Wise Stewards Initiative

Strong Boards for Strong Theological Schools

Whenever presidents or board chairs gather, the conversation turns to questions about how to maximize the board’s potential. Although it’s generally agreed that a theological school will be no stronger than its board — at least not in the long term — institutional leaders struggle with knowing how to encourage their board’s continuous growth and development.

The In Trust Center’s Wise Stewards Initiative addresses that struggle with a focus on building board and staff capacity for better institutional governance. The curriculum, resources, and format of the three-year project have been designed especially for leadership teams of theological schools by experienced educators, administrators, and consultants, all of whom have firsthand knowledge of graduate theological education.

Participating schools receive practical insights, tools, and strategies for inspiring and educating current and future board members. The program content is organized around four areas:

  • Roles and responsibilities of boards of theological schools.
  • The president/board partnership in institutional renewal.
  • Reimagining governance as a force for change.
  • Strategies for leading change, managing conflict, and maximizing institutional potential.

The Wise Stewards Initiative, which is funded in part by a grant from the M. J. Murdock Trust, uses a cohort-based learning model that includes surveys, assessments, resource readings, interactive faculty presentations, and dialogue and interaction with home-campus governance colleagues and with presidents and board members from other theological schools. Each cohort includes 10 theological schools, grouped by institutional type:

  • Year 1: Freestanding institutions.
  • Year 2: Embedded theological schools.
  • Year 3: Roman Catholic and denominationally affiliated schools.

Priority in the selection process is given to schools located in Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Schools are selected on a rolling basis. 

Next steps