Wednesday, June 11, 2008

endorsing a direction

The Meadville Board "endorsed the direction" of the administration's proposal (including a 3-year degree, without an internship year) *and* they requested a "detailed implementation plan" before they would grant their full approval, at their next meeting, in November.

I feel this is a good move. It demonstrates trust in the administration, but it is not blind capitulation. It gives the school time to prove the plan is workable--that it will not only meet the MFC's requirements, it will prepare students for real-world ministry.

I still have two questions.

First, the timing is odd. Why didn't the school slow down to begin with? Why was it rushing to implement this plan so rapidly? And, assuming that it will be postponed at least a year, with the Board withholding final approval, what consequences will there be?

Second, Board President Larry Ladd's letter mentions the "feasibility of a one-year internship as a fourth-year option for students seeking an M.Div degree." This suggests an admission that a three-year program will *not* fulfill MFC requirements. It also sounds like the proposal is basically adding some praxis modules to the usual (now semester-based) courses.

Praxis modules might be overwhelming, and/or they might provide practical applications, so that students "get" it better, and quicker. Praxis modules might prepare people *better* for large-church or social ministries; I don't know.

Like the Board, I am cautiously optimistic and "endorse the direction."


At 9:04 PM, Blogger ogre said...

So, before full approval, we're racing ahead anyway, basically. It's a done deal, but come back and assuage the board's concerns... later.

All classes will be available to all students. O-kaaay. I can see that's true for residential students. They can now fully participate in intensives, and the hybrid online/face-to-face classes being talked about.

And Modified Residency Students can avail themselves of the hybrids how? Or the traditional (now-)semester classroom classes? (Why, by coming to Chicago for a semester, or as frequently as the hybrid meets, I suppose.)

Feh. It looks, sorta, like residential students just got a form of praxis added to the program. It's already been a part of the MRP program for a while. That raises interesting issues, but may very well be a good thing.

All it all, so far, it looks like it's all really designed around (and disturbing...) residential students, while shoveling nonsense at the MRPs (who are the larger segment of the student body).

I'm withholding judgment. But I can't help feeling there's more enthusiastic implementation afoot than there is carefully thought out planning up front.

At 6:08 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Chip,

This is Larry Ladd, the afore-mentioned ML board chair. Let me correct one error of fact in your post. The board's discussion focused entirely on the question of how best to prepare UU ministers, NOT about what the MFC would do. Prior to consideration the integrated design proposal, ML consulted with the MFC and has a letter from that body giving comfort that fellowship candidates would be considered to have a "non-traditional internship" under the praxis model and that such an internship would, as in the past, satisfy the MFC requirements. There is no basis for ministerial students to fear that this change will affect their candidacy with the MFC.

At 6:22 AM, Blogger Chip said...

Thank you, Larry, for that important correction. I'm not certain I agree with the MFC, but at least ML *is* in conversation with them.

At 9:53 PM, Blogger Cynthia L. Landrum said...


Starr King (at least when my spouse was there) had a three-year degree with the internship not part of the degree. Students were well informed that they needed to do an internship for their MFC requirement, and most did one during or just after seminary, sometimes postponing graduation until after the internship, for student loan reasons. That seemed to work fine. I think Harvard students do something similar. Yet I welcomed both the M/L support to internship, such as the start-up workshop they did for us, and the year of integration after internship.


Post a Comment

<< Home