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Faced with the same pressures confronting the Church as a whole and seminary education nationwide, Church Divinity School of the Pacific’s Board of Trustees has decided on a courageous and forwardlooking strategy: Create new models of growth for theological education, building on CDSP’s strength to reach out to new partners and new audiences.
At the only Episcopal seminary west of the Rockies, we have begun an ambitious new era of health and growth.
We enter this new era with new optimism. Student enrollment at CDSP grew substantially this year, reversing a threeyear trend. Last month, the number of new students enrolled in degree and certificate programs at CDSP was 60 percent higher than in September 2010. There were more new students in each of the following programs: Master of Divinity, Master of Arts, Doctor of Divinity, and the graduate certificate students. Enrollments in our new hybrid Certificate of Anglican Studies program, allowing students to study summers here in Berkeley and the rest of the year online, met our most optimistic start up targets. Enrollments in our online continuing education course offerings by our Center for Anglican Learning and Leadership [CALL] also are up by more than 28 percent over last year.
Nearly all of last May’s CDSP degree recipients have secured positions in parishes (or, in one case, a college) across the U.S. Some are in CPE residency programs, awaiting ordination, and others are pursuing additional graduate degrees here at CDSP.
There is more cause for optimism: We have received a $750,000 gift to our endowment that will greatly enhance our ability to develop new leaders for a new century, with special focus on young people and bivocational programs. We have a worldwide audience, with a special tilt to the Pacific Rim, and thanks to the generosity of a San Diego donor, soon we will have a far greater flexibility and capacity to engage this new audience, when we roll out a new Web site later this year.
These recent responses, coupled with our new initiatives, give us great confidence in our new, aggressive plans for growth based on the twin pillars of financial stability and structural reform.
But to grow, a body needs first to be healthy. We are taking steps to end a cycle of operating deficits at CDSP, reversing this course by consolidating some of our resources in ways that emphasize our core strengths while also taking advantage of resources available to us in the Graduate Theo logical Union. Our current students tell us that combined with our high academic standards, the opportunity to learn in various ecumenical and inter religious settings is unique strength of CDSP. We expect to be announcing a restructuring of the size and composition of our core faculty that moves us towards closer faculty relationships with the Graduate Theological Union by sharing some faculty. This sharing of faculty is an interim step toward a far more rigorous and coherent and more expansive degree of sharing with our partner schools in the GTU, of which we were a cofounder.
We are confident we will be able to accomplish this with no cuts in any of our course offerings, curricula, degrees or certificate programs. And CDSP will retain fulltime faculty essential to deliver the instruction unique to forming ordained ministers for the Episcopal and other Anglican churches.
Once we have taken those steps to improve our health, building trust among our stakeholders by demonstrating that we take our stewardship responsibilities seriously, we can — and will — grow. In fact, we will be adding two new courses, in multicultural and interreligious studies, perspective vitally important for our students who come to us from more than two dozen states and six countries, from urban, rural, and multicultural communities.
In addition to the decisions realigning our faculty structure, our board set specific strategies and bench marks for growth in enrollment and fundraising. This fall’s enrollment growth and new contributions boost our confidence that these strategies, while ambitious, are sound. We have charted a path to achieve a balanced budget in five years: We will accomplish this through the faculty restructuring, and by growing at more than 10 percent per year in both enrollment and annual fund giving.
In enrollment, we will hold steady the number of Master of Divinity students and grow our other degree and certificate programs. We also will develop a more integrated relationship with our online continuing education pro grams. In fundraising, this means achieving significant growth in annual giving by 2016.
These times require renewed commitment to our mission as a community of faith: “to respond to the challenges of contemporary society with the Good News of Jesus Christ.”
W. Mark Richardson