From category archives: In Trust Blog

Management

   
                

Unleashing your inner leader

           
         

Becoming an effective leader in theological education -- whether as a president, dean, or board member -- usually requires intentional study and practice. Rarely does someone become a great leader through sheer instinct and natural talent. Rather, great leaders combine their natural gifts with the wisdom they gain from experts and real-world experiences.

   

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Seminaries struggle to build community with affordable dining services

           
         

 

Declining enrollment and increasing numbers of distance education and off-campus students are making the economics of providing food increasingly unsustainable for theological schools. Yet everyone agrees that shared meals build community. What's a seminary to do?

   

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Tips for ensuring the show goes on, despite a smaller cast of characters

           
         




The North American nonprofit sector is no stranger to getting by on less. But these days less is edging toward subsistence, with budgets and personnel close to the breaking point. What’s a leadership team to do when the show must go on but with a smaller cast of characters to cover all the roles? Create a plan.

   

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Special section on mergers, partnerships, and alliances in Autumn 2016 issue

           
         




The Autumn 2016 issue of In Trust, recently sent out to subscribers, features a special section on mergers, partnerships, and alliances. This special section features an interview with Tom Ingram, president emeritus of the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, on how to conduct a merger, plus eight case studies of mergers and partnerships.

   

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Saying "no" to a donor gift

           
         




Sometimes it makes sense to turn down a gift. That's what Dorothy Ridings warned in a 2010 article titled "Recipient beware!" that appeared in In Trust.

   

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Developing and maintaining effective dashboards

           
         




 

A dashboard is a display of key indicators that help institutions steer their activities towards their declared strategic outcomes. The imagery, of course, is obvious to anyone who drives a car. Just like the dashboard on your 1981 Ford Fairmont, it’s critical that indicators be visible and the data easy for a user to assimilate. This typically necessitates graphic displays such as graphs, pie charts, or something more creative.

The In Trust has presented a webinar on how to use dashboard effectively. Here's a summary of it, along with a few helpful hints to get you started.

 

   

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Seminary president featured in Christian Century cover story

           
         


 

Central Baptist Theological Seminary president Molly T. Marshall was interviewed for the cover story of a recent issue of The Christian Century. The interview, by David Heim, addresses Marshall’s opinions and experiences as president.  


   

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One perspective on tenure

           
         

 

In a recent Christian Century blog post, Greg Carey provides a defense of tenure at theological institutions. He begins his post by acknowledging that in times of change and financial unrest, theological schools may be tempted to rely principally on adjunct faculty. After all, tenured faculty cost more --and some may be resistant to institutional changes. But Carey argues against the move toward adjunct faculty.

   

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Rapidly approaching deadline for new Luce Foundation fund

           
         


The deadline to submit letters of inquiry for the brand-new Luce Fund for Theological Education is March 15. The Henry Luce Foundation is encouraging requests from seminaries and other organizations for amounts of $250,000 to $500,000. A select number of inquirers will be invited to present full proposals.

   

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From God's abundance: A resource for fundraisers

           
         

From crushing student debt to struggling seminaries to half empty church pews, much of the landscape of seminaries and finances seems bleak. As traditional funding sources change, the need to understand and gain mastery of fundraising is becoming increasingly important for theological schools. Offering research, tools, and customized training, the Executive Certificate in Religious Fundraising (ECRF) from the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy is a bright spot during these challenging times.

   

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Resources for your board: Books from BoardSource

           
         

We love to connect our members with information and resources that encourage good leadership and effective governance. So we keep our eyes open for helpful books and articles that contribute to that goal. Some of our favorite resources are published by BoardSource. Here's a rundown of some of the best.

   

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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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Resources for your board: Succession planning

           
         

The Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM) has published a great article on succession planning for boards, and it includes both an outline of the process and a list of downloadable resources.

What is succession planning? “Succession planning is a means for an organization to ensure its continued effective performance through leadership continuity.” 

   

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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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Summer 2015 issue of In Trust magazine

           
         


Last week the Summer 2015 issue of In Trust magazine landed in the mailboxes of people affiliated with the In Trust Center's member schools. Here are some highlights.

   

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Facing the brutal facts – with faith

           
         

Jim Collins, best-selling author and renowned management educator, recently headlined a conference for leaders of nonprofit organizations in Delaware. Collins spoke on the ideas introduced in his books, including his bestseller Good to Great

One point in particular struck a chord for me in reference to theological schools and the challenges and uncertain futures they face.  

   

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Thinking about a merger? Some things to consider

           
         




Thinking about a merger? Here are some things to consider.

   

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Resources for your board: Strategic planning

           
         



Strategic planning: it’s something that you know you need to do, but how do you get started?

We've gathered a few articles to help you think about strategic planning, well, strategically. These articles could be fodder for a fruitful discussion with your board and leadership team.


   

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Financial concerns? Share them.

           
         



The Chronicle of Higher Education
 recently published a provocative post
about financial transparency on its Vitae blog. Allison M. Vaillancourt, an administrator at the University of Arizona, writes that frank discussion of financial issues with faculty and staff can benefit university employees. She argues that rather than avoiding the conversation or trying to protect people from a scary reality, it's best to give them the details they need to make changes.


   

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A gentle evaluation turns away anger

           
         



In the coming months I will assist with two evaluation processes – one of a seminary president’s performance, the other, a board self-assessment. When approaching such assignments, my modus operandi is to accentuate the positive before broaching the negative. To paraphrase the author of Proverbs, I've found that a gentle evaluation turns away anger, while a harsh review encourages the one(s) under scrutiny to dig in his/her/their heels.

   

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Working too hard doesn't work

           
         



Ron Friedman’s article at the Harvard Business Review, “Working Too Hard Makes Leading More Difficult,” contains a warning for presidents, chairs, and other leaders: many behaviors that vault you into leadership roles become hindrances once you actually are a leader.

   

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In Trust magazine -- New Year 2015 issue

           
         


In Trust's New Year 2015 issue was sent to subscribers last week. If you haven’t already received it, it should be arriving soon.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights:

   

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How to manage your consultants

           
         


During a recent conversation with a seminary president, we talked about consultants. How many consultants were presently being used in this president’s institution? “I simply don’t know,” he admitted. “Each department brings in and works with its own consultants. I just know we use lots of outside talent. We have to.”

   

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Some critics don't want religious schools accredited

           
         



Within the world of higher education, a few voices have recently been arguing that religious institutions should not be accredited. A recent example is an opinion piece published in June in the Chronicle of Higher Education.

   

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Sustainability: Not just about the green

           
         


When I think about sustainability, what immediately comes to mind is green. Green — as a concept and not just a color — dominates every conversation.

As I specifically consider leadership of a theological school, Green raises so many questions.

Questions about ecology and the environment: Is my campus kind to the environment? Are our buildings green or at least getting greener? Are our behaviors on campus environmentally responsible? At the very least, do we recycle?

And always, questions about money: Are our budgets balanced and our financial forecasts realistic? Where does our current financial path lead? Is our cash flow sufficient? How sustainable are our finances?

As leaders, we need our institutions to be sustainable, both financially sustainable and environmentally sustainable.

   

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