SALT LAKE CITY, OCTOBER 28, 2008 – The Board of Trustees of Salt Lake Theological Seminary, the only graduate school of theology in the Intermountain West, regretfully announces that the school plans to cease operations at the end of the academic year. The board approved taking this step because the school no longer has the present financial resources or the projected income to continue operations.
The seminary was formed as a 501(c) 3 charitable religious organization in 1984 to serve the needs of the various Christian churches along Wasatch Front for pastoral leadership training. The current economic crisis has hit the non-profit sector hard. According to the Wall Street Journal, charitable donations this year grew by only 1% percent even prior to the first bank failure. The seminary has seen a steady decline in giving from individual donors since the summer and has been unable to secure grants of any significance from charitable foundations. “The leadership of the seminary and the Board of Trustees believe that the financial exigency facing the seminary makes closing the school the only responsible course of action to take at this time,” said board chair Charlie Huebner.
In the best interests of the students, the plan approved by the board will terminate the operations of the seminary over the next six months. All faculty and staff have been laid off as salaried employees. However, they have agreed to continue operating the school in the current location on a volunteer basis so students may finish out the semester, which ends on December 19, and receive full credit for courses in which they are enrolled. By December 31, the space occupied by the school in the building at 699 East South Temple will be vacated. In the current plan, spring semester, scheduled to run January 12 through May 15, will consist only of courses needed by senior students to complete their degree programs this academic year. Classes will be held in church buildings or other appropriate classroom settings somewhere in the Salt Lake valley.
“I am humbled at the commitment of our faculty and staff in the face of such economic hardship to finish the fall semester and provide a limited spring semester to our graduating seniors,” said seminary president Dr. Jeff Silliman. “Their determination to continue is inspirational. Commencement on May 16, 2009 will not only mark the successful graduation of students; it will be the final act of celebration for 25 years of ministry for the school.”
The leadership of the school and the Board of Trustees are praying and
actively searching for some way for the school to continue serving the
needs of the various facets of the Christian community of Utah for
trained pastoral leadership. “We are the only seminary outside Colorado,
California, and Arizona serving the needs of the western United States
for graduate theological education. We will persist in trying to find
ways to rescue the seminary and to resume full operations with paid
staff beyond the spring 2009 semester,” board chair Huebner affirmed.