strategic plan

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The vision of Boston University School of Theology is rooted in its 170-year history and its bold thinking for the future. The central vision is to enrich and revitalize human lives, theological knowledge, religious communities and their ministries, and prophetic vision and action in the world. To these ends, we seek to equip religious leaders to serve effectively in churches and other communities of faith, public agencies, and educational institutions around the world. As the oldest and founding School of Boston University, we carry a legacy of outstanding academic leadership, together with the preparation of pioneering leaders.

a. Heritage and Vision

The vision of Boston University is to give intellectual and visionary leadership as a research university that educates public leaders for a global context. Although starting from rural origins in Vermont, the School of Theology moved early to Beacon Hill, then to downtown Boston, thence to the Charles River Campus. With those moves, STH established itself as a present and engaged urban “citizen.” Its early graduates established settlement houses, as they founded and shaped such 19th century forms of urban outreach as Goodwill Industries, the Salvation Army, and Deaconess Hospital. Women received graduate degrees at STH a full century before Harvard would admit them. STH welcomed East Asians as students when they were excluded from U.S. citizenship. We trained generations of African Americans when they were not admitted elsewhere, producing some of the widely known leaders of the civil rights movement for social justice (Martin Luther King, Jr., Samuel Proctor, James Lawson, et al).  Boston University’s first president (and STH Dean), William Fairfield Warren, was the first professor of comparative religions in the U.S., and STH was the first theological school to appoint non-Christians to its faculty. Our graduate Dr. Helen Kim was the first Korean president of Ewha Women’s University (Seoul, Korea), the largest women’s university in the world.  Throughout its history, STH has produced a disproportionately large percentage of Methodist bishops, both for the U.S. and abroad.  Fifteen of the 161 living United Methodist Bishops received degrees from the School of Theology.

The School of Theology has also been a significant citizen in the university, which aspires to be “One BU” and to support research and teaching across colleges and disciplines, thus building collaborations that are unique for modern universities. STH has historically contributed to other parts of the University: our department of religious education became the School of Social Work, and our pastoral counseling faculty founded the Danielsen Institute. In more recent years, the School of Theology has been an active collaborator with both of these units, as well as the Graduate Arts and Sciences Department of Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS), the College of Fine Arts, and the College of Arts and Sciences. The future will involve building upon these relationships to strengthen and expand them, as well as building new collaborations.

Building upon this legacy, the School of Theology seeks to envision a bold future that embodies the high intellectual and ethical standards of our legacy, while stretching the content of former eras in new directions of research and teaching. To that end, we seek new understandings and critical questions about global relationships, and more attention to contextual analysis, intercultural and interdisciplinary investigation, integrative theory-building, and life-giving practices of leadership by individuals and communities of faith. Below we present the STH Strategic Plan, supplemented by appendices with background data and detailed plans for implementing goals outlined in this summary document.

b. Process

The 2009 invitation to engage in strategic planning coincided with major planning efforts in the School of Theology, motivated by the School’s near-fulfillment of many 2006 strategic goals, searches for new faculty in AY 2009 and AY 2010, and the arrival of a new Dean in AY 2009. We are now poised to extend and strengthen many of the earlier strategic goals, and to move in new directions made possible by BU and STH developments in the past four years. The strategic planning process provides a venue to analyze where we are, to identify ways we can consolidate and build our strengths, and to develop thorough plans to become an increasingly strong academic, ecclesial, and public theological leader in the next ten years.

The process included data-gathering, seven faculty discussion sessions, three sessions with the Administrative Cabinet, meetings with STH staff in a plenary session and in several office groups, two meetings with student leaders, one open-invitation student gathering, an alumni/ae survey, and one consultation with the STH Advisory Board. Data from these meetings were analyzed; distilled into a description of the School’s profile and strategic plans; composed into the present document; discussed and revised between February 15 and March 20; and edited into a final document that was circulated to Faculty one final time on March 25 before final editing and submission. Two major touchstones were used in the process: the STH Strategic Plan of 2006 and the Boston University Strategic Plan, Choosing to be Great (

The strategic planning process of this year built upon the multi-faceted approach that produced the March 2006 plan, consolidating a new tradition of institutional planning that began during that period. As noted in the 2006 document, the approach has introduced “a culture that will take time to re-shape.” By engaging in the process a second time, we have sought to strengthen that STH planning culture. We realize that the School still lacks some systematic data that could simplify this process. Thus, our goals include ongoing efforts to develop metric measures to enhance a continual process of strategic planning and evaluation.

c. Mission Statement

The purpose of the Boston University School of Theology is to pursue knowledge of God, cultivate leaders for communities of faith, enrich the academy, and seek peace with justice in a diverse and interconnected world.

As the founding school of Boston University and the oldest United Methodist seminary in North America, we are a professional school within a cosmopolitan research university, committed to “learning, virtue, and piety,” rooted in the Wesleyan traditions, drawing from the wider Christian traditions of the world, striving to equip women and men for ministries and vocations that foster personal and social transformation, that are oriented to the world’s diversities, and that expand the prophetic legacy of this historic School of Theology.

