Hispanic Caucus Issues Resolution Against Racism At Theological Seminary

Iiliff School of Theology has been charged with institutional racism against its former president, the Rev. David Maldonado, who stepped down because of leadership difficulties.

And MARCHA, the unofficial church caucus based in San Marcos, Texas representing Hispanic Americans, released a statement expressing "outrage for the injustice and mistreatment done by Iliff against Dr. David Maldonado." It also threatened to discourage Hispanic/Latino students from enrolling if the seminary doesn't make significant changes before end of spring semester (UMNS).

Iiliff School of Theology is part of the 13 Methodist schools and received $900,000 last year from the United Methodist Ministerial Education Fund. These funds have been threatened to be taken away unless the suggested measures have been satisfactorily implemented, which is to be determined by a second review team in 6 months.

A review team was dispatched after The Board of Trustees asked the University Senate and the UMC's General Commission on Religion and Race to investigate the abrupt retirement of President Maldonado, who was the first Latin American to become president of any of UMC's schools.

The findings, which were based on 90 interviews and extensive research, found that “failures to assert appropriate leadership by the board of trustees, the unwillingness of some faculty members to recognize and respect different leadership styles, as well as not letting go of traditional norms and behaviors to allow for an inclusive institutional transformation, contributed to the problems that President Maldonado and the institution faced.”

The Review Team recommended that the University Senate that Iliff be put on "immediate listing with public warning" and that another review team be sent to examine the degree to which the school complied to the list of suggestions. Failure could mean forfeiture of future funding from UMC.

Maldonado, who served as president from June 2000 to May 26, 2004, wrote in his parting letter to the trustees that the trustees resisted his leadership. He stated that some accused him of being too theologically conservative or moderate and said that he did "not fit" or was "culturally different." He admitted to feeling pressured to leave by faculty leadership and some trustees (UMNS).

In the recent resolution released by the caucus, MARCHA called on the seminary to reinstate Maldonado as president and to issue a public apology to both him and the Hispanic/Latino community. Furthermore, if Maldonado rejects the offer, he should still be compensated with the same salary until 65.

The same resolution stated, “We were appalled by the intent to intimidate Dr. Eunjoo Kim due to her support to Dr. Maldonado.
"The assembly of MARCHA commends Dr. Eunjoo Kim for her integrity and courage. "Integrity, courage, taking a stance against injustice and bigotry are values that any school of theology should be instilling in the members of its community. Iliff needs to take steps to redress the injustice against Dr. Maldonado, against Dr. Kim and against all the people struggling to overcome racism.”

In an interview with UMNS, the Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, interim president of Iliff since Sept., said, “Iliff is implementing all of the recommendations of the review team. With all due respect, I am not sure that MARCHA fully understands this complex situation. I would welcome dialogue with them.”

The review team’s recommendations included holding a celebration event for Maldonado, which he declined. Rev. Wogaman said, “I have already communicated clearly with him that we are prepared and would be happy to do that. He declines to have that done, at least at this time.”

In addition, the team said Iliff should arrange an appointment in the church for Maldonado. “We are not the appointing authority in the United Methodist Church or in this (regional) conference,” Wogaman said. “However, we have made moves in the direction of helping to encourage that — again, subject to his approval. We’re quite open to that with the understanding that we don’t have appointive power for any other part of the church.”

The Rev. Germán Acevedo-Delgado, MARCHA president, presented the resolution supporting Maldonado during a plenary discussion of Iliff’s actions, and the resolution was disappointed with Iliff disguising the circumstances of Maldonado’s departure with retirement language when it wasn't so.