Saturday, February 28, 2015

15. Faculty share governance with administration. (1)

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.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Vale, Spock

The original Star Trek premiered less than two weeks before I was born. By the time I was watching TV, it was in reruns. (Growing up in the more conservative side of the Wesleyan/Pilgrim Holiness side of things, television itself was somewhat controversial, but we did have one).

My wife jokes that I must be somewhere on the spectrum. If so, I've learned to hide it well. But it is interesting in retrospect that I identified as a child with both Spock in Star Trek and the Vision, whom most of you will meet for the first time when Avengers 2 comes out this year. Both are a strange mixture of dedication to objectivity and yet both have a sense that life must be lived in service of the greater good.

In a strange way, Superman fits into the same mold, perhaps my greatest hero as a child. Fully rational, but completely self-less. A Christ figure, in truth. Massively powerful, massively good. Sheldon on Big Bang Theory has the logical side but lacks Spock's sense of the greater good. His logic only serves himself.

I identified with Spock because I have always been completely and utterly dedicated to truth in my mind, wherever the evidence and reason most likely lead. (I also consider it logical not to share everything you think is true.) I identified with Spock as well because beneath that dedication to truth is a churning sea of emotion, vying to take over reason.

(Most will remember that Spock is not fully Vulcan, but also half human. His human side is always there, lurking, but his Vulcan side keeps it under control. He is thus a model of human self-control.)

For Spock, it was only logical that the good of the many outweighed the good, not only of the few, but it outweighed even his own self-interest. Those who know the original movies know that the most recent Star Trek movie ironically reversed the original death scene.

And so "Vale," Spock. Farewell, Leonard Nimoy. "I have been and always shall be your friend."

14. Our guinea pigs survived.

1. Most of the first two MDIV cohorts, 14 students, graduated in August 2012. They seemed to survive the torture of being the lead cohorts, with its accompanying shock therapy. One of these cohorts had gone through the whole program onsite on Tuesdays. The other had been online for most of the program.

August 2012 Seminary Graduates
When we were designing the program, Russ and others more or less assumed it would take four years--three years of core courses and a year of electives. For the record, I believed then that a lot of students would try to slip in their electives throughout the program. Suffice it to say, most students do it in three years.

There was great camaraderie with the first cohort. One of my favorite stories was in the second summer of their program when it was discovered that David Norman's van had not only worn through the pads but through the rotors and the thing was only miraculously holding together at all. Josh Bowlin had some skills in this area and actually fixed the brakes during the Bible intensive. David was ever grateful that he had not died before catastrophe had struck.

Russ did the capstone with the class. The initial idea had been that the same person who taught their initial course would also do their capstone. Alas, it was not to be. Russ went to headquarters, and Lenny teaches far too much as it is. We have worked into a pattern of Keith Drury teaching almost all the capstones, which works perfectly.

Every time he teaches the class we get a treasure trove of new data on every course and on the program in general. There is usually a certain time delay on the key points of improvement. Often we have already fixed a key critique already. We can see the evolution of the program.

So at first there were the critiques of not having a full-time worship professor. Fixed when Safiyah Fosua joined us. There was the critique of administrative things falling through the cracks. But as I will mention in a coming post, infrastructure was gradually added to fix much of that. The most current critique is the availability of syllabi before a class begins. I view this in part as a luxury request, since in our undergraduate education we never got a syllabus before the first day of class. But we have developed even in the last week a system to make them available six weeks before every class begins.

There is an important organizational point hiding in here. You can improve satisfaction by changing expectations. 

2. There are some miscellaneous things I should catch up on. There was a background tune that had been playing throughout the first three years, namely, the harmony of the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). At the end of the first year of the Seminary, in the summer of 2010, I went to Montreal to the ATS biennial meeting as an observer.

We had asked about the possibility of expediting our membership, since our MA program had been graduating students for decades. In the past, the criteria for certain things in the ATS standards were not exactly clear, nor was their website. If you go to the website today, it is phenomenally clearer than it used to be (and prettier). We actually paid Joel Liechty as a student worker to read through all their materials in that third year to give us the skinny.

So the standards only said that you needed to have graduated a first class of students to apply for membership in ATS. It would not be the last time we found out that it meant something a little more specific than actually stated. What the standard actually meant was that you had to have graduated your first class of MDIV students.

But ATS has always been extremely gracious to us, for which we are very grateful. So they let us apply for membership in 2012, even though the meeting in Minneapolis was technically a couple months before the graduation ceremony for the first cohorts. The first cohort had at least finished all their degree requirements by then.

Dan Aleshire himself came to campus in March of 2012 in preparation for our application. We always felt like he and the ATS staff were favorable toward us. Ironically, there were more radical versions of an MDIV out there than us. For example, Northwest Nazarene's MDIV requires no onsite courses at all.

When we started, some people in our circles seemed to raise their eyebrows. What, an MDIV that is only 75 hours? What, two thirds online? What, most of the face-to-face courses are in intensive format?

But six years later, there are now several completely online MDIVs. And the minimum number is 72 hours, less than us. Henry Smith had told us to aim for where ATS was headed, not where it was, and he was spot on.

In June 2010, when I first went to Montreal, there were the rising clouds of massive changes that were about to take place. In June 2012, when Wayne Schmidt and I went to Minneapolis, those changes were put into place. It was now possible to ask for "experimental status" in regard to some aspect of the standards. You could petition to differ from just about anything. In June 2014 at the biennial meeting in Pittsburgh, the experiments were in full bloom.

So in June of 2012, Wesley was voted in as an associate member of ATS. President Henry Smith popped in and stood with us for the requisite clapping and picture. That would launch us into the next step after membership, which would take another two years, namely, the process of actual accreditation.

3. There were also other things going on. In January 2011, Lenny Luchetti and I flew to New York and crossed the border into Canada to meet in the home where the assessment software "Chalk and Wire" is housed. Although IWU's switch to a different learning platform ultimately kept us from ever implementing their system, I learned a great deal about how to do assessment from them.

In the summer of 2011, we had a one week intensive at 12Stone® Church, co-taught by Dan Reiland and Bob Whitesel. It was the beginning of a partnership that would eventually blossom into an MA Leadership cohort that began in 2013 and is now entering its final stages.

In February 2012, Lenny Luchetti actually flew to New Zealand and taught the first course of the MDIV, "Pastor, Church, and World," there. We only ended up, I think, with three online students from it. In August 2012, Lara Levicheva went to Jamaica and taught our basic Bible course at the Caribbean Bible College to students who were going to join MA and MDIV cohorts. We ended up with one or two.

The international piece has always been a difficult nut to crack. We have had and have students in Jamaica, Sierra Leone, Haiti, and Bangladesh, but it seems like there are always difficulties (not least consistent internet connections). I have no doubt that Wayne, David Wright, and others will figure this out.

The blog post from January 2011 alludes to some brief exploratory conversations we had with Kingswood about starting something in Ottawa, Canada. But alas, it was not to be.

As I end discussion of our third year, I might mention that Lara Levicheva served us faithfully for two years under an hourly contract from January 2011 to the Fall of 2013. Since then she has faithfully served as the go-to adjunct foundations professor for Colleen Derr's Congregational Spiritual Formation class. We consider her part of the faculty team!

