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General Seminary settlement in national news

General Seminary settlement in national news

National news sources are reporting the current state of the situation at General Theological Seminary.

Sarah Pulliam Bailey at Religion News Service writes that 7 of the 8 faculty are returning but the future of the seminary is unclear:

The board of the embattled New York seminary will keep seven of the eight faculty who quit teaching classes and were subsequently terminated, according to Jonathan Roffe, a lawyer representing the faculty. Faculty will teach on a provisional basis until the end of the current academic year.

Roffe said the lone faculty member who will not return, whom he declined to identify, “felt it was the right time to move on.”

In an attempt to salvage the divide, the board of GTS — a venerable Manhattan institution that has produced generations of bishops and noted theologians — invited faculty to request provisional reinstatement. One trustee resigned, saying faculty deserved full reinstatement.

Washington Post also carries Bailey’s report.

The New York Times interviewed Bishop Sisk (chair of the Board of Trustees) and reports:

The faculty members, who contend they were illegally fired during a strike to protest their treatment at the school located in the Chelsea section of Manhattan, have been reinstated provisionally until the end of the academic year and have lost their tenure protections.

The seminary’s board of trustees did not meet their key demand — that a dean they found abusive be fired. But trustees and faculty members said they were hopeful that a mediation process between now and June would bring a more permanent resolution.

“In a sense, the hardest work is yet to come,” Bishop Mark S. Sisk, the chairman of the seminary’s board of trustees, said in an interview Friday. “There are going to be painful conversations, because people have held passionate points of view that are at variance with each other, and people have said things that people do in the heat of conflict that are hurtful.”

The NY Times also notes “Our faculty really wanted to get back to the classroom to their students,” said Jonathan Roffe, a lawyer representing the professors. “They want to see what they can do by the end of the year to make improvements there.”

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Anthony Christiansen

It would be hard to overestimate the degree to which this situation has been mismanaged by Sisk, the very biased Rev. Tillitson that Sisk has positioned to oversee the continuing fiasco, and the rest of the Board of "Trustees" and especially its Executive Committee. Most egregious is the way in which Sisk and his gang have responded to the situation according to a corporate and legalistic playbook from the start, apparently never considering a gospel-based response. They continue to misrepresent the facts in the press while forcing silence upon the eight, who've lost their titles and tenure, their previous and rightful pay, and their right to live and teach in a safe emvironment. Meanwhile, Exective Committee member Tillotson, a vocal and deeply biased voice from the start has been appointed as arbiter of a nonexistent fairness on the Close. And the Dean who many have observed making numerous racist, sexist and homophobic remarks remains in his station with the full reaffirmation of the Board. It's just too much to be believed and a real scandal to Episcopalians in the pews. It's hard to see how GTS could ever recover from the damage done by those entrusted with its care and future.

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Bob McCloskey

I have discovered that my comment above regarding a BOT resignation is incorrect. I confused two BOT members from Atlanta. The resignation as noted on the October 14 blog correctly identifies Jeffrey Small as the BOT member who resigned. I confused him with the First Vice Chair, MT Davis Jr. My apologies for this error!

Bob McCloskey '67

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Robert Martin

Has Bishop Sisk been driving this train? If so he's doing an awful job. His successor as Bishop of NY has struck the correct tone and approach.

Really whoever's been driving this train has done a terrible, terrible job. Everything that has happened has only confirmed what the faculty have said from the beginning.

This doesn't build up the Church or anything Episcopal at all. The rationalizations and actions of the trustees have been tortured and foolish. With guidance like this GTS is in serious trouble.

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Dale Ann Gray

The GTS8 have been silenced, demoted, lost tenure or tenure track and suffered pay cuts. In short... punished. For what? Wanting a safe working environment. Sad. Very sad. It's not too late to sign the petition to FULLY bit.ly/ReinstateThe8

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Bob McCloskey

Yes, Kris, as you obviously know part of the deal is that the GTS8 website is now frozen. I believe that the Dean has also felt free to comment as has Bishop Sisk. It is disgusting, outrageous, and an embarrassment to scores of alums who are responding in a variety of ways including planning to cancel bequests and halting donations to GTS and in the case of diocesan bishops facilitating seminarian transfers or matriculation to other institutions.

The resignation of the First Vice Chair has gone largely un-noticed in all of this.

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