GTS Alums write to Board of Trustees

by

From the Executive Committee of The General Theological Seminary Alumni/ae Association:

October 14, 2014

Dear Bishop Sisk and members of the Board of Trustees:


The seminary is in crisis and its ongoing existence is in peril. We are dismayed that our letter of October 2, 2014 has not as yet received any formal response. The Alumni /ae Executive Committee is the official body through which the alumni/ae of GTS voice their concerns to you as the Board and we want to express our concerns in the strongest way possible and ask for specific and immediate answers.

The events of the last several weeks have poisoned the good earth pledged to this seminary by Clement Clarke Moore. Acrimony, mistrust, injustice and the breakdown of relationships have grown at GTS. What good fruit of the Spirit can be born from this? We again call upon you and the faculty both to cede your ground and enter into constructive dialog to rebuild a relationship of trust for the good of the seminary and its educational mission.

As our last communication stated, we are not looking for a return to a nostalgic past, but are passionate and hopeful for the future growth of our seminary. We are the ones who through our own witness, experience, and example will continue to bring new students to be formed for ministry. We are not your adversaries. We seek to be your partners in bringing about a healthy resolution to the current conflict for all concerned.

• Once again, we call upon the Faculty and The BOT to engage in honest, constructive, generous, and respectful dialog with a skilled facilitator for the expressed purpose of reconciliation and without legal counsel present.

• Current arrangements to have visiting/adjunct professors for the seminary’s core curriculum are merely a stopgap measure and only increase the prospects of the seminary’s ultimate demise. Current measures disrespect the dignity of Professors, many of whom have given years of their lives in service to General. You must not underestimate the strong message being sent by the greater academic community and the wider church in which well over 900 scholars and religious leaders have signed a petition in solidarity with the faculty.

• To that end, we believe it is an act of injustice that health insurance for these faculty and their families has been terminated so abruptly. What a disappointing witness to the world when an institution representing the church acts in such a callous way.

• We, along with people throughout the church, are baffled as to why the allegations made against the Dean and President are not being investigated appropriately under the official provisions of Title IV of the Canons of The Episcopal Church. If such an investigation is underway it needs to be clearly communicated.

• There needs to be justice and fairness in the investigation of the Dean and President’s conduct. Yet, regardless of the outcome, matters have escalated to the point where confidence in his leadership is in question. The future of the seminary and the restoration of the Church’s confidence in the seminary’s mission of education and formation must be a primary concern of the BOT.

•The crisis in leadership also falls on the Chairman of the Board, and the BOT as to leadership style and communication. We call upon you to undertake some rigorous and honest self-examination of that leadership.

• This crisis has brought to light a lack of communication between the BOT and alumni/ae. We call upon you to establish a formal channel of communication between the Board and the AEC. To that end, the AEC asks for a meeting with Executive Committee of the BOT for the purpose of communication and mutual support during the Alumni/ae Gathering in November.

While we remain hopeful that our Risen Lord, the Good Shepherd of the sheep, will lead us into the future, he calls upon us his flock actively to engage in the redemptive work of reconciliation. We are convinced of your good will and your desire to move forward into that future with us.

The Very Rev. Daniel Ade, ‘92

The Rev. Hannah E. Atkins ‘96

The Rev. Annette M. Chappell, ’03, Secretary

The Rev. Patricia Steinecke Downing, ’95, Vice-President

The Very Rev. Mark Goodman, ‘91

Ms. Rachele Grieco, ‘07

The Rev. Roxane Gwyn, ‘10

The Rev. Canon Jadon D. Hartsuff, ‘12

The Rev. Gregory B. Larkin, ’82,

The Rev. Brandt Leonard Montgomery, ‘12

The Rev. Mark B. Pendleton, ‘91

The Rev. Marguerite Henninger Steadman, ‘97

The Rev. Brian Sullivan, ‘97

The Rev. Sam Tallman, ‘12

The Rev. Dr. R. Scott White, ’96, President

The Rev. Susan L. Wrathall, ‘06

Elizabeth Geitz writes in the comments:

As a member of the board elected by the alumni, I have had several email correspondences with Scott White, President, albeit I cannot say they were official. Let me state that I am personally grateful for your witness, clarity, and well thought-out letter to the board. The Executive committee, and as many members of the board as possible who can change previously made travel plans, are meeting with all parties involved on Thursday afternoon and we plan to listen with the ear of the heart in hopes of a just resolution and reconciliation for all parties involved. Thank you again. Each and every one of you.

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Everyone should know that there may be serious breaches of GTS governance involved as well:

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B28b0-FcwrtbYmNMMlBnWEd6VTg/view?usp=sharing

Robert Solon

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Gary Paul Gilbert
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Gary Paul Gilbert

This is a great letter!

Alienating the alumni is a bad business move because satisfied alumni are a good advertisement for a school. Even NYU, which used to have problems with alumni relations, has learned ordinary alumni are important--not just wealthy donors.

Gary Paul Gilbert

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David Allen
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David Allen

Really strange things going on here. The alumni/ae Executive Committee believe that they have made official correspondence with the Board of Trustees and yet their own elected member to the BoT appears unaware of anything "official."

This looks really bad from the outside for GTS and TEC from other parts of the Communion and non-Communion members of the Body of Christ. A lot of unChrist-like behavior.

Bro David

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