Robert Kurtz is an assistant dean of men, serving as dean for Newton Hall.
Robert Kurtz, mens dean and contract teacher (and a PUC alum, Class of 1984), is a king of lists. Ask him to list the places he’s studied, and it goes like this: Pacific Union College, Andrews University Seminary, Arizona State University, Mohave College, Napa College, Pima College, Los Rios College, Sonoma State University, and Los Medanos College. He’s studied theology, science, mathematics, and law enforcement. “My education has barely started,” he says. “I really look forward to graduate study.”
Next, you can ask him for the list of what he’s done besides study: He’s been a pastor, deputy sheriff, jail chaplain, math teacher, Emergency Medical Technician, critical incident debriefer, writer, development director, firefighter, wellness lecturer, dog trainer, bodyguard, and dean, and worked in financial services and computer sales, repair, and database management.
“It is most difficult for me to decide what not to do when I grow up,” he says by way of explanation for these lists. “There are too many opportunities for our short lives.”
As a pastor, he’s served nine congregations in Arizona and Northern California. He also served nearly 16 years in law enforcement as a chaplain, deputy sheriff, campus cop, and K-9 officer. Most recently, he was a corporal at the Contra Costa County Sheriff’s Department, where he was an advanced officer first-aid instructor and taught tactical communications.
Robert’s range of adventures is wide. But in all his roles, there has been a unifying theme: loving people. “It is fascinating to love people in wildly diverse contexts,” he says. “Not prepositional love. Not love as metaphor. In the pulpit, patrol car, dean’s office, or while lecturing my philosophy class, I look at any person and realize they are after exactly the same thing I am: make more good feelings and less bad ones. By whatever means, no matter how we dress it up, there’s no way around that. I look, knowing this—considering this person deliberately—actively loving, saying silently, ‘I love you.’”
Many of Robert’s jobs have allowed him to interact with people in a very direct way, spurring them to take positive direction in their lives. That direct interaction is something he looks for. “I like to challenge people to be honest, to be better, to become more of what their Creator intended. Times of great intensity seem to offer best receptivity. I find myself drawn to these situations.”
His current work at PUC as a contract instructor in philosophy, theology, ethics, and math and as a mens dean, gives him a chance to bring these challenges to students. “My passion is to reduce suffering, share hope, and help as many people as possible live on purpose with passion, joy, curiosity, courage,” he says.
And he’s not planning on slowing down. “It is exciting to imagine unlimited study and experience beyond this life.”
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