The Office of Alumni/ae Relations at McCormick recently sent out a survey to alums. We are featuring responses to the most frequently asked questions. Our first response comes from President Frank Yamada in response to questions about the seminary’s financial health.

When I visit and speak with alums, one of the first questions people ask me is about our financial health. In a recent survey of alumni/ae, this theme re-emerged. In order to respond to our alums, I am offering the following answers to a couple of the most commonly asked questions related to McCormick’s financial health.

People often ask: “Is McCormick in financial trouble?”

The simple answer is, “no.” These continue to be challenging economic times for theological education and higher education in general. I do not want to minimize the challenges that confront all of us. However, McCormick is in a far better position than the vast majority of seminaries in North America in terms of our endowment size and overall financial health. Our balance sheet is strong and stable. In 2008, at the outset of the global economic crisis, many institutions were slow to respond. We chose to act; and we are a stronger, more stable institution as a result. Does that mean we can just stand still and wait for the next crisis? Clearly, the answer is, “no.” Our work continues. McCormick is, and has always been a pioneer. It is part of our DNA. While we remain faithful to our traditions, values, and beliefs, we intend to be a leader in new, innovative, and financially sustainable approaches to theological education in a rapidly changing world.

Question: Is the 5460 administration building still for sale?

Although we are not actively marketing the building, the short answer is “yes”. Many alums and friends of the seminary interpreted our decision to put the building on the market as a sign that McCormick was struggling financially. This was simply a way for us to pursue every possible opportunity in front of us. We do not have to sell the building to make ends meet, nor is selling the building a sign of economic desperation. In fact, a growing number of seminaries, including some in the Chicago area, are looking at or are already committed to options that include leasing as opposed to owning property. We have a lovely, relatively new building. However, as most churches and building-owners know, with time comes needed investments of capital to keep the buildings up to date. Every dollar invested in bricks and mortar is another dollar that does not go into teaching, services, or programs, which are really at the heart of McCormick’s mission. While we need space to do what we do, our mission is not facilities. Our mission is theological education. By keeping the building on the market, we are committing ourselves to all available options, including the possibility of a lease-back arrangement, so that we might more nimbly and innovatively execute our core mission. Having said this, we believe that our particular vision is tied to our identity and location on Chicago’s Southside and expect that our roots will continue to grow and thrive in Hyde Park. So is the building for sale? Yes. Are we planning to move? The short answer is, “no.”

Question: How can you help?

First, spread the word that McCormick is continuing to deliver theological education that is cross-cultural, urban, Reformed, and ecumenical. Second, when someone asks you about the financial health of McCormick, let them know that we are alive and well, looking forward joyfully to continuing our leadership role in theological education and forging a sustainable future for a new world of theological education and God’s ever-amazing and ever-changing Church.

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Questions? Comments? Email alumdirector@mccormick.edu and they will be posted.