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From category archives: In Trust Blog

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How does your school stay connected to its constituents?



Campus updates, upcoming events, policy decisions, student stories: seminaries have a lot of things going on. How do you keep up to date?

Some presidents, deans, and faculties use blogs to connect with their constituencies and keep people up to date on campus life. The audiences may vary — current students, prospective students, churches, donors, alumni, friends — but the purpose is consistent: to make a connection with people who care.

Click through to learn more about what your peers are doing, and perhaps to gain inspiration for your own communication.

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The closing of Sweet Briar: What are the implications for theological schools?




Some sad news in higher education this week: Sweet Briar College, a women’s liberal arts college in Virginia, announced that it was closing at the end of this semester because of "insurmountable financial challenges."

Sweet Briar has an endowment of more than $80 million, but its board decided to close the school nonetheless.

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A seminary president’s thoughts on dying



Steve Hayner, who was president of Columbia Theological Seminary
until a few months ago, died last weekend of fast-moving pancreatic cancer. Diagnosed less than a year ago, he spent his last few months learning to ask new questions — not “What are my plans?” but rather “How am I going to be faithful whatever the circumstances?”

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Social media resources



Jay Blossom, Publisher of In Trust magazine and In Trust's Vice President for Communication, recently presented a workshop entitled Social Media and Institutional Conflict at the 2015 ATS Presidential Leadership Intensive Conference. The following was created as a supplemental resource for the workshop participants.

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Seminaries honor Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.



Monday is Martin Luther King Jr. Day,
a national holiday in the United States that honors Dr. King and his legacy of nonviolent activism in the civil rights movement.

Designated a federal holiday in 1986, it has only been officially observed in all 50 states since 2000. The campaign to create the holiday began in 1968, shortly after the assassination of Dr. King.

Many theological schools celebrate MLK Day through lectures, days of service, and special chapel celebrations. Listed below are a few of the celebrations taking place this week around the country.

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In Trust magazine -- New Year 2015 issue


In Trust's New Year 2015 issue was sent to subscribers last week. If you haven’t already received it, it should be arriving soon.

Meanwhile, here are some highlights:

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Governance in the news: Avoid easy answers


 

Sexual assault on college campuses has been in the news a lot over the last several months. One of the latest articles to go viral is Rolling Stone’s recent piece on rape at the University of Virginia. Though the credibility of the article has been challenged recently by The Washington Post and other media, the article’s account of the September 2014 meeting of the University of Virginia board of visitors offers insight into how a board and administration address difficult issues.

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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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Who will lead the exiles? A seminary-for-exiles



We live in a time of exile,” writes Carl Trueman, a professor of church history at Westminster Theological Seminary, in the latest edition of First Things.

“The Western public square is no longer a place where Christians feel they belong . . .

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A call for board members to step up



The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review best summed up a recent report from the American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) with this headline: “Scathing report says college trustees fail in mission.” The gist of the report is that higher education is mismanaged, and the buck stops with the board. The public’s image of the country’s institutions of higher education is not the most positive. High on the list of complaints. . .

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Location, location, location



It's the realtor's mantra: "Location, location, location." If the school system stinks, it doesn't matter how nice the house is. If there's no traffic, it doesn't matter how cheap the retail space rents for. And as student demographics change, many seminaries are learning that the . . .

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Can seminaries begin a conversation about clergy health?



Are the church leaders who graduate from your school more likely to be sicker
later in life than a random group of people in the same age group? New research by the Clergy Health Initiative at Duke Divinity School indicates that Methodist clergy are, in fact, more likely to experience significant health problems — higher rates of diabetes, arthritis, high blood pressure, angina, and asthma — than comparable state residents.


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Breaking bread, extending community



Is there anything more communal than the breaking of bread, the sharing of a meal? Jesus understood this. The church in the Book of Acts seems to have gotten the memo as well. Every small town pastor knows that "the tie that binds" is as much about shared potluck dinners as it is about shared woes. It is more certain than even death and taxes: Everybody's got to eat.

The good folks at United Theological Seminary of the Twin Cities seem to ...

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Trends in church-going hint at a more diverse future for seminaries



The fact that with each generation, Americans seem less interested in religion has been sort of an assumed given. A recent article in OnFaith points tells us the reality doesn’t quite match up with the accepted narrative. The numbers are dropping among white millennials, but for non-whites, the story is very different...

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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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Latest news from the Association of Theological Schools

This spring, the Association of Theological Schools issued its latest Colloquy newsletter online. Below are two items from that newsletter that are of interest to theological school board members.

Accrediting processes simplifiedAt its February 2014 meeting, the ATS Board of Commissioners approved changes to its policies and practices.

Continuing education for faculty: Five strategies that won't break the bank. Today, faculty must not only be masters of their disciplines; they must also master instructional design, educational technology, and more.

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Seminaries are launching pads



Barrett Owen works in the admissions office
 at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. He’s 29 years old, has two master’s degrees, and has been working as a bivocational pastor for six years. If you know anything about today’s seminarian, you know that Barrett is not alone. Thousands of theological school students are like him.

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News on demographics, essential skills, and more



Last year, In Trust published a report
 by Barbara Wheeler titled “Sobering Figures Point to Overall Enrollment Decline.” That article’s influence continues to grow. Most recently, it was cited in “Seminaries Continue to Attract Older Students,” an article that award-winning journalist Yonat Shimron wrote for the website Insights into Religion.

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What do professors do all day?



What do professors do all day? Jonathan Ziker, an anthropologist at Boise State University, tackled the work of finding answers. During structured interviews, subjects were asked to report everything they did from 4 a.m. the previous day until 4 a.m. on the current day. On average, faculty participants reported working 61 hours per week. They worked 10 hours per day Monday to Friday.

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Seeking a blessed union: Is a merger on your horizon?

Union Street, Traverse City

Seminaries share little with the ambitions of corporate America, but it’s interesting to compare the matter-of-fact approach to mergers held up by the business world to the apprehension that talk of a merger can bring to a seminary boardroom.

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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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Taking a stand on a controversial issue



Since reading the “Church and State” piece in the recent issue of In Trust, I’ve been keeping my eye on the news for stories of schools that have taken a position on an issue, perhaps schools that don’t often make headlines. Here's one . . .

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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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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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Trustees and technology: an uneasy combination?


survey of higher education trustees 
conducted in the spring of 2013 by the Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges (AGB) found that only about one-third are getting board-level information about education and technology that they would rate as excellent or even . . .

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