Below is a summary of data reflecting faculty quality, based on the years 2004-2010.

a. Scholarly/research quality:

(1)  Publications: In the six-year period between 2004 and 2010, the 22 full-time (FTE) faculty published 36 single-authored books; 17 edited or co-edited books; 164 book chapters; 140 peer reviewed articles; 29 reference articles (encyclopedias and dictionaries); and 61 articles in other journals. Lecturers and adjunct faculty were also active in publishing, including, for example, 3 books and 3 co-edited books in 2010.  In addition, STH faculty members edit three international journals.

(2)  Publications: In the ten-year period between 2000 and 2010, the full time faculty published 47 single-authored books and 18 edited or co-edited books.

(3)  Research grant activity – STH faculty received or continued a total of $5,616,472 in research grant monies in 2008-2009. More complete grant information for the 2001-2011 period is available in the ATS Self-study of 2011.

b. Educational/pedagogical contributions

(1)  New curriculum – The faculty has inaugurated a new curriculum that features integration, contextual analysis and engagement, depth exploration, and preparation for religious leadership. The curriculum is innovative in theological education, especially as it transcends disciplinary boundaries and involves students more actively in the University and larger Boston community.

(2)  Course evaluations – On STH course evaluation forms, the question regarding students’ overall evaluation of a course is based on a 5-point scale, with 5 being the highest. The range of responses to this question for all STH courses from Fall 2006 through Fall 2009 is 2.765 to 5.000; the average score is 4.267.

(3)  Contextual learning – STH presently offers strong contextual placements for one year of the MDiv program, but has expanded this emphasis in the new curriculum to include contextual engagement and analysis in two years of the MDiv curriculum, to incorporate contextual work as a core requirement in the MTS and MSM, and to highlight contextual learning as a mark of STH education.

(4)  Diversity – STH has identified diversity as a continuing challenge for pedagogy, seeking ways to enhance the abilities of faculty and students to engage with diversity of culture, ethnicity, theological perspectives, and religious traditions.  Many faculty have expanded or reshaped their pedagogies, and one faculty member is conducting research to test more adequate ways to engage theological diversity. These are ongoing efforts.

c. Clinical practice contributions:

STH works closely with the Danielsen Institute, which provides clinical services and an APA-approved training program for doctoral students in the BU Division of Religious and Theological Studies, BU School of Social Work, and other schools. Two STH faculty members are on the clinical staff of the Danielsen, and the Director of the Danielsen is on the STH faculty.

d. Professional and public service contributions:

STH faculty are active in local and global church bodies; in community service; and in public speaking regarding religion and public issues, such as: religion and politics; religion and science; biblical traditions in relation to violence, gender, and sexuality; global warming; conflict and peace-building; comparative theology; ecumenical relations; and global Christianity in relation to diverse cultures and religious traditions.

a. Undergraduate education:

STH has contributed an average of seven courses per year to BU’s undergraduate curriculum in the past four years, mostly through CAS and CFA.

b. Doctoral programs:

(1)        Mission and goals

(a)        ThD: This degree is designed to prepare scholarly leaders for research, teaching, and scholarly leadership in certain advanced areas of theology and ministry.

(b)        PhD: This degree is designed to prepare scholarly leaders who will be teachers and researchers in practical theology and in their selected concentration (spirituality, mission and evangelism, church and society, homiletics, leadership, liturgical studies, or religious education).

(c)        PhD in DRTS (GRS): This degree engages students in advanced study of religious traditions and phenomena and in requisite studies in the Humanities and social sciences. More than half of the STH faculty members serve on the DRTS faculty, and STH contributes three doctoral fellowships per year, plus an annual fee of more than $20K for DRTS educational functioning.

(2)        Recruitment and acceptance: One goal of the strategic plan is to increase selectivity of doctoral applicants, both to maintain high quality and to offer stronger support to fewer students. The average selectivity for STH’s ThD and PhD programs has already increased by 28%, with an acceptance rate of 23.5% average in the past two years.

(3)        Enrollment: Another goal is to increase the yield for programs of advanced study. Of the students accepted by STH, most are offered fellowships by other programs as well. Our goal is to increase our financial support for doctoral students by creating an additional stipend linked with a strong teaching and research internship program, and by raising money for increased fellowship aid. The first action was implemented in 2010, and the second is well underway.

(4)        Student diversity:  For the past 3 years, the enrollment of persons of color in doctoral programs has averaged 45.67%, while the enrollment of women has averaged 43.67%.

c. Masters programs

(1)  Mission and goals:

(a)     Master of Divinity:  The MDiv prepares students for diverse forms of ministry, including parish ministry, social service, global mission, and academic leadership.

(b)     Master of Theological Studies:  The MTS prepares students for diaconal ministries, public service, or further graduate work in a PhD or Th.D.

(c)     Master of Sacred Music: The MSM prepares students for music leadership in communities of faith, and as performers, scholars, and teachers.

(d)     Master of Sacred Theology: The STM is a second-level masters program that provides students with an extra year of advanced coursework in a specific discipline.

