Blog

ATS publishes information about proposed accrediting standards

In the Ashland Seminary sculpture garden, a depiction of Jesus washing a disciple's feet

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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What should you do about the fall semester?

Empty classroom at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary's Charlotte campus

It’s the big question school decision makers are asking: What to do about reopening school in the fall? Some theological schools have already made a decision, while others are waiting for more information.

To help school leaders and faculty make sense of the complex issues surrounding the decision, Inside Higher Ed has published an article by Edward J. Maloney and Joshua Kim, “15 Fall Scenarios,” that lays out many of the options. 

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Partial list of schools that have publicly posted fall semester plans

Princeton Seminary (photo taken in 2017)

A partial list of theological schools that have posted fall academic plans online.

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Evidence of the struggle

Suckling mother dog

For employed academics — especially with those who have school-age children — working from home can be hard. Here are two items that came across my desk this week.

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Is higher education returning to normal this fall?

The Chronicle of Higher Education has been asking individual schools to submit their fall education plans, and the periodical is compiling a list indicating which schools are returning to face-to-face learning. As of the end of April, most schools on the list are planning to return to face-to-face learning in time for the fall semester, but some are delaying the decision until May or June.

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New COVID-19 resources

The John Bulow Campbell Library at Columbia Theological Seminary

The In Trust Center continues to collect resources that may be helpful to the administrators and boards of theological schools during the current COVID-19 pandemic. Here are some that have come across our desks in recent weeks.

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How to lead out of a crisis

Leading out of a crisis

As most institutional leaders have been dealing with immediate challenges — moving classes online and the complexities of transitioning staff, faculty, and students into new spaces — the focus has been on leading during a crisis. But how do you lead during a crisis and simultaneously lead out of one? A new post from the Harvard Business Review offers some guidelines and cautions.

 

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Curated resources for the COVID-19 pandemic

Wesley Theological Seminary library

The staff of the In Trust Center has been collecting resources, and directories of resources, to help theological schools during the COVID-19 pandemic. Below is a curated list of what we have discovered.

 

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Principles for our new reality

Old Well, University of North Carolina

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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Resources for moving classes online

 

In light of the coronavirus outbreak, many seminaries, colleges, and universities have decided to switch from in-person classes to online instruction.

Here are some online resources that may be helpful.

 

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Two seminaries to close

The 2019 entering class at Christ the King Seminary in Buffalo, New York.

Two seminaries will close this spring.

Earlier this month, the board of trustees of Christ the King Seminary in Buffalo, New York, and members of the seminary corporation voted to close the school at the end of the current academic year.

Also this month, the board of trustees of Hardin-Simmons University in Abilene, Texas, voted to close Logsdon Seminary, which offers the school’s graduate programs in theology.

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Seminarians in b-school

Graduation at Andover Newston Seminary. Dean Sarah Drummon is at center in blue suit.

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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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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In Trust Center board election results


The chief executives of voting-eligible member schools of the In Trust Center recently elected one new member and reelected two continuing members to serve on its board of directors. The heads of 77 institutions cast ballots, representing 40 percent of eligible voting members of the In Trust Center.

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Subject to church authority – another model for school governance

Most theological schools have boards that make the big decisions: to close, merge, or reorganize; to hire or fire a president; to make major financial or curricular changes. But in some seminaries and theological schools, the board is subject to another authority, such as a bishop or council of church leaders. How can boards that do not have the final word on some very important matters operate effectively?

 

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Your school is likely at risk. What can your board do?

Higher education in North America – all higher education, not only theological education – is in trouble. How can your board be prepared? 

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What should your board be asking?

Reducing expenses, decreasing enrollment, increasing costs, and shrinking revenue. These are the current realities of higher education. Are your board members asking the right questions in response?

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Resource roundup: Design thinking and creative problem solving

Design thinking is a creative problem-solving process that your team can use to quickly discuss concepts, test ideas, and create solutions. 

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No experience required?

If you have worked on a candidate search, you know the routine. First: a list is made of everything the new hire will have to do. In an ideal world, this newbie shows up on day one with HR paperwork complete, knowing where to hang her coat and whom to avoid in the employee break room, and of course, which reports are due when and how to complete them.

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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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A board member reflects on the closure of his school

In January of this year, the Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR) closed its doors for good. Mike Clingenpeel, a BTSR board member, wrote an article for the school’s website reflecting on the closure, and his article was reprinted in the Summer 2019 issue of In Trust. Clingenpeel’s honest reflections offer rare insight into the painful realities of closing a seminary.

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A short series on trends and issues in theological education

A series of articles on theological education from EthicsDaily.com recently caught our attention. Here’s a quick summary.

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Apply to participate in the Wise Stewards Initiative during the 2020-21 academic year

Are you an embedded theological school looking to make significant changes at your school — or improve on the good work that you’re already doing?

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Are your board members active fundraisers?

In 2014, Karen Stiller asked Elizabeth L. Visconage and Joseph Molyneaux to share their thoughts about a resource from the Association of Fundraising Professionals, A Fundraising Guide for Nonprofit Board Members by Julia I. Walker. Their years of experience with boards and fundraising are readily apparent as Visconage and Molyneaux comment on some of the major points in Walker’s book. A key question that guided the conversation: Is it realistic to expect all board members to be active fundraisers?

 

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Building a better board meeting

Board members often lament the lack of time in board meetings to focus on strategic issues and trends that really affect the future of the institution. Many boards struggle with spending too much time on the present, or even on the past. They prioritize reports from staff and committees but leave little time for robust discussions about moving forward.

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