Shepherd University was established in the heart of Los Angeles in August 1999 by Dr. Richard Cornel S. Rhee, with the initial purpose of educating Korean immigrants and serving the community of Southern California. Since that time, Shepherd University has expanded to include an international student body and five schools- Theology, Nursing, Music, Information Technology and Language.
With the reorganization of the University into a cluster of professional Schools, Shepherd University School of Theology (hereafter, Shepherd) focused on strengthening its Master of Divinity and Doctor of Ministry programs. In January 2003, Yohan Pyeon (PhD, Claremont Graduate University) was recruited as Shepherd’s Academic Dean to facilitate the effort. He was successful in hiring such prominent biblical scholars as Ralph P. Martin (Azusa Pacific University and Fuller Seminary), James A. Sanders (Claremont School of Theology), and Frederic W. Bush (Fuller Seminary).
When Dean Pyeon became the University’s Academic Dean in 2007, Shalom Kim (PhD, Fuller Theological Seminary) was appointed as Shepherd’s Vice-President to oversee academic and administrative matters. Another significant change was the appointment of the Argentinian evangelist Juan Carlos Ortiz as Shepherd’s President. For the past four years, these two leaders have been instrumental in shaping Shepherd’s new direction.
Shepherd now defines its primary purpose as making disciples of Christ ministering to the world. Its motto captures the spirit of the School: “For the Lord and to the world.” Within the American evangelical tradition, Shepherd focuses on evangelism and discipleship as its educational core. It tries to combine theological knowledge with personal discipleship; and to approach professional Christian ministry from a “missional” perspective. Its Mission Statement expresses that it exists to educate competent ministers “for the Lord and to the world” through excellent graduate programs.
Shepherd’s mission is consistent with the University’s mission. Moreover, Shepherd has played a central role in shaping and realizing the University’s foundational commitment to Christian higher education. In other words, the University essentially depends on Shepherd to inform and sustain its Christian identity and values as well as to provide leadership in educating its students in the Bible and theology.