by William R. MacKaye

Confronted by the threat of a 22 percent shortfall in the school’s current $14 million operating budget, the board of directors of Union Theological Seminary in New York has convened a strategic planning committee to recommend a solution to the historic school’s chronic financial problems.

In a newsletter disclosing the impending deficit, Union president Joseph Hough commented, “This is an unsustainable situation for any institution.”

The committee will be headed by board member Michael Kelly, former vice president and chief operating officer of Georgetown University. Its members include eight other Union board members, including newly named Leon Pacala, a former executive director of the Association of Theological Schools; three faculty members; three students; two graduates (five of the board members on the committee are also graduates); and three administrators, Hough, Rosemary Keller, Union’s dean, and Mary McNamara, the executive vice president. The committee’s charge is to devise by February 2002 a recommended plan for the board that can be implemented by July 2004 and will reduce the annual draw on the endowment to 5.5 percent by July 2010.

Hough said a fund-raising campaign will likely be an important part of the strategic plan. A study showed Union would need $150 million in additional endowment to produce investment earnings sufficient to cover the deficit, and the consultant reported it unlikely the seminary could raise a tenth of that from its present donor pool. Further investigation, however, revealed significantly greater enthusiasm among prospective contributors when they were asked about their possible level of support of programs arising from a significant new vision for the seminary, Hough said.

Union reported long-term investment holdings totaling $80.5 million for the 2000-01 academic year, an increase of $4.3 million, or 6 percent, from the previous year’s $76.2 million. Union has raised more than $16 million for endowment and for capital expenses over the last eighteen months, Hough said. This figure includes grants of $8 million from the Lilly Endowment and $1,250,000 from the Mellon Foundation for the seminary library, a $2 million grant from the Luce Foundation to endow a professorship, and a $2 million bequest. Most of the endowment increases over the last decade at Union and other theological schools, however, were fueled in large part by skyrocketing rises in stock prices, a phenomenon that now seems at an end, at least for the time being.

Hough, who formerly was dean of Vanderbilt University Divinity School, took office at Union in 1999. Since his installation he has pursued a steady course of seeking to draw all segments of the seminary’s community, both on campus and among graduates, into a discussion of the school’s financial problems and the appropriate response to them.

“Union will have to undergo some significant changes if it is to move beyond the next decade with the resources to fund its important leadership role,” he warned the seminary last fall.

Canadian Cutbacks
by Bob Bettson

The Atlantic School of Theology in Halifax, Nova Scotia, is facing a cut of up to 50 percent in provincial government support. The province supplies 35 percent, or $760,000, of the school’s $2.2 million operating costs (all figures are Canadian dollars), but AST president William Close said he is confident the school will survive the cutback. He cited plans now being discussed by the AST board for a partnership with one of Halifax’s universities and the launching of a major capital campaign to take care of deferred maintenance.

The alarm bells started ringing for AST last fall when the province’s Ministry of Education threatened initially to remove all support for graduate theological education at the school. That would have closed the seminary’s doors. Close said the autumn warning “was just to get our attention.” It did. Since then AST has commissioned a study by the KPMG consulting company, and moved to address provincial government concerns.

Close said the school, founded in 1971 by Canada’s Anglican, Roman Catholic and United churches, has a tiny endowment—only $340,000—and has major capital expenses looming, including a retrofit of the main building on the campus that could cost as much as $1.5 million. The province is concerned about deferred maintenance in all Nova Scotia’s universities; AST received special attention because of its lack of endowment or a large university partner.

AST had already been planning a capital campaign to raise $4.2 million, but that has to be reworked to change the case in order to emphasize deferred maintenance. Close said the campaign will be a challenge in any event because there hasn’t been a tradition in the region of large capital campaigns.

While it doesn’t know what the funding level will be for the fall, AST is already doing some belt-tightening. Close said two of the four faculty members who are retiring this spring won’t be replaced with full-time successors. However, AST needs to preserve much of its staff complement to maintain its Association of Theological Schools accreditation. The school currently has 171 students in M.Div. and M.T.S. programs, thirty-six students in diploma courses, and twenty-one faculty members, seven of them full-time.

While AST is facing budget cuts, Lee McDonald, principal of Acadia Divinity College in nearby Wolfville, Nova Scotia, reports that provincial funding is remaining steady for his Baptist seminary. Acadia gets about a third of its operating budget from the province as well, but because it is affiliated with Acadia University and its buildings are in good shape, the cutbacks aren’t affecting it. McDonald says he has been in “close contact” with AST over funding issues.

