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EDS Board offers update on transition

EDS Board offers update on transition

The Board of Trustees of the Episcopal Divinity School met for the first time with Interim President Bill Nelsen at the end of October. Yesterday, they released a report of their meeting.

As we said in July, the timing of the board’s decision to pursue a new direction for EDS was based in part on having adequate resources for student, faculty, and staff transitions. In September, we approved a generous severance plan that will cost approximately $2.5 million if all benefits are claimed. At our meeting in Cambridge, we also committed to adapting the plan as appropriate to meet the needs of individual employees.

Student transitions are a high priority, and at this meeting, we heard a report from Academic Dean Angela Bauer-Levesque about arrangements for “teaching out” the approximately 23 EDS students who will not have completed their degrees by next May. Based on that report, we have asked President Nelsen to develop memoranda of understanding with the Bexley Seabury Seminary Federation, which is housed at Chicago Theological Seminary, to complete the degrees of distributive learning students and with Boston University School of Theology to do the same for residential students. These arrangements will ensure that students receive full credit for coursework completed and incur no additional costs. A number of the students included in the teach-out are international students, and EDS has retained an immigration lawyer to ensure that their visas are maintained in the transition. Just seven of the teach-out students are Episcopalians in an ordination process; they come from three dioceses. We have asked President Nelsen to be particularly attentive to ensuring that these students receive the education and formation necessary to prepare them for the General Ordination Exams and ordained ministry in our church.

Both the New Directions Committee and the Transitions Committee of the board, whose creation we announced in our August 9 letter, met during our time in Cambridge. In addition to overseeing the terms of the teach-out and adjustments to the severance plan, the Transitions Committee reviewed the restrictions on the endowment and heard from EDS’s legal counsel, Jeffrey Swope, about the process for making adjustments that may be necessary under Massachusetts law as EDS prepares for its future. The committee also began making arrangements to protect and preserve EDS’s student and donor records, the library, artwork, technology, and other physical property.

The Board went on to say that it had chosen a shortlist of three academic institutions with which to partner, “based on their ability to carry on the seminary’s historic mission, continue accredited degree-granting theological education, and provide  financial strength and stability for EDS’s future.” They hope to make a decision on this proposed partnership in February.

Find background to the story on the Café. Read the latest report of the Board of Trustees here.

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Paul Woodrum

The president-elect of the US could learn from this. At least EDS is using remaining funds to meet moral as well as financial obligations to staff and students, unlike the really great leader declaring bankruptcy, stiffing employees and investors and pocketing what's left.

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Ann Fontaine

Depends on what they were invested in as to how much of the loss is market forces. A large part of the $$ was continuing to operate in one of the most expensive environments in the US, salaries, promises to current students, guarantees to current staff and retirement packages of professors

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Jeff Cox

Actually, loosing millions of dollars a year is really a point of stewardship.

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David Allen

I doubt that they lost the funds, it was likely a necessary spend down to fulfill teacher retirements and severance packages. Part of the costs of closing the campus down.

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David Allen

I got the idea from our own John Chilton in an email where he linked to the EDS Update from 13 SEP. But your idea is the most likely scenario. I really just wanted to state that I didn't think that it was a loss, such as by mismanagement in the investments of an endowment.

http://eds.edu/news/transitions-update-september-13

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Jon White

David, I'm pretty sure you are incorrect. The draws were to cover the regular operating costs. If you have evidence otherwise, I haven't seen it.

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Philip B. Spivey

I only wish that EDS had planned---years ago--- as systematically and compassionately for its enduring legacy as an institution of progressive theology and learning as it has for its untimely demise.

We have lost another beloved community to the cross-hairs of modernity. When does it end?

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