It's true: Many of us who live in Southern California (not so) secretly gloat about our weather. This morning when I woke up, it was a frigid, bone-chilling 43 degrees, but it will soon warm up to the "sunny and 72" I've come to know and love.
I grew up in rural Oklahoma -- a far cry in almost every way from suburban Los Angeles -- and I've spent significant periods of my life in other parts of the country and world. So every morning when I look at the local forecast, I also check the temperature in other places I've lived, to see what the weather's like beyond my little bubble.
And if you are a seminary trustee, you should do the same.
A basic duty of trusteeship is "checking the weather." Good governance is first concerned with the fiduciary details of what's happening within your institution -- keeping an eye on investments, cash flow, fund-raising, enrollments, board recruitment and development -- but a board's duties do not stop there.
Does your board check the weather beyond your school's bubble? If so, what are you looking for?
You may already know about resources available to seminaries from Auburn Seminary and the ATS (such as Institutional Peer Profile Reports). And seminary trustees are often keen on developments and trends in their own religious traditions. But we sometimes forget that theological schools, as educational institutions, are subsets of the higher education and philanthropy fields. And there are lots of storms brewing in these worlds right now that will affect theological schools of all stripes. The quickly changing regulatory environment, exciting technological advances, evolving forms of academic governance, and new ways of raising money are all swirling around seminaries, whether they are part of these conversations or not.
Nobody expects trustees to keep abreast of the details of these changes, but if your board is aware of the larger weather patterns, you can get a leg up in guiding your school into the future. It may be "sunny and 72" at your school, or you may be in a torrential downpour. Either way, thinking about your school in broader contexts, and asking good questions of your administrators that will push them outside their bubbles, will help position your school for long-term success.