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.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

13. There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university. (2)

... 5. The Graduate School at IWU has seemed enigmatic to some since the restructuring of the university in 2009. It has none of its own faculty but, rather, all graduate level faculty within the university are part of it. Most of what the Graduate School does is set standards and make sure the graduate programs of the university are meeting them.

It has been very important for me or someone from the Seminary to be present at Graduate Council meetings for fear that they would pass a policy that makes sense to most graduate schools and the broader university, but not to the Seminary.

The standards of seminaries are not the same as those in the rest of the academy. Primarily, we are a professional rather than an academic master's degree. It was tiring at the beginning when we took proposals through the broader university that were appropriate for seminaries but puzzling in the broader academy. There was often a look that said something like, "You can't do that in a graduate program."

For example, seminaries accept more transfer credit than any other graduate program in the university. We accept credit for courses students took as part of degrees that they have already earned. Other parts of the university don't do that. These are common practices among theological schools that had to be explained and justified every time.

Another example is advanced standing with credit. This is where, if a student has taken certain undergraduate courses that relate to certain elementary seminary courses, they can actually be granted Seminary credit. These are courses like basic Bible study method, introductory theology, and basic church history.

When I went to seminary, you didn't get credit in this way. You simply were allowed to take more advanced electives in those areas as a substitute. But that's not where the theological academy is today. Today we grant credit. It helps decrease the total number of hours a student has to take and thus diminishes student debt.

(It's an important reminder that academic excellence is a moving target. It is not some timeless absolute that stays the same over time. Academics often don't seem to realize this fact and then romanticize the good old days when standards were higher.)

So it has always been important to be present at these Grad Council meetings, so that policies won’t be passed that make perfect sense in most graduate programs but would be detrimental to the Seminary in the light of standard theological school practices.

6. Despite the occasional frustration, the advantages for us of being embedded far outweigh these smaller inconveniences. For example, I was resistant to using the student advising services of the broader adult programs at first. I felt like our students, especially as we were starting up, needed a high touch. I was afraid that a machine built for 13,000 might treat them more like a number and be insensitive in the administration of policy.

(And let me also hint that IWU was on a strong bureaucratic trajectory three years ago. I believe the situation has now changed dramatically.)

But on the other hand, I/we were dropping balls too. Some things were falling through the cracks. When I went on sabbatical in the Fall of 2011, one of the things I believe Jim Vermilya was tasked to do as Interim Dean was to explore possible areas where the Seminary might rely more on the university infrastructure. For example, there's no question that it was a benefit to our students to put our course writing on the university's instructional design schedule.

And I was too soft on some students, especially at the beginning. I needed to make less exceptions for students who ultimately were not strong enough to be in a seminary program. This hopefully has been an area of growth for me these last six years. I strongly believe that IWU and Wesley should be a house for as many students as possible. But not everyone will make it, despite appropriate levels of compassion and flexibility.

7. When I got back from sabbatical, Spring of 2012, Karen and I submitted, and we let the Enrollment Services of the broader university take over the bulk of our student advising. This has proved to be a great win for the Seminary. Alison Toren took over the bulk of student advising from March 2012 to January 2015 (part time for us, part time for nursing) and did a fantastic job.

There's no question that our lives became much more bearable after she came on board. She handled all the normal student registration and enrollment with great skill.  She only brought me in when there was something unusual. Her razzing of our oddness gradually diminished over time. She was a clear advantage of being embedded.

(We are just about at the size where the Seminary really needs a person whose sole responsibilities are Seminary advising, but we will have to pay for it too. In the meantime, we now have Richard Wollen as our new part time Advisor to replace Alison.)

8. We moved into our new building in May 2013, at the end of our fourth year. At that point it was a delight to have a now full-staffed admissions team join us in the new building: Aaron Wilkinson, Dianne Clark, Kami Mauldin, and Moses Avila. Kris Douglas, who is Associate Vice President for Adult Enrollment Services, also has an office in our building.

Kris, Aaron, Jerry Shepherd, and Wayne also make up the Seminary marketing team. Jerry is Associate Vice President for Enrollment Management. (Janelle Vernon used to be part of this team too.)

Technically, however, the admissions team does not work for the Seminary. They are part of the adult services wing of the university. The Seminary pays their salaries, but they officially work for a different part of the university. It is a somewhat complicated set-up, but it works because they and we see each other as fully on the same team. Their offices are in our building, and we don't feel any tension.

9. We are incredibly grateful for the blessing of a broader university that has supported the Seminary and blessed us time and time again with its favor, first under President Henry Smith and now under David Wright. It helps that Wayne Schmidt is a class act, unlike his current, cantankerous Dean.

So there is a give and take to embeddedness. There is a calculus to contextualization when you are part of a broader university. There are innovations you might make if you were free-standing that you just can't as part of a broader university because the consequences would be too disruptive to the broader institution. Then there are times when it is worth trying to bend things, even though it requires modifications to "the way we have always done it."

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.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Top Ten Leadership Lessons I've Learned (Ken Schenck)

Top Ten Leadership Lessons I've Learned (Ken Schenck)

12. There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university. (1)

1. This is a sentence several of us have said to each other from time to time in the Seminary. When talking to the Association of Theological Schools, the emphasis is on the word advantages. "There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university." Here are some of the advantages:
  • We have thus far received rather significant underwriting each year from the broader university, which provides generous scholarships for our students.
  • We have the Information Technologies infrastructure of the broader university, which means we do not have to arrange for a learning platform, set up an IT help desk, hire instructional designers. Indeed, until central expenses were spread across the whole university, we did not initially even pay for these services.
  • We have the Student Services of the adult programs, which includes most of the student advising, registration, record keeping, and so forth.
  • We have the Financial Aid office of the broader university.
  • We have the central financial office of the university to help us with budgeting.
  • We have the marketing services of the adult programs, and our admissions team is plugged into the enrollment services part of the adult programs. 
  • We have the potential to use the satellite campuses of the broader university. Indeed, we have the platform of the broader university from which to market ourselves.
  • We have the alumni of the undergraduate School of Theology and Ministry as potential students to recruit for our degrees.
  • We have the human resources infrastructure to handle the more formal and legal aspects of hiring, benefits, and so forth.
  • We have the Graduate School to guarantee our academic quality.
  • We have the guidance and strategic direction of the upper administration of the university.
There's no question that we simply would not exist if we had not had this platform from which to launch and which continues to sustain our existence.

2. There is, however, another emphasis you can place on this sentence: "There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university." This emphasis is the reminder of all the items above when the infrastructure of the university feels more like it is getting in the way of innovation or even to do things that seem obvious to us.

I'm pretty sure that I was a curse word in some parts of the infrastructure in our first couple of years. Why does the Seminary have to do everything different and cause problems?

For example, one of the first decisions Russ and I made was not to have MDIV textbooks mailed to students from adult services, and we decided to phase out this practice for MA students. On the one hand, this seems like a great service. Why wouldn't you do this when the university already has the service set up? Then students don't even have to think about ordering their books (and of course the authors are guaranteed a royalty, if you know what I mean ;-)

The problem is that the budgeting then locks you in for a certain amount for books for each class of a cohort for the length of their entire program. And you are locked into the stock of any books that have already been purchased for a cohort.

In effect, this dynamic puts you in a straight jacket with regard to the textbooks you use. This works fine in IWU's adult programs because they do not change textbooks as much and do not have a lot of full time professors who re-evaluate their courses every time they teach them. With over 10,000 students, most things in the adult part of IWU (CAPS) have to be automated without much contextualization or variation.

