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Keeping Christian Schools Open: A Peek Inside (Part 1)

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  • Robert F Davis
By Robert F. Davis, CP Guest Contributor
April 10, 2014|3:33 pm

 "The beatings will continue until morale improves." This often tongue-in-cheek comment isn't as ludicrous as it sounds. Morale and ludicrous were front-and-center as I arrived at a Christian school seeking to raise capital, and large amounts, at that. The faculty and staff had gone without pay for 12 months, their pension investment had disappeared, they watched as a colleague was released for the sexual assault of over a dozen children at the school, and no one knew from week-to-week which classes would be consolidated or who would be without a job.

Granted, the aforementioned is extreme. But is it more encouraging to be told salaries are to be frozen, or raises will be one percent, or maybe one or two programs would be discontinued even if there are no scandals or delayed pay checks? I have discovered that morale is about the same and ludicrous is still descriptive of the situation. No matter the vantage-point the problem is leadership, possibly at the institutional level, but certainly with the board. Consider for a moment Proverbs 25:3 "Like the horizon for breadth and the ocean for depth, the understanding of a good leader (emphasis mine) is broad and deep." (The Message)

Have you ever heard someone say, "I have the gift of understanding?" Someone once told me they had the gift of discernment, but never understanding. Leadership of all kinds: board members, president or school head, provost or principal need understanding! The board has policy and fiscal responsibility. The other two groups have administrative and advocacy commissions. In other word the latter groups need to recognize problems, fix things, run things smoothly, report and make recommendations. The board has to make it possible, by hiring a highly capable leader and make certain that person enrolls the help of the people most likely to succeed. Of course the board must establish reasonable and responsible policy and financially give generously according to their means. No, no, don't disparage this, these are leadership "absolutes."

These last two expectations of board leadership establish policy and give generously contribute beyond measure to institutional success. Without these and their hiring responsibility, the two scenarios I described at the beginning are inevitable, actually predictable. While space doesn't allow for an exhaustive discussion, parts two and three of this series will take a look to components: institutional advancement, development specifically and tuition resulting from board policy. To paraphrase scripture: "On these two hang all the operations and the programs."

Robert F. Davis has 40 years of experience providing counsel for educational and not-for-profit institutions. He previously served as vice president for Advancement at Bryan College in Tennessee and consulting vice president for Advancement and Alumni Affairs at Liberty University in Virginia.
 

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