Seminary of the Southwest begins new academic year with vigor

August 19, 2008

A new seminary logo blends with a familiar name, a renovated administrative center opens on campus, and faculty and staff additions enhance a commitment to quality theological education for divinity and lay students as Seminary of the Southwest (SSW) begins its 2008-09 academic year September 2 with about 20 new full-time students joining the community.

"Exciting changes are taking place at the Seminary of the Southwest as theological education is evolving throughout the church," said the Very Rev. Douglas Travis at the beginning of his second year as dean. "Our pioneering programs for lay people have come together under one roof, new faculty and staff members are bringing fresh energy to our community, and the seminary's new graphic look from logo to website mirrors our movement."

New Episcopal students come from 11 dioceses throughout the country from Alabama and Olympia to Eastern Michigan and Southern Virginia. Six other denominations are represented in the entering class.

SSW's part-time degree programs for lay people have a new name -- the Center for Christian Ministry and Vocation (CCMV). The three master's programs in chaplaincy and pastoral care, counseling and pastoral ministry with an emphasis on spiritual formation are now gathered in the center which also houses the Online School for Spirituality and Mission and the Certificate Programs for Youth Ministry and Christian Education.

"The center supports Christians in discerning what it means in their particular lives and circumstances to live a life of faith," said Ellen Jockusch, center director. "It is founded on the principle that all Christians -- both lay and ordained -- are called to ministry, whatever their job or profession."

Two persons have joined the seminary faculty -- Dr. Jana Strukova, assistant professor of Christian education and formation, and the Rev. Micah Jackson, assistant professor of homiletics.

Strukova, a native of Slovikia and former Lutheran director of children's ministries who enjoys exploring the relationship between faith and a person's socio-economic situation, is committed to nurturing young people in values and habits that assist in building a just and socially minded society. Jackson, an Episcopal priest who comes to the seminary from the Graduate Theological Union in San Francisco, focuses on the spiritual discipline of preaching, homiletic form and the evolving relationship between the preacher and congregation.

Ben Chandler, former fundraiser for the College of Liberal Arts at the University of Texas, is the new vice president for institutional advancement at the Seminary of the Southwest. He takes over fundraising leadership from Nancy Springer-Baldwin, who is now executive director of communications at SSW.

Both have offices in the newly opened Bailey Center at Rather House and share the space with other administrators and staff. The $3.5 million renovation work refashioned the 1900s former residence of seminary donor families into an administrative center. The Episcopal Foundation of Texas contributed $600,000 to the construction project. The building will formally be dedicated in early October when seminary trustees meet on campus.

While retaining its official name -- "Episcopal Theological Seminary of the Southwest" -- the seminary is referring to itself now as "Seminary of the Southwest" (SSW), a usage that has informally evolved in the past two decades. "Of course, the Seminary of the Southwest remains resolutely Episcopalian," Travis said. A newly designed website for student recruiting -- www.ssw.edu -- completes the new transition when it is launched September 2.

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