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Pacific School of Religion announces $3.5M gift for ethics chair

Pacific School of Religion

Alumnx whose work was shaped by the AIDS crisis,
studied ethics in healthcare, funds the gift

BERKELEY, Calif. — Pacific School of Religion (PSR) is honored to announce the funding of the Stanley Watson Endowed Chair in Ethics through a legacy gift of $3.5M. The rotating position will be open to existing or visiting faculty engaged in cutting-edge teaching and research on ethics across diverse fields of study, strengthening PSR’s 150+ year mission to create spiritually rooted leaders with a strong foundation and formation in ethics.

The chair is funded by alumnx and former board member Stan Watson (MA ‘90). Living in the Bay Area, Watson witnessed the loss of many friends and community members to the AIDS crisis. He left a successful law practice to enroll in PSR in 1986 as part of a personal search for meaning and God. His work at PSR and through the Graduate Theological Union (GTU) consortium — particularly his studies with PSR Professor Emerita Karen Lebacqz — focused on the ethics of health care and its delivery.

Post-graduation, Watson combined his professional and vocational passions by joining Kaiser Permanente as an attorney focused on health care, ethics, and research, eventually rising to vice president and director of the Kaiser Foundation Research Institute.

Watson’s decision to establish the Stanley Watson Chair in Ethics reflects the important role PSR played in informing his understanding of ethics and his desire to see the scholarship continue to evolve through academic and community dialogue.

“We are deeply grateful for Stan’s incredible generosity and vision in establishing this fund,” said PSR President David Vásquez-Levy. “This transformative gift is a strong vote of confidence in PSR’s mission and future. Embodying PSR’s commitment to inter-disciplinary study, this chair will make it possible for our faculty to break new ground in their disciplines and to shape the lives of students for decades to come.” 

Founded in 1866, Pacific School of Religion is an interdenominational seminary, graduate school, and center for social justice committed to a radically inclusive Gospel. Grounded in the rigorous study and practice of progressive Christianity, PSR partners with students of all backgrounds to deepen their spirituality and enhance their capacity to lead in transformative ways. PSR is accredited by both the Western Association of Schools and Colleges (WASC) and the Association of Theological Schools (ATS).

PSR: Unafraid Since 1866


Hallie Fryd
Pacific School of Religion
[email protected]

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Religion News Service or Religion News Foundation.

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