Changes at the Top
Rebecca S. Chopp will become the new dean of Yale University Divinity School on July 1. Chopp, the first woman to hold the post, is currently provost and vice president for academic affairs at Emory University in Atlanta; before that she was professor of theology at Candler School of Theology. She has written a number of books, including Saving Work: Feminist Practices of Christian Education. She is a minister of the United Methodist Church.

In his announcement of her appointment, Yale president Richard Levin said, “When she was named provost at Emory, Professor Chopp emphasized her commitment to creating intellectual community, balancing research and teaching in an institution that values and expects both, remaining open and flexible in listening to the ideas of others, and developing a vision that will guide the university in the new millennium.” Chopp succeeds Richard Wood, who left in December to become president of the United Fund for Christian Education in Asia.

Jean Stairs has been appointed principal of Queen’s Theological College in Kingston, Ontario. She is the tenth theologian and first woman to serve as principal since the college was created by Parliament in 1912 as an independent and separate place of learning on the campus of Queen’s University. Her five-year appointment begins June 1 of this year. She succeeds Hallett Llewellyn who stepped down as principal last year to become minister of Trinity-St. Paul’s United Church in Toronto.

Patrick Howell, S.J., has been appointed the new dean of the Seattle University School of Theology and Ministry. He has been on the faculty at Seattle University since 1986 and has served as interim dean since July 2000. His appointment was effective February 15, with a formal installation planned for the opening of the 2001-2002 academic year.

August E. Wenzel retired January 31 as the third director of the Lutheran Seminary Program in the Southwest in Austin, Texas. Wenzel, a former bishop, headed the program for half of its twenty-six-year history. LSPS, an extension program of Wartburg Theological Seminary, Dubuque, Iowa, and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago, prepares people to minister in the U.S. Southwest with its blending of cultures. A search for a new director is under way.

Tom Smith has resigned his position as dean at Central Baptist Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Kansas. He made this “difficult decision” because he felt unable to meet the travel demands of the job and the needs of his young family based on his experience last fall. He said, “I remain a great fan of [president] Tom Clifton and his leadership at Central, and part of my leaving is due to the fact that I want Central to have every chance of succeeding in all that God has called it to be.” He anticipates continuing his relationship with the seminary in a non-staff role, possibly in a volunteer capacity.

Peter Wyatt will become the eleventh principal of Emmanuel College of Victoria University in Toronto, Ontario. An Emmanuel alumnus, Wyatt has been general secretary for theology, faith, and ecumenism of the United Church of Canada since 1995. He succeeds Roger Hutchinson, who is retiring.

Larson Dies
Arthur L. Larson, a man who routinely gave away 70 percent of his income and more, died December 21 at age 93 in Orlando, Florida, leaving a legacy of support for seminaries of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. He was a former member of the board of directors for the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. In the 1980s he founded the Arthur L. Larson Stewardship Council in Gettysburg and in 1988 he established and endowed the Arthur Larson Professorship in Stewardship and Parish Ministry there.

ATS Pioneer Jesse Ziegler Dies
Jesse Ziegler, the second full-time executive director of the Association of Theological Schools, who served from 1966 to 1980, died March 7 in Dayton, Ohio. He was 88.

During Ziegler’s time at the helm the association grew beyond its origins as an alliance of mainline Protestant and Anglican seminaries and drew into its membership Roman Catholic and evangelical theological schools. Concurrently the member schools both old and new grew steadily more diverse as the winds of institutional change gusted through virtually all North American churches.

Ziegler led the ATS onto solid institutional and financial footing and opened its first full-fledged office, establishing its headquarters in Dayton. A minister of the Church of the Brethren with a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America in clinical psychology, Ziegler entered theological education as a professor of psychology and Christian education at what was then Bethany Biblical Seminary outside Chicago. The school, renamed Bethany Theological Seminary, is now located in Richmond, Indiana, where it operates in collaboration with Earlham School of Religion.

Ziegler joined the ATS staff in 1959 as associate director. “In many ways, the current shape and work of the ATS were formed during Jesse Ziegler’s years,” said Daniel Aleshire, current executive director of the ATS, in a memorial note in the association newsletter.

After he retired from the ATS and until his final illness, Ziegler taught in the department of community health at Wright State University School of Medicine in Dayton.

Top Topics
Roles & Responsibilities
Board Essentials

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