But I was aiming for something in between our CAS undergrad and our CAPS adult programs. We were looking to have something more like 50% full time faculty. And with this many content experts around, you're going to get more variation and innovation in curriculum than you get in CAPS, where the percentage of full-time faculty is much lower.

3. I've also mentioned the occasional tension between the Seminary and those who handle the learning platforms of the university. There is a story you often hear in the guild of instructional design and it certainly used to have a lot of truth to it. It is the idea that faculty do not know anything about pedagogy, that all they want to do is lecture and that they have no sense of differing learning styles or of different pedagogical methods.

Occasionally I am reminded that this story is actually true in many dying universities and seminaries. I have to remind myself that there are still a lot of faculty out there who ignorantly think that online education is second rate or that excellence is some unchanging standard handed down by God to academia in the 1970s. There are still many seminaries where an ignorant faculty are still fighting over whether to teach online. May they rest in peace.

But in the past I have also experienced a kind of condescension from instructional designers (ID), as if no faculty are smart enough or flexible enough to learn new tricks. In fact, I can't imagine that IWU could afford an instructional designer who has the ID savvy of a Luigi Peñaranda or a Safiyah Fosua. John Drury and Colleen Derr have no problems manipulating an online environment, nor do I. I believe that, despite the fact that ID departments do see the blind spots of the typical faculty person, there are often unexamined assumptions to ID culture as well.

There have been times when I've wondered if the Seminary might do just as well to hire its own ID and go its own way with its own learning platform. However, I don't think this is true. Unless we somehow got hold of some spectacular genius who just loved us and was willing to work for far less than the going rate at Google, we would lose on the proposition. So we are stuck with whatever LMS (Learning Management System) arrangement the broader university makes.

4. I am not an expert to know the extent to which certain strictures on our hiring practices are just the way things are in the US right now. For example, both at IWU in the past and at other seminaries, individuals who came and taught for a week were not fully hired by the university. They were simply paid something like a stipend. Nice. Easy.

For years, we simply brought in a guest professor. They taught for a week. We paid them with just one tax form. We brought them in because they were a known quality of excellence.

Similarly, we more or less recruited adjuncts by hand. After all, we are a seminary from a particular confession and with a certain ethos. We started a conversation with someone and, when we were confident in the fit, we asked them to teach a course for us.

In recent years, however, we have been forced to do full searches for adjuncts. And every adjunct has had to submit proof of US citizenship and get a criminal background check. Every applicant has to fill out an online application, and much more. This is the case even if they are only going to teach for one week and then go home. Perhaps this is now the situation for seminaries and universities everywhere, given the regulatory climate.

Suffice it to say, some on our faculty have stopped trying to recruit significant scholars to teach for us out of embarrassment. You can imagine the raised eyebrows a black or Hispanic adjunct might have if asked for a criminal background check or proof of citizenship, especially if we were just bringing them in to teach one course. Is it really that important to do a criminal background check on someone who doesn't live here and is only coming to teach a course for one week?

We were able to get special dispensations when Justo Gonzalez taught for us, but no more. Let's say we wanted to have the General Superintendent of the Wesleyan Church teach a course for us. The infrastructure would first have us do an open adjunct search in which she would have to go online and apply (no paper application would be accepted). We would have her verify her citizenship and we would do a criminal background check on her.

There are advantages to being embedded in a broader university.
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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

11. Complexity works against sustainability.

Year 3: The Year of Maturity
I'm calling the third year of the Seminary the "year of maturity" for more than one reason. The primary one is the fact that, by the end of the third year (2011-2012), our first MDIV cohort had finished all its core courses. Our first MDIV graduates were that August, 2012. With our first cohort finished with their course work, we were able to become associate members of the Association of Theological Schools on June 20, 2012.

1. Half-way through the second year, I posted this check-up on the Seminary's story (Jan. 31, 2011). You can see how things were feeling then. It mentions a couple people I haven't brought up yet. Nate Smith was our first part time addition to Karen Clark as office support. He was with us from March 2010 to April 2011 and helped with registering students for classes, processing credit transfers, and such.

Dianne Clark, on the other hand, has been with us nearly since the beginning, since even before Wayne Schmidt. She is currently our MDIV and MPTh (Master's of Practical Theology) admissions counselor and recruiter and worked with Nate Lamb in admissions almost from the very start. She continued working in admissions and recruitment with Nate until he left for Colorado to plant a church at the end of May 2012. And she continued working with Aaron Wilkinson after he came to replace Nate on June 1, 2012.

Moses Avila and Kami Mauldin would later come in April 2013. Kami helps with admissions and recruitment for our MA in Ministry program. Moses not only helps with admissions and recruitment for the Spanish MDIV but also gives student support for Spanish students in the Seminary. For about a year, Deborah Baxter also helped us especially with Spanish registration (January 2011 to 2012).

Dianne, Kami, and Moses are all phenomenal servants. They are so positive and optimistic, how could any prospective student not want to come to Wesley after talking with them?!

In my previous post, I mentioned Bianca Tavera, who helped from around 2011 to 2013, I think first as a student worker and then for a bit as a part-time employee after she graduated. (Her sister Ambar has been a student worker now for a couple years too, who has especially provided help with the Spanish program.)

In January 2011, Joel Leichty was in the MDIV but also helping in the office. If you've never heard of Joel, you should. He is not only brilliant in mind; he has an incredible knack for organization. He is now working for Russ Gunsalus at Wesleyan HQ and must surely be given a good deal of credit for the operational success of the Gathering last month.

We currently have Kelli Clark (Karen's daughter) helping us in the office as a sort of project manager, even though she is only a sophomore. She's got the skills too. Although she began as a student worker last year, her capacity soon has seen her doing work on the level of a permanent employee.

2. The cast of characters I've just mentioned testifies to several things. One of them is the need for appropriate infrastructure in order for an organization to grow and persist beyond a certain point.

The one I want to focus on in this post is the fact that complexity can work against the long term success of an organization. On the one hand, contextualization increases the relevance and benefit of a program for its "customers." But the more you contextualize on a case by case basis, the greater the overall complexity.

If you look at the blog post linked to above, you can see that even two years into the Seminary, we had as many as 5 different professors teaching each praxis course. Karen Clark and I had worked out a pay formula. The praxis professor received 2/3 of the pay. Then I believe the integration professor received 1/6 of the pie, with the Bible, theology, and church history professors each receiving $200 to facilitate three or four assignments in the course.

By the way, it only dawned on Russ and I at the last minute before starting that we had not built the pay for these integration components into our system. The way the system was, Bob and Chip both received a full 6 hours of pay the first semester, even though a third of their class was being taught by other people. (They did enter attendance, as well as compute and turn in final grades, so there was more work for them than just teaching.)

At first, Russ covered the extra pay for the "foundations" professors from a fee we had charged, intended to pay for students to take the Myers-Briggs personality test, buy refreshments for their breaks during intensives, and so forth. It immediately became obvious, however, that we would have to split up the load.

3. Let's just say that there are a lot of moving parts to the Seminary. Alison Toren worked as our student advisor from March 2012 to last month (January 2015). I'll mention her again in the next post when I get to our embeddedness in the broader university. She was incredibly helpful not only because she has administrative abilities. She is a smart cookie. She could handle the complexity of the Seminary.

