Trustees of the General Theological Seminary in New York approved in principle new strategic initiatives--including a plan to raise $21 million in capital, endowment and operating funds; exploring long-term financing for construction of a new education center; and appropriating $1.7 million for urgent repairs to Hoffman Hall, which houses the seminary's historic refectory.
While most of their deliberations centered on new initiatives, trustees also expressed deep disappointment with collapse of plans to relocate the national offices of the Episcopal Church to the seminary's campus in Chelsea on Manhattan's West Side. A few days before the February 6-7 trustees meeting, the Episcopal Church's Executive Council officially decided to 'discontinue' exploration of the project. The board decided to send a three-member delegation to meet with Presiding Bishop Frank T. Griswold and House of Deputies President George Werner to express regret over the lost opportunity for the church and the seminary.
Using the themes of people, programs and property, Dean Ward Ewing spoke of the seminary faculty, students and staff as the institution's greatest assets. He pointed to examples of innovative programs for Hispanic/Latino students and a new MA program designed to attract and serve lay leaders in the church, as well as programs for continuing education for clergy. Current and future property enhancements, the dean argued, must always be evaluated in terms of how they serve the seminary's mission to provide leaders for the church.
Ewing also cited the seminary's first high-tech classroom, in its first year of operation, as a real success in terms of mission, and he offered reasons why the cornerstone of the capital campaign--a new conference/education center--was central to the seminary's efforts to meet the demand for short-term, summer, and continuing education programs.
'I believe our meeting marks a new beginning for General Seminary,' Ewing said at the conclusion. 'We centered directly on our mission to educate and form leaders for the church in a changing world and addressed how we will pursue this mission with renewed commitment in the 21st century.'