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From category archives: In Trust Blog

Administration

Resource roundup: Succession planning

Succession planning isn’t just for a school’s presiding officer. Having a plan for transition and succession that applies to the entire institution can reduce stress and avert ad hoc emergency decision making when change inevitably occurs. 

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Resource roundup: Assessing institutional culture

How do your faculty, staff, and administrators experience the culture of your institution? Knowing the answer can help you make improvements that result in lasting benefits and contribute in significant ways to your school’s success.

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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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Tending shared governance

“Effective shared governance is hard work.” That’s how a new article focusing on shared governance in this month’s Trusteeship magazine begins. This is no surprise to anyone familiar with the practice of shared governance, but it’s certainly nice to read the words and appreciate that others struggle with the practice too.

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Must you let people know that you're closing?

Every institution runs on confidence. Startups need investors to believe that their money won't be wasted. Banks need customers who trust that their savings won't be lost. Schools need students who are confident that the school will be around long enough for them to graduate. And the donors to these schools need to feel confident that their contributions are not being tossed into a black hole.

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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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Administrators strive to serve international students

Students from Africa and East Asia come to study in North America because theological schools in the United States and Canada offer top-quality education. However, immigration and financing systems don’t always prepare these students for the hurdles they inevitably encounter.

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A community-based leadership “creed”

Boyung Lee is the first Korean American woman dean at an ATS school. She cites the work of a group called Pacific, Asian, and North American Asian Women in Theology and Ministry (PANAAWTM) as pivotal to her development as a leader. Here she shares her 13-point "Leadership Creed," an embodiment of the lessons she's learned in PANAAWTM.  

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Seminaries struggle to build community with affordable dining services

 

Declining enrollment and increasing numbers of distance education and off-campus students are making the economics of providing food increasingly unsustainable for theological schools. Yet everyone agrees that shared meals build community. What's a seminary to do?

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Strategic planning = spiritual discernment

Leaders of theological schools routinely navigate the nuances of Torah law; Trinitarian controversies; the oeuvre of Rahner, Barth, and Marion; not to mention the subtleties of shared governance. Yet we can still be intimidated by the occult mysteries of strategic planning — not just planning, mind you, but strategic planning.

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When it comes to development, the personal touch might just be the Midas touch




What can board members, who have a big role to play in development, do to make fundraising more productive and, dare we hope, less onerous?

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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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Where do the “best” seminarians come from?

Why are some seminarians more successful than others? What is the background of these star students? Is there such a thing as a "best" seminarian? 

 

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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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An American icon that fell victim to the “competency trap”

The New York Times has run an obituary of sorts for Xerox, the American corporation that is merging with Japanese behemoth Fujifilm Holdings. The company prospered and innovated for decades, but then they began to fall behind. What lessons could we in theological education learn from their example? 

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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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Writing for the mass media: A practical how-to



On November 2, the In Trust Center hosted a webinar on “Writing for the mass media” aimed at seminary leaders. 

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Show me the data


A key priority for Pierce College, a community college in Washington state that serves more than 20,000 students at two campuses (as well as online and at a local military base), was bettering its college completion rates. Ben Gose writes about this initiative in the October 6, 2017, issue of The Chronicle of Higher Education.

 

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Innovation, innovation, innovation


Innovation is a buzzword for our current time. Everywhere you look, someone is writing about the need to be innovative, and organizations are bragging about how innovative they are.

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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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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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Article highlights family-leave policies at evangelical seminaries




A recent Christianity Today article examines the parental leave policies of several evangelical seminaries and what these policies inadvertently say about the value of women and families to these institutions. 

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How can you foster board engagement?



“No school can afford a board that is unaccountable, uncreative, and uncooperative.” This was the driving idea behind Eugene F. Roop’s article “Board governance can be accountable, creative, and cooperative: three ways of understanding the board’s work,” published in a 2011 issue of In Trust.

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Protect yourself from cyber threats




Staff of the In Trust Center recently attended a webinar on cyber security for nonprofit organizations. The webinar was provided by the Delaware Small Business Development Center and presented by Michelle Wang, assistant director of information security administration for the Board of Pensions of the Presbyterian Church. Although the webinar was presented for an audience of Delaware nonprofits, the information provided is pertinent to any organization that would like to improve their cyber security efforts.

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