(2)  New curriculum: The faculty has worked four years to prepare new MDiv and MTS curricula, which will be launched in September 2010. Both curricula focus on the preparation of religious leaders for diverse forms of leadership in the church, higher education, and world. The emphasis is on contextualization, integration, reflective service, and specialized study that will enhance parish ministry, community and global service, academic leadership, justice- and peace-building, and creative ministries in theology and the arts.

(3)  Recruitment and enrollment: Average acceptance rates for the past five years have been: MDiv – 80%; MTS – 90.9%; and MSM – 69.7%. Strong students are applying to the School of Theology, and we seek to sustain that trend with a larger applicant pool, which will allow continued selectivity.

(4)  Cost: Many students enter seminary with a debt over $20,000. Though STH students accumulate graduate school debt at a rate less than the national average, their accumulated debt upon graduation marks the stark need for attention to financial aid for students.

(5)  Student diversity: For the past 3 years, the enrollment of persons of color in masters programs has averaged 32.37%, while the enrollment of women has averaged 44.33%.

d. Other academic programs

The School of Theology has seven degree programs and has thus delayed in developing a coordinated program of lifelong learning and distance education. The faculty has recently developed certificate programs and sees those programs as a way to expand the learning opportunities for students and constituents, e.g., certificates in Religion and Conflict Transformation, Sacred Music, Evangelism, and Spiritual Formation. STH also offers well-attended lifelong learning events and projects through its faculty initiatives and three Centers (CGCM, CPT, and Shaw Center). The faculty assesses a need to build STH lifelong learning by building on present strengths (e.g. certificates, faculty, and centers) and to begin work in blended education, but with careful deliberation about what areas would best benefit from such work and how much we can do well.

e. Interdisciplinary initiatives

The School of Theology presently has dual degrees with the School of Social Work, School of Music (CFA), and the GRS (DRTS program); shared courses with LAW and SED; and multi-faceted collaborations with the Danielsen Institute. All of these are stable and strong in quality, but have potential for strengthening in the future. Future expansion is also envisioned with shared courses and possible joint degrees with LAW, SED, CFA, MED, SMG, and/or SPH. Such collaborations are attractive to students, and they broaden the intellectual horizons and pedagogical depth of the STH faculty.

f. International/global initiatives

The School of Theology has strong international traditions, beginning early in its history. At present, one-third of its student body is international students and, in April 2010, we identified the need for stronger support structures and personnel. We have since employed a Coordinator of Communications and International Student Life (December 2010) and an Associate Dean of Community Life and Lifelong Learning (August 2011). Both have expertise in international student affairs and they provide counsel and coordination for these students to maximize their contributions to STH.  We also sponsor an average of three travel seminars per year, and we are beginning to improve the infrastructure (e.g., new Associate Dean) and financial base (grant funding) to support this work. We have been working actively with universities and schools of theology in Korea, Russia, and Zimbabwe about more extensive collaborations, and have identified potential partners in Argentina and Brazil. The international partnerships are still at early stages of development, though we have collaborated with Africa University in Religion and Conflict Transformation and have offered joint courses with Russia Methodist Theological Seminary. Further plans are underway on three continents.

g. Outreach initiatives

STH has several outreach initiatives that have been developed by students and/or faculty with churches and agencies in the local community, such as prisons, service agencies, and ecological organizations. We have taken first steps toward developing a more thorough, coordinated set of partnerships with faith communities and community organizations by employing  two Directors of Contextual Education, who have been consulting, building community partnerships, developing and implementing new sites for contextual and global learning, and developing the “Springboard Scholarship” program for student-initiated projects. The first phase of the plan was completed in 2011, and the newly hired permanent Directors are leading a new period of envisioning and updating the plans for contextual engagement.

We have evaluated our facilities and have identified three key needs relative to the STH mission. These are listed below, and the School has developed a plan (outlined in the 10-year plan and 5-year goals below) to address these concerns, many of which are urgent for the sake of protecting the Library, enhancing pedagogy, saving energy, and creating an ethos of hospitality.

a. Support for teaching and research

(1)  Need for technologically equipped classrooms: We added computer and sound technology to all STH classrooms between June 2009 and August 2010, and BU has added similar technology to all but two of the BU classrooms that we use. All of this work has brought STH to a basic level of technological access, though we are presently identifying areas in which we need more technological sophistication to support distance communication and learning.

(2)  Need for more uniform and dependable wireless access throughout the building.

(3)  Need for a dependable roof over the Library, which was indeed accomplished in February 2011.3

b. Ethical witness

(1)  Inefficiency in energy- and water-usage and in disposal of recyclable waste. We have partially assessed these inefficiencies and are taking first steps in planning for bathroom renovations, changing of light fixtures and bulbs, and installing better insulated windows. Some of these things were accomplished in AY11, but more are planned for AY12 and AY13.

(2)  Inaccessibility to persons with handicapping conditions, nursing mothers, child-caring parents, or transgendered persons. We have plans to remodel and upgrade the three first-floor bathrooms for accessibility.

c. Hospitality and aesthetics

(1)  Need for painting, carpeting, and other delayed maintenance. We have been upgrading the aesthetics of our building during each school break, renovating the first floor, parts of the fourth floor, all of the classrooms, and half of the faculty offices between June 2009 and August 2011. We need to continue these upgrades.