I would attribute at least some of the turn around in the Seminary in its early years to its complexity and high demands. Not just anyone can handle this level of complexity. And it doesn't feel good to drop the ball. I've done it. A lot of us have done it at one point or another.

I know educators don't like to think of what they do as a business, but it is. Without customer satisfaction, we close down. (Pastors hate to hear this even more, but reality doesn't care) We all know that the customer isn't always right, but we fail to give them the benefit of the doubt at our own peril.

So we have an Amazon store for all our Seminary books. What happens when you have a contextualized version of one class? Inevitably, a student or two is going to buy books for the wrong class. I've always tried to give such students the benefit of the doubt, even when it's really their fault.

But there's a complexity here. We need to know from faculty when they want to change books in adequate time. Someone has to change the astore in good time. When there are pre-course assignments, the students need to receive those syllabi in sufficient time. It's good business to have clear processes to make sure these things happen.

4. A couple of case studies might illustrate the complexity. So let's say a one week intensive is approaching in Indianapolis for our onsite urban MDIV cohort there. It will have slightly distinct books from the usual, so there is already the possibility that someone will buy the wrong books from the astore, not seeing the special link.

Let's say that Tenley Horner emails the syllabus to the students in this cohort 6 weeks before the course begins. But then let's say that someone jumps into this class after she has sent out the syllabus. First, this is more outside the norm than at a traditional seminary because normally this class is a dedicated cohort. To add someone is not the norm. Most of those who are in the class were registered for it the day they started in Seminary.

So this requires advisor contact to register them. But which advisor? There is currently a designated advisor in our adult student services who works in part for us, in part for other adult programs in the university. Then there is an IWU advisor at the Indianapolis north site. In theory, either of these could register a student dropping in.

But how will this student who is registering late as an add-on get this syllabus? Tenley has already sent the predicted group the syllabus. This is where Alison Toren was a sharp cookie. She would send the syllabus to someone she registered at the last minute--and we didn't even know she was doing it to fill int the gap. She thought to do it on her own because she was sharp. But in the transition after she left, one student fell through the cracks. So yet another system to develop so it doesn't happen next time.

Here's another case study in complexity. We have a part-time person who serves as a "scheduler." This person especially helps with the adjunct hiring process and with entering professors into our system. A couple years ago, we had just hired a new scheduler. We would not normally send contracts out to adjuncts more than a year in advance unless it was a special situation. Even full-time professors only set their loading more or less year by year.

But, as part of our complexity, we try to use the same person to teach the spiritual formation for a MDIV cohort all three years of their program. What the new scheduler didn't know is that we still only send them contracts semester by semester. So the new scheduler sent three years worth of contracts to one person by mistake.

This is just one small area of complexity, but there is a slightly different pay depending on what degree the professor holds. There are a couple distinguished visiting professors. There are some unique situations with regard to those who teach for our Bogota cohorts. We pay slightly different for spiritual formation than for normal credit hours.

My point is that it takes a certain level of skill to be able to handle this sort of complexity, and yet usually these are part-time positions.

5. Organizations tend to invent policies and simplified practices so that they can operate more or less on their own without needing its employees all to be Type A geniuses. Tasks need to be simplified and distributed.

So after four semesters of up to five professors, I finally conceded that we would not be able to have a dedicated Bible, theology, and church history professor for every class. We moved to two professors, one praxis and one "foundation" professor whose expertise would ideally be in either Bible, theology, or church history. There was a hope that this would strengthen these disciplines at least a little by giving them a single voice.

Still, our schedules are on these spreadsheets that are Karen Clark's signature. Learning how to read them is a little like learning a new language. The cohort model focuses more on cohorts than on classes per se. What this means is that an onsite course might combine multiple cohorts, which then have to be "cross-listed."

But this is not how the cohort model normally works. Once again, the blended model of the MDIV program required a system more complex than IWU had already developed.

One trick we learned early on was to cross-list any cohorts that diminished so much in size that they were no longer breaking even. I heard that our adult programs also adopted this practice so that they had classes of more like 12 or 15 rather than 6 or 8.

But the cohort model wasn't designed for this sort of problem solving. It was designed with the idea that you register a student at the beginning of their program and then you are done. It wasn't designed for people to be dropping out and dropping in. It wasn't designed to cross-list cohorts because of attrition. But to be a flexible and break even as a seminary, we have done these things--more complexity that competes with sustainability.

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)

Sunday, February 22, 2015

S9. The dead in Christ will rise.

This is the ninth post in a unit on salvation in my ongoing series, theology in bullet points. The first section had to do with God and Creation, and I have also finished units on Christology and Atonement.
The dead in Christ will rise.

1. There are many senses in which we can speak of salvation. When Christ died and rose from the dead, he saved the world, even though perhaps most of those saved were not even born. In a sense, we are saved from the power of Sin the moment the Holy Spirit enters our lives. But we will be saved literally from the judgment of God, we will escape his rejection, on the Day when the judgment takes place.

When the Holy Spirit takes hold of our lives in response to our faith, we are sanctified, we are purified of our past sins and set apart as belonging to God, as God's property. Theologically, we say that God continues to "sanctify" any parts of our life that are not fully under his power. "Those who are in the flesh cannot please God" (Rom. 8:8), and we know that there are some who have been initially sanctified to God (1 Cor. 1:2) who still are fleshly (1 Cor. 3:1). [1]

So the Spirit continues to sanctify our lives until, ideally, we come to a place of full surrender. Then we can be entirely his, to the greatest degree we know. We cannot be as empowered as possible until we are as surrendered as possible. [2]

2. John Wesley never imagined that being entirely surrendered and sanctified by God (which he actually called "Christian perfection") would mean that a person stops growing in his or her relationship with God. Nor did he think that a Christian would be unable to sin after that point. There would continue to be what he called "growth in grace" for the rest of our lives on earth, and we would continue to grow for all eternity.

The key here is that there is an infinite amount to know. There is an infinite amount to grow. The person who is fully surrendered to God in every respect they know can still learn more about God. That person can still become better at implementing their love for others. So Wesley did not see Christian perfection as a sinless perfection. Nor did he see it as a return to the perfection that Adam enjoyed before he sinned. He saw it as a certain kind of maturity in faith that was fully surrendered to God and thus fully taken over by God.

3. It is possible that, to some extent, Wesley misread Paul because he was under the influence of Calvin, the Reformation, and ultimately Augustine. Paul did not see Sin as a nature within us. Paul saw Sin as a power over us. In Romans 8, Paul says that the whole creation is currently enslaved to corruption and decay (8:20). Since our human bodies are part of that creation, there is a real sense in which temptation will always be present in our lives.

Much of the Wesleyan tradition has filtered Wesley's teaching in the light of its experiences. We still understand the idea of entire sanctification as full surrender to God. Wesleyan ministers continue to preach full surrender to God with great fervor. We can also preach with great fervor that we will never experience as much of the power of God as he wants to give us if we do not surrender ourselves fully to him. And that final surrender usually takes place in a moment of decision. It is thus often an instantaneous event in which we are filled with the Spirit afresh.

However, as long as we are in our bodies, we will experience temptation. And since the power of sin over the creation is what Augustine took to be a sin nature, there is a metaphorical sense in which even Christians will have the power of Sin as a factor in their lives for as long as they live.

