Saturday, March 14, 2015

28. You can be practical on the doctoral level.

1. I have mentioned Luigi Peñaranda and Brannon Hancock occasionally throughout this narrative. Let me now officially introduce them as faculty who joined the Seminary July 1, 2014.

Luigi was hired as our first full-time faculty member who would teach extensively, although by no means exclusively, for the Spanish MDIV program. He has been a Godsend because this program has lacked full-time faculty eyes. His doctoral work is in leadership but he has master's training in biblical studies.

Indeed, with him and Brannon now here, we can finally speak of something like a "foundations team." Before they came, it was John Drury and me half time. But it is awkward for the Dean to be involved in faculty decisions because of the intrinsic power differential. John astutely observed in a recent meaning that I sometimes do not give my opinion as a Bible person in meetings because as Dean I am supposed to more or less let the faculty make academic decisions.

One of the things I appreciate about Luigi--and this is an area administration has to be careful about--is that he serves above and beyond the call of duty.

This reminds me of some advice I would give the many out there who are currently looking for a faculty position. If you are wanting to become a faculty member somewhere, consider the following common sense dynamic if you go to interview. It is true that there are certain things a university probably cannot require you to do without giving you something extra in return (money, load release, etc).

But consider this. If a university has a hiring choice between two people, one of whom is wired to serve beyond what he or she is required to do and the other of whom only does what s/he is required to do, who would you hire? In 1996 when I was looking for a teaching job, a Provost at an unnamed seminary glibly told me that it was a "buyer's market" for professors.

I won't say it glibly, but it is MUCH worse now almost twenty years later. Those of us who teach are all fortunate to have a job, and beggars are choosers at their own risk of unemployment. verbum sapienti satis est.

Integration is Brannon's middle name. He is a worship guy. He is a church history guy. He knows the arts and literature. It is truly enriching to have him on the faculty. People like he and John have the academic chops to teach at a traditional, academic type graduate school, but they have the application skills to train ministers in the tools of ministry.

2. Those of us in the Seminary have believed now for a long time that a Doctor of Ministry degree (DMIN) would be a logical development over time for a seminary focused on the practice of ministry.

A DMIN is quite different from a PhD in character. For example, a PhD is something like a pyramid. It starts with a wide and broad base of theoretical knowledge and then increasingly becomes more and more specific in focus until the dissertation argues something in a way that no one has ever done before. It is an academically oriented degree.

A DMIN is different. It is more like a pylon. You start specific and you end specific. You don't take a lot of background theoretical courses but are pretty much focused on a narrow area in the practice of ministry from beginning to end. It ends with a project that involves some sort of field research, for example, in relation to a specific local church or a particular ministry related problem. It is a practice oriented degree.

3. We did not want to start any specific dreaming about a DMIN until after we were fully accredited by ATS, which happened in the summer of 2014. But as soon as we knew the positive review of the visiting team, we immediately put a task force together. Bob Whitesel had extensive experience with teaching DMIN students. He has both a DMIN and a PhD from Fuller and has taught several times for them. He has also taught for Wheaton and has extensive connections with Talbot and George Fox.

Lenny Luchetti was also a logical person to give input to a potential DMIN program, being a distinguished graduate of Asbury's highly revered Beeson Program. Colleen Derr was a logical person eventually to lead a Spiritual Formation cohort one day. She brings extensive knowledge of Regent's degree programs.

4. We did research. What kinds of subjects would bring our alumni and Wesleyan pastors with an MDIV back for a DMIN? The results put Leadership first, then Proclamation, then Spiritual Formation. Perfecto.

Here again was a situation where I suddenly realized how differently I think than others. There are really different kinds of faculty. For example, there is one kind of faculty that will teach as many overloads as you give them at the drop of a hat. They either want the money or they love to teach. Then there is another kind of faculty person that wants the time. They want load release, not money.

Then there are some who think the more the merrier as far as class size. By contrast, there are others who want relatively small class sizes so that they can give more personal attention.

So, given my personality, I assumed everyone on faculty would want to teach for the DMIN. Not so. Some had no interest whatsoever.

Also, I immediately wanted to do something unique, something creative that no one had done before. But I'm afraid the complication of the existing MDIV didn't leave many open ears there. Most wanted to do something more normal for a change. To be honest, I didn't really know how DMINs were wired. I thought they were just PhDs in a practical area.

5. I feel really good about the model that developed as a proposal. I want to be clear here. While this has passed all the internal academic approvals, we have a site visit from ATS next month and we are still waiting to hear back from HLC. So, right now, this is only a proposal.

It is a "faculty mentor" model. The concept is that, about a year before a cohort start, the professor on deck would craft a cohort proposal, which involves three years' worth of intensive courses and online research courses. Then each student would spend a fourth year (or more) completing their project.

So let's say you wanted to study Leadership with Bob Whitesel. You might spend two weeks at 12Stone® with him in June 2016, then two weeks in England with him in June 2017, then two weeks in San Diego with him in June 2018. At each of these locations, there would be guest professors who would drop in to share leadership insights relevant to the subject of the intensive.

Meanwhile, each January you would work six weeks online working on your project proposal. No later than the second year of these, you would be assigned a Project Advisor who would help you through the proposal and on to a successful oral defense. Voila, you're Dr. So and So.

Pray for us as we walk through what we hope will be the final stages of this DMIN journey.

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.
12. There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university. (1)
13. There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university. (2)
14. Our guinea pigs survived.

Year 4: The Year of the Faculty
15. Faculty share governance with administration. (1)
16. Faculty share governance with administration. (2)
17. Faculty share governance with administration. (3)
18. Faculty share governance with administration. (4)
19. Growth means addition. (1)
20. Growth means addition. (2)
21. Growth means addition. (3)

Year 5: The Year of Accreditation
22. Don't underestimate the power of a symbol.
23. A good reputation is much to be desired.
24. Sustainability needs reliable infrastructure.
25. Important decisions often involve trade-offs.

Year 6: Launching the Future
26. Good leaders look for opportunities.
27. Online programs tend to cannibalize equivalent onsite ones.

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