(2)  Need for flexible spaces for gathering, resting, studying, spiritual direction, academic consultation with TAs, workshops, and seminars. In 2010, we created a room for doctoral students engaged as teaching or research assistants, as well as comfortable hallway areas where people can study or relax. We also created offices for Spiritual Life and International Students. We have scheduled a renovation of Muelder Chapel and the conversion of our basement into a LEEDS-certified Community Center.

(3)  Need for art displays and artistry in building

The infrastructure needs of the School of Theology are summarized below and are elaborated in more detail in the 10- and 5-year plans, where they are described in relation to the strategic plans.

a. Library: Need to build up STH Library with the new Head Librarian and an increase in Library acquisitions. The first urgency has been resolved with the advent of Amy Limpitlaw as Head Librarian in July 2011; she is already doing a superb job. The need for expanded acquisitions are being addressed with an infusion of capital expenditure (an additional $150,000 in FY12); additions through grants in religion and science and practical theology; additions through archival development in Global Christianity and missions; and the continued building of special collections of hymnals and other resources. Although STH does participate in shared lending with other Boston Theological Institute schools, continued attention is needed for STH collection development, which is underway and will continue.

b. Staffing: Need to fill gaps in staffing and redistribute responsibilities for complete coverage. The following gaps were identified in AY10, and all have been filled through the creation of new positions and realignments in responsibilities:

(1)  Communications (internal and external) – new position of Coordinator of Communications and International Student Life

(2)  Church relations, including church consultations and partnerships, campus and off-campus events, and lifelong learning opportunities – built into multiple positions, particular Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning and the Director of Contextual Education and Congregational Partnerships

(3)  Support for international students – new position of Coordinator of Communications and International Student Life

(4)  Coordination for spiritual life – half-time position of Spiritual Life Coordinator (continuing need to build permanent funding for this grant-funded position).

a. Joint degree programs: We presently have the following joint programs:

(1)   School of Social Work: MDiv/MSW; MTS/MSW; and DMin/MSW

(2)   Division of Religious and Theological Studies (DRTS): MA and PhD degrees shared largely between faculty in STH and the CAS Department of Religion

(3)   College of Fine Arts (School of Music): Master of Sacred Music

(4)   Danielsen Institute: Collaboration in masters and doctoral teaching, research, clinical training, and planning for new doctoral programs.

b. Course sharing: In addition, we have course sharing with LAW and SED, and would like to build stronger collaborations with SED (PhD in Counseling Psychology), MED, LAW, SMG, and SPH

c. Boston Theological Institute: Outside of BU, STH is part of the Boston Theological Institute: a theological consortium that creates the possibility of cross-registration, inter-library loans, certificate programs, and joint research and pedagogical projects among the ten schools of theology in the Boston region. This is one of the major strengths of STH because of the opportunities the consortium opens for faculty and students.

a. Ten-year goals

(1)   Faculty excellence – Enhance faculty composition (from 21 to 26), research (increased publications), and teaching (lower teacher/student ratio).

(2)   Undergraduate courses and course-sharing – Implement course-sharing with selected courses for either advanced bachelors or masters credit.

(3)   Graduate distinctiveness – Implement and refine the new MTS curriculum, and study doctoral programs (PhD, ThD, and DMin) to develop the uniqueness, intellectual strength, selectivity, and teaching effectiveness. Include at least one new joint doctoral degree in counseling psychology, working with the School of Education and Medical School.

(4)   Bold preparation of religious leaders for global and community care – Implement, refine, and support students in new MDiv curriculum, and increase number of shared courses with the Schools of Law, Education, Management, Arts and Sciences, and Public Health.

(5)   Co-curricular richness – Enhance support for co-curricular learning and create sustainable program in lifelong teaching through a combination of events and distance education. Strengthen the work and national prominence of our Centers (Global Christianity and Mission, Practical Theology, Anna Howard Shaw) and Programs (Religion and Conflict Transformation and Martin Luther King, Jr. Initiative in Ethical Leadership);

(6)   Interdisciplinary Initiatives – Implement interdisciplinary clusters of courses for the new curriculum; include a robust list of university courses in the clusters; and develop a 3-year program for Faculty Fellows in the Study of Global Religion.

(7)   Ethical witness of buildings – Implement a plan to upgrade all facilities for hospitality, teaching effectiveness, sustainability, and accessibility.

(8)   Stable, supportive infrastructure – Strengthen staffing and infrastructures to support international students, communications, church relations, the STH Library, and external relations.

(9)   Creative collaborations – Develop BU Advantage degrees with the Colleges of Arts and Sciencesw and Fine Arts, overlapping their bachelors degree with the MDiv or MTS from STH (3+3 or 3+2 plan); and develop a range of collaborative events and projects with CAS, CFA, SPH, the Thurman Center, Marsh Chapel, and other BU units.

b. Resources needed – Identify and build resources: faculty and staff, facilities, and other infrastructures, as detailed in the five-year plans below.

a. Metrics needed – measures of faculty publications and course reviews; admissions metrics by degree programs; graduation and vocational metrics (first job, ordination, and 5-year job); measure of kilowatt-usage; measure of recycled materials; measure of student engagement in co-curricular and service learning, travel seminars, action-reflection projects for credit, and supplementary internships.
b. Infrastructure needed to collect and interpret the metrics – software that enables the respective offices to collect this data.

