The Association of Governing Boards of Universities and Colleges, to which the boards of many graduate theological schools belong, has proposed a new model for institutional governance.

In issuing its draft statement, the board of directors of the Washington-based group said it was responding to changes in higher education since the American Association of University Professors issued its “Statement of College and University Government” in 1966. At that time the AGB “commended” that statement to its members without officially endorsing it.

Foremost among the concerns the AGB said need attention is the increasing difficulty schools are experiencing in making swift and timely decisions. The draft said that:

  • “Many governing boards, faculty members, and chief executives believe that internal governance arrangements have become so cumbersome that timely decisions are difficult to make.”
  • “The governing process sometimes produces a ‘lowest common denominator’ decision.”
  • Other changes cited by the draft were:
  • The rapidly increasing proportion of part-time or adjunct faculty.
  • Public demand for greater accountability.
  • Widespread perception that faculty members are divided in their loyalties.
  • Increased official sensitivity to changing student interests and a shifting job market.
  • Shorter average length of service by institutional chief executives.
  • The AGB document, which is available online at <www.agb.org>, is not intended to be prescriptive, but rather a “template of good practice.” It sets forth seven “first principles” and six “standards of good practice.” The standards are:<www.agb.org>.
  • Boards should state clearly who has authority for making various decisions.
  • “Boards have the sole responsibility to appoint and assess the performance of the chief executive.”
  • “The chief executive is the board’s major window on the institution.”
  • “Boards and chief executives should establish deadlines for the conclusion of consultative and decision-making processes.”
  • Effort should be made to minimize ambiguous or overlapping areas of authority.
  • Internal governance arrangements should be separate from the structure and terms of any collective-bargaining contract.

While the AAUP has not formally responded to the AGB statement, Mary Burgan, the organization’s head, told the Chronicle of Higher Education, “We’re concerned that it makes an effort to dilute the traditional role of faculty by identifying so many other ‘stakeholders’ as equals.” The emphasis in the AGB document is firmly on the final authority of the board; it makes no mention of the principles of “shared governance” set forth in the AAUP document and reflected in the standards for accreditation of the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada.

The AGB and ATS are both clear on the importance of clarity about roles, however. The ATS standards state: “Governing boards delegate authority to the faculty and administration to fulfill their appropriate roles and responsibilities. Such authority shall be established and set forth in the institution’s official documents and carried out in governing practices.”

The AGB circulated the draft statement for comments, and said its board might adopt a revised form of the statement as AGB policy later this year.

Changes at the Top
The Reverend Dorcas Gordon will become principal of Knox College in Toronto, Ontario, on July 1, 1999, after the retirement of the Reverend Arthur Van Seters. Gordon’s road to leadership of the Presbyterian Church in Canada school was marred by a pothole or two; although she was the choice of representative groups of Knox students, staff, and faculty, and then of the search committee, the denomination’s committee for theological education refused the nomination by a vote of 9-11. No reason was given, but the CTE unanimously approved the school’s setting forth her name directly at the denomination’s General Assembly, or national legislative body, in accordance with the 1990 legislation that allows for “persistent dissent.” The General Assembly overturned the CTE action and approved Gordon’s nomination. Gordon currently lectures at Knox College and teaches in the doctor of ministry program at the Toronto School of Theology, of which Knox College is a member school.

The Very Reverend Archimandrite Damaskinos V. Ganas is the new president of Holy Cross Greek Orthodox School of Theology and of Hellenic College in Brookline, Massachusetts. Ganas is a graduate of Holy Cross, the only seminary of the Greek Orthodox Archdiocese of America, and most recently served the Koimisis tis Theotokou Church in Brooklyn, New York. Ganas was preceded as president by the Right Reverend Isaiah, Greek Orthodox bishop of Denver. The school has a mostly new board of directors: at an August meeting the small corporate board of the schools replaced more than half of the larger—and largely advisory—board.

The Reverend Robert W. Jenson is the new senior scholar for research at the Center of Theological Inquiry, Princeton, New Jersey. Jenson, current president of the American Theological Society, came to Princeton from St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, where he was professor of religion. The center fosters research into the content and significance of the Christian faith by sponsoring consultations and lectures and by gathering theologians from around the world into an ongoing residential community of scholars.

The Board of Trustees of the Washington Theological Consortium announced the appointment of the Reverend John W. Crossin as the consortium’s executive director. Crossin, a member of the Congregation of Oblates of Saint Francis de Sales, was president of DeSales School of Theology, a member school of the consortium until it closed in 1997. The consortium’s former director, Richard G. Abbott, is serving as consultant for a strategic planning project at the consortium until he retires in November.

