Trustees of Lexington Theological Seminary have declared the school to be in a state of financial emergency and say they will use the situation as an opportunity to reinvent the institution by developing a curriculum that stresses effective parish ministry as its primary focus.
Declaring financial exigency allows the trustees to, among other things, end faculty tenure. It also recognizes the loss of corpus on its restricted endowment.
LTS President James P. Johnson said the seminary will focus on creating a new curriculum that will better prepare divinity students for careers as parish pastors. Faculty will develop courses that will merge theological thinking with practical skills in such areas as money management, use of technology and conflict resolution. Many course offerings will be available online and taught at remote locations.
The school’s financial situation has been compounded by “a tsunami of economic disasters that we have not seen in our lifetimes,” Johnson told trustees. An endowment that once stood at about $25 million in July 2007 is now about $16 million, Johnson said. He also said the seminary’s $4 million budget will be cut, meaning reducing faculty and staff positions.
Johnson said LTS continues to meet all its financial obligations but the draw on the endowment must be reduced immediately, forcing the staff cuts.
LTS was founded in 1865 as the first seminary of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and had a fall enrollment of 120 students, most of whom are seeking their master’s or doctorate degrees. It is accredited by the Association of Theological Schools, and Johnson said the association is working with LTS to make sure accreditation is maintained during the transition.