AU School of Theology reaccreditation marks decade of progress

Tue, 2009-12-22 11:45 -- univcomm
December 22, 2009

The Anderson University School of Theology was reaccredited last spring by the Association of Theological Schools for the maximum of ten years through the fall of 2018.

Anderson University School of TheologyThe ATS Evaluation Committee visited the School of Theology for a three-day period in December 2008. After intense yet affirming meetings with faculty, staff, administration, and students regarding degree programs, the evaluation committee filed its report with the ATS Board of Commissioners.

“Anderson University School of Theology values its relationship with the Association of Theological Schools,” said Dr. David Sebastian, dean of the School of Theology. “As an institution we are stronger because of this ongoing peer evaluation. The ATS seal of approval is essential for the transfer of student credit, employment in other ATS schools, grants, and postgraduate degree work.”

Sebastian noted that the ATS Board of Commissioners has requested the School of Theology conduct a comprehensive evaluation of the seminary’s mission statement and do a thorough review of its Master of Arts degrees related to their distinctiveness. “In addition to these items, the commission has requested a report by 2011 regarding the online degree program,” added Sebastian. “The faculty and staff have already started work related to these requested evaluations.”

Sebastian gave a special thanks to Dr. John Aukerman, professor of Christian education, and David Neidert, director of seminary advancement, for serving as co-chairs of the SOT self-study report. “We have received high accolades regarding the content and style of our study," said Sebastian. "We all are able to breathe a sigh of relief having completed this important evaluation.”

The School of Theology has undergone many positive changes in the ten years since its last reaccreditation. Responding to the directives of ATS in 1998, the following advances were made over the past decade:

  • The dean, associate dean, and director of the Center for Christian Leadership have traveled nationally and internationally to engage key leaders of the Church of God in doctrinal discussions, and based on those discussions the seminary has produced theological resources and programs to strengthen the Church of God.
  • The School of Theology faculty and staff developed the We Believe statement as a guide for theological reflection in both the university and the Church of God.
  • A director of recruitment was employed, and a decade of enrollment decline was transformed into a decade of growth. Enrollment increased 137 percent between 1997-98 and 2008-09, from a headcount of 68 to 161.
  • A development officer was assigned to work with seminary financial needs in endowment and the Blackwelder Seminary Tuition Fund. Since 2005, despite challenging economic times, the seminary's endowment for student scholarships has increased by approximately $2 million.
  • The Master of Theological Studies (MTS), Master of Arts in Intercultural Service (MAIS), and Master of Arts in Christian Ministry (MACM) degrees were developed, with 69 students enrolled in these programs during 2008-09.
  • Affordable seminary housing was provided with the completion of York Seminary Village (phases I and II). A third phase is currently being designed. In addition, a $300,000 interior and exterior renovation of the School of Theology building was completed in 2009.

Additionally, the seminary has recruited an almost entirely new body of faculty over the past decade, as their predecessors have retired. The faculty is currently working to develop a new mission statement that will guide the School of Theology into the future.

Anderson University is a private Christian university of 2,800 undergraduate and graduate students in central Indiana. Anderson continues to be recognized as a top Christian college: in 2008, U.S. News and World Report ranked Anderson University among the best colleges and universities in the Midwest for the fourth consecutive year. Established in 1917 by the Church of God, Anderson University offers more than 65 undergraduate majors and graduate programs in business, education, music, nursing, and theology.