From category archives: In Trust Blog

Students & Alumni

Principles for our new reality

A list of “Principles” written by Professor Brandon Bayne of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has begun circulating online over the last few weeks. The In Trust Center reached out directly to Professor Bayne for permission to share his principles more broadly. His “Principles,” though written for university students, can apply equally well to staff, faculty, and even boards of theological institutions.

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Continuing education: Advance your mission

Dr. Helen Blier, director of continuing education at Pittsburgh Theological Seminary, recently led a webinar on what continuing education is, why institutions should offer it, and how schools can dive in.

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Fundamental principles of enrollment management

Understanding enrollment and student retention is essential for any institution to thrive, but not knowing the basics of enrollment management is a common problem.

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Preparing your students to work without pay

Increasing numbers of churches are turning to part-time, low-paid, or unpaid ministers. What does this mean for seminaries?

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Student enrollment by the numbers

If you are a leader in theological education, you are already familiar with overall trends in seminary enrollment. Usually, reports about enrollment are gloomy, with a half-hearted silver lining that suggests, “Well, at least we’re not the only ones struggling.”

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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ATS Graduating Student Questionnaire Webinar available

On October 4, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) presented a webinar titled “GSQ Webinar: Highlights from the Total School Profile.”

 

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Seminary rector interviewed by Crux magazine

Bishop Timothy Senior, rector of St. Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia, recently gave an interview for Crux magazine. During the interview, Bishop Senior offered his reflections on priestly formation one year after Pope Francis’ 2015 visit to Philadelphia.

 

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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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A dissertation review: “Work-Life Balance of Women Leaders in ATS” by Kelly Campbell

“Work-Life Balance of Women Leaders in the Association of Theological Schools,” Kelly Campbell’s 2015 doctoral thesis, addresses an important question: how do female seminary administrators handle the relationship between their profession and their personal lives? This is a question often raised about professional women in particular, a fact that has generated some controversy.

 

 

 

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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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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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Graduation gap remains between black and white students

New research about the graduation rate disparity between black and white students is highlighted in a March 2016 article in Inside Higher Ed.

 

 
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Already in debt, incoming seminarians plan to work part time

In a January 20 webinar for seminary leaders, a researcher for the Association of Theological Schools highlighted sobering data gleaned from surveys of new students at the association's member institutions.

 
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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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Do bequests make a difference?

 

Donors make bequests to make a difference after they're gone. Mary Goodman, a New Haven laundress who bequeathed her life savings (nearly $5,000) to Yale Divinity School to provide scholarships for African Americans, was especially successful in this regard: her bequest supported the school’s first black students, and continues to support students today, nearly 144 years later.

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Engaged with the community, or just dating?

One of my day jobs has me working at a large state university, writing for an office dedicated to “outreach and engagement.” For the uninitiated, the phrase “outreach and engagement,” could refer to a host of missions -- Are we trying to connect alumni with the university? Is this office dedicated to building a better relationship with the community? Is this the student recruitment office?

The actual mission is much more interesting: We work to connect professors with outside partners so that they can do research together, co-create knowledge, and share the benefits of strong partnerships.

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Need to know: Explaining board governance

In conversations on campus, Ithaca College trustees were surprised that many of the people had no idea how the board fits into the governance of the school. In response, the trustees penned an article.

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How does debt affect your school’s students?

 

 

The Graduating Student Questionnaire (GSQ) is a survey that compiles data from recent graduates of more than 170 member institutions of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Jo Ann Deasy, Director of Institutional Initiatives and Student Research at ATS, recently wrote an article for In Trust on what the GSQ has to say about student debt. 

 
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Online course design: A conversation with Roxanne Russell

Recently Amy Kardash (Director of Programs at the In Trust Center) chatted with Roxanne Russell (Director of Online Learning at Candler School of Theology) about the In Trust Center’s upcoming webinar, Online Course Design.

The following is a peek into their conversation about the upcoming webinar, especially focused on the question, "Why does this topic matter to board members and administrators?"

 

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Changing demographics at Catholic seminaries

Since the '70s, the number of priests in the United States and Canada has dramatically decreased, while the number of Catholics has grown. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reports that in 1965, 549 U.S. parishes did not have a resident priest pastor. By 2010, that number had increased to 3,496. Nevertheless, a recent story from NPR highlights some good news for U.S. Catholics.

 

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Changing demographics at Catholic seminaries

Since the '70s, the number of priests in the United States and Canada has dramatically decreased, while the number of Catholics has grown. The Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate reports that in 1965, 549 U.S. parishes did not have a resident priest pastor. By 2010, that number had increased to 3,496. Nevertheless, a recent story from NPR highlights some good news for U.S. Catholics.

 

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Operational and educational models in theological education

I believe it is important for theological schools to think critically about their operational and educational models. We have not adequately addressed several issues that have been present for many years within theological education. 