Below is a summary of the School of Theology’s five-year goals, the plan for achieving those goals, and measures for reviewing and revising the School’s movement toward its goals.

9.1. Faculty Excellence

a. Enhance faculty composition and size.

(1)   Fill vacant faculty positions, and welcome new faculty into collaborative teaching, research, and decision-making, including interdisciplinary teaching in the new curricula.

(2)   Seek funding for positions to fill faculty gaps (especially in pastoral care, theology and the arts, and homiletics); to deepen STH expertise; to strengthen the new curriculum; and to maintain a low faculty/student ratio. Positions were funded and filled in homiletics and pastoral psychology and theology, with new faculty beginning in Fall 2011. A second search for the Danielsen Chair in Pastoral psychology and Theology has been authorized for AY12. The hope for another position or partial position in theology and the arts is still a goal.

(3)   Create a sustainable structure for Co-directors of Contextual Education, one focused in Ecclesial Contexts and one in Community Contexts, consolidating and underwriting the future of the three-year pilot appointment of Co-directors to serve the new curriculum; to deepen STH’s contextual teaching and research; and to develop modest programs in continuing education. This structural shift has been made a year earlier than originally planned, due to retirements and the successful search for two Directors of Contextual Education, one focused on Congregational Partnerships and the other on Community Partnerships.  The continued development of this Contextual Education team, led by the new Associate Dean of Community Life and Lifelong Learning, is the present goal.

(4)   Complete funding the Collins Chair, and develop a plan to build support for other partially funded chairs. The Collins Chair was fully funded, as of June 2011; thus the new top priority for Chair funding is the Harrell Beck Chair.

(5)   Seek candidates for faculty positions who will enhance STH’s ethnic diversity and enhance relationships, teaching, and research within regional and global Methodism.  Of the seven new faculty brought to STH in the past three years, five are people of color, as are two of the new clinical faculty. This enables the School of Theology to be a more diverse faculty. The faculty now represents 11 Christian denominational traditions, 1 Jewish tradition, diverse sexual orientations, and faculty whose families originate from the following countries of origin: Japan, Korea, Puerto Rico, Argentina, Mexico, Zimbabwe, and all regions of the United States. The faculty continues to build its ethnic- and global-consciousness, drawing from the wisdom and gifts of these many faculty leaders as we seek to foster unity with diversity and to serve our students and larger constituency.

b. Increase time and support for faculty research and publications.

(1)   Expand research sharing and intellectual conversation among faculty, including at least three research-sharing sessions per year and at least three writing retreats per year. We have conducted two research-sharing retreats thus far and are seeking other ways to enhance research-sharing. We have conducted one writing retreat but have discovered that faculty can better organize those themselves, which they are presently doing.

(2)   Enhance faculty publications: Encourage and support each faculty member to publish at least one book or five refereed articles or book chapters in next five years

(3)   Intensify collaborative research through the Religious Practice in Global Contexts Fellows Program. The first year of the Religion Fellows program concluded well, and the Fellows’ papers are being gathered for online publication in AY12 on the theme of Religion, Conflict, and Peacebuilding. The second year Fellows have begun their collaborations on Globalization, Religious Practices, and Multiple Modernities.

(4)   Reduce number and size of STH committee to create time and space for research and research-sharing. The number of STH faculty standing committees has been reduced from 14 to 9, and two-thirds of these committees have been down-sized by 50%.We have also worked toward administrative support for those committees to increase efficiency and relieve faculty of some implementation while preserving the faculty role of decision-making. First steps have been taken to track and make more equitable the several mentoring roles that faculty take. The continuing goal is to reduce the unnecessary load on faculty and maximize their time for significant teaching, mentoring, and research.

(5)   Establish an annual research fund of $10,000 for individual faculty research grants, with particular availability for pre-tenured faculty and with guidelines for equitable distribution, plus an annual $5,000 for collaborative research support, such as faculty workshops in writing and editing, digital research, translation services, and so forth.

(6)   Negotiate pre-tenure research leaves, or one-semester reduced loads, for pre-tenure faculty.

c. Enhance faculty teaching.

(1)   Encourage faculty participation in opportunities to enhance teaching, offered by Boston University or professional organizations.

(2)   Sponsor an annual workshop, discussion series, or retreat for STH faculty to benefit from outside expertise and to collaborate on particular aspects of their teaching, especially in teaching inter-culturally and inter-religiously, in team-teaching (“Reading the World” and “Practices of Faith” in the new curriculum), and in small-group leadership.

(3)   Encourage pre-tenured faculty to participate in the two-year teaching program for pre-tenure faculty through the Wabash Center for Teaching and Learning in Theology and Religion.

