From category archives: In Trust Blog

Accreditation & Academia

ATS publishes information about proposed accrediting standards

The Association of Theological Schools and Commission on Accrediting have published information about proposed accrediting standards in the May 2020 issue of the ATS monthly newsletter. Members of the Commission will vote on the proposed standards at the organization’s Biennial Meeting on June 24-25, 2020.

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Seminarians in b-school

In the February 4, 2020, issue of the Christian Century, Sarah Drummond explains why Andover Newton Seminary requires students who are preparing for ministry to take at least one course from the Yale School of Management (SOM).

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Faculty development, with feeling

If you look hard enough, there seems to be research available about every aspect of higher education — most of it concerned with determining what contributes to successful educational outcomes. Inside Higher Ed recently posted an article about some research being done around the emotional lives of professors and how their emotional response to the demands on their time and energies contribute, ultimately, to their ability to teach.

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Still questioning the effectiveness of online education?

One of the questions that admissions officers regularly field from potential students is, “Do you have an online program?” And it’s not just younger, presumably more tech-savvy students who are asking the question either — nor is it just students who live in other cities or on other continents. At the non-residential seminary where I work, most students live locally. But the idea of fighting traffic after work to take classes a couple nights a week is a hard sell. So they ask: “Do you have an online program?”

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An ATS update on the standards redevelopment

In the May 2019 issue of Colloquy, Sarah Drummond reflects on the labor of the task force that is working on the redevelopment of the accrediting standards of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). 

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AGB report on the current state of shared governance

In North America, shared governance is a central component of higher education. Yet plenty of research shows that shared governance is not clearly understood by many who are tasked with it.
 

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2nd Annual Conference on Competency-Based Theological Education (CBTE) to be held Oct 22-25, 2019 in Palm Springs, California

Following the tremendous response to the first annual conference on competency-based theological education (CBTE) held last November in Vancouver, Canada, plans for the second annual CBTE conference are well underway.

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Questioning tenure

At some point every board member will hear arguments for and against tenure, the policy that has been called “the most sacred cow munching on the ivy that covers the towers of academia.”

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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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Seminary classes in churches: creative experiments and tough questions

 

Is theological education for everyone — or only for those with special vocations? That question is not new. Nor is it new for seminary classes to be held in church basements in order to bring education closer to the people in the pews. Yet it’s worth repeating that seminaries are continuing to experiment with bringing theological education to untapped audiences. One of these new-yet-old experiments is “taking seminary to church” — holding seminary courses in congregational settings with regular church-goers invited to learn along with officially enrolled seminarians.

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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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Human formation, a key to ministry preparation

In the Catholic context, preparation for priestly ministry is guided by the Program of Priestly Formation. Theological educators of any denomination can benefit from reading this document, especially the section outlining the four elements of formation – spiritual, intellectual, pastoral, and human.

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Seminaries and a theology of work

Most ministers who want to engage the working world will find that their theological school left them unprepared,” argues Chris Armstrong in “The other 100,000 hours,” an article in the New Year 2013 issue of In Trust. 

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Instructional design

Instructional designers and instructional technologists are often confused, but the titles aren’t interchangeable,” says Sue Ann Husted, who has held both positions at various institutions during her 24-year career.

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Accreditation and the forces that shape the standards

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) is in the midst of an ambitious project – the first redevelopment of its accrediting standards in nearly a quarter-century. The work will eventually affect every theological school -- perhaps as soon as 2022, when the new standards may go into effect.

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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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Get merger discussions started by reviewing a document required by ATS

Schools accredited by the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) that are considering a merger should download and peruse a key ATS petition early in the process.

 

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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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Accreditation: What board members need to know

 
Some board members may think that accreditation is for the administrative office, but boards play an important role.
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Hispanic Theological Initiative helps students thrive

Ninety-seven percent of scholars who participate in the Hispanic Theological Initiative (HTI) complete their doctoral degrees within 5.5 years. 

