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President's Community Update 9/15/10

GTS Community Update from President Lowrey

September 15, 2010


With the school year now in full swing these have been days filled with new beginnings for many members of the GTS community. It was my first Orientation Week as your Interim President. I enjoyed the week tremendously and felt privileged to be able to welcome the 55-60 new students who are joining us this term—an impressive number and an increase over last year’s incoming class. Thanks to all who worked to make Orientation Week the informative and enjoyable time it was, particularly the Admissions Team of Billy Webster and Emily Beekman. Thanks also to our new students who have energized the entire community with their enthusiasm for the upcoming school year. It’s in part thanks to them that this semester attendance in Chapel has been so gratifying, as has been the very positive response to the new Tuesday evening meal following the Eucharist. This past Tuesday night 125 were in attendance at Chapel.

During Orientation Week it was a special pleasure to welcome to the campus Bishop Peter James Lee, our new Dean, and to have him celebrate the opening Eucharist. Thanks also to the preacher at the service, Chaplain Stuart Hoke, and to the Director of the Chapel, Prof. Patrick Malloy. I am also pleased to welcome the Most Rev. Peter Carnley AC to our campus as Distinguished Visiting Professor of Anglican Studies.  The former Primate of the Anglican Church of Australia and a noted author and theologian, Archbishop Carnley will be teaching two courses at GTS. We are indeed fortunate to have him with us. This update will alert you to several important upcoming meetings and events and will also explain some administrative changes here at GTS.

Trustee Meetings

In my last Community Update on 8/27, I referred to a four-point plan aimed at achieving financial and institutional health for the Seminary. The points can be encapsulated as follows:

  • Eliminate all significant debt.
  • Restore our endowment.
  • Balance our budget.
  • Refresh and renew our institutional health and mission.

As I also mentioned in this update, the first two of these goals represent a “swing” of over $60 million. With the help of Maureen Burnley and members of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, I have been working on the specific ways in which our current assets can be best utilized to achieve this very challenging plan. On Thursday, September 16 the Executive Committee will meet to review the work that has been done so far. Once refined and approved by them, the details of the plan will be presented to the full Board of Trustees at their meeting on October 15-16. If approved, the plan will be presented to the entire community shortly thereafter. Please keep the deliberations of both the Executive Committee and the October Trustee Meeting in your prayers as we seek to insure the continuance of the Seminary as a vibrant institution of theological learning.

GTS Departments and Staff

In the interest of making the Seminary’s administration more effective, the decision has been made to merge the Seminary’s Communications Office with the Department of Institutional Advancement. The new department will be called the Office of External Relations. This was the title the Seminary used in the 1980s for an office encompassing similar responsibilities, before the establishment of the present Communications Office. The Office of External Relations will have responsibility for development, communications, alumni/ae affairs, and marketing as well as the Chelsea Square Conservancy and the GTS Media Workshop. Because fundraising is so critical to the mission of our school and will require my constant involvement as President, I will myself be providing primary oversight of this new department. Charles Knapp, Vice President of Institutional Advancement and Alumni/ae Relations, will be departing GTS with our deep appreciation for the work he has done here. In the face of troubling news about the finances of GTS last year, Charles and his team none-the-less raised an impressive amount for the Seminary’s Annual Fund—a figure that has set a high water mark in General’s history. I am very grateful to Charles for agreeing to remain with us for a time to assist in the transition over to the new structure.

The day-to-day operations of the new Office of External Relations will be headed up by Bruce Parker, currently Executive Director of Communications. A 1984 graduate of GTS, Bruce has served the Seminary for the past 17 years and is the Seminary’s most senior staff member. I am pleased to announce that under the new structure Bruce will become Associate Vice President for External Relations and Alumni/ae Affairs. While his primary area of expertise will serve the communications and marketing responsibilities of the new office, Bruce will draw upon his many years of working in close collaboration with previous development officers of the Seminary. He has been intimately involved in planning and creating support materials for many of our fundraising efforts including the last capital campaign. Before joining the GTS staff, Bruce served as a communications consultant to Washington National Cathedral, to Trinity Wall Street, and to the national offices of the Episcopal Church, and in this capacity provided support to many fundraising efforts.


In addition to Bruce, the new External Relations team will consist of Donna Ashley who has done excellent work for GTS as Senior Advancement Officer; Don Temples, who has served with distinction as Director of Development and who will continue in that role, and Chad Rancourt, Media Coordinator in the Communications Office. I take pleasure in reporting that Chad, a valued member of the GTS staff for the last seven years, will advance to the position of Director of Communications in the new Office of External Relations.

Although fundraising will become the central focus of the new department, the office will also coordinate the effort to market Seminary program offerings, a responsibility previously lodged with the Seminary’s Marketing Team. The new office will also continue to provide a limited number of specialized production services, such as graphic production and photography. However, given reduction in force in each of these departments prior to the merger and the need to concentrate on fundraising, some internal support services previously provided by the Communication Office may need to be curtailed or appropriated to other GTS units. Similarly, the new office will maximize its efforts by accelerating the move to electronic communications and away from those venues that require paper. The move to electronic communications is both a cost consideration as well as a statement about stewardship of the environment.


I have met several times with the new External Relations staff and am excited by the synergy that I feel will be generated by this very talented group of people. Two members are alums of GTS and all four have made significant contributions to the Seminary over the years. I am looking forward to directing the efforts of this promising new department at GTS

In other staff changes, as many of you know, the Rev. Berto Gandara-Perea, our Director of Field Education, has also served as part-time priest-in-charge at the Church of the Intercession here in Manhattan. Berto has recently been called to a full-time position at Intercession and so will be leaving GTS sometime in October. He has done an excellent job in administering field education at the Seminary and in assisting our students with placements for Clinical Pastoral Education as well. Our prayers go with him in this exciting new ministry.


Given Berto’s departure and that of our Chaplain, the Rev. Dr. Stuart Hoke (whose term expires in November), we are looking at ways to better integrate spiritual formation, academics, chaplaincy, and field work. After our Tuesday evening meal on September 28th we will have a special forum on this topic and the community will be invited to listen and provide feedback on a plan currently under discussion.

Matriculation 2010

On Thursday evening, September 30, students matriculating at GTS this year sign their names in the Seminary’s historic Matriculation Book—as GTS students have each done for the past 188 years.  What an amazing book, containing the signatures of all who have gone forth from this place to minister in Christ’s name for nearly two centuries! It will be my first Matriculation Service as your President. I am told this is one of the most moving services we have at GTS and I’m looking forward to it. Officiating for his first time will be our new Dean, Bishop Peter James Lee. Whether you are matriculating or not, please attend this wonderful service. I also congratulate those who are matriculating as they are formally incorporated into this special community within the Church.


Until my next Update, please know that I welcome any questions or concerns you may have. Simply email me or see Chris McFadden to schedule an appointment.


God’s peace,


The Rev. Lang Lowrey

Interim President


440 West 21st Street, New York City, NY 10011   |   tel (212) 243-5150  fax (212) 727-3907

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