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Key takeaways and resources on student debt and finances

 

The Association of Theological Schools (ATS) recently convened a meeting of the participants in the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers project (ECFFM). ECFFM is aimed at addressing student debt in theological education. Greg Henson, president of Sioux Falls Seminary, shared a presentation at the event, which he has since published on his blog.

 

 

Though Henson's presentation doesn't include sound, I gained some great insights by simply reading the presentation as it progresses. Here are the two slides that struck me as especially important.

 

 

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Online course design: Why it should matter to you

Online Course Design. It’s probably not something that most board members or administrators consider, and yet it is the topic of the In Trust Center’s next webinar.  

What does online course design have to do with the governance and leadership of theological schools? Amy Kardash, the In Trust Center’s director of programs, tells us more about this webinar and why it is relevant to the work of our readers.

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Is a seminary a school or a church?

A seasoned faculty member once complained to me after completing a long counseling session with a student. He lamented about how he was spending more and more of his on-campus time: “Sometimes I feel like I’m spending more time counseling my students than teaching them. This was not the case 20 years ago when I began teaching. Something has changed.”

 

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Our condition: Americans with Disabilities Act, 25 years later

Twenty-five years ago,  when I was a college freshman, my university unveiled a program to address the needs of disabled students on campus. Since this was the same year that Congress passed the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), I can only assume that the new law was the impetus behind the effort. 

 

 

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Is there a place for young people in governance?

Nonprofit Quarterly recently published an article that got me thinking about the benefits and challenges of including young people in governance structures. “Preparing the Board Leaders of Tomorrow by Involving Youth in Governance Today” explains how the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania (GSEP) have involved the girls they service into the organization's governance. As a youth development and leadership organization, the the Girl Scouts are well positioned for this. It aligns with their mission and quite frankly, makes sense. 

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#CharlestonSyllabus: A list of resources

Has your school considered how to engage students and other community members around the issues of race and racism?

The following are resources to help you do just that.

 

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Summer 2015 issue of In Trust magazine

 

Last week the Summer 2015 issue of In Trust magazine landed in the mailboxes of people affiliated with the In Trust Center's member schools. Here are some highlights.

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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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Book review: "A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An All Campus Approach"

 

A Guide to Fundraising at Historically Black Colleges and Universities: An All Campus Approach by Marybeth Gasman and Nelson Bowman III is a comprehensive overview of how historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) can transform their fundraising. As leading authorities on HBCUs, Gasman and Bowman closely examine the unique roles that the school president, board, faculty, alumni, and student body have in capacity building.

 
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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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Paying attention to the symbols of leadership

As leaders, we know that we must be clear about our guiding principles and also stand up for our beliefs.  Eloquent speeches, mission statements, and even articles about common values and vision are important, but aren't nearly enough. As leaders, we must embody our principles. Our deeds are far weightier than our words, yet they must be consistent. It is at this juncture of principles and behavior that the symbols of leadership become concrete and can take on a life of their own.

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Trends in church-going hint at a more diverse future for seminaries

The fact that with each generation, Americans seem less interested in religion has been sort of an assumed given. A recent article in OnFaith points tells us the reality doesn’t quite match up with the accepted narrative. The numbers are dropping among white millennials, but for non-whites, the story is very different...

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Trends in church-going hint at a more diverse future for seminaries

The fact that with each generation, Americans seem less interested in religion has been sort of an assumed given. A recent article in OnFaith points tells us the reality doesn’t quite match up with the accepted narrative. The numbers are dropping among white millennials, but for non-whites, the story is very different...

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Trends in church-going hint at a more diverse future for seminaries

The fact that with each generation, Americans seem less interested in religion has been sort of an assumed given. A recent article in OnFaith points tells us the reality doesn’t quite match up with the accepted narrative. The numbers are dropping among white millennials, but for non-whites, the story is very different...

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Seminaries are launching pads

Barrett Owen works in the admissions office at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. He’s 29 years old, has two master’s degrees, and has been working as a bivocational pastor for six years. If you know anything about today’s seminarian, you know that Barrett is not alone. Thousands of theological school students are like him.

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Seminaries are launching pads

Barrett Owen works in the admissions office at the McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University. He’s 29 years old, has two master’s degrees, and has been working as a bivocational pastor for six years. If you know anything about today’s seminarian, you know that Barrett is not alone. Thousands of theological school students are like him.

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News on demographics, essential skills, and more

Last year, In Trust published a report by Barbara Wheeler titled “Sobering Figures Point to Overall Enrollment Decline.” That article’s influence continues to grow. Most recently, it was cited in “Seminaries Continue to Attract Older Students,” an article that award-winning journalist Yonat Shimron wrote for the website Insights into Religion.

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