McCormick reinforces mission, looks ahead

02-12-2010 by

Geoff Ashmun

One year after a devastating decline in U.S. financial markets threatened the viability of schools, seminaries, and non-profit organizations large and small, McCormick Theological Seminary has rebounded financially and is preparing for a future marked by innovative pedagogy, a commitment to affordable education for future leaders of the Church, and a community experience grounded in the seminary’s Reformed, urban, ecumenical and cross-cultural values.

At its winter meeting last week, McCormick’s Board of Trustees approved a report from a working group commissioned in October to explore issues of space and identity, student housing, tuition income, educational innovation, fundraising, relationship with the Presbyterian Church, and relationships with other denominations. At the heart of the report is a strong re-affirmation of McCormick’s core mission as well as the aspiration to become a seminary that is flexible, agile, adaptive and creative.

“What began with a response to pressing financial issues last year has become an exciting process of revisiting how McCormick most effectively fulfills its distinctive mission in this unique urban environment of Chicago” - President Cynthia Campbell

“Our endowment has recovered remarkably, and we have a number of exciting new initiatives underway that are focused on enhancing our teaching and learning environment and meeting the financial needs of students by increasing our financial aid budget by 10 percent from a year ago,” said President Cynthia Campbell 

While McCormick’s administration building remains on the market, this summer the seminary plans to build out various spaces within the building to accommodate new ‘state-of-the-art’ classrooms.

At this time, several significant additions to its masters-level curriculum will be in play. Led by Dr. David Esterline, the new Institute for Cross-Cultural Theological Education will ensure that all of McCormick students are prepared to be leaders in cross-cultural ministry.

In addition, McCormick will matriculate its first group of students pursuing the newly offered Master of Arts in Discipleship Development and the Master of Arts in Urban Ministry. These new programs of study address the increasing need for advanced training in specific areas of parish ministry and the skills of social analysis and community organizing essential for a flourishing, city-based ministry.

By launching the Certificate in Executive Leadership, McCormick is also responding to the need for training in organizational development and leadership education for those professionals already placed in church and non-profit systems. Due to popular demand, second and third cohorts have already been announced for the fall on McCormick’s campus and at the Montreat Conference Center in North Carolina.