February 7, 2019
Dear Colleagues of Columbia Theological Seminary,
We, as members of the tenured white-identifying teaching faculty, write to express our abiding commitment to the international vision that has long characterized the faculty, students, and curriculum of Columbia Theological Seminary. This commitment shapes our hope that C.T.S. will engage in the important conversations necessary--including those regarding CORE’s recent proposal--to move forward in shaping an institution that is not only hospitable to international students and scholars but equipped to engage the global church of the 21st century as a partner.
We hear and value the concerns voiced by international students over recent decisions having to do with the International Programs office. Many of us have studied abroad, benefitting from those experiences and grateful for the hospitality shown to us by the institutions at which we studied. More importantly, we continue to benefit from and value the perspectives and insights of our colleagues who have come from other countries and participate in our shared work. While we trust that the goals of the President’s cabinet in pursuing strategic realignments are not intended to inhibit Columbia Theological Seminary’s ability to partner with the global church, we are concerned that there is much that remains opaque about these realignments. More significantly, although we realize that the administration has, in the last few years, made efforts to seek the perspectives of international students on the programs that affect them most, this year's international students were apparently not included in any of those conversations--and neither was a faculty that has helped to shape and sustain the seminary’s commitments to international programs. We are troubled by the fact that the students' voices and perspectives, as well as our own, have been underrepresented in the conversations that led to these realignments.
We would strongly encourage the creation of space and time to discuss the complex mix of concerns, griefs, goals, visions, and hopes that intermingle at this point. We also ask, especially, that those who are most impacted by these decisions be given primacy in speaking in order that others of us may better understand.
Anna Carter Florence