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Trinity International University Cuts Faculty Positions at Divinity School as Enrollment Declines

Trinity Evangelical Divinity School has developed a plan to cut more than a million dollars in annual spending as part of a data-driven “Mission Activation Plan Process” to move the school forward in the face of declining enrollment and revenue. 

Trinity said it has significantly decreased operating expenses at the seminary by “reshaping” its faculty while streamlining program tracks.

The staff cuts along with other reductions amount to a $920,000 of savings to parent organization Trinity International University’s annual budget of about $50 million,  According to  Christianity Today.TEDS has about 490 full-time students, down from 870 in 2003.

“Trinity’s mission will be sustained only by reaching financial stability and offering academic programs that meet the changing needs of today’s students,” the school said in a statement outlining the process. “As we celebrate 125 years of the Lord faithfully using Trinity to advance his kingdom, we now find ourselves at a turning point where together we follow God’s lead—prayerfully and strategically—sketching out the next chapter of the Trinity story.”

The changes at the seminary are the first phase of a three-part planned revamp at Trinity International University, which also includes an undergraduate school, a graduate school, and a law school.

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Other changes planned at the suburban Chicago school in Bannockburn, Illinois, are outlined on a series of web pages.

The school said data collected during the MAP development process provided new insight into course economics, enabling discernment of how each of the college’s schools could be best aligned with current market realities and challenges. 

The staff “reshaping” at the seminary included the decision not to replace some faculty members who had retired or left, and the choice not to renew the annual contracts of two non-tenured faculty. 

Trinity President Nicholas Perrin, who joined the school in 2019, warned staff there could be more faculty cuts to come, Christianity Today reported. 

However, the school also hired four new faculty members and launched a new Doctor of Ministry track designed to serve immigrant church pastors and leaders.

In a Twitter post April 4, David Arcadi, a former associate professor in the divinity school’s Department of Biblical and Systematic Theology, described the financial situation at TEDS as “near catastrophic” and said his job was “one of many casualties of this situation.” 

“TEDS had combined the rare feat of being both academically rigorous and yet deeply pastorally attuned,” Arcadi said. “These are two features that have marked my own vision for the past 15 years. I mourn not being able to continue somewhere so aligned with my own mission.”

The school said the cost reductions will not impact the quality of education students receive or affect the number of programs the school offers. 

“You will see not only staff resizing but also reinvestments in areas that are strategic to our mission,” Trinity said. “This process of data collection and reflection—along with the reallocation of resources—will be continual and ongoing.”

Anne Stych

Anne Stych is a writer in Charlotte, North Carolina.