Remember Day of Prayer & Fasting
The Moderator asked that this link be shared as you prepare for a Synod-wide prayer focus Sunday, August 24, and a day of prayer and fasting on Monday, August 25, for the persecuted Christians around the world. Pray also for our missionaries who are having opportunities to minister to refugees.
Update from Erskine: A Letter from Dr. Paul Kooistra
Dear Erskine Alumni and Friends:
Greetings from the president’s office at Erskine, where I am just beginning my third week on the job. My wife Sandi and I are pleased to be joining the Erskine family in the pursuit of Erskine’s historic mission of Christ-centered liberal arts and theological education. While I have had the privilege of meeting only a few of you so far, I’m looking forward to meeting more of you in the days ahead.
When I met with the Alumni Presidents Council, I promised them I would listen, and that I would be as frank with Erskine alumni as they were with me. I hope you find this letter to be in keeping with that promise.
As we approach Erskine’s 175th anniversary this fall, it is fitting that we celebrate a long and proud heritage. Yet, even as we do, Erskine faces significant challenges, many not unique to Erskine. The landscape of higher education is shifting in profound ways. Small Christian liberal arts colleges are perhaps feeling this more profoundly.
Some of Erskine’s challenges are immediate and some are long-term. One of our primary immediate challenges is demonstrating long-term financial stability to our accrediting agencies. That depends on having a realistic plan that establishes a path to achieve that sustainability.
I’ve always advised that whenever possible, a new leader’s first year should be spent learning, listening and observing, making few if any significant changes, and then implementing any necessary changes over a five-year plan. However, in working with Erskine trustees, the cabinet, and our auditors over the past several weeks, I am convinced that Erskine’s challenges demand more immediate action.
Last week the cabinet and I submitted, and the trustees approved, a comprehensive three-year plan that addresses our immediate challenges. This plan allows us to begin setting a trajectory toward long-term stability. It includes a reduction in salaries and benefits for all faculty and staff; a tuition increase to be assessed at mid-year; and a review of programs in the college and seminary, including structure and personnel. The review will be conducted in coordination with faculty committees according to our policies. We anticipate announcing any decisions regarding personnel and program changes by October 1.
While these actions do not immediately eliminate the challenges, they do position us to address them definitively over the next several years. God has been gracious to enable Erskine to carry out its mission for 175 years. I am committed to working with senior leadership and our board to do everything we can to ensure that Erskine continues to pursue this mission into the next century and beyond. You, our valued alumni, have a vital role to play as well.
As we join together, keeping our eyes fixed on God’s provision and wisdom, we can look forward to seeing what God will do in our midst during these next few years.
Sincerely in Christ,
Paul D. Kooistra
President, Erskine College & Theological Seminary