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Today marks the beginning of a new era for Church Divinity School of the Pacific. I am announcing the details of a strategy for the Health and Growth of this great institution that has served the Episcopal Church for 108 years.
In addition to announcing a number of decisions from this week’s Board of Trustees meeting, I will be sharing some headlines with you.
First the news: Student enrollment at CDSP grew substantially this year, reversing a three-year 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.
A year ago, I was honored to be installed as CDSP’s new president and dean. Since that time we have introduced other changes as well, including a new Director of Recruitment, a new Director of Marketing and Communications, and a new Dean of Students. We also expect to name a new Vice President for Advancement early next year, and we are presently being served by Rick Felton, who returned to CDSP to lead our advancement efforts in this interim period. The headlines continue: We expect to launch an entirely rebuilt Web site next month, with easier access to seminary people and other resources, as well as social media. We have a worldwide audience, especially, and soon we will have far greater flexibility and capacity to engage this new audience. This Web site rollout is coordinated with new print and social media strategies that will be seeking the involvement of more of the Church’s lay and clergy leadership in CDSP, their West Coast seminary.
There is more good news. 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.
And I can tell you today that I have received confirmation of a substantial six-figure gift to our endowment that will greatly enhance our ability to develop new leaders for a new century. We will be announcing details of that wonderful and generous gift later this month.
These are all positive headlines, which give us great confidence in our plan for growth approved by the Board of Trustees, today, which sets us on a path of financial stability and structural reform.
But to grow, a body needs first to be healthy. With that in mind, the board and several task forces with faculty, student and trustee representation spent the past year and a half taking a hard look at where we are, and they have helped craft a vision of where we are going.
CDSP has been operating with annual deficits for several years. This requires immediate steps to reverse this course, to consolidate our resources in ways that emphasize our core strengths while also taking advantage of resources available to us in the Graduate Theological Union. At the end of this school year, we will announce a restructuring of our core faculty that moves us towards a closer relationship with the Graduate Theological Union.
The restructuring in our faculty will result in no cuts in any of our course offerings, curricula, degrees or certificate programs. The board’s action to restructure the size and composition of the CDSP faculty anticipates the future creation of a common core faculty with one or more of its sister schools of the Graduate Theological Union [GTU]. CDSP will retain full-time 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 some new courses. The adjustments in numbers of full-time faculty will bring our ratio of students-to-core faculty, now less than eight to one, more in line with acceptable academic standards. We will seek formal agreements for sharing faculty, part-time, with our partner schools in the GTU to fill out the teaching schedule and ensure that our students continue to get the courses they need to fulfill their rigorous academic requirements. 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.
In the spirit of the GTU, and in response to requests from students and church leaders, our own faculty voted to add two important courses to our curriculum: in multicultural studies and inter- religious studies. Our students come to us from more than two dozen states and six countries, from urban, rural, and multi-cultural communities. As the world’s cultures increasingly come into closer contact, these additions reflect the kinds of engagement that students preparing for ministry can anticipate.
In addition to the decisions realigning our faculty structure, the board endorsed task force recommendations that set specific strategies and benchmarks for growth in enrollment and fund- raising. The announcements I made today of 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, to reach the equivalent of 90 full-time students by 2016. We also will develop a more integrated relationship with our online continuing education programs. 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.”