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From category archives: In Trust Blog

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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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Montana institute blends postmodern faith and fly-fishing


A group of church leaders in Bozeman, Montana,
is developing plans for a new graduate-level theological institute in their city, focusing on “emergent Christianity.” The institute’s first activities, held in summer and fall of 2013, were five-day immersion seminars that featured not only instruction, but also fly-fishing along Montana’s rivers and hiking . . . 

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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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Seminary sells campus, moves to smaller space

Lexington Theological Seminary has announced that it will be moving from its 63-year-old campus to a 16,000-square-foot building near the Lexington Green Mall. Earlier this year, the school sold its real estate and buildings to the University of Kentucky for . . .

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More schools, fewer students



The Autumn 2013 issue of In Trust 
includes an article titled “More Schools, Fewer Students: What’s Your Seminary’s Position in the Changing Market of Theological Education?” Co-author Greg Henson, the VP for institutional advancement at Northern Seminary in Lombard, Illinois, has a blog that contains more . . .

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Dr. Rick Bliese named president of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools



The board of directors of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools has named Dr. Richard (Rick) Bliese as the organization’s new president. In his new role, Bliese will oversee and direct all In Trust programs and activities, including In Trust magazine, a 24-year-old quarterly periodical for seminary trustees and senior administrators, and the In Trust Governance Mentor service, which offers customized help to theological school boards. Bliese will also lead the expansion of a new In Trust signature service funded by Lilly Endowment Inc., Resource Consulting.

“The board of directors is delighted to . . .

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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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Planning a new campus


With the declining number of students
hitting up seminaries for education, and the average student age rising, schools need to be even more careful about planning new campuses.

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How widely distributed within the United States is your denomination?


The 2010 U.S. Religion Census from the Association of Statisticians of American Religious Bodies reports that there are 19 religious groupings (or denominations) with at least 1 million adherents in the United States. Together, these account for 89.4 percent of all religious adherents. The next-largest 42 groupings, with between 100,000 and 1 million adherents, account for another 9.4 percent of all religious adherents.

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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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Schools examining costs and benefits of tenure



Earlier this month, the board of trustees at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary
brought the national debate over tenure home to Texas. By a unanimous vote, they decided to end the tenure program at Southwestern, and set in motion the process to make that happen.

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One of Canada's most influential theological training centres

To begin to understand the Toronto School of Theology, one needs to understand what a consortium is and what it is not, says Martin Campbell, a Toronto lawyer who chairs the TST board. “It’s a group of people or organizations who come together for a common purpose.”

In TST’s case, “it means the seven members give up only that part of their authority and power which is necessary to accomplish the common purpose, and they retain their separate identity,” explains Campbell. “That is a critical balance for TST — they all have their own heritage and are accountable to their own denominations and traditions. It’s that delicate balance that everyone has respected for more than 40 years. And the consortium could only function if that balance is respected.”

Read and print the full article here.

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