For-profit Christian university gains nonprofit status

Grand Canyon University, a for-profit Christian university, has successfully gained nonprofit status. With an enrollment of 21,000 at its Phoenix, Arizona, campus and 70,000 online, the university received approval earlier this year from the IRS, the Higher Learning Commission, and Arizona’s state regulatory agency. A similar attempt to change from for-profit to nonprofit status failed in 2016. 

Grand Canyon Education Inc., a publicly traded company, finalized a deal in July to sell the campus and operations for $875 million to a new nonprofit that has taken over the name “Grand Canyon University.” The new entity has taken out a secured loan, payable in seven years, to cover the purchase price. Grand Canyon Education Inc. also has a 15-year contract to provide technology, marketing, counseling, financial aid processing, and other services to the university in exchange for 60 percent of tuition and revenue. 

Grand Canyon University

A new conflict-of-interest policy prohibits any trustee of the university from having a financial interest in Grand Canyon Education Inc., but Brian Mueller will continue his role as the company’s CEO while also continuing as the university president. About 3,500 of the full-time employees of the company have transferred to the nonprofit entity, but 1,400 workers remain employed by Grand Canyon Education Inc.

Leaders at Grand Canyon, which was a nonprofit prior to 2004, have stated a number of reasons for wanting to gain nonprofit status, including escaping the stigma of being a for-profit, receiving philanthropic donations, increasing research capacity, and participating in NCAA governance.

According to fall 2017 data submitted to the Association of Theological Schools, the university’s embedded theological seminary has a student head count of 651 and a full-time-equivalent student body of 565.

Marylhurst University will close 

The board of trustees of Marylhurst University in Marylhurst, Oregon, has voted to cease operations by the end of 2018. The campus, given 125 years ago by the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary, will be returned to the sisters. 

The university’s leadership cited several reasons for the closure, including declining enrollment and deferred maintenance. An agreement between the university and the sisters prevented the school from selling the campus to alleviate financial difficulties. 

Marylhurst University

The board has tried for years to address their financial challenges. In 2013, they implemented a financial stability plan that included reduction in personnel and suspension of employee retirement funds, and in 2015, they adopted a strategic plan that focused on increasing undergraduate revenue and rebuilding the School of Business. Their final attempt came in 2017, when they adopted a plan to grow enrollment and better connect with the community. Ultimately, none of these plans produced the necessary results to prevent the closure.

Fuller Seminary will sell campus and move 

The board of trustees of Fuller Seminary has decided to sell the seminary’s Pasadena campus and relocate 27 miles east, to Pomona, California. The anticipated move date is summer 2021.

According to a statement from Fuller’s president, Mark Labberton, the decision to move came after years of budget scrutiny and cuts. The sale of the Pasadena campus will increase the seminary’s endowment, eliminate institutional debt, and provide a lower cost of living for faculty, staff, and students, according to a series of statements that appeared on the seminary website in May. The letters and a video are online at

Fuller will also phase out regional degree programs in Seattle, Colorado Springs, Phoenix, and the California cities of Menlo Park and Irvine — all by September 2019. The seminary will maintain one regional campus in Houston, one program in Phoenix that offers an M.S. in marital and family therapy, and one program in Colorado Springs that offers an M.A. in global leadership and a doctorate in missiology. 

According to fall 2017 data submitted to the Association of Theological Schools, Fuller has a student head count of 2,897 and a full-time-equivalent student body of 1,319. 

Changes at the top

Courtesy Ashland Theological Seminary
William Crothers

■ Dr. William Crothers has been appointed interim president of Ashland Theological Seminary in Ashland, Ohio. He succeeds Dr. Mark Harden, who led the school from 2016 until his departure on May 21 of this year. The seminary, which is a graduate division of Ashland University, has said it will release no further statement on Harden’s exit. According to university president Carlos Campo, the seminary is in a transitional period of “aligning the seminary and the university even more.” 

Crothers was interim president of Ashland University from 2014 to 2015, during which time he led an institutional review process. Previously, Crothers founded Presidential Leadership Associates and served as interim president of Asbury University and Judson University. He was president of Roberts Wesleyan College from 1981 to 2002. 

Crothers is a graduate of the University of Michigan–Flint College, Western Michigan University, and Michigan State University. He and his wife, Rilla, have three grown daughters. 

