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Executive Board Recommends Actions


19 April 2010 -- Press Release

Executive Committee of Seminary Board Recommends New Actions

New York City – On Friday, April 16, 2010 the eleven-member Executive Committee of the General Seminary Board of Trustees met to assess developments at the Seminary since a March 29 meeting of the full Board.  The special March meeting had been called in response to trustees’ deep concerns over a financial analysis of the Seminary released earlier that month in connection with the search for a new dean and president. The present dean, the Very Rev. Ward B. Ewing, announced in December, 2009 his plans to retire.  Recommendations coming out of the April 16 meeting include leveraging the Seminary’s property assets to insure General will be able to sustain operating expenses for the foreseeable future and resuming the search for a dean and president who would serve on an interim basis.

The Rev. Canon Denis O’Pray, Board chair, in reporting on the 4/16 meeting, said that although a preliminary budget for the upcoming fiscal year reduces operating expenses by 16%, it still projects a cash shortage by mid-November, 2010. “The Executive Committee believes the first priority is to develop a source of immediate cash relief so that Seminary operations can continue and debt be serviced until a long-term strategic financial plan can be designed and implemented,” said O’Pray. “After reviewing prospects of merger or collaboration with other entities, as well as the likelihood of immediate philanthropy, the Executive Committee believes that the sale of assets may be the most reasonable source of (nearly) immediate cash. Therefore, the Committee has resolved to analyze all aspects of a potential sale of property,” O’Pray said.  The Committee also assigned members to engage representatives from other seminaries and church entities in conversations that might include consideration of financial cooperation, program collaboration, merger, or other mutually beneficial relationships.

Should the sale of assets or significant philanthropy ease the Seminary’s immediate cash shortage, O’Pray added, the longer term need to reduce the cost of debt service remains a significant challenge and must still be addressed.  

During their deliberations the Committee affirmed its gratitude to Dean Ewing for his tireless efforts to lead the Seminary through its current financial crisis, and commended his continuing pursuit of philanthropy for the Seminary.  He said the Committee would suggest that the full Board revise earlier plans to retain an interim executive and instead begin a search for an interim dean and president who, with all the constitutional authority of that office, would lead the Seminary for a period likely to be one to three years. The Committee recognized the need for flexibility in the anticipated length of the interim dean and president’s service. The expectation is that the Dean’s successor can be found in the next several months, O’Pray said.

Lastly, the Executive Committee commended a communication strategy to include the creation of a page on the GTS website called GTS Next, where all official statements will be posted

“The Executive Committee is aware of the Board’s intention to meet monthly in person or by phone until the current crisis at the Seminary is resolved,” said O’Pray. The Executive Committee will meet again on May 7, 2010.
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Media Contact:
Bruce Parker
Executive Director of Communications
The General Theological Seminary
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(212) 243-5150 x285
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