Meeting the Economic Challenge
Dear Starr King Friends,
"These are tough economic times."
"Small seminaries may not survive."
"We had to cut staff and hours at our congregation."
Comments and concerns like these come up frequently these
days. "How is Starr King School doing?" I am often asked. Here's what I can report:
My biggest current concern is our students, many of whom are
struggling in this economy. Their stress
is at the most basic level: running out
of money for food before the month is out, delaying needed health care due to
lack of funds, making do with poor housing situations, finding work. Our theological students need an extra
helping hand right now. To that end,
I've established the President's Discretionary Fund to provide emergency
assistance to our students. If you'd
like to help, you can donate on line to the fund or mail a check to SKSM, 2441 Le Conte Ave., Berkeley CA 94709.
The picture for the School itself is hopeful. This year we are operating with a balanced
budget which we are accomplishing by tightening our belts-delaying salary
increases and practicing frugal simplicity in every way we can. I am deeply
appreciative that Starr King's contributors have continued to make the School a
priority in their giving, despite the economic crisis. The growth we are
experiencing in our enrollment is another positive factor in our financial
picture. Our modest endowment, which
provides about 20% of our annual operating budget, is beginning to recover from
the steep losses in the fall of 2008. The Unitarian Universalist Association has
given us an extra boost of support this year-a very helpful boon.
Looking ahead, signs are good that Starr King
School for the Ministry
will survive and thrive. Solid fiscal
foundations are already in place, and we are building on them. We are taking a
prudent draw on our endowment (5%) and investing it in socially responsible
ways; we are debt-free; we have a generous circle of donors and a good track
record of fiscal discipline; our membership in the Graduate Theological Union unites us in partnership with eight other theological schools with whom
we share educational resources and collaborate on administrative
infrastructure. Major funders, such as
the Luce Foundation, are excited by our commitments to counter-oppressive,
multi-religious theological education and are investing in our educational
Starr King's abiding mission is to educate
people for Unitarian Universalist ministry and for progressive religious
leadership for society. We are doing so
with strength, passion, and creativity.
I welcome your support, your questions and comments, and encourage you
to spread the good word to potential students!