Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Seminary Vision (7-1-09): Economical

The public "opening" of the seminary is October 1-2, around the time of homecoming. The practical opening of the seminary is when students show up for classes August 3. But as a quiet note of celebration, today is the technical, legal opening of the seminary (woo-hoo!). Shh, don't tell anyone. Today it officially exists within the structure of the university. Pop, goes the non-alcoholic bottle of champagne.

The next of the IWU Seminary videos is "economical."

So far we've featured the Missional, Communal, Integrated, Spiritually Enriching, and Personalized vidcasts. Today we feature the Economical vidcast.

It's true. If you can get into Princeton or Duke, there's a fair chance their endowment machine will give you some hefty financial aid. That is, at least before the economic crisis.

But as far as evangelical seminaries go, it's going to be hard for anyone to justify going anywhere else but to IWU's new seminary--especially Wesleyans!

The per hour tuition rate for IWU's MDIV is 367 per credit hour. That's respectable. It shows we're affordable but not cheap. We have to put the number somewhere around there so that no one thinks we're the Dollar General of seminaries (P.S. aren't people stupid--that people would pass up real value because it is inexpensive!). Fine. We have a respectable number, 367 a credit hour.

BUT, then we give scholarships. For Wesleyan ministers, it's half off, which brings the number down to $183.50 a credit hour. That's pretty good... certainly beats anything a Wesleyan minister would get from the other institutions Wesleyans usually look at.

THEN, because we are now the only denominationally owned seminary of the Wesleyan Church, we have instantaneously, as of today, equal status in the eyes of the denomination to Asbury. That means all Wesleyan ministers who take our MDIV will get the same amount of denominational loan grant that only on campus Wesleyan students at Asbury get. I don't know the exact number, but it's about 80 dollars a credit hour, a fifth of which is "forgiven" by the denomination for every year served in ministry.

That brings us down to aroun $103.50 a credit hour for a Wesleyan minister.

BUT THAT'S NOT ALL! Many districts have funds for seminary education or matching funds. I believe two years ago one of the Michigan districts gave $85 dollars a credit hour for their ministers to go to seminary. That brings us down to about $20 bucks a credit hour.

So let's see, a Wesleyan minister from that district could do their whole first year, 20 credit hours, for about 500 bucks for the whole year!!!

To be sure, this equation couldn't support a thousand people. But in the meantime, from an economic perspective, you'd have to be crazy as a Wesleyan minister to go to one of the other places Wesleyans typically look at. You'd be like the Sprint commercial with the guy taking a bag of money out with the trash or the woman shoveling her quarters into a public fountain!


David Drury said...

The more I hear about this seminary the more I have a bone to pick with the one I went to. :-)

Man this sounds amazing! In some ways I wish I was just now looking to go to seminary. There would be no competition. Almost makes me want to have a "do-over." :-)


Mark Schnell said...

GCTS is very pickable!

Esteban Vázquez said...

Of course, by the same token, prospective students belonging to The Wesleyan Church who would like to have more than one course each in Biblical Studies, Systematic Theology, and Church History would simply have to be crazy to enroll at IWU's new MDiv rather than at Asbury, WBS, or NTS, where they can study such things as biblical languages and exegesis.

I am a big fan of distance education and greatly appreciate that Indiana Wesleyan University has put such effort in launching this new program, but it's unrealistic to compare it to the programs at above mentioned schools. A more even basis for comparison would be the MDiv at Northwest Nazarene University--another distance education, 75-credit program.

Ken Schenck said...

I welcome your push back Esteban. These other fine institutions do offer a greater variety of opportunities for electives and focused Bible, theology, and church history courses than we will for some time. If a person is more interested in knowing the original meaning of the Bible and the finer points of Bible, church history, and theology--rather than how to do the work of the ministry, which is what an MDIV is meant to prepare for, they will prefer to go to one of these institutions. I do not believe, however, that a person whose main desire is to minister effectively, will do better anywhere else. In fact, I do not think these other institutions will even come close, trying to be objective about what I know we are doing.

In the meantime, there is not as much truth even to your comment as you think, although I recognize it was cheeky to make the economical statement the way I did. For example, one of our students this year is taking Greek both in the Fall and the Spring through the undergraduate program. And I am sending out perhaps even today an email to the over 200 students already in our new seminary to see if there is enough interest in taking Greek both online and onsite next summer in an innovative format. In this new format the first course would teach what most people remember after taking a whole Greek program. Then the second course would fill in the forms for those who wanted to go the whole way. We would follow with Hebrew in the same format in what I hope to become a regular summer language institute open to MDIV students around the world in any school. Frankly, I think we may just nab a lot of students from other seminaries to take the languages this way--again, I bet on average they will learn them much better. Joe Dongell tells me he has worked with one of the Greek courses at Asbury to move in this direction there as well, although his course does not really prepare for a track that would go for full knowledge of forms the second semester.

Let me also strongly correct the notion that there is only one Bible, theology, and church history course here. There is an assignment every week in either Bible, theology, or church history, written by a scholar in that area. Here is quantum physics next to Newtonian--knowledge of these disciplines that is taught in tandem with other disciplines rather than as an isolated, self-contained discipline. This is a paradigm shift.

In addition there is the iconic Integration Paper that runs throughout each course. This paper involves about twenty pages of exegetical and historical-theological research before issuing in an 10 page pastoral theology piece. Each of these is givn feedback by a scholar in that area. How much Bible work in relation to a leadership or evangelism course at other seminaries is given feeback by one of their Bible profs. Doesn't happen!

The fact of the matter is, the way Bible, theology, and church history are taught at most institutions can be like putting a heater outside in the winter. On average, I will be bold to argue that our students may very well leave on average with a better working knowledge of the Bible, theology, and church history than the average graduate of these other institutions--not as much depth of knowledge as some, but better knowledge to use in ministry than most.

I welcome the push back and these are fine institutions that actually fit my personality better than ours does! But that's because I am obsessed with the finer points of knowledge. It's not because of my obsession with doing the work of the ministry! That for me is a discipline. And similarly, I think our program overnight has become the best program for ministers among our benchmark institutions.

And with over 200 students overnight in our combined MA and MDIV programs, we are larger than most seminaries in our first semester!

Ken Schenck said...

I wanted to add one more thing in my attempt to catalog our paradigm shifts:

Most seminaries shoot for an ideal and fail with most students. We are aiming for what is effective and will succeed with most.

I think of Greek again. The ideal is that every minister will know Greek and Hebrew. Every seminary with this as a goal fails in the vast majority of instances. We aim at them knowing how to use the Bible in ministry and we will succeed in most instances.