logo or school colors?

The design of the new logo closely aligns with the former logo using the same color scheme. The cross of the logo closely resembles the engraved stone-cross embedded in the wooden mantle over the fireplace in the old Crouch Memorial Library in Hobart Hall. A circular option closely resembles the circular logo of Berkeley Baptist Divinity School, as well.

Will the website URL and email change?

Yes. The new website can be reached by using the new domain name for Berkeley School of Theology www.bst.edu. The old domain name will be forwarded to the new domain. Email will also be changed accordingly (name@bst.edu)

Our prayer:

Eternal God, as we open wide the doors of Berkeley School of Theology, we open our hearts to you. Be with us as we cross this new threshold of our school, that it will be filled with your holy presence. May our doors be open to everyone who is a part of our community or longs to belong. May our doors be wide enough to welcome all who seek your wisdom and care. And may the doors of Berkeley School of Theology be the way through which all who enter in turn, go out to minister and serve the world in your name. Through Jesus Christ, we pray. Amen.

Questions? Contact Sam Fielder at sfielder@bst.edu.