"An important step toward building a strong, sustainable future."

At a two-day meeting that concluded Thursday, CDSP's Board of Trustees voted to lease Shires Hall, the office and classroom building on Ridge Road, and to rent two empty apartments in the student housing building on Virginia St., as the first step in renting all units in that building at market rates.

The board also decided to keep tuition at current rates for the 2014-15 academic year.

The Very Rev. Mark Richardon, president and dean of CDSP called the move, "an important step toward building a strong, sustainable future for CDSP."

"Today, as we seek to train leaders for the 21st century church, we are increasingly augmenting our core residential MDiv program with low-residence, online, and intensive courses' wrote Richardson in a letter to the CDSP community. "As a result, we need to use our assets in new ways.... Leasing some of our underused property to another educational institution—several are interested—will help us address the structural deficit we have in common with many seminaries and free up revenue for new, innovative forms of theological education."

Richardson stressed that residential programs, "will continue to be at the core of CDSP's mission, and will continue to enrich and be enriched by our newer programs and pedagogies.

"In short," he added, "our new work will be made possible, in part, by using our current assets in new ways."

If Shires is rented, Richardson said, seminary offices and other administrative functions would be moved, in July, to the second floor of Parsons Hall on Le Conte Avenue, which would become CDSP's "new front door."

"Students will continue to live on the third and fourth floors of Parsons, and all CDSP students who want campus housing will continue to have access to it," Richardson said. "As we develop the remodeling plans for Parsons, we will be sure that the privacy and security of students is protected."

The move will also allow CDSP to implement a new administrative services arrangement that will improve operational efficiency while preserving full cross-registration with other GTU institutions.

Members of the CDSP community are invited to learn more about the board meeting at the next community gathering, scheduled for Tuesday, February 18 at 12:30 p. m. in Denniston.

Richardson noted that on the day the board voted, the Christian Century published an editorial about mainline theological education titled "Innovative Moment." "One passage in that essay seems particularly relevant to me," he wrote. "'Institutions in survival mode typically spend little time or energy in visionary thinking. It would be a shame if the current crisis in seminary education didn't lead to fresh thinking about how the church calls, trains and places people for pastoral ministry and other forms of church leadership.'"