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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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Highlights from In Trust's Autumn 2017 issue, available now

The Autumn 2017 issue of In Trust was recently mailed  to subscribers and is now available online. Click "Read the rest of entry" for highlights.

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A review of David F. Labaree’s A Perfect Mess

The “fundamental thesis” of David F. Labaree’s A Perfect Mess, according to Edwin Woodruff Tait, is that “American higher education is an instrument in maintaining both social mobility and social stability.” 

 

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Measuring the effectiveness of online programs

Online programs fill the educational landscape these days, but how do we measure their effectiveness? During a recent webinar, Roxanne Russell presented some strategies for doing so, drawn from her work in shaping the revised online/hybrid D.Min program at Candler School of Theology at Emory University. 

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A law school is closing after facing enrollment and job placement challenges

Theological education is not the only sector of higher education facing the combined pressures of high costs and flat enrollment. Law schools have seen enrollment drop over the last decade, due in part to a difficult job market coupled with high tuition costs. Now, for the first time, a law school is shutting its doors.

 

 

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Check out our Spring 2017 issue, available now

The Spring 2017 issue of In Trust is now online. Click "Read the rest of entry" for highlights! 

 

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Moving past the stigma of mental illness

“I’m a pastor with depression. For years I thought I had to hide it. That was an eye-catching headline in a recent News & Ideas newsletter from Leadership Education at Duke Divinity. The headline was a link to a Sojourners article, and I read it with interest because we recently published an article in In Trust on theological schools partnering with psychology and social work programs. 

 

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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 one school is integrating field education into clerical training

A recent article in The Christian Century by Celeste Kennel-Shank features Bexley Seabury Seminary’s revised M.Div. program, which integrates field education throughout seminarians’ education. The Chicago seminary's newly relaunched M.Div. program requires students to work with faculty, pastors, congregational leaders, and parishioners in a real-world context as they simultaneously take courses, both online and in person.

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Reaching seminarians and communities alike through congregational partnerships

The challenges for modern theological schools and the needs of seminarians are great and ever-changing. Among these include the rising costs of obtaining seminary degrees and many seminarians’ desire to remain close to their homes and families. In a February article in The Christian Century, Jason Byassee and Ross Lockhart highlight how some schools are meeting these challenges by partnering with flourishing megachurches.

 

 

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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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Autumn issue highlight: Teaching Islam in Christian seminaries

Teaching Islam in Christian seminaries,”an article in the Autumn 2016 issue of In Trust, focuses on the growing number of Christian seminaries that are adding programs or courses in Islamic Studies.

 

 

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Recently published from CHEA: A board member's guide to accreditation

Accreditation for institutions of higher education is a multifaceted and often confusing process. For governing boards in particular, it can be challenging to learn the ins and outs of accreditation and what the role of the board is in that process. The Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) has recently published a resource to address this challenge.

 

 

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Webinar on five-year B.A./M.Div. programs now available

The In Trust Center recently presented a free webinar sponsored by the Kern Family Foundation on five-year pastoral degree programs, which are currently underway at 19 institutions. During the webinar, Josh Good, program director of the Faith, Works, & Economics program at the Kern Family Foundation, presented the history of the foundation's support for five-year programs

 

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One Jesuit's perspective on theological education

As the Jesuits are currently reviewing their approach to theological education, one of the order's former educators is offering his perspective on changes needed to prepare clergy for a modern context.

 

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Dallas seminary to require sexual abuse prevention class

As of this fall, Dallas Theological Seminary is requiring ministry students to take an entry-level certification course on preventing and addressing child sexual abuse.

 

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"Farminary" provides agricultural context to ministerial formation

Princeton Theological Seminary is offering a unique take on the recent interest in sustainable farming. Their agricultural project, known as the Farminary, is offering students a chance to learn theological concepts and to develop their ministry in the context of farming. 

