Written by Gregg Brekke
Andover Newton Theological School announced this afternoon that its Board of Trustees has approved initiating discussions with the leadership of Colgate Rochester Crozer Divinity School (CRCDS) located in Rochester, N.Y.
The discussions will explore the feasibility of combining the resources of these two historic institutions in a manner which will maximize efficiency, sustain their legacies and advance a common educational mission.
Nick Carter, president of Andover Newton and a graduate of CRCDS, acknowledged that although the process to bring these two institutions together will require discussion and negotiations. "Andover Newton and CRCDS are natural partners. What motivates us is the conviction that our respective institutions, students, alumni and communities they serve would be enriched by the combined resources of these two outstanding schools of theology," he said.
Citing the many benefits of a partnership, Carter said, "The distinctive character of both institutions would be preserved and strengthened, expansion of the breadth and depth of the curriculums would yield instructional vitality and excellence, and significant administrative efficiencies would be realized with all students having access to a world class education and preparation for ministry in an ecumenical and denominationally diverse environment."
In expressing his enthusiasm regarding the possible partnership, Carter went on to say, "As a result of the rich history and pioneering spirit which has characterized both Andover Newton and CRCDS, this joint venture may usher in a new model for graduate theological education. What is being announced today places both institutions on the path of discovery and opportunity."
The CRCDS Board's decision was also driven by a commitment to strengthen and expand the school's educational mission and act in accord with the school's heritage.
"Today the landscape of theological education is marked with unprecedented change," said Eugene C. Bay, president of CRCDS. "In entering these talks, our shared goal is that both of our institutions become more agile, vibrant and better able to prepare transformative leaders for the new horizons of ministry in the 21st century."
Andover Newton Theological School is one of the seven seminaries of the United Church of Christ.
UCC President and General Minister, the Rev. John H. Thomas, said the proposed negotiations are an exciting development in education, mission and activism for the UCC, Andover Newton and Colgate Rochester Crozer.
"Nick Carter is an outstanding leader and I am confident that a new relationship he will help to craft between these two schools will strengthen the financial position and enlarge the programmatic vision of Andover Newton," said Thomas. "The important place of Andover Newton in the establishment of the world mission movement in the 19th century, and Colgate Rochester Crozer's historic relationship to the Social Gospel at the dawn of the 20th century, create wonderful synergies for a 21st century church deeply committed to global partnerships and to a progressive theological voice for justice and peace."
Should a partnership is established, the schools would have a combined endowment of approximately $40 million and an enrollment of 450 students. Andover Newton and CRCDS are both accredited by the Association of Theological Schools.