1400 Building Q & A

Q: What is happening to 1400 E. 57th Street?

A: Keeping in-line with the long-term vision for McCormick Theological Seminary, we have entered into an agreement to sell the residential building at 1400 E. 57th Street.

Q: Why is a different residential-model of theological education necessary at McCormick?

A: Our ability to reduce both operating and capital expenditures by selling buildings (like we did with Kimbark) has allowed us to pay off debt, contributed to our ability to lower master’s level tuition by 25 percent, and has allowed us to hire new, world-class faculty. We will continue to entertain these types of opportunities to better focus on what truly matters, the future state of McCormick and its students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Q: What are you going to do with the money?

A: First, we will pay off in full our bonds. Longer-term, with the money we will not be spending on debt service, management, repairs, and capital improvements associated with the 1400 building, we will be able to invest more of our resources into furthering McCormick's mission. We are re-imagining a seminary that will support the needs of a new, next generation of leaders. We are investing in ways to innovate and re-engineer theological education and exploring new models of what that looks like, which will require the financial freedom and resources these moves provide.

Q: What will happen to the current residents in 1400?

A: The building will be leased back by McCormick through June 2017, and McCormick will continue as the primary caretaker of the interior spaces of student apartments and the IT infrastructure during that time. Current residents will experience little to no change in their day-to-day lives. 

Q: What about future McCormick students looking for housing options?

A: We recognize that housing is still an important need for some of our students. As such, we will continue to be a resource for our students to assist them with housing, both now and in the future. New incoming residential students will have the opportunity to apply for available units at 1400 and to reside there during the two-year leaseback; thereafter, we will assist any of those who then need to relocate for their third year of study. In addition, we will assist incoming students in finding alternative housing (which may include more intentional, group arrangements). We are also exploring new ways to create opportunities for community for both residential and commuter students.

Q: How will you go about identifying new residential and community-growth opportunities?

A: We are appointing a committee comprised of students, faculty, alumni/ae and staff to quickly develop, define and secure the best options for incoming and future residential students and which will collaborate with the Student Affairs Committee on plans to facilitate community during and after the transition.

Q: Why did you decide to sell 1400 E. 57th St.?

A: McCormick has had significantly more commuter students and fewer residential students for over ten years. Today, less than one-third of our students live in our housing. In addition, we have been transparent in our public communication that we would consider offers to purchase the 1400 building, as part of the long-term vision for McCormick.

Q: What about the community aspect 1400 E. 57th St. brought to students?

A: We are actively looking for opportunities to bring our community together through other means besides residential living. We are assembling a committee which will work through any issues related to the selling of 1400 and will be responsible for recommending solutions before the beginning of the 2015-16 academic year.

Q: What other residential opportunities will you offer?

A: We see this as an opportunity to work more closely with the ACTS consortium, the University of Chicago and other partners to explore more inclusive, intentional and ecumenical ways to create community. This is part of the reason we are convening the residential task force.

Q: Is the Seminary in financial distress?

A: No. In fact, all of the steps taken over the last five years have made McCormick more financially sustainable than it has been in over a decade. We have reduced debt, we have significantly reduced or eliminated future capital demands, and we have re-built a staff and faculty that is in line with our expected enrollment. We are blessed with a substantial endowment that has recovered much of what was lost during the financial crisis and provides about ¾ of our annual operating budget.

That said, like everyone in higher education, we take nothing for granted, and while we have turned a corner relative to the endowment, it is vital that we not merely go back to doing things the old way. We do not want to be in the position of reacting to change: we want to lead it.

Q: Is enrollment down?

A: While the incoming class for the 2014-15 school year was slightly smaller than the previous class, enrollment has remained steady for the past two years. President Yamada developed a plan for approaching admissions in new, exciting ways that will allow us to continue our leadership of multi-cultural, urban, Reformed, and ecumenical theological education. That plan, which included the hiring of a new Senior Director of Admissions and Enrollment, a significant tuition reduction, and the establishment of the Center for Faith and Service, is beginning to bear fruit and we expect a meaningful increase in new students next year.

Q: What will happen to the current residents in 1400?

A: The building will be leased back by McCormick through June 2017, and McCormick will continue as the primary caretaker of the interior spaces of student apartments and the IT infrastructure during that time. Current residents will experience little to no change in their day-to-day lives. 

Q: Will rental agreements be handed over to the new owner?

A: No. Residents will not be tenants of the new owner; they will continue to sign rental agreements directly with McCormick and will pay rent to us just as they always have.

Q: How will the sale effect work orders in 1400?

A: Our staff will not change. Work orders will still be handled exactly as they are now relative to the space in student apartments.

Q: How will the new owner be involved during the lease back period?

A: The new owner will be responsible for the common areas of the building and property, but McCormick will continue to manage and maintain the IT infrastructure.

Q: Will rent for 1400 increase?

A: We are not planning a rent increase for the upcoming year. So, for graduating seniors, middlers, and current first years (assuming graduation on schedule), the eventual turnover of the building to the new owner and market rate rents will have no impact.

Q: Who do I contact if I have questions regarding the sale of 1400 E. 57th St.?

A: Lisa Dagher, ldagher@mccormick.edu or 773.947.6320 or Veronica Johnson, vjohnson@mccormick.edu or 773.947.6319.