January 2012 Trustee Meeting Summary

February 21, 2012

Periodically the Board of Trustees selects a site for one of its regular meetings that can give board members and administrative personnel the opportunity to tour other institutions and hear from and ask questions of other executive leaders. For the February 2012 meeting, trustees and Bethel personnel gathered in Whittier, California at Whittier Area Community Church, pastored by trustee Bill Ankerberg.

The group heard from Jay Milbrandt ’04, now at Pepperdine University, where he is director of the Global Justice Program. He also serves as interim associate director of the Nootbaar Institute for Law, Religion, and Ethics. He spoke on “How Christian Universities are Uniquely Suited to Change the World.” In addition, former Bethel staff members Don and Sherry Mortenson and Curt Fauth shared about the important role Bethel has played in their lives.

Seminary Analysis

A primary focus of the meeting was on seminary operations and future direction. Trustee Robert Bjork brought an interim report on the seminary deep dive analysis, outlining findings and specifying 3 things that are essential so that Bethel Seminary can have a bigger future.

  • The vision for the seminary must be recast in order to better serve the church.
  • The seminary needs to be transformational, innovative, and entrepreneurial if it is to have a bigger future.
  • The seminary must explicitly seek to recruit, support, and train the best and the brightest leaders seeking to serve the church.

The task group also outlined additional tasks the working group must address in its final report in May. Trustee discussion was extensive.

Continuing the seminary focus, Dr. Richard Mouw, president of Fuller Theological Seminary and president of the Board of the Association of Theological Schools, addressed the trustees. He described Fuller’s research on the role and nature of seminary education looking into the next decade, with some practical implications. He answered questions on Fuller’s operations and plan for growth.

Trustees also visited two campuses to gain insight into peer seminaries. President Barry Corey of Biola University spoke to the trustees, along with his provost and the dean of the Talbot School of Theology. Talbot is “vertically integrated” within Biola, with faculty teaching both undergraduate and graduate students. At Azusa Pacific University, the trustees heard from president Jon Wallace on APU’s Haggard School of Theology—another seminary program embedded within a university. They also toured Azusa’s new science building.

Financial Update

Bethel has had some unexpected enrollment challenges for spring semester which we estimate will also impact our 2012-2013 budget; while both CAPS/GS and Seminary enrollment have been trailing budget since fall, CAS spring enrollment was lower than expected, especially considering our record-setting fall enrollment. This has added complexity to the process of establishing our budget assumptions for FY13. These challenges were discussed at the February Board meetings, and it was decided that budget assumption decisions, including setting the FCP index salary, would be deferred until the March 13 Executive Committee Board meeting. The Board remains strongly committed to the FCP and has made its full launch in 2012-13 a top priority, even given our enrollment challenges.

Action Items

  • Routine personnel matters for each of the schools including faculty appointments, tenure, and housing allowances.
  • Amending an earlier resolution regarding construction funding in San Diego.
  • Approving changes in processes leading to approval of large construction projects, in the process amending the Board Policies Manual.
  • Approving the general direction of the campus master plan for the purpose of establishing campus facilities construction and fundraising priorities.
  • Authorizing the Executive Committee to approve the FY2013 budget assumptions in its March meeting, to issue faculty contracts, and to prepare a balanced budget for final approval at the trustee meeting in May.