4. Paul does speak of an ultimate redemption from this slavery to corruption, decay, and sin. This is the redemption that will come with resurrection. The resurrection is when the dead in Christ will rise to eternal life. Whatever is left of their mortal bodies will be transformed into a spiritual body (1 Cor. 15:42-44).

Paul teaches that the entire creation will be redeemed. The entire creation will be saved. The entire creation will be transformed.

For those who are alive at Christ's return, their bodies will be transformed to be like Christ's resurrection body (Phil. 3:21). As we have borne the image of the earthly Adam, we will bear the image of the heavenly Adam, the second Adam, Christ (1 Cor. 15:49).

If we should die before Christ returns, then we shall not all sleep, but we shall be changed (1 Cor. 15:51-52). In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, we will be transformed from the grave and will be glorified.

This classic, historical and biblical belief in resurrection is not exactly the same as the immortality of the soul. It is not incompatible with that Greek belief, but it is very distinct. In particular, Christian resurrection assumes that we will have a body in resurrection. Christians do not believe that the body of Jesus is still in a grave somewhere. We believe that Christ's body was transformed into a glorified body exactly the same as the kind of body we will have in our resurrection.

The Gospel resurrection accounts also speak of Jesus having a resurrection body. He eats in Luke 24:41-43 and shows that he is not a ghost. He offers his hands and feet to touch in both Luke 24:39 and John 20:27. We are resurrected not as spirits but as bodies. [4]

4. Glorification is a term that finds its origins in Romans 8 as well. The background is arguably Psalm 8, which originally pondered the prominence God has given humanity within the creation. However, some early Christians saw in this psalm a glory that God intended humanity to have but that we do not currently experience. "We do not yet see everything in subjection" to humanity (Heb. 2:5). Humanity "is lacking the glory of God" (Rom. 3:23). [3] Once we are justified, "we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God" (Rom. 5:2).

This glorification is what Paul was specifically talking about in Romans 8 when he said that God would work everything together for good (8:28). God has a plan in which all those in Christ will eventually "be conformed to the image of his Son" (8:29), namely, when we are transformed either at Christ's return or when we rise from the dead.

5. What happens to us between death and resurrection? The Bible has little to say on this topic. The Bible does not have much to say about what happens to us between death and resurrection. The Old Testament, of course, has very little to say about the afterlife at all. Daniel 12:2-3 does say that those who "sleep" (i.e., the dead) will be raised either to everlasting life or everlasting contempt. Paul also uses the image of sleep (1 Thess. 4:13; 1 Cor. 15:51), leading some traditions to think that we are in a "soul sleep" between death and resurrection in which we know nothing. [5]

However, few though they be, there are some clear hints in the New Testament that the dead will be conscious in the time between death and resurrection. And this is what most Christians have believed also throughout the centuries. In Luke, for example, Jesus tells the thief on the cross that he would be with him that day in Paradise (Luke 23:43). Presumably, Jesus and the thief were not just going to be sleeping next to each other in Paradise! Similarly, Luke tells us a parable about a rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. They both wake up in the afterlife, while the brothers of the rich man are still alive. By contrast, Lazarus wakes up in pleasure, and the rich man wakes up in torment.

There are other hints. Paul in Philippians 1:23 speaks of dying and being with Christ (cf. also 2 Cor. 5:1). 1 Peter speaks of Christ visiting the dead after his death (e.g., 4:6; also 3:19-20). In Revelation 6:9-10, there seem to be martyred souls present in heaven who are able to communicate with God. So while there are some images of sleep in the New Testament, the position of common Christianity is that we will be conscious in some respect after death, even before the resurrection.

It is difficult for us to say exactly what the difference will be between the blessing of our state immediately after death and the blessing of our eternally transformed bodies. We are not in any position to know what a spirit might be, let alone a disembodied spirit. [6] What we do know, as I have heard my colleague Chris Bounds say, is that the dead are precisely that: dead. [7] They are not alive. They are not yet resurrected. Their bliss is not yet as great as it will be. There is a difference between the resurrection and whatever an immortal soul might be.

The dead in Christ will rise. They will be glorified. They will receive a transformed body. Those in Christ who are alive and remain at his coming will be transformed to have a body like Christ's glorious body.

Next Sunday, S10: Christ will come again to save his people and judge the world.

[1] Wesleyans call this point the moment of initial sanctification.

[2] Wesleyans call this possibility the moment of entire sanctification.

[3] My translation.

[4] Although they may not recognize some conflicting imagery in the Bible, two books that present the case that the Bible is overwhelmingly oriented toward bodily resurrection are Joel Green's Body, Soul, and Human Life: The Nature of Humanity in the Bible (Grand Rapids: Baker Academic, 2008) and N. T. Wright's Surprised by Hope: Rethinking Heaven, the Resurrection, and the Mission of the Church (San Francisco: HarperOne, 2008).

[5] E.g., Seventh Day Adventists.

[6] Some have proposed that we will have some sort of temporary body between death and resurrection.

[7] Chris Bounds is a theology professor at Indiana Wesleyan University.

Friday, February 20, 2015

10. New leaders bring new strengths. (3)

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)

... 3. Joanne Solis-Walker became our half-time Directora in late June of 2010. One of the first questions she addressed was whether we would offer the MA or the MDIV in Spanish. Justo Gonzalez suggested that the MA would be safer. It only required a 36 hour commitment and would be less expensive.

On the other hand, the MDIV was almost unheard of in Spanish. Fuller had a program. Asbury Orlando had a Spanish masters but not the MDIV. Only Fuller had an online MDIV and no one had a contextualized one. By "contextualized" I mean one where the content was actually generated by and specifically for a Hispanic context. Other programs simply translated existing English programs into Spanish.

Our curriculum was hard enough for traditional academics to get their heads around in English. Now we had not only to get it into Spanish but to contextualize the courses as well. The only person at the Seminary that really spoke Spanish was Joanne, who lived in Florida and was half-time. Norm Wilson was quite fluent as well but we felt it was important that the process be conducted by individuals for whom Spanish was their first language.

I knew only a little Spanish. I was fluent in Google Translate, :-) but that has perhaps been more of a problem than a help! (I remember my amazement in 2010 at discovering Google Translate. It was both exciting and a matter of despair. Who will need to learn languages in the future when computers will do it for us? How stupid am I next to these people at Google! Look at all the time I've spent learning all these languages, only to be outdone by an algorithm. Five years later, humans are still better than Google Translate. :-)

4. Were we fools even to start off on this venture with such a complete lack of support staff? Whether we were or not, I don't regret it in the slightest.

On Feburary 8, 2011, Cecilia Santrich joined us. She was a microbiologist from Colombia who lived in Lafayette and commuted to Marion as a part time worker for about a year and a half until August 2012. She was spectacular. She kept me moving on putting the pieces of the Spanish MDIV courses together. She made sure the Spanish was top quality.

There's no question that she would eventually take a job in her actual field. She took a job at IUPUI working in a lab there in the Fall of 2012. She worked above and beyond the call of duty! She was a God-send in that period of the Spanish MDIV.

My motto for those first few years of the Seminary was, "If they come, we will build it." I think I stopped saying that some time in the third year. I think the Spanish program is now on a good trajectory because Luigi is here and we are now in a phase of major revision and perfection. It was a little scary there for a while, but I think we're out of the woods now and looking good.

