The first week of spring was for us a very special week at St. Andrew’s College.
For the past eight months we have been engaged in a ‘self-study’ in our goal to earn the reaccreditation of the College with the Association of Theological Schools in the United States and Canada (ATS) as our current period of accreditation ends this year.
In mid-March a team of visiting scholars and ATS staff were at the college to review every aspect of our life as a school and learning community — from plumbing to program, from funding to faithful formation. The visitors now will complete an in depth report with recommendations to the Commission on Accrediting. In June the commission will review the team’s recommendations and make a final determination concerning our accreditation going forward.
Prior their departure the visiting team was kind enough to share, in broad terms, the recommendations they will make and we were very, very encouraged by their observations. As they left the college, our visitors noted the distance the college has come over the past seven years. They recognized that this distance travelled has taken the love and labour, commitment and faith, of the many who have served on board and committees, who have been part of our student body, faculty and staff, and who have stood with this college in our alumni/ae and wide constituency of support. They particularly noted our “capacity for institutional resilience!”
We were also pleased to learn that our support from the people of Saskatchewan in the provincial budget was continued and was provided a two per cent increase. The funding we receive through the Saskatchewan government equates to about eight per cent of our annual revenues and we are grateful for this ongoing public support in our work as an affiliated college of the University of Saskatchewan.
On personal note, I was honoured to join with the chair of our board, the Rev. Dawn Ballantine-Dickson, in signing the renewal of my contract with the college extending my term as your principal to the year 2018.
As you know we have had a very vibrant group of students on campus this year that now are looking to the final weeks of the winter/spring term. Six of our students this year have been involved in their residency or internship experiences and we expect that the number of our residents will double next year.
On behalf of our students and their preparation for ministry we are deeply engaged with the Formation for Faithful Leadership Working Group of the General Council of The United Church and with our colleagues in theological education across The United Church. We are together striving to imagine and shape theological education and formation for ministry for the Church that God is calling into the future.
While uncertainties exist, I am certain of two things: The students leaving St. Andrew’s this year and those studying at St. Andrew’s today will serve our church and our communities faithfully and well into that future. And St. Andrew’s College (resilient as ever!) stands ready to serve that future with justice-driven education for Christian leadership.