Theological Seminary Solutions

Theological Seminaries

In order to meet the changing needs of denominations and the issues facing the wider church and society, theological schools are actively pursuing new institutional and academic models and forging a variety of new partnership arrangements.  

Recently, theological seminaries have begun to reach out to The Registry to draw on this unique collection of institutional and academic administrators and transition experts.  For example, The Registry has recently served four seminaries through interim presidents, a chief financial officer, a chief advancement officer and an enrollment/admissions director, bringing new ideas and successful institutional changes in each case.

In response to this growing need, Registry Advisory Services (RAS) has created the Theological Seminary Solutions practice.  The practice  is headed by Rev. Dr. William C. Nelsen, former academic dean of St. Olaf College, president of Augustana University (SD), president of Scholarship America, interim president of Episcopal Divinity School and Lutheran pastor, with graduate education from three seminaries.  Other members of the practice team will bring leadership, tested experience, and expertise in a variety of areas important to seminaries and their futures.

Team members will be able to assist theological schools either through interim placements or timely consultations.  They will be prepared to explore and provide guidance and leadership in relation to a variety of potential solutions, including:

  • New approaches to improve enrollment
  • Re-engineering of institutional and financial strategies for long-term operations
  • New program development and new systems of program delivery
  • Alternative futures for theological education
  • Affiliation and partnership agreements
  • Merger goals and transitions strategies

Making use of the membership of RAS provides many advantages for seminary boards and administrative leaders, including:

  • Proven expertise and experience
  • Understanding of the importance of institutional culture in times of change
  • New, independent leadership postures helpful for building positive working relationships and fresh outlooks for the future
  • New perspectives helpful in forging new programs and partnerships

Ongoing, successful, financially sustainable, high-quality theological education is critical to the future of the church and of our society.  Registry Advisory Services is prepared to assist in building a solid future for our nation’s seminaries.  As Serene Jones, President of Union Theological Seminary, recently said in relation to her experience with Registry personnel, “I heartily recommend that The Registry continue to provide interim leadership for seminaries across the country, as many of them face issues that require levels of expertise that are not widely available to seminaries.” Gary Hall, former Chair of the Board of Episcopal Divinity School, shared a similar conclusion in reference to the Registry leadership placement at EDS, when he stated, “We could never have found someone with the skills and character strengths in the normal round of our church circles, so our partnership with The Registry has been crucial to our institutional success.”


Practice Leader

Rev. Dr. William C. Nelsen, former academic dean of St. Olaf College, president of Augustana University (SD), president of Scholarship America, and a Lutheran pastor, with graduate education from three seminaries.  Dr. Nelsen has been a member of The Registry since 2004.  He has provided leadership in several interim assignments, and most recently has served as Interim President of Episcopal Divinity School, Cambridge, MN, helping to forge an innovative affiliation agreement between EDS and Union Theological Seminary in New York City. 

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