Recruiting for the Spanish MDIV has had its challenges. The scheduling has required some flexibility and creativity. The problem solving has often stretched my brain to the limits. But it has been worth it, a program born of Dr. Schmidt's burden for the global church.

5. Contextualizing the first two onsite courses would not be a great problem. In August 2010, Lenny took over from Russ Gunsalus the first course of the MDIV, Pastor, Church, and World. Joanne would meet with Lenny to get a sense of how to modify that face-to-face course for a Hispanic context. Henri Nouwen's In the Name of Jesus was already in Spanish. We would get permission to translate Steve Seamands' Ministry in the Image of the Trinity into Spanish. At that time the English classes were reading different chapters of Will Willimon's Pastor in several classes. We at least started down the road of translating chapters of it into Spanish.

Let me add that it was a priority to us to find as many books in Spanish written by Spanish authors. In an ideal world, you wouldn't use any books translated from English into Spanish. The problem here was multiple. Sometimes there just weren't any and sometimes there weren't any that were sufficiently academic. Sometimes there were books that were out of print. Sometimes the books were published in South America or Spain and were difficult to get hold of.

We bought pretty much every book AETH had for our library (Asociación para la Educación Teológica Hispana). We stocked some books to distribute to students directly when they were on campus. We translated some. We even bought out some of the private stock of one author. In some cases, when there was no apparent Spanish equivalent, I read through English books (usually blogged through them) and then we had those summaries translated.

We are currently contemplating using the Spanish LOGOS library for our students so that all they have to buy is LOGOS in Spanish. I have long mentioned that we should have our Spanish team write some books, just for our Seminary. But as David Wright says, "It takes a person." A Dean barely keeping his head above water usually isn't that person. Luigi just might be.

6. The second onsite intensive course was Cultural Contexts. For this one, Joanne and I turned to our mutual good friend, Hugo Magallanes, who teaches at Perkins, formerly of Asbury Orlando. We gave him the English components. I know he kept some, but he also made it his own. I am not totally sure what he teaches now in the class. Don't ask, don't tell. :-)

7. The online courses, especially the six credit hour praxis courses, would be more difficult to contextualize. These are the ones we designed by committee in English. In the late Fall of 2010, we tried to contextualize the Missional Church class by email with most of the cast of characters I mentioned above and a few more.

The goal was to retain the distinctive features of our MDIV curriculum, to translate any assignments that applied equally in Spanish, to modify those that were in the ball park but needed tweaked, and to remove and replace assignments that did not really apply to a Hispanic context.

These experiences were always difficult for me for more than one reason. One is that what I considered the original genius of the curriculum inevitably came into question. NO ONE was educated the way we were trying to educate--problem based learning that integrated the theological disciplines, was practical in emphasis, and had what I consider the best Wesleyan theological sensibilities.

I hope that neither the Seminary faculty nor my Spanish brothers and sisters sensed too much of this inner conflict I had repeatedly. Inevitably, the default sensibilities in any of these sorts of encounters were conflictual inside me. Conflict is not always bad. That is something I have learned well. It is something that I have heard Wayne say more than once from the beginning. Good things often come out of conflict when everyone wants the greater good and is willing to submit to the will of the majority.

So there was often in these encounters what I playfully call the "Presbyterian impulse." I've also called it the "building block" model. It is basically a foundationalist model that says you have to learn A, B, and C before you can learn D. It is a deductive model of learning. It is the way we have all been trained. It is the way all seminary professors have been trained. It is the way missionaries have trained Christians in other countries. It is the personality preference of the traditional academic.

(I have sometimes heard that we would need to use a different model for some different culture. Sometimes this thought is presented in the garb of, "Your model is very Western or Anglo and therefore would not work as well in cross-cultural setting X." Then comes the internal tension and what I will almost certainly be thinking--"This is not Western! Traditional Western educators hate this model." And, "If some from other countries think that the more traditional model fits better in their culture, it is almost certainly because that's how the traditionalist missionaries of the past trained their forebears!")

The Seminary was founded on a pragmatist model, the model of majority human operation. It says, "We learn by doing." It says, "We most naturally learn by proverbs and stories." It says that what most people call the foundations are usually just simplified abstractions of practice anyway. When it comes to the Bible, these "foundations" are often shallow, mirror readings of words in the Bible. It would be different if we were learning math, but ministry is a practical discipline.

In practical ministry, ideas really aren't foundations. They're picture books for the practically challenged and poetry for the reflective.

So as new contexts and situations have arisen, I have considered it my job to represent this founding vision for a "new kind of seminary" that is "not your father's seminary." But you also have to wait for the right moment to speak and, in some cases, you need to allow others to make their own way. I find this sort of situation torturous. More on this in Year 4.

8. We started the first Spanish MDIV cohort on March 7, 2011, with 10 Spanish-speaking students. The Spanish students experienced the same pain from me as the first English cohorts were feeling, only worse. Often the assignments for the praxis courses went up week by week. Even worse, they sometimes went up with patches of Schenck Spanish.

In April 2011, Joanne, myself, and a couple others (Jeannie Trudel and Mwenda Ntarangwi) went down to Puerto Rico to explore the possibility of cooperative ventures. We visited the evangelical seminary there, as well as the international university. Joanne likes to tell new Spanish seminary students that my Spanish was almost fluent at that time until I messed it up by going on sabbatical in Germany in the Fall of 2011. Neither part, of course, is true. :-)

I have participated in the orientation of new Spanish MDIV students since the beginning. I have never tried to do it without a translator, although I did read a devotional in Spanish I put together in March 2011. This is always a delight, and I regret that my Spanish is still so poor. I hope I will still be able to interact regularly with the Spanish MDIV students in the future.

By the way, I was really impressed with how much Spanish Wayne learned and can understand. I've never heard him try to speak it, but I have long felt that he had a much better understanding of Spanish conversations than I do.

In June 2011, Joanne assembled the electronic contextualization team in Orlando at a hotel to contextualize the leadership course. Again, it was a delightful and torturous time for me. How much freedom to change the model should be in play? What was contextualization and what was simply a contrasting point of view? How Wesleyan does it need to be--and how much my kind of Wesleyan?

The model that we were using in English at that time was the result of two years of arduous trial and error. To what extent should the Spanish team start from scratch?

9. We would have one more contextualization meeting in Marion in August 2012 to try to hammer out the last three praxis courses all at once (Proclamation, Congregational Spiritual Formation, and Congregational Relationships). Jim Vermilya served as Interim Dean while I was on sabbatical and had set up the contextualization of the Worship course, relying extensively on Liza Miranda and Eloy Nolivos, with Cecilia orchestrating.

By August, Cecilia was departing, leaving only Bianca Tavera to help us. Lenny Luchetti and Colleen Derr (who had become a full-time faculty July 1, 2011) were able to participate in the Spanish contextualization of their courses. By the Fall of 2013, a first draft of the entire MDIV in Spanish was in place.

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...

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

8. Administration never ends.

Previously on Seminary take-aways:
1. There are key moments of opportunity.
2. You need the right people.
3. Good leaders collaborate and navigate.
4. Innovation requires some trial and error. (1)
5. Innovation requires some trial and error. (2)
6. Innovation requires some trial and error. (3)

Let me call the second year of the Seminary, "Growing Pains."

