How to turn around a dying seminary

My theology professor at United Theological Seminary writes about the business reasons and the theological reasons for the enrollment growth at UTS in the last few years.

From a marketing point of view, here is what happened. About seven years ago, the faculty at United Theological Seminary made a conscious decision to be more inclusive. In our case, being more inclusive meant being more hospitable to evangelicals, Pentecostals, and charismatics. We didn’t have many students, but the majority of our students at the time could be categorized as center-left mainline liberal-progressive. We were committed to diversity in theory but not in practice. The reality was that we were neither warm nor welcoming to the majority of Protestant Christians in the world, which is to say, to evangelicals, Pentecostals, and charismatics. From a business point of view, this was, in a word, stupid. We were fighting for a share of a rapidly shrinking pool, namely, center-left mainline liberal Protestants!

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7 thoughts on “How to turn around a dying seminary

  1. So their strategy is, essentially, to cater to whoever is the dominant voice at the time (the liberal protestants in the 70s, the evangelicals in the 2000’s)? I don’t fault them for seeking to perpetuate their institution, but it is odd that a seminary’s “voice” is so easily replaced.

    I went to Boston University and they were aware that they had lost their identity as “school of the prophets” since the days of MLK Jr. But rather than replace it with a new identity, they sought to critically examine what that identity looked like in the 21st century. I don’t know that they solved it (graduated 7 years ago), however…

    1. It might help to read the whole post that Vickers wrote and comment there.

      He could better respond to your analysis than I can.

      “Seeking to perpetuate their institution” does not reflect at all my experience of the people there. Again, reading Vickers’ blog might give you a better sense of that.

  2. He’s my theology professor as well–he’s an adjunct at Asbury too. I’ve been enjoying the class a lot so far. What textbook are you using in that class? We’ve been using Oden’s Classic Christianity in TH501 Basic Christian Doctrine.

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