Seminary Dean to Also Serve College

Beginning in August 2017, Gettysburg Seminary’s Dean, the Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen, will also serve at Gettysburg College as Associate Dean of Religious & Spiritual Life/Chaplain, following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Donnella, who has served as the College’s chaplain since 1999.

Will serve as Associate Dean of Religious and Spiritual Life/Chaplain

January 26, 2017

Kristin LargenJanuary 27, 2017 (Gettysburg, Penn.) Beginning in August 2017, Gettysburg Seminary’s Dean, the Rev. Dr. Kristin Johnston Largen, will also serve at Gettysburg College as Associate Dean of Religious & Spiritual Life/Chaplain, following the retirement of the Rev. Dr. Joseph Donnella, who has served as the College’s chaplain since 1997.

In her new role at the College, Dr. Largen will help the institution expand its offerings in spiritual care and interreligious dialogue, embracing students, faculty and staff who bring a broad array of religious and spiritual beliefs to the community. Largen’s appointment by President Janet Morgan Riggs marks the College’s interest in supporting an increasingly diverse student body and in promoting greater awareness of and respect for diverse religious traditions.

For the past decade, Largen has taught Systematic Theology at the Seminary, rising to the rank of Full Professor as a result of her distinguished teaching and internationally recognized scholarship and publishing. She is well regarded  in the field of Comparative Theology, and has authored a two-volume work that explores traditional Christian loci such as  anthropology and soteriology from an interreligious perspective. Several of her publications also explore how the insights of Buddhism can positively challenge and inform traditional Christian doctrine and practice. She is editor-in-chief of a highly regarded journal of theology, Dialog, which traces its roots to Gettysburg Seminary when theologian Robert Jenson was among its founders in the 1970’s. Largen received her B.A. in English from Colorado College, where she learned to value the special ethos and opportunities provided by small liberal arts colleges.  Her M.Div. degree is from Wartburg Theological Seminary, and she earned her Ph.D. in Systematic Theology from the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California.

“Kristin Largen is uniquely qualified by virtue of her academic interests and personal inclinations to expand Gettysburg College’s support for our students and other community members,” said President Riggs. “We are delighted to enter into this partnership with the Seminary, with which we share deep roots that go back to our common founder, Samuel Simon Schmucker, who had a vision for institutions that would serve students with a wide array of perspectives.”

For the past two years, Largen has also assumed administrative responsibilities as Dean of the Seminary, and has been a key architect of the emerging new academic framework and curriculum for United Lutheran Seminary. The latter will come into being mid-2017 as a result of consolidating Gettysburg with the Lutheran Theological Lutheran Seminary at Philadelphia into a unified institution maintaining campuses both in Gettysburg and urban Philadelphia. Largen has agreed to continue in the deanship through 2017 in partnership with the Philadelphia Seminary Dean Jayakiran Sebastian. Once a new president for United Lutheran Seminary is selected, a permanent dean will also be appointed by that individual and the Seminary’s board. 

Speaking of her enthusiasm to work at the College while continuing in her Seminary professorship, Largen stated: “I am excited about this new opportunity to develop a welcoming, inclusive, engaging program of religious and spiritual life that meets a wide variety of students where they are, and invites them into deeper conversation with one another around life's big questions. I hope to build bridges between the different religious groups on campus, such that we can learn from each other and grow together, modeling civil, respectful discourse and interreligious friendships.”

Echoing Riggs’ enthusiasm for the shared professorship and chaplaincy, Seminary President Michael Cooper-White declared, “Kristin Largen has proven herself a leading theologian, popular teacher, prolific author and internationally renowned scholar.  But above all, she is a pastor with a heart for God’s people who believes in her bones that God loves all people. Here at the Seminary, she has challenged us to broaden our horizons. In a time when many seek to drive wedges and construct walls between people of differing religious backgrounds and faith perspectives, she is a bridge-builder. We are delighted in yet another partnership with our colleagues at Gettysburg College, whereby both institutions will be enhanced.”

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Editor's note: A previous posting of this news incorrectly stated the year Dr. Joseph Donnella started as chaplain, which is 1997.