GTS Board of Trustees moves to reinstate faculty members

Posted Oct 24, 2014

[General Theological Seminary press release] In a spirit of reconciliation and healing for the entire Seminary community, The General Theological Seminary (GTS) Board of Trustees announced this week an offer to presently reinstate eight faculty members.  At that time the Board also affirmed its call to the Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle as President and Dean of GTS.  

“During this challenging time, the Board of Trustees and Executive Committee have maintained open and honest communication with faculty members in the hopes that we may reconcile and end this disruption to our academic year,” said the Rt. Reverend Mark Sisk, Chair of the General Theological Seminary Board of Trustees.  “We are grateful that our prayers have been answered and the good faith of all has been rewarded. We look forward to the faculty members returning to what they do best: educating and forming the future leaders of our Church in an environment of faith, respect and collegiality. The Very Reverend Kurt Dunkle, our Dean and President, is deeply committed to moving the Seminary forward.” 

Professors Joshua Davis, the Reverend Mitties McDonald DeChamplain, Deirdre Good, David Hurd, Andrew Irving, the Reverend Andrew Kadel, the Reverend Amy Bentley Lamborn and the Reverend Patrick Malloy issued a joint response: “Thank you for your invitation to come together to find a way forward.  We receive this invitation in the good faith in which it is offered.  Thank you also for acknowledging that healing is not an easy thing to accomplish; we are appreciative of both the alacrity with which you seek to facilitate our return to work and the attention you are giving to a long-term process of reconciliation for the entire Seminary community.”

This week’s invitation would return faculty members to salaries and health benefits for the remainder of the academic year as they work to resolve all outstanding issues with the Board of Trustees.  The faculty members would agree to not only return to the classroom, but also to participate in all campus activities such as common meals and community worship and abide by the terms of the Seminary Constitution, Bylaws and policies, and will work together with both the Board, President and Dean Dunkle and an outside mediator appointed to facilitate permanent reconciliation.  A process of integrating the returning faculty back into classroom activity is under development so that there is as little disruption of class work as possible.

“The Board has the duty to set policy for a nearly 200-year-old religious institution which seeks to educate and form leaders – ordained and lay – for a church which is changing,” said Bishop Sisk.  “Our students have always remained our top priority, both in their continuing education at the Seminary and their spiritual well-being. Together with our faculty, we look forward to turning our full attention to a fruitful and fulfilling academic year that befits our great responsibility.”


Comments (6)

  1. John Fortunato says:

    And what is the Board requiring of Dean Dunkle? The allegations concerning things he has said and done are serious. If true, they are egregiously unacceptable for a Dean. Is anyone requiring that he mend his ways?

  2. Jeremy Bates says:

    There’s also the question of what the Board of Trustees will require of themselves. In my opinion, the recent events at GTS suggest that the Trustees badly need to step up their game.
    In particular, does the GTS Board include anyone who has tenure at another seminary, or at a major research university? From Bishop Sisk’s initial “who are these people?” reaction, it seems to me that such a perspective, if absent now, would be very valuable, going forward.
    The heart and soul of an academic institution is not the Board, but rather the faculty.

    1. Derek Baker says:

      Well, Mark Sisk was President and Dean of a seminary himself for about 14 years before becoming becoming Bishop of New York. Which perhaps gives him an unhelpful bias in issues involving the performance of fellow deans and presidents — but it’s certainly relevant experience, nonetheless.

  3. Jeremy Bates says:

    Bishop Sisk was a dean of a seminary. So what? This again suggests that he would not share the perspective of tenured faculty.

    “[T]he secret, amended ones that — reportedly — place all authority over curriculum and worship in the hands of the Dean?”

    If there are any such bylaws, methinks they might raise very serious accreditation issues.

  4. Can’t say I’d recommend that anyone attend GTS for the foreseeable future. What a debacle, and so unfortunate that it all unfolded in such a public, accusation-laden manner.

  5. John Barrow says:

    My Associate Rector is a recent GTS grad. He’s fantastic. Having said that, the way that this situation has unfolded raises many questions about that institution and all three parties (Board, Dean, Professors). I don’t imagine that solid priestly formation can take place in such an environment, as presented, for the foreseeable future. I’m disappointed by what I read, but I’m aware that what I read is calculated for public consumption and may have little to do with what is really going on. My prayers are that whatever face to face work is being done is more honest and faithful than seems possible from what I’m reading.

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