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GTS accreditation “solid” says dean

GTS accreditation “solid” says dean

Yesterday, Dean Dunkle published a letter designed to quell the anxieties that had been expressed by some over the accreditation status of the General Theological Seminary with the ATS, the Association of Theological Schools. Opening with thanks to those engaging with the Mennonite Problem Solving process, Dunkle continues,

One of the issues which seems to keep re-surfacing is the relationship with our accrediting body, the Association of Theological Schools (ATS). Let me see if a little explanation can remove any residual anxiety.

Our normal re-accreditation cycle was originally scheduled for 2015, and the preparatory steps were underway when the fall, 2014 events occurred. After a meeting with many members of the administration, faculty, students, and board in December, 2014, ATS extended the re-accreditation process and continued the full accreditation of General through July, 2017, all with no “notations” (ATS-speak for an institutional insufficiency). The regular process which was underway in the fall of 2014 will now take place in late 2016/early 2017.

At our request, ATS representatives will receive reports from us and will meet with representatives of GTS late this fall to discuss (1) our faculty, (2) our sustainable educational model; and (3) our ThD program.

The ATS FAQ page is here. You can read the full text of Dean Dunkle’s letter, describing the seminary’s accreditation as “solid and unchanged,” here.

Posted by Rosalind Hughes


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Ann Fontaine

It is my understanding that after the ATS Fall visit they requested information on the 3 issues noted by the Dean. That information was due April 1. The group meets in June to consider the information and will issue notes and a response at that time. The continuation of accreditation is pro forma IMO until all the issues have been considered – then the regular process will begin again.

ATS asked for:
1. Assurance that the faculty will have an environment of collaborative faith and learning, that there will be sufficient numbers of faculty competent in their subject matter, and diversity for the needs of the academic program.
2. Effective patterns of leadership, management, communication, and ways of handling conflict.
3. Develop a sustainable ThD program.

These are not “offerings” from the seminary but requirements of the ATS.

As to “notations” – it would be unlikely that any notations would be added until everything is considered – the fact that there are none to date – means nothing.

C Bates

In my opinion, and reading between the lines, what the Dean is really saying is something like this: In December 2014 GTS didn’t think re-accreditation in 2015 would go well, so GTS asked for and received an extension. GTS has also asked ATS to give GTS a better understanding of what it will need to do to meet re-accreditation standards by the extended deadline.

In my opinion, the passages below, from the ATS “General Institutional Standards,” seem quite pertinent to why GTS might have thought that its accreditation in 2015 would not go well.

Is there going to be any accountability at all for the GTS Dean and Board? On their watch, the Seminary suffered a complete train wreck. GTS now appears to be on accreditation life support.

The faculty who teach in a program on a continuing basis shall exercise responsibility for the planning, design, and oversight of its curriculum in the context of institutional purpose and resources and as directed by school administration requirements for recruitment, matricu
-lation, graduation, and service to constituent faith communities.
Each school shall articulate and demonstrate that it follows its policies concerning faculty members in such areas as faculty rights and responsibilities; freedom of inquiry; pro-
cedures for recruitment, appointment, retention, promotion, and dismissal; criteria for faculty evaluation; faculty compensation; research leaves; and other conditions of employment.
Policies concerning these matters shall be published in an up-to-date faculty handbook.
Theological scholarship is enriched by continuity within a faculty and safeguards for the freedom of inquiry for individual members. Therefore, each school shall demonstrate
effective procedures for the retention of a qualified community of scholars, through tenure or some other appropriate procedure.

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