Wednesday, February 18, 2015

9. New leaders bring new strengths. (2)

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)

1. Wayne Schmidt is like Aslan--he is always on the move. Every turn you make, he is meeting with some new (or old) connection. These meetings plant seeds, some of which grow into new venues for Wesley to serve. Sometimes these are even new possibilities for adjuncts. I think every year Wayne has been here, he has led us into some new context.

This is perhaps primary source of the Seminary's growth overall. After three years, we started graduating students and reached a kind of basic equilibriuum. Our initial goals were to add about 75 MDIV students a year--two cohorts in the Fall, two in the Spring, one in the summer. If you added in existing MA students and considered attrition, we figured we would level out at about 255. Any growth beyond that would have to be something added on.

Colleen Derr's MA specialization in Children, Youth, and Family (which came on board in Year 4) has been the primary "add on" these last couple years, our most recent cause of growth. But I think Wayne holds the cumulative record for "add ons." Of course, none of these ventures could go forward without the faculty to teach them and, in most cases, to implement them. But most of them so far ultimately started on Wayne's initiative.

By the way, I believe this was the secret to IWU's growth as well in the past. We would start a new satellite somewhere, and we would grow. If I have the number correct, IWU currently has 17 satellite buildings in Indiana, Ohio, and Kentucky.

There are some interesting tidbits about this expansion. One is that soon after the dawn of online, our new sites began to generate more online students than they did onsite students. We might have done just as well simply to rent office space in new locations as to lease buildings.

A second interesting tidbit is that IWU growth was not a function of existing sites. Rather, our growth generally came from adding new locations. Our growth arguably slowed after we stopped starting new sites.

2. The initial cost of the Seminary was so good, especially for Wesleyans, that only the most stubborn or bent on a traditional theological education would go elsewhere. I believe we started off at $367 a credit hour. We then initially gave about half-off tuition to Wesleyan ministers, about a third off for any minister in a church. You had to have a church endorsement form even to get into the MDIV.

Wesleyan ministers then then received another hundred dollars in loan grant. Then sometimes their districts or churches would kick in some. If I remember correctly, West Michigan started off throwing in an extra $85 a credit hour to begin with. The bottom line is that some of our first students could go to seminary for free.

Now six years in, tuition is $450 a credit hour. We have tightened the Wesleyan and non-Wesleyan ministerial scholarships, making sure a person is actually in a ministerial appointment or church. It is a blanket $200 scholarship for Wesleyan ministers, $100 for non-Wesleyan ministers. The denomination still kicks in a hundred in loan grant.

I also have not yet mentioned that Henry Smith early on resonated with the idea of giving the then 1.1 million dollars the denomination contributed to IWU toward the Seminary. In the end, IWU continued to give that money to the residential campus, but for the Seminary's first five years it matched that amount primarily to underwrite these scholarships, drawing from R & D money. We are now being weaned off of it slowly.

It has taken some doing to communicate that this seed money made it such that growth, at least to begin with, did not mean greater financial success for the Seminary. The 1.1 million underwrote a certain number of scholarships. We knew from the very beginning that if we grew beyond a certain point, the 1.1 million would cease to be enough to underwrite them. In other words, the initial set up was a start-up scenario that was not permanently sustainable. Accordingly, Wayne and the financial team began to make adjustments a couple years ago.

3. The first new venue that Wayne added was a Spanish MDIV--what a spectacular new venue to start with!  Less than two months on the job, Wayne found himself in Atlanta and managed to meet up with Justo Gonzalez. Justo would become a close friend of the Seminary and would even teach Historia Cristiana Global for us in August of 2012.

Indeed, what a feast of professors our Spanish MDIV students have had: Gabriel Salguero (July 2013, ethics elective), Samuel Pagan (Biblia como Escritura Cristiana, January 2014 and beyond), Hugo Magallanes (since the very beginning, Contextos Culturales del Ministerio), Victor Cuartas (since the very beginning, La Iglesia Misional), Pablo Jimenez (since the first Proclamación)! These are leading Hispanic world scholars.

Joanne Solis-Walker, our Directora, Estudios para Latin@s, has worked long and hard to develop an excellent and reliable pool of go-to adjunct profesores, including people like Irving Figueroa (Liderazgo), Eloy Nolivos (historia Cristiana), Jose Hernandez (fundamentos), Liza Miranda (Adoración), Silva Chamboneth (Formación Congregacional), Carmelo Mercado (formación espiritual), and Jose Matamoros (formación espiritual).

On July 1, 2014, Luigi Peñaranda went from being one of our faithful helpers to becoming our first full-time faculty who could teach in both the English and Spanish programs. He has already given way above and beyond the call of duty. It is breathing real life and quality into the program. More on that later.

To be continued...

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