(from left) Dr. Christine Hempowicz, Dr. David J. Billings III, Mr. Dan Fefferman, Dr. Michael Balcomb, Dr. Ki Hoon Kim, Dr. Hugh Spurgin, Rev. Franco Famularo, Dr. Michael Jenkins, Rev. Ernest Patton, and Dr. Thomas Ward.
The UTS Board of Trustees held its Winter Meeting in New York City this past March 3rd. All eleven trustees were in attendance, with Crescentia DeGoede, who is on maternity leave with her second child, joining by Zoom video conferencing. The Board meets three times a year: in the Winter, on the day of graduation, and on Columbus Day in October.
In each meeting, Dr. Hugh Spurgin, the UTS President, gives a “state of the seminary” report based on the key metrics of student headcount, finances and recruitment prospects. Then each of the standing committees report: Executive, Planning and Assessment, Finance, Buildings and Grounds, Trustees and Academic, Faculty and Student Affairs.
A primary topic of this recent meeting was to review a report by former UTS President Dr. Tyler Hendricks on the opportunities and challenges of online education, and the prospects of UTS developing major new markets through the use of the latest in distance-learning technology. This isn’t the first time that distance learning has been on the agenda: indeed, as far back as 1999 UTS was calling for Unification members in the USA to take courses online prior to coming to Barrytown to complete their degrees.
However, a recent study made during the Unification holy day celebrations in Korea showed a great need and a keen interest in UTS education. Less than 25% of current Unification national church presidents hold a UTS degree, but over 80% would like to acquire one. Under the inspired leadership of Mother Moon (Dr. Hak Ja Han Moon), the Unification missions around the world all anticipate great growth and progress in the three years leading up until 2020. The need for trained pastors and leaders of all ages has never been more urgent.
Online education has proved the salvation, if one may use the word, of other seminaries and well known schools like Liberty University, founded by conservative evangelist Jerry Falwell. The UTS Board is hopeful that a well-planned online program could improve the fortunes of UTS and open up the benefits of Father and Mother Moon’s vision to a much wider audience.
In closing, the Board urged further research and called upon the leaders present to do their best to promote a UTS education in the United States and around the world. There is a plan to start a pilot program as early as this coming September, pending necessary approvals.
The Board’s next meeting will be on Saturday, May 28th, which is also UTS Commencement Day. We encourage all alumni, students, family and friends to come to Barrytown and join us for a day of celebration and pride.
Michael Balcomb, D.Min. (UTS ‘94 and ’09)
Chair, UTS Board of Trustees