1. Becoming an administrator was largely a new experience for me. I had never thought of myself as an administrator. In earlier times, Keith Drury would rebuke me whenever I would say something along the lines of, "Of course I'd never do that, because I'm not an administrator."

It is thus doubly curious to have some say to me, on learning of my return to teaching, "But you're such a good administrator." Others would no doubt disagree, but I have come to think that I'm not too bad at administration in the end. The key, I believe, is to know your strengths, to leverage them, and to manage your weaknesses.

Many will know that I consider a good deal of what I do as "whack-a-mole." No matter what I might think I am going to do when I come into work on a certain day, emails will pop up. The phone will ring. And there will be something relatively urgent to do before whatever I had planned.

Steven Covey has given a nice way to conceptualize this situation. My days are often filled with what he calls Quadrant I activities--urgent and important tasks. In Year 2, these filled my evenings, nights, and early mornings. And of course there was no time then for Quadrant II activities--those things that are important in the long term but not immediately urgent. Those things get put on the back burner until they eventually turn into crisis and become Quadrant I issues (e.g., assessment or accreditation).

2. My position is currently half time faculty and half time administration. The administrative part involves things like:
  • representing the Seminary on broader university academic committees
  • chairing internal Seminary academic committees
  • engaging accrediting bodies and overseeing assessment
  • leading the hiring process for new professors
  • setting the academic calendar, assigning professors and adjuncts to courses
  • handling student issues, processing transfer credit
Any one of these might cause a mole to pop its head up at any point, needing to be whacked. Just yesterday, I "spun a plate" for two students in Bogota who needed to withdraw from a course because they didn't realize it had begun. I "spun a plate" for two independent studies for two different students and arranged to buy back books from one student for reasons I won't go into. I counseled with a student who has an emergency situation who is contemplating dropping a course. He'll get back to us. I stamped six or seven adjunct faculty contracts. I put the Seminary on the agenda of the Graduate Council for two items next week. I attended an assessment meeting. I helped get some Spanish assignments up online after our online platform finally became available again. Etc.

I won't mention the Quadrant II activities I didn't do yesterday that are nagging in the back of my mind.

I just joke sometimes about being attention deficit. But there is something about our emailed world that works pretty well for me. An email pops up. I whack it. Next. Tenley Horner brings me two transcripts to evaluate. Done. A little later, she brings two more. Becky Perry brings me two contracts to sign. Great.

I got the idea of "spinning plates" from Russ Gunsalus. Sometimes you don't have time to finish a whole task, but you can give a plate a spin to keep it spinning. Eventually, it will get done.

Someone else would work differently, but this manner of operating plays to my strengths. Wayne and our support staff work with me in a way that leverages my strengths and minimizes my weaknesses. It works.

3. I'll wait for a later post to address the gradual development of infrastructure at the Seminary. Suffice it to say, we are in a better position now than ever in this regard. Wayne has done a good job of filling in gaps and the faculty have helped us see what they are.

There would be other ways to configure things. The Dean's position, for example, could be full-time administration. I personally prefer models where academic leadership is rotated among a faculty. The academic leadership of most seminaries follows this model. Gifted faculty members take academic leadership for a few years, then later return to the faculty and someone else takes a turn.

This helps prevent the kinds of adversarial relationships that can develop between faculty and administration when these two roles are essentialized--each can relate to the other. This makes leadership more attractive to strategic thinkers on the faculty who love the business of education enough to sacrifice a few years of teaching and writing. They know they won't have to do it forever, but they care enough about the direction of the institution to serve for a stint. And it keeps an institution from being run by individuals who thrive on bureaucracy, an ever present danger.

There are other ways to structure things. Someone might look at the tasks I did yesterday and say, a Dean shouldn't be doing some of the things you're doing Ken. Bob Whitesel always says that there are strategic, tactical, and operational leaders. The Dean's job should lean toward the first two in relation to academics. Other faculty could be given release time to help with some tasks. For example, Colleen Derr has been our first "Adjunct Coordinator," training, helping, and evaluating our adjuncts.

In the end, there is no one way to structure these things. And to some extent, you best design the structure around the people you have.

4. One of the first things I noticed about administration is that it never ends. As a faculty person, the semester ends, you turn in grades, and it's over. Administration never ends. You may set it down, but it will be waiting for you when you get back.

Sabbath thus becomes very important. I strongly support the goal President David Wright has made of setting aside time from university email for part of the weekend as a Sabbath. It's also important to take vacations as an administrator to avoid burn out. P.S. Pastors take notice.

5. In the first and second years of the Seminary, Karen Clark and I were doing almost all the tactical and operational tasks in the Seminary. One of my weaknesses coming into this thing was a hesitance to delegate and an enjoyment of being a hero. If you enjoy being the hero in an emergency, you are less motivated to come up with long term solutions so the next emergency doesn't come. And a failure to delegate inevitably means your organization will not be able to grow past a certain point.

As Wayne put it in our third year, "You can only survive for so long off of heroic efforts." So the second year was a year of growing pains, at least for Karen and me, I feel. I suspect she and I pretty much were just trying to keep our heads above water.

But some Quadrant II things did get done. In the second semester, I revised the MA in Ministry curriculum. It had been designed on the basis of "low hanging fruit" in 2004 by none other than David Wright himself, who as Graduate Director at that time changed it to an online program.

But with the addition of an MDIV, I felt the MA should be steered a little more toward lay leaders and non-profit leaders than to ministers. We took out a Worship course and replaced it with a course called Spiritual Life and Leadership. We replaced a course called Leadership of Preaching with another called Transformational Communication. We replaced Contemporary Theological Trends and Theology of Holiness with introductory courses in theology and church history. Biblical Interpretation and Cross-Cultural ministry were tweaked into line with the MDIV core as Bible as Christian Scripture and Cultural Contexts of Ministry.

We are incidentally about to revise some of the leadership courses even more and, I think, bring it to its best form yet.

I remember a moment at the beginning of the second year when Lenny Luchetti and John Drury were sitting in the Noggle conference room (since we co-habitated with the undergraduate ministry school for the first four years, in the northwest corner of the building). Lenny and John both volunteered to help with something I had been doing alone. I remember a sense of load lifting off my back that I experienced physically. It was a sigh of relief in which the load left as I exhaled. I wouldn't have to do it all any more.

Monday, February 16, 2015

7. New leaders bring new strengths. (1)

Previously on Seminary take-aways:
1. There are key moments of opportunity.
2. You need the right people.
3. Good leaders collaborate and navigate.
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. The Seminary started with Russ Gunsalus as Chief Operating Officer (COO) for 6 months. It wasn't a particularly attractive title. Many on the Seminary Task Force had preferred to give the head of the Seminary a dual title--to call him or her a VP internally but a President externally. It was the way Bethel in Minnesota was structured at that time... until they changed it. :-)

For one, some thought it would be confusing to outsiders for the head of the Seminary to be a "Vice President." The structure subcommittee of the Seminary Task Force (which included Ed Hoover) wanted to call the Seminary head a President because they wondered if donors and external individuals would naturally want to talk to a "VP." They might naturally think that person was the second in command.

Nevertheless, it hasn't proved to be a problem, especially if I'm introduced as the academic Dean.

