Meet a president guiding the merger of two Missouri non secular faculties


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Because the coronavirus wound its method throughout the U.S., shutting down school campuses and stressing their price range, eyes grew to become to the smaller establishments with usually shaky budgets.

Upper schooling pundits predicted extra in style, everlasting closures, a lot of which didn’t materialize. Alternatively, some faculties couldn’t stay their enrollment up.

A type of used to be St. Louis Christian Faculty, a metropolitan nonprofit non secular establishment, with only some dozen scholars.

Its operations have virtually solely merged into Central Christian Faculty of the Bible, because the governing forums of the 2 establishments gave ultimate approval for a merger in April after an preliminary greenlight in October final 12 months. 

At 170 scholars final fall, Central Christian Faculty of the Bible is a small establishment. We spoke with David Fincher, president of the varsity, about demanding situations he encountered all the way through consolidation and the way forward for smaller, non secular establishments. 

This interview has been edited for readability and brevity.

HIGHER ED DIVE: Inform me extra concerning the historical past of the 2 faculties. What caused this merger?

DAVID FINCHER: Our colleges are very equivalent. Now we have an overlapping base of reinforce. We recruit from numerous the similar puts. In truth, we’re a rural model and so they have been a extra metropolitan model of the similar establishment — identical accreditation systems, identical constituents for probably the most section. We have identified folks from there, now we have employed folks from there. They have got employed folks from right here. It’s simply been a collegial dating over the years. I have had a dating with the final two presidents on a friendship degree. 

David Fincher

David Fincher, president of Central Christian Faculty of the Bible

Courtesy of Anna Janelle Pictures

 

During the last 3 years, their enrollment took a horny severe downturn, partially as a result of some public family members issues relating to Ferguson — they’re within the space — and partially as a result of COVID restrictions of their county have been more potent than somewhere else. They’d some controversies up to now folks weren’t letting pass of. 

Closing summer time, when they did not succeed in a key enrollment objective, their president reached out to me. Their board had already agreed that in the event that they didn’t succeed in the objective, they needed to do one thing else. The president requested if I might be fascinated about merging, I mentioned we unquestionably have been and we began an extended dialog that day.

During the last 12 months, we’ve been understanding the main points of that.

What’s been the massive push in recent years to finish the consolidation?

This has in point of fact been a foregone conclusion since October. There are in point of fact most effective a few steps left with the state of Missouri. 

For the merger, we used a criminal company in St. Louis that has been very thorough. There’s been some stuff you don’t call to mind till you’re in the course of it. As an example, we had separate forms of nonprofit standing with the state. There’s an academic nonprofit standing, and a non secular nonprofit standing, and two establishments can’t merge in the event that they’re now not of the similar standing. Ours is tutorial, theirs used to be non secular, in order that they needed to record to get that modified.

Additionally many in their endowment paperwork had unclear language, and a few of the ones paperwork needed to be topic to state of Missouri approval ahead of they are able to be resolved. No longer as a result of there’s the rest unlawful or irrelevant, however the state gained’t permit positive transfers to happen with out no less than a assessment. We didn’t know that, in order that used to be a prolong.

However we’ve been running as though we had already enrolled the entire scholars, their scholars are coming right here, they’ve their schedules. The St. Louis campus closed and the scholars have been advised they needed to get a hold of possible choices, however we have been the in all probability one since the whole thing used to be the similar ⁠— identical accreditation, identical stage systems, identical state.

Have you learnt how lots of the school’s scholars and staff you took on?

They have been a micro school, in order that they have been all the way down to about 60 scholars after they introduced they have been ultimate. By means of the spring they have been all the way down to 53. A few of them had completed within the fall.

So there finally ends up being 35 scholars, virtually 40, who didn’t graduate — of the ones, about 20 of them that have been residential are transferring right here, and about 15 of them are logging on, via Zoom.



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