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Summer issue preview: Do seminaries train pastors for the church?

The upcoming issue of In Trust, due to be mailed July 8, includes an article from Sioux Falls Seminary president Greg Henson about the Entering Student Questionnaire (ESQ) and Graduating Student Questionnaire (GSQ).

In the article, Henson provides an introduction to these two tools, which capture data provided to the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) by more than 5,600 incoming students and 6,300 departing graduates. 

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From the archive: "True North: Orientation is the key for keeping a board on the right course"

A few years ago, In Trust published an article about the importance of getting new board members set up for success through good orientation and thoughtful sharing of materials, information, and policies. You can read the article in its entirety here.

The following checklist is a helpful place to start for new members. And while you’re at it, you might want to ensure that current and seasoned members have this material too.

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A deeper look at a new survey of nonprofit boards



The online nonprofit press is abuzz over the 2015 Survey on Board of Directors of Nonprofit Organizations, with headlines suggesting nothing but bad news. However, after digging into the report for myself, I’m here to dispute the board bashers. The survey results (at least as I read them) simply don’t support the sorry soundbite summaries.

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Have you read the Spring issue of In Trust magazine?




In Trust
's Spring 2015 issue hit mailboxes last week. Here are some highlights from our latest issue: 
  • "Two patterns of good governance." Part 2 of our excerpt from the latest report on seminary governance from researcher Barbara Wheeler.

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The board’s responsibility for evaluating the president




"Regular evaluation of presidential performance is among the top responsibilities assigned to boards of theological schools. It is also a task that many board members prefer not to tackle. So they don't."

So begins the In Trust Center's resource guide, The Board's Responsibility for Evaluating the President, a free resource written by governance expert Rebekah Burch Basinger. The guide outlines five principles to consider so that the board and the president can approach the presidential evaluation with confidence and competence.

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What is Resource Consulting?



Resource Consulting is a method of supporting theological schools based on developmental learning models. Its goal is to strengthen the capacity of schools by helping schools to clarify issues and use resources to meet their identified needs.

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Spring issue preview: Fundraising tasks that only board members can do



The Spring issue of In Trust magazine, due to be mailed next month, includes an article about the roles that board members play in fundraising.

In it, Penelope Burk, president of Cygnus Applied Research, Inc., shares some of the insights from a recent survey of 4,500 nonprofit board members. Her conclusions are thought-provoking.

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Advice for presidents about boards



In January, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) gathered theological school presidents for their annual Presidential Leadership Intensive, a conference devoted to teaching the fine art of leading a seminary.

G. Douglass Lewis was one of the presenters, and he focused on “Ten things the seminary president can do to build a more effective board.”

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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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Theodore Hesburgh, influential university president, dies



Father Theodore Hesburgh, president of the University of Notre Dame 
from 1952 to 1987, has died at age 97. Widely acknowledged as the most influential college president of his generation, Hesburgh was also a founding member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights and served as Vatican representative to the International Atomic Energy Agency.

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Get your board off the bus and into the boat



Although Jim Collins’ caution about getting the right people on the bus is often cited in conversations about board member recruitment, it’s actually a curious metaphor for how to build a strong board. Consider this.

People on a bus don’t set direction. They don’t watch the road. They don’t worry about maintenance of the bus or the cost of filling it with fuel. They’re not involved in recruiting other riders. And it would be unusual for passengers to advocate for better highways or speak out in support of public transportation.

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Don't you love me anymore?



In her recent article in the Nonprofit Quarterly, “Don’t you love me anymore? The critical care of past board members,” author Simone Joyaux writes a funny account of a committed board member who departs the board and suddenly feels abandoned.

Joyaux wonders: How can we ensure that beloved board members, who have given so much, including time, passion, and money -- still feel engaged with the institution after their official term of service is complete?

 

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Shared governance: Resources for your board



Shared governance is one of the most challenging issues at many seminaries and theological colleges. And it works differently at freestanding seminaries and embedded divinity schools. If shared governance continues to be a challenge at your school, you may want to consider some of these resources.

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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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Personality types and problem board members



Recently, the Nonprofit Quarterly posted a classic article on how personality types affect boards. The article lists six “desirable qualities” in a board member, including “commitment,” “common sense and good judgment,” “respect for group process,” “centeredness,” “openness,” and “sense of humor.” But there’s also a helpful list of five kinds of board members who can derail the board’s work. They get nicknames: “Johnny One-Note” . . .

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For Halloween: The headless endeavor



For a couple years, the student garden club at my daughter’s elementary has been an amazing success. Nearly eighty students from grades 1–5 spent time after school last year to design, create, and maintain a stellar garden with flowers and vegetables. The local newspaper and television station came out several times to record the kids in action. Parents volunteered and businesses donated supplies and money. There was even a club song! And all of this was due to the efforts of one woman . . .

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Sustainability: Not just about the green


When I think about sustainability, what immediately comes to mind is green. Green — as a concept and not just a color — dominates every conversation.

As I specifically consider leadership of a theological school, Green raises so many questions.

Questions about ecology and the environment: Is my campus kind to the environment? Are our buildings green or at least getting greener? Are our behaviors on campus environmentally responsible? At the very least, do we recycle?

And always, questions about money: Are our budgets balanced and our financial forecasts realistic? Where does our current financial path lead? Is our cash flow sufficient? How sustainable are our finances?

As leaders, we need our institutions to be sustainable, both financially sustainable and environmentally sustainable.

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What does it mean to govern?



Q: What does it mean to govern? 
[Careful – this is a trick question.]
        a.) to supervise
        b.) to manage
        c.) to donate
        d.) to advise

The correct answer, according to the 2004 governance classic, Governance as Leadership, is e.) none of the above. To govern is “to lead.” And yes, leading includes supervision, management, fundraising, and advising, but leading also supersedes them.  Let me explain.

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Giving thanks: A formula for success



My wife often travels for work.
It’s one of the sacrifices we accept in exchange for the ability to work together from home. Trips usually take her away for no more than two or three days, but this month a huge project demanded that she be in New Hampshire for nearly two weeks.

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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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Should you fire underperforming board members?



Should you fire underperforming board members? The author of "Firing Lousy Board Members" thinks so, and she outlines the process for doing so in her post. Of course, it's not as easy as saying "So-and-so is a lousy board member." No, a board needs to ...

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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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Is your board's culture entrepreneurial or risk averse?




What is your board’s relationship to risk? Does its work reflect a culture of risk taking or risk avoidance? 

The question surrounding board culture and its engagement with risk seems to arise more frequently these days as boards are increasingly encouraged to travel two seemingly conflicting roads of risk -- the entrepreneurial road of risk taking and the security-conscious road of risk management.

Which road do you prefer to travel? Given your institution’s situation, which road must you travel?

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Shared governance is flawed but fixable



Few people appear happy with the state of shared governance at American colleges and universities.”

That’s how Brian Rosenberg, president of Macalester College, begins a thoughtful essay on how to reform shared governance in higher education.

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