(4)   Enhance digital, web-based, and media-based teaching, providing at least three workshops on teaching with technology per year, plus tutorials as requested by faculty or proposed by IT staff.

9.2. Undergraduate Courses and Course-sharing

a. Contribute faculty for undergraduate teaching. Provide at least six courses per year for CAS, CFA, and/or another undergraduate college, giving special attention to courses in religion, sacred music, or a specialized area of faculty scholarship.

b. Work toward course-sharing and degree overlaps.

(1)   Create at least five new courses in the next five years that can be shared between, or taught in two forms for, STH and CAS.

(2)   Explore the option for BU undergraduates to take selected STH courses that count toward their BA/BS and also toward the STH MDiv or MTS, thus making it possible for BU undergraduates to shorten their MDiv or MTS by one semester or one year.

9.3. Graduate Distinctiveness

a. Enhance uniqueness and strength of masters programs.

(1)   Implement, publicize, and recruit for the new Master of Divinity (MDiv) and Master of Theological Studies (MTS) Curricula.

(2)   Continue strength of the Master of Sacred Theology (STM) degree for doctoral preparation.

(3)   Enhance contextual learning with churches, other religious communities, and community organizations: Develop a comprehensive program of contextual courses, community site placements, practicums, and volunteer opportunities, including plans for potential student compensation for contextual courses and practicums and site support.

b. Enhance uniqueness and strength of doctoral programs.

(1)   Engage in a two-year review of doctoral education, focusing in the first year (AY 2012) on small ThD modifications to enhance program quality and focusing in the second year (AY 2013) on a more extensive review of doctoral education, considering the ThD, PhD (both STH and DRTS), and DMin programs in terms of mission, administration, course offerings, teaching and research opportunities, and mentoring. Consider particularly the ways to increase uniqueness, quality, and branding for communication.

(2)   Implement new teaching program for STH doctoral students: Develop a teaching program for doctoral students with teaching assistantships and seminars on teaching. This was initiated in Fall 2010, and we continue to build the learning opportunities of the program.

(3)   Continue support and faculty leadership in DRTS doctoral programs.

(4)   Investigate and build a new PhD in Counseling Psychology with SED and MED, with the potential of overlap with a Pastoral Counseling and Theology emphasis in the PhD in Practical Theology.

c. Strengthen student financial support (MTS, STM, and doctoral).

(1)   Raise endowment for three masters’ merit scholarships (tuition and living stipend).

(2)   Raise endowment for three doctoral fellowships (tuition and living stipend).

(3)   Raise endowment for student housing.

d. Reshape admissions and registration processes.

(1)   Improve record keeping.

(2)   Improve scheduling process for current students.

(3)   Increase the applicant pool by an average of 5% each year for each of the next 5 years.

(4)   Assuming an increased applicant pool, move toward lower acceptance rates for masters programs: to an average of 80% applicants in 3 years, and 70% applicants in 5 years.

(5)   Move toward lower acceptance rate for doctoral applicants: to an average of 30% applicants in 3 years and 20% applicants in 5 years.

9.4. Bold Preparation of Religious Leaders for Global and Community Care

a. Enhance uniqueness and strength of MDiv program.

(1)   Implement new MDiv curriculum: emphasis on contextual analysis, integration, and in-depth specialization for religious leadership. Having now completed the first year, we seek to implement the second year of the degree program and to refine the first year based on what we learned.

(2)   Implement next steps in certification programs, including: spiritual formation, sacred music, evangelism, religious education, and Black church studies.

(3)   Enhance contextual learning with community organizations: Develop a comprehensive program of contextual courses, community site placements, and practicums, and develop structures for communication, student compensation, and support for sites and site supervisors.

(4)   Enhance contextual learning with and through church bodies: Enhance internships and other learning options with area churches, Massachusetts Council of Churches, UMC Multi-Ethnic Center, and others.

(5)   Service Learning: Develop program to enhance courses and volunteer opportunities, engaging students in service with and to others.

(6)   Enhance opportunities for spiritual discernment and growth: Assess, develop, and support a comprehensive program of spiritual formation.

b. Enhance uniqueness and strength of STM and MSM.

(1)   Implement the newly developed STM degree foci for military chaplains.

(2)   Revise the MSM program to be more coordinated with the new MDiv and MTS curricula.

(3)   Develop relationships with area churches for music internships and performance opportunities.

c. Strengthen financial support for MDiv and MSM students.

(1)   Raise money for six merit scholarships (tuition and living stipend).

(2)   Raise money for student housing.

(3)   Raise money for three international merit scholarships: Seek funding for full tuition and a living stipend.

d. Enhance recruitment, and move toward an overall FTE of 300 and and MDiv FTE of 115 in 5 years

(1)  Enhance relationships with undergraduate institutions through increased annual recruitment travel.

(2)  Increase sponsorship of and participation in recruitment events.

(3)  Relate monthly with prospective students: Sponsor at least two annual visitation days for prospective students on campus.

(4)  Increase applicant pool by 5% each year for next five years.

e. Reshape admissions and registration processes.

(1)   Improve record keeping.

(2)   Improve registration process for current students.

