The influence of seminary presidents in decision making has substantially increased over the last decade, while that of faculties and denominations has decreased. At the same time, board influence remains unchanged. 



These findings were discussed in “Who’s in Charge? Effective Decision Making in a Time of Crisis and Fundamental Change,” a January 21 webinar jointly sponsored by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) and the In Trust Center.

During the webinar, Daniel Aleshire, ATS president, and Richard Bliese, former president of In Trust, discussed recent trends in governance. Consultant Barbara Wheeler discussed her research on seminary governance. Among the findings that she shared: In response to the question, “Which group or individual is most influential in key decisions?,” Wheeler found that presidential influence increased from 35 percent to 42 percent between 2002 and 2012. Faculty influence decreased from eight percent to four percent, denominational influence declined from four to three percent, and board influence remained at around 30 percent during this period.

Bliese and Aleshire said these changes are influenced by pressures on theological schools that include the financial recession that begin in 2008, a drop in charitable contributions, and a downturn in enrollment. These pressures have given presidents less time for developing consensus with faculties and board members and have necessitated quicker decision making.

The recorded webinar is available for free. Click here.

See complete results of Wheeler’s research, “Governance That Works: Effective Leadership for Theological Schools,” at