CTS President Matthew Boulton and Butler President Jim Danko discuss the CTS/Butler collaboration.
Dear CTS Friends and Family,
Greetings from Christian Theological Seminary. As many of you know from periodic updates, forums, and conversation over the last two years, CTS and Butler University have been exploring options for collaboration and space-sharing. On the CTS side, we have been guided by key principles, including maintaining our identity and self-determination, and freeing up resources to invest in our mission.
This letter is to update you on recent developments in this regard, and to inform you about a potential arrangement that is now under consideration. The CTS Board of Trustees’ final vote on this matter will happen in the early fall of 2017. Between now and then, we welcome your questions and feedback as valued partners on this journey of discernment.
CTS is educationally strong today, with a superb faculty, a nationally-known counseling center, and the world’s first PhD program in African American Preaching and Sacred Rhetoric. CTS is also financially strong today, with a $100M endowment, a debt-free balance sheet, and the school’s first successful capital campaign in decades.
And yet, even with these strengths, as we look to the future CTS faces the same challenges all seminaries face, both in terms of enrollment and in terms of finances. Many seminaries today are relocating or merging with other institutions. The agreement under consideration would be neither a relocation nor a merger. Instead, it would embody a partnership enabling us to remain strong, positioning CTS to continue to help shape the future of theological education, and through it the future of the church.
The potential arrangement is as follows:
- CTS and Butler University are considering an innovative arrangement according to which the two schools, while remaining independent, would share space and collaborate on academic programming and select operational services.
- CTS will continue to reside on campus through a special long-term lease for up to 100 years, designed to preserve the Seminary’s interests and identity, including the distinctive functions of Sweeney Chapel, Shelton Auditorium, student housing and the main building. The location of the Counseling Center will remain the same for at least 30 years.
- Butler would purchase most of the campus, thereby assuming responsibility for maintenance of buildings and grounds. In the main building, CTS would share space with the Butler College of Education.
For CTS, the combination of the purchase price for the property and reduced maintenance costs would create a major annual revenue stream for the Seminary to invest in the heart of our historic mission: forming strong, effective church and community leaders.
- Invest in students: Tuition scholarships so that no CTS student graduates with ministry-debilitating educational debt;
- Invest in faculty: Funds for faculty positions so that CTS can continue to retain and attract world-class faculty members for the twenty-first century, as well as funds to keep our educational programs vibrant, compelling, and technologically current;
- Invest in community: Funds for community life, both within CTS and with respect to the many ways the Seminary engages with God’s transforming of the world through congregations and other community partnerships.
This emphasis on mission is the most important aspect of this potential collaboration with Butler University. But there is also a significant stewardship aspect: wisely stewarding our financial resources for the sake of the future—and so avoiding the deficit-spending spiral that has claimed too many seminaries and other schools of higher education in recent years—is part of our responsibility to care for the blessings we have inherited. Moreover, today only about half of our main building is utilized, and for both educational and ecological reasons, this situation must change. Sharing the campus makes sound missional, ecological, and theological sense.
Finally, looking down the road, this agreement would keep the Seminary’s strategic options open. The long-term lease would secure the opportunity to reside on campus for up to 100 years, and we would also have the option to build a new building in the future, either on the west side of campus that CTS would continue to own, or in some other location. As you know, theological education is in a period of significant change, and this agreement would enable CTS to be strategically nimble and responsive to new developments in the future.
CTS is an inspired and inspiring place: the brilliance of our faculty, the gifts and graces of our students, the dedication of our staff and trustees, and in and through it all, the loving-kindness and justice of God inspire us every day. Put simply, we are considering this agreement because of its potential to strengthen what is most inspiring about CTS for generations to come.
Online at www.cts.edu/collaboration you’ll find a “Frequently Asked Questions” document; please let us know your additional questions. The CTS Board of Trustees’ final decision on this matter will be in the early fall of 2017. Between now and then, please don’t hesitate to be in touch. We have created a special email address for this dialogue: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Grace and peace,