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From category archives: In Trust Blog

Presidents

The right school, the right time, and the right CFO

How does a school find the chief financial officer (CFO) it needs?

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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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Visualizing governance systems

The dashboard of a car can tell you a lot — fuel level, speed, air temperature, tire pressure. The one thing it can’t tell you is where you’re going. For that we need another metaphor. Randall Basinger at Messiah College has just the thing: GPS, or governance positioning system.

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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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The value of interim presidents

The Autumn 2018 issue of In Trust magazine includes an interview with William Crothers, interim president at Ashland Theological Seminary. Crothers has served as an interim CEO five times since he retired in 2002 as ninth president of Roberts Wesleyan College. He was happy to share with In Trust readers some of the wisdom that he’s gleaned over the years.

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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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Why do university presidents lose their jobs?

In a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, William G. Tierney, professor at the University of Southern California, posits the question of why university presidents resign or are fired. Using examples of recent high-profile presidential resignations, Tierney argues that commonly blamed factors are not the true cause of presidential downfalls. 

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Understanding the (stained) glass cliff

After a female faculty member was promoted into seminary leadership, a colleague stopped by her office to congratulate her. But he also asked, “Does this mean the school is in trouble?”  

It didn’t — but the colleague was assuming the theory of the so-called “glass cliff” might be at play.

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Undermining your president

In the final scene of Pixar’s The Incredibles (2004), a drilling machine bursts through the street and a mole-like man steps forward to address the screaming masses: “Behold, the Underminer! I'm always beneath you, but nothing is beneath me! I hereby declare war on peace and happiness! Soon, all will tremble before me!"

 

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Mastering the graceful exit

P. T. Barnum is credited with the saying, “Always leave them wanting more.” It’s good advice. When Douglass Lewis was asked why he was retiring as president of Wesley Theological Seminary, he replied with a similar idea. It was something his mother used to say: "You ought to leave the party while you're having a good time."

 

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Unleashing your inner leader

Becoming an effective leader in theological education -- whether as a president, dean, or board member -- usually requires intentional study and practice. Rarely does someone become a great leader through sheer instinct and natural talent. Rather, great leaders combine their natural gifts with the wisdom they gain from experts and real-world experiences.

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Planning and imagination — or how to connect dreams and means

 

Effective strategic planning requires an active imagination — not because such effectiveness is hard to imagine but because we need to activate our imagination to plan effectively.

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Embedded seminaries: How they thrive

An "embedded" theological school is a seminary or divinity school that is part of a college or university, as contrasted with a "freestanding" seminary, which is an independent graduate-level institution. Embedded schools face unique challenges, according to Mark Markuly, dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. One of these is that “you’re kind of off the grid in the ways people traditionally look at governance boards."


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The value of successful interim presidencies

According to a 2014 In Trust article by Heidi Schlumpf, "...interim or 'acting' presidents...can be valuable to a seminary, offering stability and continuity, achieving specific – often financial – goals, and providing time to reexamine mission and vision while searching for the most appropriate permanent leader." 

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New Year 2018 issue is now available


The New Year 2018 issue of In Trust magazine was recently mailed and is now available to read online.

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A good example of a presidential search update letter


When a school is looking for a new president, rumors fly and questions abound. The search process takes many months, and often confidentiality is paramount.

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Do you need a search firm to find your next president? Maybe not



What’s your process for hiring a new president? Many boards these days rely on consultants or executive search firms to identify candidates, vet their qualifications, gauge their interest, and make recommendations.

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Key qualities of a new president


Leadership turnover is inevitable. Every institution faces it at some point — usually before they want to. Searching for a new leader is challenging, and even before beginning a search, the governing board must be clear about what kind of leader it seeks.

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Turning campus conflict into dialogue and education

M. Craig Barnes, president of Princeton Theological Seminary, teaches a course on conflict. He found himself in the midst of one recently, when the school’s Kuyper Center announced that the Rev. Tim Keller was being honored with its annual award and would be keynote lecturer at the annual Kuyper Conference.

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Frank Yamada interviewed for Faith and Leadership


Frank Yamada, the new executive director of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS), recently gave an interview for Faith & Leadership. In the interview, now available online, Yamada discusses the state of theological education and future goals of ATS. 

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Tips for ensuring the show goes on, despite a smaller cast of characters




The North American nonprofit sector is no stranger to getting by on less. But these days less is edging toward subsistence, with budgets and personnel close to the breaking point. What’s a leadership team to do when the show must go on but with a smaller cast of characters to cover all the roles? Create a plan.

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Survey reveals shared concerns of college presidents

Earlier this year, the Gallup Organization and Inside Higher Ed teamed up to survey 2,890 college and university presidents about a host of topics. Although the survey sample did not include Bible colleges, seminaries, or institutions with fewer than 500 students, several of the questions asked relate to issues that theological schools are facing as well.

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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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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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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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