For God and Truth: An Update
This short addendum to the book For God and Truth by J. Walter Goltz is an account of recent events at Taylor College and Seminary.
FORGOD AND TRUTH UPDATE AN An Addendum to the book by Dr. J. Walter Goltz written by Timothy S. Willson for Taylor College and Seminary FORGOD AND TRUTH UPDATE AN An Addendum to the book by Dr. J. Walter Goltz written by Timothy S. Willson for Taylor College and Seminary Copyright � 2012 Taylor College and Seminary. All rights reserved. Cover design, layout and typesetting by Timothy S. Willson. Cover photo: Kun Levente-zsolt | Dreamstime.com. For God and Truth: An Update For God and Truth, authored by Dr. J. Walter Goltz, was written over a period of years and published in 2008. Less than one year later, Taylor announced that the undergraduate programming would end and the university college would be closed. This short addendum to Dr. Goltz's book summarizes the school's history since it was published. aylor is alive and well. That may not be a surprise to you, but some people continue to mistakenly believe that the institution was closed in 2009. In fact, just one of the school's three branches was closed: the university college. Taylor Seminary and the E P Wahl Centre continue to serve students, and the changes that have taken place in recent years � though very painful � have left the institution stronger and healthier. This chapter in Taylor's history began in 2006 when poor enrolment numbers became a stubbornly low trend. After initially strong enrolment at Taylor University College, the number of new students dipped in 2004, recovered somewhat in 2005, then plunged in 2006 and dropped even further in 2007. Each year, the number of graduating students was not being replaced with new students, and from a high of 286 students in 2003, the student headcount had dropped to 158 in 2007. In 2008, a large graduating class meant a significantly smaller student body for the fall term: a headcount of just 146. One of the reasons for the lower enrolment was widely seen to be the booming Alberta economy. High school students were being offered very high-paying industrial jobs, and fewer of them were going to school. The red-hot economy was also putting strain on Taylor's costs and the falling student numbers meant a growing deficit. Additional financial pressure came from the provincial accrediting agency which was seeking program and facility growth at what was the smallest of Alberta's university colleges. In late 2007, Dr. Marvin Dewey stepped down as president of Taylor after -3- T almost 11 years of service. He had led the institution through a decade of significant change, including the change to a university college and the name change (from "North American Baptist College" and "Edmonton Baptist Seminary" to "Taylor University College and Seminary"). On January 1, 2008, Dr. Dewey was replaced on an interim basis by Dr. David Williams, Academic Dean of the Taylor University College. Throughout 2008, the Board of Trustees continued to explore various options to resolve a looming crisis. One attractive possibility was an affiliation agreement with the University of Alberta, and in July � just as Taylor alumni gathered for a major homecoming on campus � these talks began in earnest. As reported in The Bridge, there were a lot of questions about how such an affiliation would work, but it was seen as serving both institutions well: (Discussions with the U of A) were proceeding under a general understanding that any affiliation between the University College and the U of A would strengthen Taylor's academic credentials and thus its ability to draw students, while preserving the school's faith commitments and campus ethos. Taylor Seminary would not be directly affected by the affiliation, as it would retain its own identity, accreditation, budget and faculty. This is not the first time that the institution has explored the possibility of affiliating with the U of A in some form. The idea has been around since the earliest days of the Christian Training Institute, and was seriously considered in the early 1960's under president E.P. Wahl, again in the 1970's under Dr. Joseph Sonnenberg, and once again in the 1980's under Dr. Walter Goltz. In fact, Dr. Goltz' final official act as president in July 1988 was to sign an affiliation agreement that provided for course transfer arrangements. 1 The article also made direct reference to the precarious state of Taylor's finances, though many people did not realize at the time the significance of what was written: The current situation emerged in the spring of 2008, when it became clear that rising costs, the need to invest in significant program development and infrastructure, and the effects of years of lower enrolment had pushed the University College into a very difficult -4- financial situation. The Board began to explore the possibilities of a major re-investment in the programs and facilities of the school, but also initiated contact with the U of A to explore an affiliation agreement. As the summer progressed, the possibility of affiliating with the U of A emerged as the best way forward. At an all-staff, all-faculty meeting on September 26th, Taylor president Dr. David Williams told the community that the 2008-09 budget went to the limit, with no additional resources to draw on. .... with Taylor's resources spread so thin, the time for rebuilding may be short. 