Board of Trustees Votes for All Seven Decisions

The tally is in! At the April 18th Board meeting, it was decided to adopt the “seven decisions”, linked in our last post. The decisions stress a move from reflection about change, to action. Those seven steps are:

1. Clarify PSR’s educational mission.
Commit clearly and sharply to the proposition that PSR will be a theological school specifically focused on preparing leaders for social transformation, in faith-based institutions and beyond.

2. Re-invest in the development of a body of scholarship, theology, and experience that connects spiritual practice, the commitment to a progressive Christian tradition, and the work of making change for social justice and the common good.

3. Charge the faculty, in collaboration with staff and external resources, to:

a. Design, prototype, and evaluate a portfolio of new programs, with a common set of themes, foundations, and content, for programs designed to draw new participants:

• New M.A. in leadership for communal, national, and global transformation
• Revised M.Div
• New 2-year M.A. for religious leaders who will not require an M.Div
• Series of short courses and non-degree programs (hybrid, weekend intensives, community and distance audiences)

b. Make recommendations to the Board regarding the continuation of existing degree and certificate programs, in light of PSR’s evolving mission and available resources.

4. Import and integrate resources for leadership skills and formation.
Select a complementary partner organization with expertise in leadership development, or a structure that will bring a diverse group of ‘changemakers in residence’ to campus, to more fully integrate formation, skills, and spiritually-based practices for leading organizational and community change into the PSR experience.

5. Unlock the value in PSR’s real estate assets, so that we can re-deploy their value for the mission of the school.
Explore ways, and make a decision within twelve months, to effectively capture and leverage the campus’ value, including possibilities of sale, lease, and/or equity share. The decision should take into account the importance of a campus in creating and fostering community.

6. Reduce the scale of operations for the next few years.
Get smaller—i.e., reduce admissions by 10-25%, and right-size staff and faculty, so that PSR can stabilize around a new model before growing again, in a manner which will be consistent with PSR’s core values, in particular its commitment to racial, gender, and ethnic diversity.

7. Re-design the organization for a new culture.

• Renew PSR’s commitment to being a spiritually-grounded and practicing community.
• Devise and engage in a sustained, facilitated process that includes all PSR stakeholders, designed to improve trust, communications, mutual regard, and governance principles and practices.
• Encourage innovation and risk-taking to enhance fulfillment of the school’s educational mission.
• Invest in technology, professional development, and pedagogical innovation.
• Collaboratively explore new faculty roles and responsibilities.
• Re-configure staffing roles and relationships to encourage greater collaboration, innovation, and adaptability.
• Refine and renew information systems to allow clearer and more regular assessment (of learning processes and outcomes, finances, etc.).

Although we’re in the home stretch of Spring Semester, we’ll continue to keep you posted on the progress of the Commission on Strategic Direction, here at Futures of PSR. Stay tuned…

PSR Board of Trustees Meets April 18th-19th

collage no. 1
If it’s seemed quiet on the Futures of PSR blog, it’s because all involved with the Commission on Strategic Direction have been busily preparing for the meeting of the Board of Trustees, in which the findings and recommendations of the Project Teams and associated research are to be presented.

Earlier in April, the CSD hosted a community-wide meeting on the future/s of PSR, where new thoughts and ideas were contributed by students, staff, and faculty. The most recent version of the CSD’s goals and decisions came out of that meeting, and can be read here (.pdf).

You can read some of the Phase 1 research and findings of the Project Teams here.

Global Partnerships Team Weighs In With Phase 1 Research

Global Partnerships/Global Realities

Our Phase 1 Report section is starting to reveal how every Project Team is intersected, and working towards the same goal of educating spiritually-rooted changemakers “committed to helping realize God’s promises for justice and well-being for all the earth.” Enriching PSR’s global partnerships, particularly expanding them in Asia, is foundational to the Global Partnerships Team’s vision. Lead by Odette Lockwood-Stewart and coached by Fiona Hovenden, the team stresses that these insights into current “global realities” and how they affect the future of theological education be integrated within and throughout every “educational, financial, facility and technology model” considered and adapted by the new PSR.