Courtesy of Susanna Tanner
Matthew Hisrich

Matthew Hisrich has been named acting dean of Earlham School of Religion in Richmond, Indiana. He succeeds Dr. Jay Marshall, who retired from the position in June after 20 years of service. 

For the six years prior to his appointment, Hisrich was the school’s director of recruitment and admissions. Previously he served as a ministerial advocate for the Indiana Yearly Meeting of the Religious Society of Friends. He also served on the adjunct faculty of Indiana University and was a senior policy fellow for the Flint Hills Center for Public Policy in Kansas. 

Hisrich’s appointment comes at an unsettled time. In July, a new interim president was appointed at Earlham College, the larger institution of which Earlham School of Religion is a part. The outgoing president, Alan Price, had led the college for just one year. The new interim president of the college is Avis Stewart, who was most recently the senior adviser to Earlham’s president and a major gifts officer for the college. 

Hisrich is a graduate of Hillsdale College, the John Glenn School of Public Affairs at the Ohio State University, and Earlham School of Religion. 

Courtesy of Hebrew College
Daniel L. Lehmann

The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, California, has named Rabbi Daniel L. Lehmann as its next president. The Union’s first non-Christian leader, he succeeds Dr. Riess Potterveld, who has retired after five years as president. 

Rabbi Lehmann was most recently president and professor of pluralism and Jewish education at Hebrew College in Newton, Massachusetts. He also served as board chair of the Boston Theological Institute and led Hebrew College to become the first non-Christian institution to join the consortium. Before serving at Hebrew College, Rabbi Lehmann was the founding headmaster of Gann Academy, a Jewish high school in Waltham, Massachusetts. 

Lehmann is a graduate of Yeshiva University, where he received rabbinical ordination. He and his wife, Dr. Lisa Soleymani Lehmann, have three children. 

Courtesy of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary
Alton B. Pollard III

The board of trustees of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary in Kentucky has appointed the Rev. Dr. Alton B. Pollard III as president. He succeeds the Rev. Dr. Michael Jinkins, who is retiring in September after leading the seminary since 2010. 

From 2007 to 2017, Pollard was dean of the Howard University School of Divinity, after which he was visiting professor and scholar in residence at Eden Theological Seminary. Previously Pollard was director of black church studies and chair of American religious cultures at Emory University. He also served on the faculties of Wake Forest University and St. Olaf College. 

Pollard is a member of the board of the In Trust Center for Theological Schools and was a member of the Commission on Accrediting of the Association of Theological Schools from 2010 to 2016, serving as chair of the commission from 2014 to 2016. 

Pollard is a graduate of Duke University, Harvard University Divinity School, and Fisk University. He and his wife, Jessica, have two grown children. 

Courtesy of James & Carolyn McAfee School of Theology
C. Gregory DeLoach

Dr. C. Gregory DeLoach has been named interim dean of the James and Carolyn McAfee School of Theology at Mercer University in Atlanta. He succeeds the Rev. Dr. Jeffrey Willetts, who has stepped down after two years as dean to join the school’s teaching faculty as professor of the philosophy of religion. 

In addition to serving as interim dean, DeLoach will continue as director of development, a position he has held since February 2017. Prior to that, he served on the board of trustees of Mercer University. He also currently serves as teaching pastor at the First Baptist Church of Monroe, Georgia. 

DeLoach has held pastoral roles in several congregations throughout Georgia, including 10 years as senior pastor of First Baptist Church of Augusta. In addition, he was executive director of Developmental Disabilities Ministries, a nonprofit based in Atlanta, from 2016 to 2017. 

A graduate of Shorter College, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Columbia Theological Seminary, DeLoach and his wife, Amy, have two grown sons.  

Courtesy of Memphis Theological Seminary
Susan Parker

The board of trustees of Memphis Theological Seminary in Tennessee has named the Rev. Dr. Susan Parker as interim president. She succeeds Dr. Daniel J. Earheart-Brown, who stepped down in July after 21 years on the seminary faculty, including the last 13 as president. 

Parker has served in several elected positions in the Alabama state government, including on the public service commission and as state auditor. In 2002, she was the state’s Democratic candidate for U.S. Senate but was defeated in the general election by incumbent Senator Jeff Sessions. 

Prior to her political service, Parker worked in higher education for 25 years, serving in the administration of Calhoun Community College and Athens State University. 

