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Who understands your school’s financial statements?



Who understands your school's finances? The answer should not be "just the CFO." Or even just the CFO, the president, and the finance committee chair. Ideally all board members and senior administrators should have a solid understanding of a school's finances -- and perhaps the faculty and staff as well. 

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Orientation is the key to keeping a board on the right course



To stay focused on the mission, a school's board members must be guided and redirected as a school's needs change in response to a shifting environment. Using the metaphor of a ship, Tracy Schier likens board orientation to the compass guiding a seminary toward “true north” -- the school’s mission. If a board is going to avoid getting lost at sea, orientation is vital for new and continuing board members alike.

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Caring for our leaders


How can you care for your school’s president or dean? You may think of things like benefits, salary, onboarding, and board support. But you're probably not thinking of yearly evaluation, contracts, or succession planning.

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The good governance journey


In Trust Center president Amy Kardash shares ten governance lessons from a joint project with the Association of Theological Schools. 

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Measuring the effectiveness of online programs

Online programs fill the educational landscape these days, but how do we measure their effectiveness? During a recent webinar, Roxanne Russell presented some strategies for doing so, drawn from her work in shaping the revised online/hybrid D.Min program at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. 

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Canadian theological school governance




For those outside of Canadian theological education, and even for some inside it, the organization of Canadian theological schools can seem complicated. Higher education in Canada encompasses a wide variety of governance structures, due in part to the provincial (rather than national) oversight of education.

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Need a succession plan? The In Trust Center can help!


In an ideal world, institutional leaders know well in advance when they plan to step down from their positions. After a long, successful presidency, boards and administrators have ample time to plan for the departure of a leader and the arrival of a highly qualified successor. But what if a president unexpectedly takes another job or falls gravely ill?

But what if a president unexpectedly takes another job or falls gravely ill?
But what if a president unexpectedly takes another job or falls gravely ill?
But what if a president unexpectedly takes another job or falls gravely ill?

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Ready or not



"People act shocked when the usual crises occur and they have no adequate plan." 

Why? Perhaps it's because of where we as leaders invest our time. Many of us are so focused on deadlines and day-to-day obligations that we never take the time to plan for crises that may or may not take place.

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Technological solutions for board collaboration



At your school, how do board members communicate between meetings? How are board documents relayed and important decisions made ahead of meetings? Is it sometimes challenging to collaborate with your board members, who are busy and scattered across the country (or globe)? If so, take heart -- there are technological solutions that may help.

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Calculating the "public value" of your school


Sometimes a theological school must communicate its worth to a larger community -- perhaps as part of an outreach effort or in an appeal to donors. In these instances, it’s helpful for school leadership to make the case for the institution's value to the community. A few years ago, Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary conducted an economic impact study and was subsequently able to quantify its value after local residents expressed concern that the seminary was not giving enough to the community. In addition to actual dollar amounts given, the seminary also calculated the value of residents employed by the school, hours volunteered, and benefits not easily quantified, such as diversity. As a result, not only was the school able to communicate its worth, but they also developed stronger town-gown relationships.

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The president or the board: Who decides?


Noses in, fingers out.” That’s what we’ve suggested to boards in the most simplistic way when discussing the board’s role and responsibilities – a perennial topic for In Trust magazine, In Trust Center webinars, and our Resource Consulting work. Considering a board’s continual development cycle, board education must always include attention to the clarity of roles and responsibilities.

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Strategic framework resource available from BoardSource


Does your school have a strategic plan? Or have you chosen a less formal planning strategy? BoardSource has recently released an infographic that explains the differences between strategic plans and strategic frameworks -- and why boards are increasingly moving towards the more flexible framework model.

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Presidential evaluation resources




Is your board planning a presidential evaluation soon? In any evaluation process, it is important to consider what you hope to gain -- including the board's (and the president's) priorities and plans. Are you unsure of where to start? The In Trust Center can help!

 

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In Trust magazine - New Year 2017 issue



The New Year 2017 issue of In Trust was recently sent out to members and subscribers. Click "Read the rest of entry" for highlights! 

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Transformational philanthropy means engagement with prospective donors




“Transformational philanthropy” was the focus of a December 6 webinar sponsored by the In Trust Center and presented by Aimée Laramore, director of advancement at Christian Theological Seminary in Indianapolis and owner/lead consultant at ALlyd Solutions.

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Five core functions of effective presidents

The business section of the bookstore abounds with titles that promise new approaches to better leadership and management. For leaders in graduate-level theological institutions, however, there are only a handful of organizations dedicated to your particular niche. 

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ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire Webinar available



On October 4, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) presented a webinar titled “GSQ Webinar: Highlights from the Total School Profile.”

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A financial vocabulary lesson for board members



Are you a board member with fiduciary responsibilities but little experience with financial matters? Do you find yourself lost or confused by the financial jargon that comes up in budgetary or investment discussions? Have no fear. 

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Recently published from CHEA: A board member's guide to accreditation




Accreditation for institutions of higher education is a multifaceted and often confusing process. For governing boards in particular, it can be challenging to learn the ins and outs of accreditation and what the role of the board is in that process. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has recently published a resource to address this challenge.

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Webinar on five-year B.A./M.Div. programs now available



The In Trust Center recently presented a free webinar sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation on five-year pastoral degree programs, which are currently underway at 19 institutions. During the webinar, Josh Good, program director of the Faith, Works, & Economics program at the Kern Family Foundation, presented the history of the foundation's support for five-year programs

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Creating an emergency transition plan



If a school’s chief executive departs, the board, administration, and staff will know well in advance, right? And they'll prepare for a smooth leadership change, and everyone will remark on how well the transition went, and the next year will be the institution's best year ever. Right?

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Protect yourself from cyber threats




Staff of the In Trust Center recently attended a webinar on cyber security for nonprofit organizations. The webinar was provided by the Delaware Small Business Development Center and presented by Michelle Wang, assistant director of information security administration for the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church. Although the webinar was presented for an audience of Delaware nonprofits, the information provided is pertinent to any organization that would like to improve their cyber security efforts.

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Leadership is shaped by our faith traditions


As David Tiede put it in a 2009 In Trust article, “Effective leadership . . . has become the test in a growing number of schools, and some track their results by how well communities are led by their graduates.”

Quoting Daniel Aleshire, executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, Tiede states that “theological education is leadership education.” In addition to intellectual and spiritual formation, seminaries typically include leadership education in their models of good theological education.

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Pokemon GO and the theological library



Cross-posted from the ATLA Newsletter, the blog of the American Theological Library Association. Article submitted to the ATLA by Keegan Osinski, public services assistant, Vanderbilt University Divinity Library.

Much of theological librarianship lies at the intersection of church and library. And as of July 8, 2016, something else has popped up at that intersection: the mobile gaming app Pokémon GO. Based on the popular video game and anime from the late ’90s and early ’00s, Pokémon GO is a location-based game that uses Google maps to bring Pokémon into the real world. Players explore their neighborhoods and cities looking for monsters to catch and battles to fight. The important landmarks in the game — PokéStops and Gyms — are often located at public art, historical markers, and churches and libraries. Both libraries and houses of worship are finding that Pokémon GO can be a fun way to interact with their communities.

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Influence of presidents rises



The influence of seminary presidents in decision making has substantially increased over the last decade, while that of faculties and denominations has decreased. At the same time, board influence remains unchanged. 

These findings were discussed in “Who’s in Charge? Effective Decision Making in a Time of Crisis and Fundamental Change,” a January 21 webinar jointly sponsored by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the In Trust Center.

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