The Reverend Keith H. Ray is the sixth president of Lincoln Christian College and Seminary. Ray came to the Nebraska school of the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ from the presidency of Dallas Christian College in Texas. He holds degrees from the schools he now leads.

The Board of Trustees of Erskine College and Seminary, Due West, South Carolina, named a new president of the school and a new head of the seminary. Dr. John L. Carson became president of Erskine June 15. Carson was associate professor of historical theology at the school from 1985 to 1994; he was serving as pastor of First Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church in Gastonia, North Carolina, when he was called back to assume the presidency. His predecessor, Dr. James W. Strobel, has been named president emeritus. New vice president of Erskine and dean of the seminary is Dr. R. J. Gore. Gore, a former Army chaplain, has taught courses in systematic theology, apologetics, ethics, and church history at the seminary since 1996. His predecessor, Dr. Randall T. Ruble, retired. Erskine is a school of the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church.

The Reverend Ron Smith became president of Wesley Biblical Seminary in July. He comes to the Jackson, Mississippi, school from a two-year stint as executive director of the Francis Asbury Society, a group promoting Wesleyan witness and scholarship. His predecessor at Wesley Biblical, Robert Lawrence, remains at the school as chancellor.

Jay Wade Marshall is the new dean of Earlham School of Religion, a school of the Religious Society of Friends located in Richmond, Indiana; the school shares a campus with Bethany Theological Seminary. He has combined teaching, mainly in Old Testament, with Quaker pastorship, most recently at New Castle (Indiana) Friends Meeting.

Raymond E. Brown, 1928 - 1998 
The Reverend Raymond E. Brown, the century’s premier Roman Catholic Bible scholar, died of a heart attack August 8 in Menlo Park, California. Brown, who was seventy, was a member of the Society of St. Sulpice.

Brown taught at St. Mary’s Seminary in Baltimore (1959-1971) and Union Theological Seminary in New York from 1971 until his retirement in 1990. He was the first Roman Catholic tenured at Union.

At various times, Brown was president of the Society of Biblical Literature, the Catholic Biblical Association of America, and the International Society of New Testament Studies, and was appointed by two popes to the Pontifical Biblical Commission.

He was the author of more than forty books. What follows is an excerpt from the most recent of these, An Introduction to the New Testament (1997).

Many people assume that Christians always had Bibles even as we have today, or that Christian writings existed from the beginning. Rather, the formation of the New Testament, which involved the coming into being and preservation of books composed by followers of Jesus, was a complicated affair.

By the time of Jesus, Jews had become very conscious of sacred writings: the Law, the Prophets, and the other books; and that is what early Christians meant when they spoke of scripture. Why were the first Christians somewhat slow in writing their own books? A major retarding factor was that, unlike Moses who by tradition authored the Pentateuch, Jesus did not produce a writing that contained his revelation. He is never recorded as setting down even a word in his lifetime or telling any of his disciples to write. Accordingly the proclamation of the kingdom of God made present in Jesus did not depend on writing. Moreover, the first Christian generations were strongly eschatological. For them the “last times” were at hand, and undoubtedly Jesus would return soon. Such anticipation of the end of the world did not encourage Christians to write for future generations (who would not be around to read books).

It is no accident, then, that letters were the first Christian literature of which we know. Since they can be designed to answer immediate, pressing problems, they were consistent with an urgent eschatology. That these letters were written by Paul clarifies another factor in the appearance of Christian literature. Paul was a traveling apostle who proclaimed Jesus in one town and then moved on to another. Letters became his means of communication with converts who lived at a distance from him. Thus in the 50s of the first century, Paul produced the earliest surviving Christian documents: I Thessalonians, Galatians, Philippians, Philemon, I and II Corinthians, and Romans. There is a somewhat different tone and emphasis to each, corresponding to what Paul perceived as the needs of the respective community at a particular time. This fact should make us cautious about generalizations in reference to Pauline theology. Paul was not a systematic theologian but an evangelizing preacher, giving strong emphasis at a certain moment to one aspect of faith in Jesus, at another moment to another aspect—indeed to a degree that may seem to us inconsistent. On the grounds that Paul does not mention an idea or practice, very adventurous assumptions are sometimes made about his views. For example, the eucharist is mentioned in only one Pauline writing and there largely because of abuses at the eucharistic meal at Corinth. Except for that situation scholars might be misled to assume that there was no eucharist in the Pauline churches, reasoning that Paul could scarcely have written so much without mentioning such an important aspect of Christian life.

By the mid-60s, death had come to the most famous of the earlier generation, those who had known Jesus or who had seen the risen Jesus. The passing of the first generation of Christians contributed to the production of works of a more permanent nature.

—from An Introduction to the New Testament (New York, Doubleday, 
The Anchor Bible Reference Library). Reprinted with permission.


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