 

 

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Adaptation may help declining enrollment

Among the difficulties many theological schools face today is the decline in student enrollment. The answer to this problem may well be in a school’s ability to adapt to the needs of today’s potential seminarians.

 

 
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Influence of presidents rises

The influence of seminary presidents in decision making has substantially increased over the last decade, while that of faculties and denominations has decreased. At the same time, board influence remains unchanged. 

 

These findings were discussed in “Who’s in Charge? Effective Decision Making in a Time of Crisis and Fundamental Change,” a January 21 webinar jointly sponsored by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the In Trust Center.

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The role of faculty in shared governance



 
Sarah Drummond Israel Galindo Joretta Marshall Rebecca Slough

No one disputes the central role of faculty in the classroom. But what role do faculty members have in the boardroom? In Trust wanted to know, so we asked Nadine Pence, executive director of the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion, to recommend a few conversation partners. Pence suggested four respected academic leaders, each representing a different seminary, and In Trust invited them to discuss how shared governance plays out on their campuses. 

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Chronicle highlights challenges of rural colleges

The Chronicle of Higher Education recently published an article that addresses the challenges of rural colleges and the efforts of some schools to attract more students and faculty. Written by Lawrence Biemiller, the article highlights colleges facing difficulties because of their remote locations.

 

 
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The value of classroom tech: A professor chimes in

Technology has made every area of human endeavor better, or at least more productive, and it seems downright curmudgeonly these days to say otherwise. We all agree with that. . . right?

 
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How do you say “thanks” to faculty?


 

While it’s important to thank faculty and show appreciation for their hard work and dedication, it’s not always feasible to demonstrate this appreciation through salary increases. When budgets are already tight, it may be impossible to accommodate the extra costs.

This doesn’t mean, however, that there's no way to thank faculty. Instead, it means that seminary leaders may need to get creative. A few years ago, In Trust published an article with some ways to say “thank you” when money is tight.

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In Trust magazine – Spring 2016 issue

The Spring 2016 issue of In Trust was recently mailed to subscribers. Here are some of the highlights.

 
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Understanding the graduate programs that shape faculty

In a 2011 In Trust article, Helen Blier addressed the need for boards to understand both their own graduate programs and the programs from which their faculty come. This was in response to the economic recession that resulted in rising student debt and a grim job market. Although we are five years out from this article, and the economy has gradually improved, the point that Blier makes is still significant — boards should understand the programs that shape faculty.  

 

 
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Why you should understand theological school finances

 

If you're a stakeholder at a theological school — especially if you're a board member, administrator, or faculty member — it's vital that you really understand your school’s financial standing, rather than solely relying on the CFO or other financial staff.

 
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One perspective on tenure

In a recent Christian Century blog post, Greg Carey provides a defense of tenure at theological institutions. He begins his post by acknowledging that in times of change and financial unrest, theological schools may be tempted to rely principally on adjunct faculty. After all, tenured faculty cost more --and some may be resistant to institutional changes. But Carey argues against the move toward adjunct faculty.

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Rapidly approaching deadline for new Luce Foundation fund

 

The deadline to submit letters of inquiry for the brand-new Luce Fund for Theological Education is March 15. The Henry Luce Foundation is encouraging requests from seminaries and other organizations for amounts of $250,000 to $500,000. A select number of inquirers will be invited to present full proposals.

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Calvin College offers inmates a second chance

“To have this opportunity is an answer to prayer and an opportunity to fulfill my calling,” says David. He's pursuing a bachelor of arts in ministry leadership degree offered by Calvin College. He's also an inmate at Richard A. Handlon Correctional Facility in Ionia, Michigan. 

The Calvin Prison Initiative offers 20 inmates in the Michigan correctional system the chance to pursue a B.A. while incarcerated. The initiative, which accepted its first class in August, has been positively received by inmates, prison staff, and Calvin faculty alike.

 
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