(3)   Review current admissions requirements to increase applicant pool.

(4)   Streamline registration services, maintaining focus on metrics and data-driven decisions.

9.5. Co-curricular Richness

a. Develop program in lifelong learning.

(1)   Develop Continuing Education Program: Sponsor at least two continuing education events per year in different parts of the U.S., working in partnership with alumni/ae, churches, music guilds, and/or community organizations.

(2)   Cultivate continuing education partnerships with alumni/ae, churches, music guilds, and community organizations.

(3)   Increase web-sharing of faculty lectures and other STH resources, and increase interactive web communication.

(4)   Explore program for night and weekend courses – accommodating non-traditional students and those who need to work as they study.

b. Develop pedagogies that engage faculty and students with diverse cultures and ways of knowing.

(1)   Sponsor workshops in teaching that engage with ethnic, gender, religious, and theological diversity.

(2)   Build a program for cross-cultural travel seminars, with financial and staff support for up to three travel seminars per year.

(3)   Create at least two faculty or student exchanges with universities in Korea, Zimbabwe, Russia, and/or Argentina.

(4)   Develop one online or blended course per year, giving emphasis to courses that fulfill multiple needs, such as: certificate courses for degree and non-degree students (especially in sacred music); courses shared with one or more international universities; or courses that serve students when they are away from Boston for internships.

c. Enhance contributions of STH centers and programs.

(1)   Support Center plans and funding for research, resource-building, and outreach.

(2)   Work with Centers to develop sustainable structures, programs, and student support.

d. Build student and community engagement in co-curricular learning. – Encourage co-curricular participation in the arts, community service, and ecclesial discourse.

9.6. Interdisciplinary Initiatives

a. Create and maintain robust lists of BU courses (outside of STH) that fulfill requirements of new MDiv and MTS curricula.

(1)   Initiate the interdisciplinary cluster approach: texts and traditions, contexts, theories and practices of leadership.

(2)   Create and communicate lists of cluster courses for students.

b. Develop a faculty fellows program to enhance faculty collaboration.

(1)   Develop a 3-year university-wide program in Religious Practice in Global Contexts, organized by STH and including faculty from across BU.

(2)   Sponsor three one-year cycles with a research topic chosen by STH faculty for each cycle and with twelve faculty fellows selected for each year’s cohort. Each cohort of faculty fellows will meet monthly for dialogue on the fellows’ research papers.

(3)   Produce an annual web-based publication of the faculty fellow papers.

(4)   Evaluate the program each year to revise as appropriate, and evaluate in year two to discern the value of continuing the program and seeking grant funding.

9.7. Ethical Witness of Buildings

a. Enhance Library, classrooms, and offices for teaching and research.

(1)   Replace roof on the STH Library to eliminate all leakage. The roof is complete.

(2)   Complete the electronic upgrading of all STH classrooms.

(3)   Renovate STH classrooms for more adequate seating and workspace. Note: Renovate STH-controlled classrooms, and work with BU Facilities Management to renovate the BU classrooms. These are 90% complete as of September 2011.

(4)   Rotate Faculty and Staff Computers – Implement a 3-year (PC’s) to 4-year (Macs) replacement rotation. Investigate the possibility of personal printers for faculty and staff.

b. Improve sustainability and accessibility of STH facilities.

(1)   Plan and implement the retrofitting of STH’s facility for ecological sustainability, including new windows, new or updated heating and cooling system, etc.

(2)   Plan and implement the retrofitting of STH’s facility to offer greater accessibility, including two handicap accessible bathrooms on the first floor and one unisex bathroom that is accessible and also has a station for nursing mothers. These plans have been sketched in first-draft form.

c. Improve hospitality and aesthetics of STH facilities.

(1)   Plan spaces for student study, community gathering, and welcome to visitors.

(a)   Develop a LEED-certified community center in the basement, which is versatile for student study, relaxation, and visiting and for occasional meetings and conference sessions. This renovation is scheduled to be done in Summer 2012.

(b)  Develop seating spaces in the atrium of the STH building and in the hallways on the third and fourth floors. This is complete.

(c)   Enhance faculty offices with a systematic plan for painting and other office renovations. We have renovated half of the faculty offices and need now to develop a plan for the other half.

(d)  Enhance faculty gathering spaces by completing the third floor faculty kitchen and STH Room 325. This is complete.

(e)   Enhance beauty in STH building with hallway renovations, refurbishing of Muelder Chapel, and art exhibits. We have enhanced the hallways with art and have held two exhibitions, one currently. The Muelder renovation is scheduled for AY12.

(f)   Purchase and install a permanent art installation on each floor.

(2)   Improve use of STH Library space, including archive space, and ensure the preservation of all archival records: Study space needs and potential arrangements, develop and implement a plan for reconfiguration, and establish appropriate environmental controls in the closed stacks (rare book collection). The study is underway for major renovations, and a few small renovations will be done in AY12.

9.8. Stable, Supportive Infrastructure

a. Enhance administration and staff support.

(1)   Use appropriate administrative, faculty, and staff structures to make priority decisions regarding all aspects of planning and implementation.

