Jay Blossom's Articles

The value of interim presidents

The Autumn 2018 issue of In Trust magazine includes an interview with William Crothers, interim president at Ashland Theological Seminary. Crothers has served as an interim CEO five times since he retired in 2002 as ninth president of Roberts Wesleyan College. He was happy to share with In Trust readers some of the wisdom that he’s gleaned over the years.

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Help with the Carver Model of governance

Most authors, researchers, and support organizations agree that no one-size-fits-all template dictates how boards should function. Rather, governance gurus urge boards to shape the way they work to the contours of their specific organizations.

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An American icon that fell victim to the “competency trap”

The New York Times has run an obituary of sorts for Xerox, the American corporation that is merging with Japanese behemoth Fujifilm Holdings. The company prospered and innovated for decades, but then they began to fall behind. What lessons could we in theological education learn from their example? 

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Small religious colleges are struggling



A recent Religion News Service article chronicles the struggles of small religious colleges, saying that lacking substantial endowments, many are teetering on a financial cliff.

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A good example of a presidential search update letter


When a school is looking for a new president, rumors fly and questions abound. The search process takes many months, and often confidentiality is paramount.

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Survey reveals shared concerns of college presidents

Earlier this year, the Gallup Organization and Inside Higher Ed teamed up to survey 2,890 college and university presidents about a host of topics. Although the survey sample did not include Bible colleges, seminaries, or institutions with fewer than 500 students, several of the questions asked relate to issues that theological schools are facing as well.

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Where did the phrase “Mission fulfillment with economic vitality” come from?




We recently asked consultant Rebekah Burch Basinger about the origins of the phrase "Mission fulfillment with economic vitality." She explained that it's a summary statement about economic equilibrium.

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Reaching seminarians and communities alike through congregational partnerships




The challenges for modern theological schools and the needs of seminarians are great and ever-changing. Among these include the rising costs of obtaining seminary degrees and many seminarians’ desire to remain close to their homes and families. In a February article in The Christian Century, Jason Byassee and Ross Lockhart highlight how some schools are meeting these challenges by partnering with flourishing megachurches.

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New members of the board of directors

Voting-eligible member schools of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools recently elected three new members and re-elected two members to serve on the In Trust Center’s board of directors. The new and re-elected members include (above, from left) Marsha Foster Boyd, Charisse L. Gillett, Kathryn Glover, David Jennings, and Msgr. Roger E. McGrath.

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What people are saying about the In Trust Center's new president



"The In Trust Center is in the best possible hands with the leadership of Amy Kardash!  In my experience, she brings a profound professionalism and integrity to her every endeavor."

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Amy L. Kardash named president of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools




The board of directors of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools has named Amy L. Kardash as the organization’s new president. 

In her new role, Kardash will oversee and direct all the In Trust Center’s work in resourcing seminaries and theological colleges. These programs include Resource Consulting, a service that connects the leaders of theological schools to resources that enable them to make transformative changes within their institutions; In Trust magazine, periodical for seminary trustees, administrators, and faculty members published since 1988; and the In Trust Center’s webinars and other educational programs.

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The role of faculty in shared governance




Sarah Drummond Israel Galindo Joretta Marshall Rebecca Slough
No one disputes the central role of faculty in the classroom. But what role do faculty members have in the boardroom? In Trust wanted to know, so we asked Nadine Pence, executive director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, to recommend a few conversation partners. Pence suggested four respected academic leaders, each representing a different seminary, and In Trust invited them to discuss how shared governance plays out on their campuses. 

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Colgate Rochester Crozer is moving



Things are looking beautiful at Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS), the oldest Baptist seminary in the United States, which occupies a tree-filled campus on a hill overlooking Rochester, New York. The school is the product of a merger of Colgate (founded 1817) and Rochester (founded 1850) seminaries, which came together in 1928. A theological institute for women, the Baptist Missionary Training School, joined the institution in 1961, and a fourth school, Crozer Theological Seminary (the alma mater of Martin Luther King Jr.), joined in 1970.

