Reflection on the Board of Trustees Meeting – Samuel Tallman ’12

This was my first meeting of the Board of Trustee for The General Theological Seminary as a newly elected alumni trustee. Having served for several prior years on the Alumni Executive Committee and the Board Investment Committee, I came with reasonably current knowledge about the Seminary, but perhaps uncertainty about what the Board’s collective perspective about the future might be.

At this meeting, there were major developments on several fronts that connect the Seminary’s present with its trajectory for the future. Perhaps chief among them was the announcement of the Seminary’s new accredited degree program, the Master of Arts in Ministry, which allows for theological education to be flexibly applied to chaplaincy, pastoral care, Christian education, youth and family ministries, community organizing, as well as Anglican-year studies. The 36-credit program has flexibility to be done in one calendar year or two academic years, flexibly marrying rigorous theological education with formation and practice.

A report was also given on the Wisdom Year curriculum now integrated into all years of the M.Div. program, a complete re-imagining of field education. It is an excellent example of integrating education and practice, as well as the Seminary’s New York City advantage in offering unparalleled exposure to various contexts and modes for ministry. The board was stimulated to discuss the Seminary’s future in entrepreneurial ecclesiology, by addressing the education and formation needs for the Church’s growth beyond the existing parochial context.

Altogether, it is a clear perspective of innovative curriculum, both alongside the M.Div. program and integrated into it. The Seminary’s six full-time faculty, who are largely new, bring eager engagement with the requirement for curricular flexibility, collaboration, and experimentation.

The six-month financial results were of equal significance in showing a gain from operations for the first time in many years. The Seminary is within shooting distance of equilibrium to achieve its full-year operating results in June. While education-related revenues are not the principal drivers of this improvement, achieving financial stability sets the stage for being able to engage the vision of the Seminary’s future in theological education and ministerial formation.

Finally, the presence of the Alumni Executive Committee members, faculty, and student representatives for all this information sharing is a healthy new development in the Board’s consciousness of openness and communication with its many constituencies.

The Rev. Samuel V. Tallman, Class of 2012