News & Insights

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. Yet embedded seminaries also enjoy a number of benefits, including the kinds of technological and administrative support that larger institutions can offer. 

Back in Autumn 2014, Karen Stiller wrote an article for In Trust that detailed some characteristics of successful embedded seminaries:

A successful embedded seminary communicates its own uniqueness. Successful embedded schools educate the larger institution’s board about theological education, and why it is different than what takes place in a school of music or law. They make sure the board understands what a theological school contributes to the university or college.

A successful embedded seminary is an advocate for theological education. All stakeholders within the embedded theological school (faculty, board members, and administration) communicate to all members of the larger institution to help them understand and appreciate the seminary’s role within a university or college setting.

A successful embedded seminary is led by good communicators. Leaders of embedded schools meet regularly with deans, faculty, and board members to foster good relationships. At universities where seminary representatives serve on the university-wide board of trustees, they participate as fully as possible. Chris Kimball, president of California Lutheran University, puts this succinctly: “If there is a question about athletics, we expect them to weigh in.”

A successful embedded seminary is a good academic citizen. Embedded seminaries enjoy perks such as access to the resources of the university, and they work hard on giving back. Some theological schools offer high-performing, prolific faculty members that contribute to the university’s reputation. Some provide faculty who teach in other departments, adding an ethical, moral, and spiritual dimension to departments like business and medicine.

If your school is embedded, help board members understand the multiple layers of governance and the complexity of the relationships. Stiller’s article is a good resource for valuable discussions, new ideas, and stronger relationships.

Top Topics

Roles & Responsibilities



Board Essentials

Upcoming Events

The In Trust Center hosts learning community spaces throughout the year. Check out our upcoming events below.

Strategic Partnerhips


In this on-demand webinar, Rick Staisloff, senior partner of rpk GROUP, will discuss essential aspects of strategic partnerships. He will explore current trends, identify partners, navigate the due diligence process, and addresses common challenges. In addition to technical components of partnerships, he will also examine the intangible – yet critical – elements of partnerships, such as building trust and managing relationships.

Closing the Trust Gap


The current and very troubling condition of trust is a clarion call to action. But despite the dismal data showing pervasive organizational distrust, every organization can assess their current level of trust, learn and adopt a proven trust building framework, and then develop a meaningful and long-lasting plan of action. This webinar details the knowledge and practical next steps to strengthen workplace culture as a result of closing the trust gap.

In Trust Center Resource Grants


An In Trust Center Resource Grant offers member schools a chance to explore innovation at their institutions through a matching grant opportunity of up to $15,000. Listen to this 30-minute information session, including Q&A, as we provide details on eligibility requirements, funding priorities, application process. Previous grantees are eligible to apply as long as they are not within our current funding cycle.

Can’t Find What You’re Looking For?

In Trust Center provides Resource Consulting to our members at no charge. Contact us today and let us guide you to the most helpful resources for your situation.

Contact Us