(2)   Fill permanent positions: The search for Head Librarian has concluded successfully.

(3)   Add sustainable staff support for communications, church relations, continuing education, international students, spiritual formation, and instructional technology – The following positions have been created and filled: Associate Dean for Community Life and Lifelong Learning; Spiritual Life Coordinator; Coordinator of Communications and International Student Life; and Desktop Services Specialist.

b. Improve STH communications.

(1)   Define and market the STH “brand”: Utilize online and print media to communicate STH uniqueness among United Methodist and other schools of theology.

(2)   Create a campus directory online and/or in hard copy with names, addresses, church connections, colleges, and pictures.

(3)   Create a formatted weekly newsletter for all community news, published online.

(4)   Sponsor a town hall meeting once a semester, jointly planned by BUTSA and one of the Deans (depending on the subject matter), and conduct at least one strategic planning session per year with students.

(5)   Form an STH Staff Association to get better acquainted and talk about ideas and issues.

c. Build partnerships for financial and missional development.

(1)   Strengthen Dean’s Advisory Board and Dean’s Roundtable.

(2)   Strengthen Alumni/ae Relations: Build relations through regional events, church and conference visits, and individual visits, as well as through improved web communication.

(3)   Strengthen Donor Relations: Implement a comprehensive campaign strategy.

(4)   Strengthen Grant Support: Develop distinctive strengths in contextual education; history of Christian movements; spiritual and church renewal; and Christian thought and practice in relation to science, justice, peace, and healing.

d. Enhance library collections, access, and teaching roles.

(1)   Increase STH Library holdings by 30,000 volumes in the next five years.

(2)   Provide library support for new course offerings, new curriculum, and distance education initiatives.

(3)   Create a new library position for cataloging, and enhance collaboration with Mugar in cataloguing. Both of these have been accomplished.

(4)   Build STH Library archives, especially through the hymnal and people’s history collections. These goals are in process, with the addition of other donated collections.

(5)   Build Digital Research and Information Literacy Programs: Implement program on digital literacy and research for faculty, students, and staff.

(6)   Digitize unpublished mission materials: Digitize and make available mission materials from Latin America and Russia in particular.

(7)   Develop and implement a long-term fund-raising strategy to increase the library collection to 300,000 volumes and 5,000 digital items in the next ten years.

(8)   Acquire rare books as possible in areas of strong archival collections or teaching strength.

e. Improve support for international students.

(1)   Create a position of International Student Coordinator to support international students from the time of recruitment through graduation and beyond. This has been accomplished, and the new Coordinator is developing a program.

(2)   Increase opportunities for international students and their families to contribute to and be supported by the larger STH community.

(3)   Increase financial resources for international students, including money to pay international students (ineligible for work study) to work in STH positions.

(4)   Improve ESL training and support, improving effectiveness of the Writing Center. The Writing Center has been extended, and other services are being investigated.

f. Enhance community’s intellectual interaction.

(1)   Develop a series of co-curricular activities that stimulate intellectual discourse and encourage vigorous, respectful dialogue on subjects about which people disagree, including models for “holy conferencing” and conflict transformation.

(2)   Develop the Theological Spectrums Project to include pedagogical experiments in talking theologically across differences.

g. Prioritize development support for students and faculty and then for other critical needs.

(1)   Establish stronger support for student housing and scholarships.

(2)   Increase support for faculty salaries, research, and teaching.

(3)   Renovate physical structures.

(4)   Increase support for the Library.

(5)   Increase support for community services, e.g, staff positions for international students, spiritual formation, communications, church relations, and continuing education. All of these positions are now filled, and the work of creating more robust support is underway.

9.9. Collaborations

a. Collaborate with other colleges in degree programs.

(1)   Strengthen existing joint degrees with SSW.

(2)   Build a joint PhD with SED and MED in counseling psychology, and work in other course-sharing collaborations, as the STM for military chaplains that involves faculty from SSW and CAS.

(3)   Develop a “3+3” BA-MDiv with CAS (with a total of 6 years in the program) and a “3+2” BA-MTS with CAS (with a total of 5 years study); consider a similar plan with CFA.

(4)   Review joint degrees and shared courses in AY14 to discern strengths, areas for revision or strengthening, and potential for developing other collaborations in the second five years of ten-year plan.

b. Collaborate with other BU units in events and program development.

(1)   Sponsor events for University and larger community, especially related to the MLK Holiday, eco-justice, ethical issues, and global religion.

(2)   Collaborate with Marsh Chapel, the Thurman Center, Mugar Library’s Gottlieb Collection, and other campus groups to develop internships and collaborative projects that involve STH students, faculty, alumni/ae, and/or constituents.

(3)   Develop collaborations with CFA and CAS Department of Musicology to sponsor courses, concerts, publications, and resources.

(4)   Expand collaborations in religion, theology, and the arts.

c. Create a teaching fellows program to enhance collaborations with regular adjunct faculty.

(1)  Invite small core of adjunct faculty to be teaching fellows for 2-year renewable terms.

(2)   Work in Areas and informal faculty clusters to create teaching and research collaborations with teaching fellows.