Monday, January 14, 2013


I had a nice dose of sun and a good helping of Texas barbeque last week. I was in Austin, Texas, at the Seminary of the Southwest for the Council of Seminary Deans meeting as Dean Ian Markham’s stand-in while he continues his study leave.

The meetings of the Deans are important gatherings as the heads of the ten Episcopal seminaries. They provide opportunities to share what’s happening within each seminary and to look together at the challenges and opportunities facing theological education. This meeting also included development officers from each of the Episcopal seminaries who came together to share best practices and to discuss challenges and plans.

So, what’s the word regarding Episcopal seminaries?

Certainly the Episcopal seminaries are diverse in terms of programs, context, size, governance, and culture. At the same time, I’d say from the conversations this year, the seminaries have in the last ten years become more focused in mission, professional in staffing, and collaborative in character. As a sign of collaboration, conversations weren’t so much about ultimate goals but about the details that make collaboration possible—about who is doing what, who needs to talk to whom, and who needs to take next steps. This included conversations about such matters as next steps in communicating cross-cultural study and funding opportunities, sharing best practices in institutional development, and coordinating communication of education opportunities offered by the seminaries.

Deans sometimes feel like circus ringmasters, and that’s not a bad analogy. The ten ring circus under one tent is a rich gathering for the sake of something much larger.

Timothy F. Sedgwick, Ph.D.
Vice President for Academic Affairs
The Clinton S. Quin Professor of Christian Ethics