An ordained minister in the Cumberland Presbyterian Church, Parker is a regional representative for Our United Outreach, the denomination’s unified campaign for funding its boards, agencies, and ministries. She is a graduate of Calhoun Community College, Athens State College, the University of Alabama, and Memphis Theological Seminary. 

Courtesy of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles
Marco A. Durazo

Archbishop José H. Gomez of Los Angeles has appointed Father Marco A. Durazo as rector of St. John’s Seminary in Camarillo, California. A native of Mexico, Father Durazo succeeds Bishop Marc V. Trudeau, who has been named auxiliary bishop for the San Pedro Pastoral Region in the Los Angeles Archdiocese, and who will remain on the seminary faculty. 

Father Durazo has served as assistant professor of moral theology at St. John’s for the past three years. Previously he was associate pastor of Santa Clara Church in Oxnard, California. Father Durazo was ordained a priest in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles in 2007. 

He is a graduate of the Monterrey Institute of Technology and Higher Education in Mexico, St. John’s Seminary, and Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome. 

Courtesy of Southwestern Baptist Seminary
D.Jeffrey Bingham

Dr. D. Jeffrey Bingham has been appointed interim president of Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary in Fort Worth, Texas. He succeeds Dr. Paige Patterson, president since 2003, who was removed from the seminary’s leadership on May 30. The executive committee of the board made the decision to terminate Patterson after allegations emerged that he had mishandled a student’s claims of sexual abuse during his leadership at another seminary, and that he had subsequently lied to the Southwestern trustees about his handling of that case.

“In this difficult situation, the Executive Committee based its decision on the current performance of the president and did not allow the legacy of Dr. Patterson or the #MeToo pressure to steer the outcome,” wrote Kevin Ueckert, chair of the board of trustees, in a statement published on the seminary website. “We did not react; rather, we decisively exercised our responsibility based on the Seminary’s biblically informed core values and integrity.”

At the time of his appointment to the interim leadership of the seminary, Bingham was dean of the seminary’s School of Theology, a position he had held since 2016. He was previously assistant dean for theological studies from 2002 to 2003. In addition, he has held faculty positions at Dallas Theological Seminary and Wheaton College, where he was associate dean of biblical and theological studies. 

Bingham is a graduate of New Mexico State University and Dallas Theological Seminary. He was ordained in 1986 at Arlington Bible Church in Arlington, Texas. 

Courtesy of James Trent
Richard Green

The board of trustees of United Lutheran Seminary, with campuses in Philadelphia and Gettysburg, Pennsylvania, has appointed Dr. Richard Green as interim president. He succeeds Dr. Theresa Latini, who had led the school since July 2017 during the time that the institution was facing lingering challenges related to its formation from two parent Lutheran seminaries. Earlier this year, it became public that Latini had led a gay-conversion organization for five years in the late 1990s, and although she subsequently disavowed the organization and its views, a group of students, alumni, faculty, and staff organized to demand her resignation. The board responded by dismissing her in March, and Bishop James Dunlop stepped in as acting president. 

Green began his service on June 1. He most recently served as interim president of Lincoln University and was previously interim provost at Saint Cloud State University and Albany State University. Green will split his time between residences on the Philadelphia and Gettysburg campuses.

Green is a graduate of Concordia College in Minnesota, the University of Louisville, North Dakota State University, and Harvard Graduate School of Business. He and his wife, Dorothy, have two adult children. 

Jill Crainshaw

Rev. Dr. Jill Crainshaw has been named interim dean of the Wake Forest School of Divinity in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. She succeeds Dr. Gail O’Day, who stepped down as dean in June 2018, because of illness, after leading the school since 2010. For the past academic year, O’Day has been on leave, during which time Crainshaw has served as acting dean. 

Crainshaw has been a member of the faculty of the School of Divinity since 1999 and had been serving as associate dean for academic affairs. She is also the Blackburn Professor of Worship and Liturgical Theology. Before joining the Wake Forest faculty, Crainshaw was for six years the pastor of Neriah Baptist Church in Buena Vista, Virginia. She was also a hospice chaplain and chaplain for a retirement community in Harrisonburg, Virginia. 

Ordained in 1987 in the Presbyterian Church (USA), Crainshaw is a graduate of Wake Forest University, Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and Union Theological Seminary and Presbyterian School of Christian Education.   

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