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. 

Sign up for our newsletter!

umnews-subscriptions
Theology and Education
Students and staff practice social distancing in order to reduce the risk of spreading the coronavirus as they wait to enter the dining hall at Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe. The cafeteria has changed serving and seating arrangements, and meal times have been extended to three hours so those on campus do not all have to be served at the same time. Photo by the Africa University office of Advancement and Public Affairs.

AU shifts to online classes, some students stay on campus

The United Methodist university is practicing social distancing to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
Mission and Ministry
Professor George Carew addresses students during orientation at the United Methodist University Preparatory Program campus in Brookfields, Sierra Leone, in western Freetown. The new program prepares students to retake their high school exit exams. Over 95% of Sierra Leonean students who took the 2019 West African Senior School Certificate Examinations failed to score high enough to meet university requirements. Photo by Phileas Jusu, UM News.

United Methodist University offers path for failing students

New program prepares students in Sierra Leone to retake high school exit exams so they can qualify to enroll at universities.
Mission and Ministry
The Rev. John Wesley Z. Kurewa helps lead Sunday worship during the 25th anniversary celebration for Africa University in Mutare, Zimbabwe, in March 2017. Kurewa, the United Methodist institution's founding vice chancellor, died Feb. 15 in Harare, Zimbabwe. He was 87. File photo by Mike DuBose, UM News.

Africa University founding father dies at 87

The Rev. John Wesley Z. Kurewa, the first vice chancellor of Africa University, is being remembered for his leadership and vision.