Fuller’s New Development Plan Under its Way

( [email protected] ) Jul 30, 2004 09:43 PM EDT

Fuller Theological Seminary, one of the largest seminaries in the U.S., is proposing an $80 million project to expand Fuller campus with the goal of serving the evolving needs of theological education, school officials reported.

Howard Wilson, the school’s vice president of student enrollment, said the projects, which are included in the seminary's master development plan, are "vitally important to serve the seminary's future to provide the facilities our students need to be well trained.'

The development plan, which has been ongoing for the past four years under the leadership of Wilson and Lee Merritt, Fuller's vice president of finance, includes almost 700 units of student housing, a library addition and a mixed- use chapel and performing arts space.

Whereas its primary need is on chapel and bigger library, Fuller has been also emphasizing the importance of performing arts since the birth of Brehm Center for Worship, Theology and the Arts, which eventually included a performance space as part of the development plan. Under the new plan, performance space will include a 500-seat auditorium, a 75-person rehearsal space and classrooms.

Fred Davison, executive director of the Brehm Center, told the Pasadena Star-News that Protestants have not historically emphasized the arts because of what could be considered worshipping the arts, or art itself, instead of God. But the church has changed in recent years, he said.

"Now I think it's really turning back,' said Davison, who has a doctoral degree in musical arts. "We're finding ways that the arts can be used effectively as part of our faith. Personally, I think the arts are part and parcel of who we are as human beings.”

The first portion of the master plan's proposed housing, 179 units, has already been approved and will soon be built. It is expected that in about 10 years, all 698 units of housing will be complete.

The new development plan is also receiving a positive response from the community district as well. Catherine Haskett Hany, executive director of the Playhouse Business District, said she's been impressed with the preliminary development plans presented by Fuller officials. The community will enjoy the green space created by the Fuller development and the increased number of student residents could be a boon to the business community, she said.

"I think this one has such an upside to it,” Hany said.

In addition, Merritt and Wilson said they are hoping to see less traffic as the new housing will turn commuting students into residents.

Fuller is based in Pasadena, currently holding about 280 housing units on the north side of Fuller's property. In total, the school owns 450 housing units in Pasadena. Fuller has more than 4,300 students from 67 countries and 108 denominations on seven campuses. The new units will consolidate the campus housing and free up apartments throughout Pasadena for other residents, Wilson said.