I think the earth-crushing Meadville Lombard ad (and its vague prospectus) and the “brown bag controversy” concerning Starr King are going to be eclipsed by proposed phase-out of direct funding to these seminaries. As someone who didn’t go to either — with good reasons — I think the time for student-following funding is long overdue.Â Foundations worldwide demand outcomes for their money and are willing to change recipients if the goals aren’t met: this is nothing new. Let the prospective students show where the money should be sent.
A kind word to these seminaries’ leadership: I doubt intimating that your graduates are made into better Unitarian Universalists than graduates of others schools will go over well with the churches that sent these seminarians and the ones that call and ordain them as ministers. I’m even more sure it doesn’t go over well among the ministers who made other choices. I think we’d all be more willing to hear how these seminaries shape ministers for real-life ministry situations and have clear, concrete plans for addressing shortcomings.
Here’s the focus quotation from the Board of Trustees June 2007 report on the Panel on Theological Education (PDF document):
The result of this process will be recommendations for further action at the UUA Board
of Trusteesâ€™ June 2008 meeting in keeping with the timeline called for in the motion.
POTE anticipates a three-year graduated reduction to eliminate funding for the general
operating costs for Starr King and Meadville Lombard. The Panel looks forward to the
full participation of both schools in addressing the challenges for ministerial formation,
development, and excellence not only for their own seminarians, but for the 65% – 70%
of Unitarian Universalist seminarians schooled elsewhere and for the continuing
development of all of our clergy.