Claremont facing financial difficulties

Claremont School of Theology, one of The United Methodist Church’s 13 seminaries, is having financial problems that may mean the school will have to leave its current campus in California, said the Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, president.

At the same time, Claremont is celebrating its largest enrollment in the last 35 years. The class of 2017 is the largest ever, with nearly 80 students receiving degrees. The 2017 class also includes the first class of hybrid/online students.

The Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, president of Claremont School of Theology.

The Rev. Kah-Jin Jeffrey Kuan, president of Claremont School of Theology.

“At a time when Claremont School of Theology is experiencing its greatest success, we are facing our greatest challenge,” Kuan wrote in a letter to donors, alumni and friends.

The school has always faced financial challenges, Kuan told United Methodist News Service, and has never been able to build an endowment necessary to support its operations.

“As a seminary, we cannot rely just on tuition revenue and annual fundraising,” he wrote in a June 7 email.

The school moved to its current location in 1957, and Kuan said there is “significant” deferred maintenance needed to revitalize the campus including retrofitting large buildings for earthquake safety. Kuan became the seminary’s president in 2013.

“We would rather put funds toward our focus — educating our students to be agents of transformation and healing in a hurting world,” he said.

All options are being explored, Kuan said, including relocating or embedding within a university or moving to a more efficient location.

Kuan credits the increase in enrollment to “reclaiming our identity as being United Methodist in origin and affiliation and ecumenical and interreligious in spirit.”

“We rebuilt our relations with the denomination, especially with annual conferences and local churches,” Kuan said. “In the last three years, our United Methodist student population has increased by more than 50 percent.”

Three years ago, Claremont launched a hybrid/online program that offers Master of Divinity and Doctorate of Ministry degrees.

“Among United Methodists, bishops in our region have been able to appoint our students to serve in churches while they complete their theological studies,” Kuan said.

Claremont is a fully accredited school but is under sanction by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges because of its financial problems, Kuan said.

The school will celebrate its 60th anniversary this year, he said.

“We are planning to be around for at least the next 60 years.”

Gilbert is a multimedia report for United Methodist News Service, contact her at 615-742-5470 or [email protected]. To read more United Methodist news, subscribe to the free Daily or Weekly Digests. 


Like what you're reading? Support the ministry of UM News! Your support ensures the latest denominational news, dynamic stories and informative articles will continue to connect our global community. Make a tax-deductible donation at ResourceUMC.org/GiveUMCom.

Sign up for our newsletter!

UMNEWS-SUBSCRIPTION
Mission and Ministry
Children dance in front of the altar rail during vacation Bible school at Connell Memorial United Methodist Church in Goodlettsville, Tenn. The church served as a test site for a new VBS curriculum, “Food Truck Party,” which Cokesbury officially launched on June 30. Photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Congregations eagerly embrace VBS opportunities

Learning from 2020 experiences, many United Methodist churches reopen doors to community while others continue virtual classes for 2021.
Mission and Ministry
Pupils of the UMC Kulanda Town in Bo, in southern Sierra Leone, rush back to class in March 2020, shortly before schools were closed down after the first cases of COVID-19 were confirmed in the country. There are more than 350 United Methodist schools in Sierra Leone, with the majority of them assisted by the government and affected by the free education initiative. File photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

Free education policy affects church schools

Sierra Leone’s Free Quality School Education initiative creates challenges for United Methodist schools, including overcrowded classrooms.
Mission and Ministry
Claremont School of Theology students undergo a first orientation meeting on the campus of Willamette University, in Salem, Ore., in 2019. The United Methodist seminary planned to sell its Claremont, Calif., campus and make a complete move to Willamette. But recent litigation setbacks, affecting the price for a sale, have caused the seminary to decide to operate both in Claremont and Salem. Photo courtesy Claremont School of Theology.

Claremont pivots to two-campus strategy

Claremont School of Theology planned to sell its Southern California campus and move to Willamette University in Oregon, but litigation setbacks have forced the United Methodist seminary to try to operate both places.