Frequently asked questions about
the Wise Stewards Initiative


What is the purpose of the Wise Stewards Initiative?


The purpose of the Wise Stewards Initiative is to encourage boards of theological schools to take a bold step beyond the usual approaches to governance — fiduciary responsibility, policy-oriented governance, and “governance as leadership” — through an exploration of governance as change agent. The Wise Stewards Initiative also challenges institutional teams to identify a series of strategic next steps and benchmarks needed to create a sustainable future.


What is the format of the Wise Stewards Initiative?


The Wise Stewards Initiative utilizes a three-pronged approach for board learning: (1) One day of individualized, campus-based coaching at your school's Fall board meeting, (2) a multiday seminar during which four-member institutional teams interact with and learn with and from board members and presidents of other similar schools, and (3) One day of continued coaching with your Faculty Coach.

Soon after a theological school is accepted for participation in the Wise Stewards Initiative, all of the school’s board members are asked to complete a board assessment. The president, board chair, and coach assigned to the school use the findings from the assessment to design a custom learning plan for the board that includes how they will use the coaching provided to participants through the Wise Stewards Initiative.


What is the financial cost of the Wise Stewards Initiatives for participating schools?


Thanks in part to support from the M. J. Murdock Charitable Trust, there’s no financial cost to schools participating in the Wise Stewards Initiative. Travel costs, food, and lodging for the multiday seminar are also covered.


What are the expectations of participants?


Each school that is selected for participation names a four-member Wise Stewards Leadership Team (including the president, the board chair, and two other board members) who will take part in the Wise Stewards Initiative Seminar.  At embedded schools, the Wise Stewards Leadership Team should include the chief executive of the theological school, the board chair, and two other board members.

The school’s Wise Stewards Leadership Team must commit to the following:

  1. Ensure that all board members (including those not part of the Wise Stewards Leadership Team) complete the board assessment.
  2. Develop a learning plan in consultation with the Wise Stewards Faculty Coach.
  3. Attend the Wise Stewards Seminar.
  4. Submit a summary report at the end of the Wise Stewards Initiative that includes next steps for continuing board development.
  5. Notify the Wise Stewards Initiative program director if the school must withdraw its participation.


How many theological schools will have the opportunity to participate in the Wise Stewards Initiative?


A total of 30 theological schools have the opportunity to participate in the Initiative — 10 in each year of the three-year project. Cohorts are based on school type: Freestanding institutions in year 1, Roman Catholic and denominationally owned theological schools in year 2, and embedded seminaries in year 3. Priority in the selection process is given to schools located in the five-state region of Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon, and Washington. Schools are selected on a rolling basis and must hold a current membership with the In Trust Center. 

In addition to the schools selected to participate, all theological schools will benefit from the Initiative through access to Initiative-generated resources, articles in In Trust magazine, webinars, and workshops at ATS Biennial Meetings.


What are the dates of the Wise Stewards Seminar in Vancouver, WA?


Year One: March 27-28, 2019
Year Two: March 25-26, 2020
Year Three: March 24-25, 2021

Next steps

Read more about the Advisory Council and Faculty Coaches.

Apply here.

Questions? Email resources@intrust.org or call 302-654-7770.

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