Year 4: The Year of the Faculty
I'm dubbing Year 4 of the Seminary (2012-13), the Year of the Faculty.
1. On July 1, 2009, the faculty consisted of Bob Whitesel, Charles Arn, and I was half-time faculty. Chip was technically a Visiting Professor because he lived in California. At that time, Bob was an Associate Professor of Christian Ministry and Missional Leadership.
In January 2010, not only did Wayne Schmidt begin as head of the Seminary, but John Drury started as Assistant Professor of Theology and Christian Ministry. Russ and I had the idea that every faculty would have "Christian Ministry" in their title. If they were a professor in a practical area, they would be professor of Christian Ministry and [insert discipline here]. If they taught in a "foundational" area, they would be professor of [insert foundational discipline] and Christian Ministry.
So I was [academic] Dean and Professor of New Testament and Christian Ministry. Lenny Luchetti came July 1, 2010 as Assistant Professor of Christian Ministry and Proclamation.
January 2011, Wayne and I went to the Wesleyan Gathering in Jacksonville, Florida. As usual, Wayne was making connections and one person we had breakfast with was Colleen Derr, who at that time was working in the Spiritual Formation department at Wesleyan HQ. The praxis course up that Spring was Proclamation, which means that Congregational Spiritual Formation was up for the Fall.
This Christian "education" course would be right up Colleen's alley. I think Wayne already knew her, and Bob may have mentioned her name to him also, since he had taught her as an MA in Ministry student.
We had sketched out the Proclamation course before Lenny came. But it was not yet in Blackboard when he started, the learning system IWU was using at the time. Lenny attacked the task as he attacks everything--with full force.
Colleen would do the same with the Congregational Spiritual Formation course. I was proud of the name of the course. This would not be some sterile "Christian education" course. I had scarcely had a CE class in my training that I didn't think was boring in the extreme--deeply ironic, when you would think educators would be the best teachers.
This course would view education as the formation not just of individuals, but of a community, a congregation. And it would view traditional spiritual formation as an individual microcosm of the broader task of forming a congregation.
Colleen came as Assistant Professor of Christian Ministry and Congregational Formation on July 1, 2011.
2. We were also looking for a worship professor. We had several individuals help us teach worship in the meantime. Steve Zerbe taught it for us several times. Dan Wilt helped us.
A young Nazarene named Brannon Hancock taught for us numerous times. In fact, when one of our part-time helpers put him in the wrong two boxes, he did something as an adjunct no full-time professor at Wesley has ever done. He taught both the foundations and praxis part of the same course at the same time in Fall 2012. He would later come on board full time July 1, 2014.
We had great applicants for the worship position in late summer 2011. I wanted to get the search started before I left on sabbatical in Germany in September. I thought we might finish it when I got back in January, or perhaps Jim Vermilya would finish it while I was gone.
In the meantime, Bob Whitesel had made a connection with Dr. Kwasi Kena, who worked in the Evangelism department at United Methodist Mecca in Nashville. His wife, Dr. Safiyah Fosua was also working in the area of worship for the United Methodist Church leadership. Both ended up applying.
Both Drs. Fosua and Kena were multi-competent. She applied for the worship position (she could just as well be the proclamation professor) and knocked our socks off in her public teaching session. I think it was the most moving teaching sample I've ever witnessed--actually worshipful. Dr. Kena initially looked at the final praxis course of the MDIV curriculum, the Congregational Relationships course, which has within it the traditional pastoral care elements within it. Eventually he would decide to focus on the cultural contexts course, and currently has the title of Associate Professor of Ethnic and Multi-Cultural Ministry.
The interviews went more quickly than I expected. Before I even left for Germany, both Dr. Kena and Fosua were on a path to be hired July 1, 2012. They were thus here to celebrate with the first MDIV graduates at their Consecration Service and they helped lead the worship at the Fall Convocation service that August.
3. The governance of educational institutions is different from other types of organizations. In a normal business, the leadership pretty much decides everything. It's completely top-down. It's more or less the same in a church.
Make no mistake, the administration in a university is in charge, under the supervision and direction of the Board of Trustees. It ultimately makes the decisions. It ultimately makes the hires. It decides where the university goes next and what it does next.
But there is also a special feature of colleges, universities, and seminaries. It is tradition that faculty determine the curriculum and that they put forward the names for the hires. So in a faculty search, the faculty put forward a name to the administration, which the administration then either affirms or vetoes.
The uniqueness of the initial Seminary design, the strength of the faculty, and the networking of Dr. Schmidt have required us over time to make very clear the boundaries of what is known in the business as "shared governance." How much support from the faculty does the leadership of the Seminary need to launch new programs in new venues? How much can the faculty modify the original curricular design of the Seminary?
These were all boundaries that we needed to clarify in our fourth year...
Previously on Seminary take-aways:
1. There are key moments of opportunity.
2. You need the right people.
3. Good leaders collaborate and navigate.
Year 1: Launch Year
4. Innovation requires some trial and error. (1)
5. Innovation requires some trial and error. (2)
6. Innovation requires some trial and error. (3)
7. New leaders bring new strengths. (1)
Year 2: Growing Pains
8. Administration never ends.
9. New leaders bring new strengths. (2)
10. New leaders bring new strengths. (3)
Year 3: The Year of Maturity
11. Complexity works against sustainability.