3/30/2010

What is happening to General Theological Seminary? (Updated)

Preludium has received a report that General Theological Seminary is facing into major financial difficulties and that there was a closed door meeting of the Board of Trustees today (March 30th) followed by a meeting with members of the seminary community. The report indicates that there are plans for a short term solution but considerable doubts about the future of the Seminary.

If this is so, please pray for the Seminary, its students, faculty and staff.

Can anyone verify what is happening? I presume that we will soon have an official report on the matter, but I would appreciate any sort of update from readers. Comments will be carefully moderated. No anonymous or bile-driven remarks will be posted.



Update from Episcopal Cafe, whose post came out earlier today but I missed it. Read the whole thing HERE.


Here is the emailed press release from GTS:


For Immediate Release

29 March 2010




General Seminary Board of Trustees Addresses Financial Concerns
New York City--


The Board of Trustees of the General Theological Seminary of the Episcopal Church resolved to move forward in finding the financial resources necessary to meet fiscal challenges that have recently surfaced in connection with its search for a new Dean and President. The current Dean, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing announced in December his intention to retire once his replacement has been hired.


At the conclusion of the Board's meeting on March 29, Board Chair, the Rev. Canon Denis O'Pray, said trustees determined to ask the Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church, the Most Rev. Katharine Jefferts Schori, in response to her willingness to help, to convene a special think tank. Composed of board members and other Episcopal Church leaders, the group will address the Seminary's pressing financial concerns in the context of the Church's overall needs for theological education. In addition, the Board asked the Search Committee for a New Dean to consider instead the creation of an interim position so that the Seminary might fully appraise its financial situation and finalize specific ways of moving forward.


Earlier in March members of the trustees' Executive Committee had received projections of a shortfall in operating funds from a consultant retained in the connection with the search process. The projections were presented to the full board at this meeting and resulted in the decision to take immediate action. Following the Board meeting, Chairman O'Pray and the Dean, along with many other trustees, met with the Seminary's faculty, students, and administrative staff to share the outcome and to answer questions.

8 comments:

  1. David Sibley30/3/10 10:43 PM

    As a a middler at GTS, I can tell you that most of us aren't sure about the future.

    Here's what was reported to us, and what we do know: The seminary needs between $2-$4 million by June to cover a hole in cash flow for the next fiscal year; the status for years beyond that is still unclear, especially with the impact the current troubles will likely have on enrollment next year. Whether they are able to raise this money is also unknown at the moment - last year marked the first time our annual fund topped $1 million.

    The Dean Search is on hold, and the seminary instead is looking for an Interim "Executive Director" to hopefully put the books back into some semblance of order.

    While I didn't attend the meeting with students yesterday (I was too stressed to go, and didn't think it would do me much good), I have been told by friends there that some trustees were taking a very grim view of the future, while others expressed their commitment to getting the current students out of the seminary with degrees at the very least.

    A press release was issued today, which you can see here.

    As to the future, nobody can see too far into the future. Please do continue your prayers for all of us here; there is the sense that our attitude in all that is to come may well determine the fate of GTS. It is certainly dear enough to many of us that I think all efforts will be made to move forward one day at a time...

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  2. Episcopal Café received a letter today - posted at The Lead here
    Prayers for all.

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  3. Prayers for all at GTS from this S-WTS grad.

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  4. I was a student representative to the Board of Trustees from 03-05. At least for those of us with Higher Education experience, we knew this day was coming. It had to come about before we begin to pull ourselves out of trouble.

    I want to say that the end of the seminary should not at all be a forgone conclusion, despite the current challenges. One can look at the incredible turn around of institutions such as the Franciscan University of Stubenville in Ohio to know that all is not lost (one of my case studies for my Master's Degree in Higher Ed./Organizational Change). There is certainly hope.

    GTS must situation itself in a distinctive way among the other seminaries both within the Episcopal system and generally. This was the case until more recently. But, there must be leadership who are not embarrassed by the Tradition of the place (generally Oxford Movement in priestly formation) or downplay the essential necessity of an excellent faculty and strong library. We have incredible good will and reputation. We need to restore a strong vision!

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  5. It is interesting to speculate about what would be the situation had the proposal to move the Episcopal Church Center to the GTS campus been accepted. As an alum of Episcopal Divinity School, which has a partnership with Lesley University, I think partnerships of the sort that GTS proposed to the PB and the Executive Council are worth serious consideration.

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  6. May it rest in peace and sink into oblivion.
    Dan

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  7. May God continue to bless the GTS community; the thoughts and prayers of many are with you as you seek a way forward.

    Christopher+

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  8. Our prayers for the GTS, for his role and influence in the theological formation for Episcopalians of the Americas. Respectfully allow myself a comment: financial crisis is only set when the abundance makes us confident in the future about which we have no predictability. We should always learn the mentality of the ants: prepare for winter! As a Provincial Secretary i had to face such question, facing rude debt!

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