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In Trust wins awards at Associated Church Press meeting



In Trust won three awards at the annual meeting of the Associated Church Press, held April 22, 2016, in St. Louis, Missouri. 

The association, which is made up of church-related and independent religious periodicals, is celebrating its 100th anniversary this year and has held an annual meeting since 1920. In Trust publisher Jay Blossom serves on the board of directors.

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Celebration and transition at the In Trust Center

The board of directors of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools has announced that the Center’s president, the Rev. Dr. Richard H. Bliese, is stepping down to explore new ministry opportunities.

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The Strategic Information Report: What you need to know

 

Because the SIR has been completely revamped, the Association of Theological Schools has provided an overview article that explains how presidents and board members can use it. “Why the Strategic Information Report is an essential tool in every school’s toolbox,” by Chris Meinzer, explores ways to use the SIR as a tool in assessing their institution's overall health.

 

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Attorney general warns trustees of investigation



The attorney general’s interest is unusual in that it seems to be a pre-emptive action; the college is not in danger of closing. “I consider it my responsibility to promote and protect the nonprofit sector,” the New York attorney general told the New York Times — not only by prosecuting fraud, but by preventing mismanagement “before it starts.”

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He lost his faith, so he quit his seminary teaching post

The July 6 issue of the Chronicle of Higher Education included a reflection by Brandon G. Withrow about why he left his position at Winebrenner Theological Seminary.

He left his job behind because he left his faith behind.

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Seeking a say in the naming of a new president, monks sue trustees



There’s governance trouble brewing at Benedictine University in Illinois
: The monks of St. Procopius Abbey, which owns the school, are suing the trustees for shutting them out of the selection of the new president. According to a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, the monks claim that the abbey’s leadership has always played a role in the selection of the president -- ever since the first nonclerical president was selected 40 years ago.

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In the news: Wisconsin's proposed changes to tenure



Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker is proposing changes that would weaken tenure protections in the state’s system of public universities. And faculty members are naturally outraged.

The faculty of the University of Wisconsin enjoys an unusual perk in the landscape of American higher education: their system of tenure is protected under state law. Currently, those with tenure may only be fired for just cause or in cases of financial exigency. According to the New York Times, a new proposal from Governor Scott Walker seeks to remove tenure protections from state statute, allowing instead the university’s Board of Regents to set tenure policies.

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Theodore Hesburgh, influential university president, dies



Father Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame 
from 1952 to 1987, has died at age 97. Widely acknowledged as the most influential college president of his generation, Hesburgh was also a founding member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and served as Vatican representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Shared governance: Resources for your board



Shared governance is one of the most challenging issues at many seminaries and theological colleges. And it works differently at freestanding seminaries and embedded divinity schools. If shared governance continues to be a challenge at your school, you may want to consider some of these resources.

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A seminary president’s thoughts on dying



Steve Hayner, who was president of Columbia Theological Seminary
until a few months ago, died last weekend of fast-moving pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed less than a year ago, he spent his last few months learning to ask new questions — not “What are my plans?” but rather “How am I going to be faithful whatever the circumstances?”

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Nine keys for a healthy board-president leadership team



The Autumn 2011 issue
of In Trust magazine included an article that addressed that all-important relationship between a school's board and its president. Author Wendy L. Fletcher, then the principal and dean of Vancouver School of Theology, offered nine essential keys for a healthy board-president relationship.

Though a few years old, the article is as applicable as ever. The full article can be found here in the In Trust magazine archives.

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Personality types and problem board members



Recently, the Nonprofit Quarterly posted a classic article on how personality types affect boards. The article lists six “desirable qualities” in a board member, including “commitment,” “common sense and good judgment,” “respect for group process,” “centeredness,” “openness,” and “sense of humor.” But there’s also a helpful list of five kinds of board members who can derail the board’s work. They get nicknames: “Johnny One-Note” . . .

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