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From category archives: In Trust Blog

Management

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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Cream doesn't always rise to the top



You can’t pursue any sort of career for long before you realize that advancement and promotions are not always handed to the most effective or competent people. . .

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What does it mean to govern?



Q: What does it mean to govern? 
[Careful – this is a trick question.]
        a.) to supervise
        b.) to manage
        c.) to donate
        d.) to advise

The correct answer, according to the 2004 governance classic, Governance as Leadership, is e.) none of the above. To govern is “to lead.” And yes, leading includes supervision, management, fundraising, and advising, but leading also supersedes them.  Let me explain.

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Giving thanks: A formula for success



My wife often travels for work.
It’s one of the sacrifices we accept in exchange for the ability to work together from home. Trips usually take her away for no more than two or three days, but this month a huge project demanded that she be in New Hampshire for nearly two weeks.

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Dunk-worthy: How do you handle unpopular opinions?



Recently, views opined on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict led to the resignation of the Rev. Bruce M. Shipman, the head of the Episcopal Church at Yale University, and the withdrawal of an offer of tenure for Steven G. Salaita, who was to teach with the American Indian studies program at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Offering an opinion can be a dangerous thing in the world of higher education. In some of our seminaries, where right thinking . . .

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Is your board's culture entrepreneurial or risk averse?




What is your board’s relationship to risk? Does its work reflect a culture of risk taking or risk avoidance? 

The question surrounding board culture and its engagement with risk seems to arise more frequently these days as boards are increasingly encouraged to travel two seemingly conflicting roads of risk -- the entrepreneurial road of risk taking and the security-conscious road of risk management.

Which road do you prefer to travel? Given your institution’s situation, which road must you travel?

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Shared governance is flawed but fixable



Few people appear happy with the state of shared governance at American colleges and universities.”

That’s how Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College, begins a thoughtful essay on how to reform shared governance in higher education.

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Educators of fortune (or "Schools contract adjunctivitis")



The number of adjuncts continues to grow, and the issues involved with hiring part-time contract instructors are coming to a head, and board members and seminary trustees are going ...

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Do you offer online classes? You must register in every state where students live



If you’re the institutional liaison with your state office of higher education, or with the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), or with a regional accrediting agency, you know that there’s a deadline approaching: July 1, 2014.

If you have any kind of online presence that draws students from across state lines — and at least 112 ATS schools do! — then you should be prepared for it.

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Everything you need to know about shared governance



Several years ago, the Chronicle of Higher Education ran an article on shared governance. The writer worried that few people in education seem to understand what the phrase means. . . . This piece made me wonder, Can that be true of readers of In Trust? We talk a lot about shared governance. (I mean, a lot.) Could it be that some of our readers—seminary presidents...

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Jargon that works: Dashboards

Instrument panel from a Ford Model A

One particular piece of jargon that appears to me to have some staying power, simply because it does such a fine job of helping us visualize an idea, is the dashboard. There may be a risk that best practices start to require too many key indicators on the dashboard, but when someone uses the term...

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Maintain the mission while firing the faculty?



According to Inside Higher Ed,
Iowa Wesleyan College is cutting 22 of its 52 faculty positions and 16 of its 31 academic programs, saving the school $3 million per year out of its $20 million budget. After the cuts, there will be two faculty members in the English department, and none in math. Naturally, people are distraught, but I’m not inclined to criticize the radical pruning. This is a college with . . .

 

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A bit of winter inspiration

Snowshoers in a snowstorm

John Coleman’s short essay for the Harvard Business Review Blog Network, “Leadership is Not a Solitary Task,” should inspire presidents, board chairs, board members, and anyone who cares about the direction of an institution.

Coleman notes that . . .

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Innovative management ideas at Internet giants



Could your school take management lessons
 from online giants Zappos and Amazon.com? It goes without saying that a seminary is different from a for-profit Internet company, but it seems as if some of their innovations are compatible with the tradition of shared governance in higher education. Is there a way to integrate innovative management practices . . .

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Culture wars: A look at merging institutions


One of the solutions that’s floated to the problem of overall declining enrollments at seminaries and other theological schools is the idea of merging with a larger institution — preferably a university with some resources. But it doesn’t take an expert to know that this kind of venture is ...

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Six lessons a board can learn from an embezzling employee

'The Embezzler'Laura Otten, director of the Nonprofit Center at LaSalle University’s School of Business, recently posted a sad tale about a nonprofit board that neglected its financial oversight responsibilities over a period of many years, creating an environment in which an employee was able to embezzle almost three-quarters of a million dollars, and leading to a lawsuit by a former board member.

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Seminary keeps undergrad program, appoints media professor



The seminary of the Catholic Archdiocese of Philadelphia
has announced that its undergraduate division will remain open. A task force had been assigned to make a recommendation about closing St. Charles Borromeo Seminary's College Division. Also, the seminary has appointed a new academic chair in "social communications" to explore the theological dimensions of mass media.

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A preview of our Autumn 2013 issue



 The Autumn 2013 issue of In Trust magazine is in the mail! Here's a preview of what you can expect:

"Pathways to Seminary: Where the Best Students Come From" by Barbara Wheeler.
In Part 1 of this series, "Sobering Figures Point to Overall Enrollment Decline," Wheeler explained the data that she and her colleagues have been analyzing: Over the last decade, overall seminary enrollment is flat or falling, but there are a few bright spots amid the negative numbers. In this issue, Wheeler shares what she has learned from interviews with the best students enrolled at theological schools across the United States and Canada. 

Two other articles . . .

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How much information is helpful to boards?



Which is better -- a 99-word paragraph or a table with four data points?
Guest blogger Timothy Lincoln says he'd rather have vital information presented in one simple table than in a richly textured narrative.

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All hands needed on the governance deck, and noses, too



"Noses in, fingers out." That's what many boards believe.
But guest blogger Rebekah Burch Basinger says that this approach is all wrong, and the demarcation between governance and management is not that clear.

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Signs and portents?


A small private college in Virginia has closed
; could this mean anything for your school? Well, perhaps. “The pending closure is credit negative for a small subset of the higher-education sector with similar attributes to other closed colleges: very small, private colleges with a high reliance on student charges, indistinct market positions, and limited donor support,” Moody’s analysts said. Seminaries, beware!

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You're probably making this mistake


Have you heard (or even uttered) these statements during meetings? 
  • It would be great if…
  • Someone should…
  • Do we all agree to…?
  • Can you try to…?
  • The chair would like...
Repeat after me: No more weasel words.

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What happened to seminary enrollment?



Here’s the executive summary:
Enrollment across the Association of Theological Schools is slightly down. The population of North America is way up. And this sounds like trouble.

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Requiem for the bookstore



This month, the Cokesbury bookstore at Lancaster Theological Seminary
 closed its doors for good. In fact, this wasn't the seminary's decision -- all the Cokesbury stores are closing, if they haven't already done so. As someone who deeply appreciates what goes into building and managing a finely curated collection of books -- a difficult task when the best of your collection regularly walks out the door, never to be seen until you re-order -- hearing that another store has closed grieves me.

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