Russ stuck with COO for his brief, six month stint as leader. Then when Wayne Schmidt came to be head of the Seminary in its second semester, he went with the title of "Vice President for Wesley Seminary." That kept with the theme at that time of IWU being a "branded house" rather than a "house of brands." (A branded house is one brand with multiple variations. The Seminary building even embodies that philosophy. It has brick that says, "IWU," and it has a more diverse sandstone that is meant to say, "global seminary.")

2. A second question was whether the Seminary would be embedded in some other unit or would be its own "Principal Academic Unit" (PAU) within the university, like the other "PAUs" (College of Arts and Sciences, College of Adult and Professional Studies, School of Nursing, and the Graduate School were the others at the time). On the one hand, the Seminary Task Force felt that, because we would likely seek accreditation with the Association of Theological Schools, the Seminary should at the very least have a distinct administration and identity.

(ATS membership was debated and was not a definite even up to the point we applied. Liberty, the largest seminary in the world, is not ATS accredited, although it was at one point. They abandoned it presumably because at that time ATS was so traditional that membership was perceived by Liberty to hamstring its mission and growth. Suffice it to say, ATS today is not the same ATS it was back then!).

But the Seminary could have a distinct identity without being its own PAU. There are seminaries that are embedded further down in the organizational chart of their universities--distinct, but embedded within larger units. I will discuss the pros and cons of embeddedness in a later post. It seems to me that it has been very advantageous for the Seminary to be relatively independent and "close to the surface" of the university's overall organizational structure.

One reason to make it a separate PAU had to do with The Wesleyan Church (TWC). IWU is careful not to step on the toes of other Wesleyan colleges in their regions. We certainly will take non-Wesleyans from anywhere, as well as any Wesleyans anywhere who want to come to IWU. But we try to respect the fact that TWC has a college in Oklahoma and New York, South Carolina and New Brunswick.

The Seminary is different. Wesley is the only seminary TWC has, so it can recruit anywhere. It belongs to the whole denomination everywhere. The Seminary Task Force pushed for a distinct identity for the Seminary so that it could be seen as distinct from IWU in general, so that it could be a Seminary for the whole denomination, not just Indiana and its surrounding states. It seemed like a good reason to keep it organizationally near the surface.

So the Seminary became its own PAU, and it has delighted in two presidents that have located the Seminary's leader on the President's top cabinet or council. I personally have seen Wayne's presence there as a kind of symbolic statement, a ministerial presence at the highest level of the university. Not even the Dean of the Chapel is on the executive council, leading me to see Wayne's position as something like the spiritual leader of the university at large.

3. Wayne Schmidt has done a spectacular job of making Wesley a seminary for the whole denomination and beyond.

Wayne was of course a well-known church planter, a gifted and insightful leader, and a large church pastor within the Wesleyan denomination. He took Kentwood Community Church in Grand Rapids, Michigan from a church plant to a large church that became the mother of numerous plants, the grandmother of more, and even a church planting great-grandmother (it may even be a great-great grandmother by now). In his last years there, he felt God leading him to move Kentwood to look more like its surrounding community, which was incredibly diverse. And God did it!

God also worked out the timing perfectly for him to come to Wesley. He was sensing that perhaps God was wanting him to step out of Kentwood. He was wondering if God had been grooming Kyle Ray to become the next pastor of Kentwood.

While Wayne was pondering these things, several at IWU were dreaming of how great it would be if Wayne would be interested in being the first full-time head of Wesley. Wayne was stepping out in faith that God had something else for him. Imagine his surprise when Keith Drury and Russ Gunsalus showed up at his church one Sunday to put a bug in his ears about Wesley. Wayne resigned from his church with no certain future, and God answered with an offer from Henry Smith to lead the first Wesleyan seminary.

3. New leaders bring new strengths. One thing I've learned about leadership is that there is no one formula for a successful leader, just as there isn't just one type of pastor. Different leaders have different strengths and weaknesses. Good leaders leverage their strengths and manage their weaknesses.

Part of Wayne's testimony is that he did not initially think that he was the right type of person to be a minister. He had certain talents in the area of business. But Dick Wynn convinced him that he could use his business skills in the pastorate, and history has proved him right.

We started copying Wayne in emails even before he officially started. At that point, it was Russ as COO, me as Dean and half-time Bible professor. Bob Whitesel was our Leadership guy, and Chip Arn was our Missional Church guy. Karen Clark was our infrastructure. Nate Lamb was admissions. John Drury came on as a theology professor January 1, 2010 at the same time that Wayne started.

One of the first things that Wayne did was to put together a Seminary Board, which quickly became a subcommittee of the university Board of Trustees. I well remember that March dinner when Wayne brought in Keith, Russ, and me to share the founding vision of the Seminary with the newly constituted board. One of the most memorable moments for Wayne and me was when John Ott asked if we were going to be teaching a lot of higher criticism of the Bible in the Seminary. I responded that while no one loved the irrelevant more than I do, our curriculum would focus on the practice of ministry. We still laugh about that moment.

He also started as we were in the middle of a search for two new faculty. We would only snag one that summer, Lenny Luchetti, our proclamation professor. We were all concerned that the Seminary thus far was pretty much a group of while males. Wayne especially, having just built a multi-ethnic church in Kentwood, worked hard to try to find diverse possibilities for the next faculty hire. We diligently pursued a number of possibilities, but none of them worked out, for various reasons. Diversity was a value of the broader university as well, and Wayne soon would play a major role in that initiative.

One thing I noticed early on about Wayne is that he never stops. He is always making connections. He is always working to build the Seminary and the kingdom of God. He doesn't sprint, but he doesn't stop. That Spring he and I rode together to Christianity Today and met with Harold Smith and David Neff. Those were the sorts of connections that Wayne seems to form in his sleep.

By the summer, Wayne had already hired Joanne Solis-Walker with a view to launching our MDIV in Spanish in January 2011.

4. More on the unstoppable force we know as Wayne Schmidt as the years have gone by. I thought I would end this first post with the top 10 leadership lessons I have either learned from Wayne or observed in Wayne:
  • He is completely submitted to God. You can't motivate him by ambition, honor, or acclaim. He does what he does because he is a servant of the Lord.
  • He is humble but self-confident. He does not think himself better than anyone else even though God has blessed him with considerable gifts.
  • He is a prayer machine. Everyone in the Seminary knows that he prays for them regularly.
  • He is a mentor. I don't know how many people he is currently mentoring. He doesn't tell anyone. He does not seek reward for it. But he is clearly mentoring a lot of people in a lot of places.
  • He cares what others think but he does not seem to get torn up about it. This is a real gift and one that I have not mastered. There are some people who do not care enough about what others think. Then there are others (like me) who waste a lot of time being troubled about others even when they are the one with the problem. Wayne is a model to me of someone who treats others with grace even in disagreement, but who doesn't waste a lot of time fretting over it either. 
  • Wayne knows how to be silent. This again is an area I struggle with, for I like to share what I know with others. But this is often a weakness. I believe good leaders are able to stay silent and only discuss information to the right people at the right time.
  • Wayne can make hard decisions but he makes them with compassion.
  • Wayne makes connections in his sleep.
  • Wayne has a gravitas and a presence in public. His introductions are always orderly and eloquent.
  • Everything Wayne touches, grows.
And so the first year of the Seminary more or less comes to an end, "Launch Year."