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Meet a president guiding the merger of two Missouri spiritual faculties


Aug 12, 2022
Meet a president guiding the merger of two Missouri spiritual faculties

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Because the coronavirus wound its manner by means of the U.S., shutting down school campuses and stressing their funds, eyes turned to the smaller establishments with typically shaky budgets.

Larger schooling pundits predicted extra widespread, everlasting closures, a lot of which didn’t materialize. Nonetheless, some faculties couldn’t maintain their enrollment up.

A kind of was St. Louis Christian Faculty, a metropolitan nonprofit spiritual establishment, with only some dozen college students.

Its operations have nearly totally merged into Central Christian Faculty of the Bible, because the governing boards of the 2 establishments gave last approval for a merger in April after an preliminary greenlight in October final yr. 

At 170 college students final fall, Central Christian Faculty of the Bible is a small establishment. We spoke with David Fincher, president of the school, about challenges he encountered throughout consolidation and the way forward for smaller, spiritual 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 prompted this merger?

DAVID FINCHER: Our faculties are very comparable. Now we have an overlapping base of help. We recruit from a variety of the identical locations. In actuality, we’re a rural model they usually had been a extra metropolitan model of the identical establishment — identical accreditation packages, identical constituents for essentially the most half. We have recognized individuals from there, we have employed individuals from there. They’ve employed individuals from right here. It’s simply been a collegial relationship by means of the years. I’ve had a relationship with the final two presidents on a friendship stage. 

David Fincher

David Fincher, president of Central Christian Faculty of the Bible

Courtesy of Anna Janelle Images


Over the past three years, their enrollment took a fairly severe downturn, partly due to some public relations issues relating to Ferguson — they’re within the space — and partly as a result of COVID restrictions of their county had been stronger than elsewhere. They’d some controversies prior to now individuals weren’t letting go of. 

Final summer season, once they did not attain a key enrollment purpose, their president reached out to me. Their board had already agreed that in the event that they didn’t attain the purpose, they needed to do one thing else. The president requested if I’d be enthusiastic about merging, I stated we positively had been and we began a protracted dialog that day.

Over the previous yr, we’ve been figuring out the main points of that.

What’s been the large push currently to finish the consolidation?

This has actually been a foregone conclusion since October. There are actually solely a few steps left with the state of Missouri. 

For the merger, we used a authorized agency in St. Louis that has been very thorough. There’s been some stuff you don’t consider till you’re in the course of it. As an illustration, we had separate sorts 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 not of the identical standing. Ours is instructional, theirs was spiritual, in order that they needed to file to get that modified.

Additionally a lot of their endowment paperwork had unclear language, and a few of these paperwork needed to be topic to state of Missouri approval earlier than they are often resolved. Not as a result of there’s something unlawful or inappropriate, however the state received’t permit sure transfers to happen with out a minimum of a evaluate. We didn’t know that, in order that was a delay.

However we’ve been working as if we had already enrolled all the scholars, their college students are coming right here, they’ve their schedules. The St. Louis campus closed and the scholars had been instructed they needed to provide you with options, however we had been the probably one since the whole lot was the identical ⁠— identical accreditation, identical diploma packages, identical state.

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

They had been a micro school, in order that they had been all the way down to about 60 college students once they introduced they had been closing. By the spring they had been all the way down to 53. A few of them had completed within the fall.

So there finally ends up being 35 college students, nearly 40, who didn’t graduate — of these, about 20 of them that had been residential are shifting right here, and about 15 of them are logging on, by means of Zoom.

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