The Rev. Dr. Gary Hall and Canon Bonnie Anderson provide an update on Episcopal Divinity School:
From October 27 to 29, the EDS board of trustees met on campus in Cambridge. This was the first opportunity for the full board to meet face-to-face with Interim President Bill Nelsen, who joined EDS in September. He extended a gracious welcome to us on campus and at the deanery, and participated fully in our meetings. We are grateful for President Nelsen’s warm and steady leadership during this year of transition.
… At our meeting, we also accepted the 2016 audit report which contained the sobering news that EDS’s net assets decreased by $7.9 million (11%) in the last fiscal year. This follows a decrease of nearly $6.5 million (8.5%) in 2015. As the fiduciary stewards of EDS’s assets and mission, we are obviously dismayed at the size of EDS’s losses, but the news has redoubled our commitment to finding a more sustainable and prudent future for the seminary by the end of fiscal year 2017.
As we said in July, the timing of the board’s decision to pursue a new direction for EDS was based in part on having adequate resources for student, faculty, and staff transitions. In September, we approved a generous severance plan that will cost approximately $2.5 million if all benefits are claimed. At our meeting in Cambridge, we also committed to adapting the plan as appropriate to meet the needs of individual employees.
… During its meeting, the New Directions Committee reviewed proposals for EDS’s future from nine potential partners, and unanimously narrowed the list to three finalists based on their ability to carry on the seminary’s historic mission, continue accredited degree-granting theological education, and provide financial strength and stability for EDS’s future. Between now and our February meeting, several board members will join Anthony Ruger, an expert in seminary sustainability who is serving as consultant to the process, on site visits to each potential partner. We hope the process will be complete by February, making it possible for the board to decide at our next meeting which partnership to pursue for the most faithful and sustainable future for EDS.