Claremont School of Theology (CST) has taken two significant steps towards ensuring the long-term viability of its mission to provide high quality graduate-level theological education for generations to come. In May, the Board of Trustees approved a Strategic Plan designed to focus the School’s energies and resources over the next five years. In July, DCG Real Estate, a consulting firm was contracted to study the current state of CST’s campus and infrastructure. The firm is expected to produce recommendations for the most efficient and sustainable use of CST’s physical plant by the end of December.
Both board actions were taken on the advice and consent of committees established by President Jeffrey Kuan shortly after his tenure began in July 2013 – The Strategic Planning Task Force and the Campus Master Plan Task Force.
“This is a precarious time for theological education,” President Kuan says. “Many graduate schools of theology in North America, both freestanding seminaries and embedded divinity schools, are struggling to determine just whether they will have a future. It was important to me that CST immediately address the fundamental issues that will most affect its ability to sustain itself as an institution – identifying a strategic vision that connects the School to the vital needs of our church and our world; and how to best use our 16 acre campus, our buildings and the technology we need to educate current and future generations of students.”
The two committees worked simultaneously, with the Strategic Planning Task Force chaired by Rev. Patricia Farris (who also serves as Chair of the Board of Trustees) and Trustee Rev. Mark Bollwinkel chairing the Campus Master Plan Task Force. Both committees were comprised of faculty, students, staff and alumni/ae – a number of whom served on both committees to facilitate cross-communication.
“I am encouraged by the progress that has been made thus far,” says President Kuan. “By closely examining the state of our School, we have a clearer understanding of the core strengths that we can leverage to build a strong future; and a deeper appreciation for the rich legacy we intend to carry forward.”
The Strategic Plan identifies “Creating a Difference for the World We Live In” as CST’s primary institutional purpose.
“We came to believe that CST’s culture of creativity and innovation in the field of theological study is a priceless asset,” says committee chair Patricia Farris. “The goals we set in this Strategic Plan are designed to ensure that our core historical strengths remain connected to the practical needs of 21st century religious communities in our region, in our country and around the world.”
Three primary goals are identified within the Strategic Plan: Promote Transformative Education; Engage Local and Global Communities; Achieve Long-Term Institutional Sustainability. Specific suggestions are offered for how CST can pursue these goals over the next 3-5 years.
Crucial to achieving all of these goals is the effective stewardship of CST’s physical campus and infrastructure. To guide the next phase of the Campus Master Planning, the Task Force is now chaired by Trustee, Ali Sahabi and includes staff, faculty, student and board representatives. The Committee meets monthly and is responsible for seeing the process through to completion in December, culminating in the final plan. The Committee will produce project updates on a monthly basis that will be posted on the CST website.
At the recommendation of the Campus Master Plan Task Force, CST has contracted DCG Real Estate (link to www.dcgrealestate.com), a consulting firm specializing in advising schools, churches and other non-profit institutions on how to put real estate and infrastructure to best use.
Steffani Kizziar, President of Faith-Based Services for DCG, will be on campus every Tuesday and Wednesday. Her office is in Craig 206 and she can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 415-847-0746. She welcomes any and all input, questions and ideas. Kizziar is currently meeting with staff members, students, alumni/ae, representatives from our affiliates and city officials. She will be conducting individual phone session with faculty members in August.
Beginning in September, open discussions will be held to ensure the final plan represents the voices and values of the CST community. Students, staff and faculty will be invited and encouraged to join in these important discussions. Dates and times will be announced in August via campus e-mail.
President Kuan recognizes the significance of the investment that this intense planning process represents.
“I am profoundly grateful to our two task forces who invested so much time and energy to set our School on a right path towards a sustainable future,” he said. “I am especially grateful to students, faculty, alumni/ae and staff who participated in town halls and other opportunities to offer input and feedback along the way. It will take all of us working together to see that CST can Create a Difference for the World We Live In for generations to come. I look forward to the hard work that lies ahead.”