The Rt. Rev. Craig B. Anderson, Dean and President
The General Theological Seminary
The February issue of our national church newspaper, Episcopal Life, contained an article about the current state of seminaries. Largely a reaction to the Board for Theological Education’s recent report, the article portrayed the situation of a number of seminaries as approaching critical. Toward the end of the story, a few quotations from me about General were almost singularly optimistic. There is good reason for this: I believe there is a lot of good news to report from Chelsea Square.
Since our last General Convention nearly three years ago The General Theological Seminary has made significant progress and measurable improvements in the area of program, enrollment, communications, fund raising, administrative support and strategic planning.
The Master of Divinity program has been strengthened through a revised tutorial component, which aims at greater integration of academic work and ministerial formation. A newly designed field education program is also being inaugurated. The core curriculum has become more cross-disciplinary through intentional efforts at collaborative and interdisciplinary teaching methods.
The Th.D. and Advanced Degree programs (S.T.M., M.A.) have expanded under the leadership of Professor Bill Franklin, who was instrumental in establishing a new faculty, student, and library consortium with Columbia University.
Formation for new bishops through the College for bishops has added a fourth component, “The Bishop as Episkope: The Bishop as Leader, Manager, and Administrator,” and will be extended to experienced bishops, Lutheran bishops and other bishops within the Anglican Communion, owing to a generous grant from the Lilly Foundation.
A new collaborative venture with the School of Theology of the University of the South, The Church Development Institute, offers intensive and in-depth education for lay and ordained leaders under the direction of the Rev. Bob Gallagher and the Rev. Melissa Skelton.
Under the able administration of Professor Thomas Breidenthal, the Center for Jewish/Christian Studies and Relations has grown both in terms of student involvement and in the number o f programs and worship services it provides.
The Center for Christian Spirituality, under the good leadership of Professor Margaret Guenther, completed its best-subscribed year ever and will continue to expand with the appointment of Philip Sheldrake, who begins his ministry as the Director of the Center.
In support of the various programs for the formation of ordained and lay leadership, the St. Mark’s Library after extensive renovation has now become fully automated with the Burke Library at the Union Theological Seminary. A new position for the special and rare book collection in the person of Isaac Gewirtz rounds out the library staff and should strengthen the support of all the degree programs here. It will also enable the Seminary to provide research support for scholars throughout the Anglican Communion given the extensive Anglicana collection.
In the face of a flat, if not declining enrollment for Episcopal seminaries, it is noteworthy that the General Seminary, under the leadership of Director of Admissions Toni Daniels, experienced the largest M.Div. enrollment in nine years this past fall and the largest enrollment of any Episcopal seminary. In addition, the Th.D. program has grown from seven students in 1993 to nineteen students this year. This past summer, both the Church Development Institute and the Center for Christian spirituality had all-time high enrollments as well.
Communications have improved markedly with the expansion of The General Seminary News, along with two new publications from the Rev. Jessica Hatch Director of Alumni/ae and Church Relations, and Rick Cosnotti, Director of Development. In addition to an expanded catalogue and view book, Bruce Parker, Director of communications, has added videotape offerings to those currently available through The GTS Media Workshop.
Several major gifts from individual donors and foundations have been received over the past year in support of new and expanded programs. It is anticipated that the Seminary will launch a capital campaign during the next triennium with the goal of increasing scholarships, program, and the development, expansion and renovation of facilities. A most successful campaign to renovate the Holtkamp Organ was completed with Professor David Hurd performing at the dedicatory recital on Wednesday February 5, 1997.
After an extensive administrative restructuring to include the appointment of James Dill as the new Chief Financial Officer, long-standing problems in the area of financial reporting have been corrected, along with the development of financial and personnel policies. Such restructuring has also resulted in significant improvements to the physical plant and the appearance and upgrading of our facilities. Work is currently underway to develop the technology both within the Seminary and even more importantly, outside the Seminary in the preparation and delivery of programs through down linking and interactive learning.
Foundational to the significant progress that has been made during this past triennium has been the ongoing work of the Strategic Planning Committee under the leadership of Trustee Richard Pivirotto, and the Rev. Melissa Skelton, Vice President of Administration. The Strategic Planning Committee, building on a well-crafted vision statement adopted by the Board of Trustees this past May, has developed a strategic plan for the next five years with measurable goals and steps for implementation and procedures for ongoing evaluation. It is anticipated that the strategic plan, growing out of the vision statement, will be adopted by the Board in May 1997. Many of the initiatives outlined in the vision statement and strategic plan are already well underway and producing positive results. I feel it is especially important to note that our vision statement (which appeared the in the last issue of this publication) has been a collaborative effort that has included students, faculty, administrative staff, alumni/ae, the bishops and clergy of the Church, and Trustees of the Seminary.
I hope you will join me in celebrating this collaboration and the fruits it has already borne.
Craig B. Anderson