2 Indeed, the time for rebuilding was shorter than anyone realized. As The Bridge was being printed and mailed in the fall of 2008, world financial markets began to crumble and the U of A's own funding and financial resources came under tremendous pressure. In mid-December, the U of A ended discussions with Taylor and, faced with no alternative, the Board of Trustees voted to close the university college at the end of the 2008-09 academic year. The decision would save Taylor millions of dollars but came at a high cost: more than sixty staff and faculty would be laid off and many students would have their studies disrupted. The Taylor community reacted with everything from generous compassion, to shock � even anger. Some of the students who were affected were almost finished their studies, while others had only just enrolled. In the midst of dealing with their own challenging job prospects, Taylor staff and faculty worked tirelessly to facilitate the transition of approximately 100 students to other institutions. Taylor's fellow private Christian institutions were very helpful in this process. In the end, the largest number of Taylor students transferred to the King's University College (Edmonton), while others went to Ambrose University College (Calgary) and Concordia University College (Edmonton). In the midst of this transition, the Board of Trustees had ended their search for a permanent replacement for Dr. Marvin Dewey as president; in the summer of 2008, Dr. David Williams, who had been serving in an interim capacity, was named the seventh president of the institution. -5- Board chair Barry Kossowan said that it would have been difficult for another person to step into the role of president during a season of dramatic change. "Taylor is in the midst of a significant time of transition, and David's wisdom and leadership have been invaluable through this process of change," Mr. Kossawan said in a written statement at the time. "The Board's decision reflects the confidence the institution has in him as well as our desire to have him continue leading us into the future." Barry Kossowan added that Dr. Williams had distinguished himself as a leader during his months as interim president, with a learning curve that was "near-vertical." He called Dr. Williams a man of vision, a big thinker and a person of inner strength. TAYLOR SEMINARY PROGRAM CHANGES While significant changes were taking place, it was important to ensure that Taylor Seminary and the newly established E P Wahl Centre were given the attention they would need in order to grow. The interim Academic Dean at Taylor Seminary for 2008-09 was Dr. Eric Ohlmann, who had extensive teaching and administrative experience with several American seminaries. He led a process of re-envisioning theological education at Taylor, at the end of which was a greater emphasis on modular, online and off-site courses, and a condensed MDiv program (77 hours instead of 96 hours). Taylor Seminary also began a lengthy process of developing cooperative relationships with other institutions, finding ways to share resources and personnel. These discussions have since led to numerous arrangements, including a joint TESOL program with Vanguard College. Another substantial change involving cooperation with Vanguard took place in the summer of 2011 when an agreement to share the Schalm Memorial Library Collection was reached. The library was located on a part of the Taylor campus which had been sold in 2010, and renting the library space from the new owners was proving to be expensive. Vanguard and Taylor found a way to effectively serve students at both institutions while saving money, a good example of the type of flexibility and creativity that was becoming a hallmark of the new institution. The Schalm -6- Memorial Collection is now housed at Vanguard, and Taylor students are served with daily delivery service and online ordering access. At the new E P Wahl Centre, the challenge during 2008-2010 was to be responsive to the needs expressed by church leaders. The Wahl Centre was to begin offering training and educational opportunities that served church volunteers and staff, but it would have to do so without creating new financial pressures. Essentially, the Wahl Centre would seek to become a place of lifelong learning, focusing on non-credit training events ranging from seminars and courses to concerts and service learning opportunities. In the midst of many other changes and challenges, a small administrative team led by Dr. Williams began to develop the educational programs, guidelines and relationships that would be true to Taylor's mission. Small events, usually in partnership with local churches or other organizations, began to be offered and, through an ongoing process of evaluation, were either improved and repeated or discontinued. Events operated on a costrecovery basis, allowing the new ministry to emerge without adding significant new