The Global Partnerships team identified fourteen key values for its vision, worth quoting at length (with emphasis in original):

1) Mutuality of partnerships in formation and development (adding the bold language to the adopted vision)

2) As a U.S. based partner, spiritual formation, theological grounding, and educating leaders for social transformation requires of us:
a. spiritual, geographic, and cultural humility;
b. knowledge of global realities and theologies;
c. Economic investment at the early stages of the new PSR.

3) Global Partnerships will intentionally include a variety of financial designs:
a. Partnerships with potential for income stream;
b. Partnerships requiring investment aligned with vision;
c. Partnerships positioning us for future;
d. Cultivation of investment from those with interest in social transformation in these regions.

4) PSR will learn and lead and teach Global Partnership across programs and centers: cultural humility and cross-cultural capacity, global realities and theologies, resilience and renewal in anti-racism work and deep understanding of economics.

5) Quality not quantity of regions/sites and affiliations. Attached chart of tiered locations begins with using current relationships and assets to move further in research, piloting and testing of Global Partnerships without prohibitive initial financial investment.

6) Utilize denominational and NGO partners already on the ground (UCC, MCC, DOC, UMC, WD, CWS, WSCF) around the world as links to communities of social transformation, and potential sources of students and revenue. International alumni, students, scholars, faculty relationships are also assets for these links.

7) Aligned with vision of new PSR.

8) Building and sustaining right relationship is an essential component of global partnerships and positioning PSR for emerging leadership. Ongoing research and flexibility also needed as partnerships develop.

9) Creative combinations of digital and face-to-face pedagogies.

10) Hospitality will require maintaining some facilities for hosting and housing.

11) Global realities (demographic shifts in state and US and world) will guide our partnership development.

12) Non-duplication.

13) Future leadership of PSR with global ties, reputation, experience, and theologies will be formed and reformed by Global theologies.

14) Academic excellence and social impact through life changing scholarship, research, and immersive learning.

Additional Models

As other Project Teams have found, the host of organizational issues addressed by the CSD are in conversation across the higher ed map. Blum Center for Developing Economies, Rockwood Leadership Institute, and Ashoka Innovators for the Public have already been named in this space by other reporting Teams. In addition to the Blum Center, the Global Partnerships Team noted other of UC Berkeley’s global resources, such as its Religion, Politics and Globalization Program, Peace and Conflict Studies, and Schools of Public Health and Journalism.

The Southern Theological Education and Training Scheme (STETS; based in the UK) was also noted for its online degree and certificate offerings in ministerial and lay training.

Next Steps

One distinguished element of the Global Partnership Team’s research is the recommendation of “tiered locations”, a sort of array for mutual partnerships, contacts, relationships, and links in key geographical locations such as Asia-Pacific, and Central and South America. Forging links to contacts
Africa, Indonesia and Philippines should also become greater priorities. Additionally, the local has not been overlooked.

As the experiences of students, faculty, staff, leaders from other places in the world infuse PSR, this will also change the framing, the arts of leadership and the spiritual practices learned and taught here. Intentional transformation of structures of community and curriculum can facilitate this with intentionality and integration with resources already present in the GTU and the Bay Area.

Read the whole report here (.pdf), and Tiered Locations here (.pdf).

Of Interest: Crowdfunding Goes to School With Alumnifunder, Pave

Just into beta this week is Alumnifunder, which applies a crowdfunding model to collegiate capital-raising. From the site:

AlumniFunder exists to bolster a deeper relationship between students, alumni, and other alumni, by providing a platform to fund creative, innovative, and idealistically disruptive projects within the established university community. Whether it be a project to enhance the student experience on campus, raising capital to build a new science lab, or funding consumer development of a bleeding-edge robotics product, AlumniFunder seeks to facilitate access to crowdfunded capital for worthy endeavors.

There’s not much to see there quite yet, but Alumnifunder is something for all of higher ed to keep an eye on.

Like Alumnifunder, Pave ( is another innovative alternative to educational financing. Their Support Center has all the details.