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Your school is likely at risk. What can your board do?

Higher education in North America – all higher education, not only theological education – is in trouble. How can your board be prepared? 

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What should your board be asking?

Reducing expenses, decreasing enrollment, increasing costs, and shrinking revenue. These are the current realities of higher education. Are your board members asking the right questions in response?

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No experience required?

If you have worked on a candidate search, you know the routine. First: a list is made of everything the new hire will have to do. In an ideal world, this newbie shows up on day one with HR paperwork complete, knowing where to hang her coat and whom to avoid in the employee break room, and of course, which reports are due when and how to complete them.

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A board member reflects on the closure of his school

In January of this year, the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR) closed its doors for good. Mike Clingenpeel, a BTSR board member, wrote an article for the school’s website reflecting on the closure, and his article was reprinted in the Summer 2019 issue of In Trust. Clingenpeel’s honest reflections offer rare insight into the painful realities of closing a seminary.

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A short series on trends and issues in theological education

A series of articles on theological education from EthicsDaily.com recently caught our attention. Here’s a quick summary.

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Apply to participate in the Wise Stewards Initiative during the 2020-21 academic year

Are you an embedded theological school looking to make significant changes at your school — or improve on the good work that you’re already doing?

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Faculty development, with feeling

If you look hard enough, there seems to be research available about every aspect of higher education — most of it concerned with determining what contributes to successful educational outcomes. Inside Higher Ed recently posted an article about some research being done around the emotional lives of professors and how their emotional response to the demands on their time and energies contribute, ultimately, to their ability to teach.

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Disruption can drive change that leads to sustainability

A recent issue of Trusteeship magazine features an article by Peter Smith titled “How Should Boards Respond to Disruption.” The article was written primarily for boards of universities and colleges, but it goes right to the heart of what it will take to lead a seminary through the next 30 or 40 years.

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The leader you need now, at this moment

If your school is in transition now, or if you've recently completed a leadership change – or even if you are not even considering one – the issue of leadership transition ought to be a part of regular board discussions. Organizational succession planning is the board's work.

 

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Two to tango: Insights from a partnership

In the May issue of Colloquy, the online newsletter from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), two representatives from Andover Newton Theological School and Yale Divinity School offer some reflections on Andover Newton’s transition from a freestanding theological school to an embedded seminary.

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Preparing your students to work without pay

Increasing numbers of churches are turning to part-time, low-paid, or unpaid ministers. What does this mean for seminaries?

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Maneuvering through crises and disruption

When an issue of Trusteeship magazine has the theme of “Institutions in Crisis,” you know you’re in for some great articles on board governance. Handling crises — whether postponing them, mitigating their effects, or managing the fallout — is a big part of leading an institution. And there are all sorts of events and circumstances that may qualify as a crisis.

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Attracting better fish?

Adam Grant of the Wharton School of Business recently wrote an interesting article published in the New York Times that considers the best way to position yourself for career success. 

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Still questioning the effectiveness of online education?

One of the questions that admissions officers regularly field from potential students is, “Do you have an online program?” And it’s not just younger, presumably more tech-savvy students who are asking the question either — nor is it just students who live in other cities or on other continents. At the non-residential seminary where I work, most students live locally. But the idea of fighting traffic after work to take classes a couple nights a week is a hard sell. So they ask: “Do you have an online program?”

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An ATS update on the standards redevelopment

In the May 2019 issue of Colloquy, Sarah Drummond reflects on the labor of the task force that is working on the redevelopment of the accrediting standards of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). 

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Student enrollment by the numbers

If you are a leader in theological education, you are already familiar with overall trends in seminary enrollment. Usually, reports about enrollment are gloomy, with a half-hearted silver lining that suggests, “Well, at least we’re not the only ones struggling.”

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AGB report on the current state of shared governance

In North America, shared governance is a central component of higher education. Yet plenty of research shows that shared governance is not clearly understood by many who are tasked with it.
 

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2nd Annual Conference on Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE) to be held Oct 22-25, 2019 in Palm Springs, California

Following the tremendous response to the first annual conference on competency-based theological education (CBTE) held last November in Vancouver, Canada, plans for the second annual CBTE conference are well underway.

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Lessons no one wants to learn

Schools are constantly trying to peer into the future, plan for change, and stay one step ahead of (or at least not too far behind) the next big thing – whatever that may be. Wise leaders know that schools, programs, and plans need to be re-invented every so often. 

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What are a board's top concerns?

What are the top concerns for the future of higher education as identified by board members serving at private, nonprofit colleges and universities across the United States?

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College-age population expected to decline dramatically

The number of college-age young people is predicted to fall by more than 15 percent within the next decade. The potential effects on theological education are obvious — and daunting.

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In Trust Center board of directors election results

The leaders of member schools of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools recently cast ballots to elect one new member and re-elect one continuing member of the Center’s board of directors.

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Communicating hope amid disruption

The illustration and type on the cover of Fuller Seminary's magazine pretty much says it all. Rather than an evocative photographic portrait, as usually graces the cover, this one sports a photoshopped bird – gold and in flight – which forms the first “I” in the 200-point Century Bold italicized title that reads: DIS RUP TION.

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A challenge to find the time

A recent informal survey conducted by In Trust found that of the 92 seminary presidents and chief executives who replied, 24 percent had taken a sabbatical. Both those who had and those who hadn’t said that it was hard to find the time to take the leave that they had been granted. In Trust followed up with telephone interviews with several presidents and found that they had worked with their boards to create a wide variety of arrangements.

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Nontraditional presidents must exercise “enterprise leadership”

 

In Trust recently published an article titled “Promising Professor vs. Prominent Pastor,” which pointed out that most theological schools hire CEOs who have moved up through the faculty ranks, while a third hire CEOs from leadership positions in their denomination or from the business world.

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