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Andover Newton: A Time of Change FAQ's

Dear Andover Newton Community,

Grace and peace to you in this New Year.  

Below is information that responds to frequently asked questions about Andover Newton's bold new direction. It also includes news about where we are in our planning process. 

We are committed to keeping you informed about the latest developments regarding our beloved school.

In faith,
Martin Copenhaver


Is Andover Newton closing?

No.  Although we will not be able to continue as we have in the past, we are making strategic moves now so that the Andover Newton identity can continue and so that we, whether independently or as part of another institution, will still be pursuing our mission 100 and more years from now.

What options are you considering?

We will relocate and reframe our mission to focus more intentionally on preparation for leadership in congregational (note the small “c”) ministry. We will do so either by remaining free-standing or through forming an affiliation with another school with which we would share infrastructure and programs.

How serious are the school’s financial challenges?

Serious enough to require this bold action to prevent having to discontinue operations. The financial and enrollment challenges are not unique to Andover Newton. They are reflective of challenges experienced in theological schools more generally, particularly among stand-alone theological schools associated with so-called “mainline” Protestant church traditions.

What have you done to date to address enrollment and financial challenges, and how do you know it isn’t working?

It would be no exaggeration to say that we have tried everything of which our board, faculty, and administration could think over more than a generation: mergers, new programs, property sales, and other measures. Based on the options we have, relocating and reframing our focus are steps we believe to be imperative.

When will you be selling the campus? And when will you need to leave the hill?

We are entertaining proposals for selling the campus now, and we recognize that such a complex process will take a great deal of time—we don’t know exactly how much time. 

What will happen to current students?

The vast majority of students will be able to finish their degree programs during a transitional period of time: from now through May, 2018. Those who cannot complete their studies during that time for any reason will have options to complete their courses with partners. We will negotiate such partnerships as the needs of students become clearer.

What would happen to faculty and staff?

We are operating on the understanding that relocating the institution and furthering its mission to educate clergy will rely on the continued service of the faculty. For obvious reasons we cannot comment publicly on individual faculty members’ situations. The staff in Andover Newton’s new structure will be significantly smaller than it is now. We are working to provide generous support to those who will need to find new positions elsewhere.

What happens next in the process?

On the personal (and personnel) level, individual meetings will continue to take place with students, faculty, and staff to consider the effect of these new directions and to chart a way forward that is appropriate to each individual’s circumstances. On the institutional level, explorations of possible directions will continue among the trustees, faculty, and administration, and we will share more information as developments occur.

What happens to money I give or have given to Andover Newton?

We are working to make sure that Andover Newton preserves its distinct identity, whether independently or as part of another institution. Therefore, giving to Andover Newton now will continue to support theological education for ministry.

What will happen with my degree?

We hope you remain proud of your Andover Newton degree. No one can take that from you. Your academic records will remain intact and accessible. Current students will graduate from Andover Newton. Andover Newton will still have its mark on its future students, no matter what direction the School pursues from here.

Why are you considering an affiliation at this time?

Nearly half of all theological schools in the United States have affiliations of some kind with a university. We are encouraged by the prospect of forming an affiliation that helps us to narrow our focus, possibly by becoming embedded in another institution. Becoming a school within a school, or some similar arrangement, could help us to state our purpose more plainly without becoming too small to provide what students need.

When considering partners for affiliation, what is Andover Newton looking for?

Andover Newton has had preliminary conversations with several institutions, including Yale Divinity School, a school with both historic ties and missional affinities with Andover Newton.  Such an affiliation, were it to take place, would allow Andover Newton to maintain its focus on educating for ministry with the additional benefit of access to a world-class university.  More than one institution has expressed willingness to continue these conversations. 

Haven’t we been down this road before—announcing that Andover Newton is in conversation with another seminary about the possibility of merging? Is this time any different?

These conversations are different from those we have had in the recent past. Although we have been an embedded institution twice previously – first at Phillips Academy in Andover, and later at Harvard Divinity School – those negotiations took place generations ago. Although we of course must be prepared for the possibility that any new direction we identify will include roadblocks, we are more optimistic about the sustainability of the options we are exploring now than we have been about others we have explored.

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