financial burdens. Many attendees to Wahl Centre events were being exposed to Taylor for the first time, resulting in new inquiries and registrations in courses at the seminary, an added benefit. CAMPUS CHANGES The sale of a significant portion of the Taylor campus was necessitated by the serious financial situation at the school. The main administration building and the Student Union Building were showing their age, and longoverdue repairs and upgrades were beginning to create costlier problems. Selling part of the campus would monetize the institution's greatest asset, unlocking an important financial resource, but would also set aside the issue of costly repairs and upgrades. The red-hot Alberta economy, which had added so much strain to the budget, was now in Taylor's favor and the value of the 26-acre campus was soaring. Purchased in the 1960's by the Alumni Association for $35,000, the land value was now in the millions of dollars. Still, there were strong emotional ties to the Taylor campus, and the Board of Trustees was determined to consider all options very carefully. Not only would any proposed sale need to be at the right price and to the right -7- buyer for the right purpose, but the proceeds of any sale were not to be spent to cover operational deficits: trustees decided that Taylor would preserve the sale proceeds as a permanent endowment. Trustees were equally adamant that Taylor build a sustainable institution on a solid financial foundation. As Dr. Goltz outlined so thoroughly in For God and Truth, financial pressure had been a recurring issue for the institution throughout its history, and the board and administration were committed to creating a healthy and stable institution. Through a lengthy process of evaluation, Taylor first solicited potential buyers, then developed a shortlist of preferred buyers, and finally considered offers from each one. The winning bid came from the Eminata Group, the largest provider of private post-secondary education in Canada. Eminata paid $10.5-million dollars for approximately 22 acres, leaving Taylor with four acres in the northwest corner of the campus including the newest structure, the seminary building built in the 1990's, as well as Benke Hall, Muller Hall and a duplex known as the "Mission House". The land sale left Taylor in a remarkable position. Though still working to fully eliminate an annual budget deficit, the institution was now debt-free and had a strengthened permanent endowment that would generate income for future years. As president Dr. David Williams reported to the board in his Fall 2011 report, God had been re-tooling Taylor and had seen the school through a process of "right-sizing". Taylor was now in a much stronger financial position than many other seminaries in North America. Important questions remain: What seminary faculty and programs are necessary to serve students? What partnerships will help make Taylor sustainable into the future? How can costs and funding be arranged so as to build a stable, healthy institution? What are the training needs that the Wahl Centre is best able to address, and what is the best model for offering that training? Despite another season of change and crisis, recent years have once again underscored God's faithfulness at Taylor. For God and Truth is not the story of an institution without struggles, but is the story of seeking to be faithful to God's call in the midst of our struggles. The Taylor story continues to be written in the lives of those who have -8- become part of this community. Thousands of students over 70 years have been trained and discipled, and they in turn have been privileged to serve thousands of others in their churches and communities, putting into practice what it means to be Christ-minded. The Taylor testimony of recent years and the legacy of earlier generations can be summed up in one word: Faithfulness. Together, we celebrate God's faithfulness and we are deeply grateful for the faithfulness of His people: To God be the glory. 1 2 The Bridge (Vol. 49, No. 2, Fall 2008), pg. 3 Ibid ABOUT `FOR GOD AND TRUTH' Written by former president Dr. J. Walter Goltz, For God and Truth chronicles the founding of Taylor and the struggles and changes that marked its first 65 years. Published by Trafford Publishing, the book is available for purchase from Taylor. ABOUT TAYLOR Founded in 1940, Taylor began offering education and training programs as the Christian Training Institute. The institution later became North American Baptist College, changing its name to Taylor in 2002. Taylor's mission is "to develop Christ-minded leaders who make a difference in the world." Taylor president Dr. David Williams likes to say that the key part of that statement is not the word "leader", but the words "Christ-minded." You are invited to support this educational ministry by studying with us, and by investing in our students. Stay in touch with Taylor College and Seminary through our mailings or online. Call 1-800-567-4988 to receive our complimentary magazine, The Bridge, or visit us online: www.Taylor-Edu.ca www.TaylorSeminary.ca www.Facebook.com/TaylorUpdates www.YouTube.com/AllThingsTaylor -9- www.Taylor-Edu.ca