Robert E. Cooley is a seasoned veteran of joint ventures, mergers, and other forms of partnership among theological schools. He was named president of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary in 1981, just five years after the completion of the consolidation of Gordon Divinity School and Conwell School of Theology — two theological schools that had separated from undergraduate institutions. Among his early duties: fulfilling the complicated terms of separation from Gordon College and assuaging the concerns of J. Howard Pew, the philanthropist who financed the consolidation.

Since his retirement in 1997 from Gordon-Conwell, Cooley has served as an adviser to numerous institutions that have considered some kind of merger, and he's skeptical about the possibility of success. Most merger studies, he says, do not lead to successful mergers. Of 10 projects he has shepherded, only two resulted in a formal consolidation. And the root of the problem is usually that the missions of the schools are not fully compatible.

In Trust's editor, Jay Blossom, recently asked Cooley to share some of his insights about cooperation among theological schools.


Article from: Summer 2009

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