Report from Reformed Theological Seminary (USA)

June 7, 2010

Report of

Reformed Theological Seminary
USA

June  2010

 

 

Current Major Initiatives

           

·        After purchasing an outstanding facility in April to house the RTS campus in Atlanta, we are renovating the Atlanta building to begin offering classes there in June.  The campus is located along I-75 just north of the I-285 Perimeter on Terrell Mill Rd between Windy Hill Rd and Delk Rd. in Marietta and includes a 25,000 square foot building and a building pad on which we can build another 20,000 square foot building in the future.  It should be a great location and facility for RTS Atlanta for many years.

·        We are seeking to establish a new Doctor of Ministry degree program in cooperation with a seminary named SAAT in Malang, Indonesia, patterned after our successful program in Sao Paulo, Brazil, with the Andrew Jumper Graduate Program of Mackenzie University.   The agreement between RTS and SAAT has been approved by both the RTS and SAAT Boards. RTS has applied for approval of this new degree program with our accrediting associations.  Ric Cannada plans to go to Indonesia in August to announce officially the new program there.

·        RTS offered one course in Houston, Texas, in the spring of 2010 and has applied to our accrediting associations to offer ongoing courses in that location, beginning in the fall of 2010 with two more courses.  The plan is to offer a full M.Div. program there as soon as possible (including a focus on Hispanics), depending on rate of the student enrollment growth and the commitment of financial resources from that area.

·        We are in the process of completing a changeover of partners in Memphis.  MCUTS (Memphis Center for Theological Studies), our previous partner in Memphis, decided during the past year to stop its program for graduate students and concentrate instead on its undergraduate program.  The Second Presbyterian Church in Memphis stepped forward and asked RTS to partner with Second in the Memphis area to continue to provide Reformed theological education throughout the Memphis region but especially for the many Campus Outreach staff in the area that minister out of Second Church.  Leadership and support staff for RTS Memphis will be located at the facilities of Second, where the courses will be taught as well.

·        The reaffirmation of accreditation process with our primary accreditors (ATS and SACS) that is done every ten years will occur during the 2011-2012 academic year.  As a part of that process, the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) now requires member schools to prepare a Quality Enhancement Plan (QEP) that becomes a major focus of improvement for the school (specifically in student learning outcomes) over a five to ten year period.  RTS has decided in its QEP to focus on Islam.  We will seek to understand the broad spectrum of Muslims from the fundamentalists to the moderates in order to be more sensitive and effective in our witness to them with the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Besides seminars and specific elective courses on Islamic studies, we will seek to learn something about Islam in virtually every course in the RTS curriculum.  Also, we will seek to recruit during this time even more international students from students where Islam is dominant so that we can learn directly from Christians who are living and working closely with Muslims.

·        We have received approval from the Florida Department of Veterans Affairs so that veterans enrolled at the RTS Orlando campus can receive directly the educational financial support those military veterans have earned during their military service.  If this program is successful and effective, we will consider seeking similar approvals in other states where RTS campuses are located.

·        We are establishing two “smart classrooms”, one on the Charlotte campus and one on the Orlando campus.  These classrooms with up to date technology will be used to enhance the classroom teaching on the local campus as well as for quality capturing of courses for use at the Virtual Campus and for quality live distribution of courses to extension campuses.  Designated funds for these two smart classrooms have already been received.

·        We are looking for a President for the Washington, D. C. campus or a Vice President for Development in order to move ahead with the fundraising greatly needed for that campus. 

·        We continue to focus on Student Learning Outcomes, which is a priority for our accrediting associations.  Some highlights concerning our current faculty focus include: (1) As professors are hired, a significant aspect of the hiring process is to ensure that the professors have adequate classroom skills, a commitment to the Church, and a "winsomely Reformed" ethos. (2) An additional emphasis is that all RTS professors are concerned about the overall mind, heart, and servant-leadership aspects of the graduates as they are delineated in the Student Learning Outcomes approved by the faculty and the Board. 

·        We continue to expand the offerings of Virtual Campus distance education materials free over the internet via iTunesU, making these materials available internationally as well as nationally.  Well over 800 universities and schools have placed course material on iTunesU.  Because of the heavy volume of people downloading RTS materials, iTunesU early on moved our materials to the main store on their website along with a select group of other schools, including Duke, Vanderbilt, and MIT.  To see, hear, or download this information go on the internet to http://itunes.rts.edu.  We are very encouraged that the number of downloads of these materials, including course lectures and chapel messages and special seminars, has grown from 15-25,000 weekly over the first two years to over 50,000 per week early in the summer of 2009 and then over 100,000 downloads a week in September 2009 and then to over 125,000 a week later in the fall.  In the spring of 2010, we reached the milestone of over 6,000,000 downloads of these materials in a less than three years.  Also through the international iTunes U store our materials are available “officially and natively” in over 90 countries!

·        We are seeking to improve and expand facilities in Washington, D.C. to help that campus as it grows.  Because of zoning issues as well as the high cost of property in that region, we may need to rent space for offices and a library while we continue to use the McLean Presbyterian Church and other churches in the area for classrooms.

·        We are continuing to update campus facility master plans for the long-term development of the campuses at Orlando and Charlotte, with the next building focus on student housing on both of these campuses.  In the mean time, we are seeking to take appropriate advantage of the economy by seeking to purchase some nearby condos for student housing off campus in Orlando. The big challenge now is to decide how to fund the student housing needs on these campuses.

·        A significant redesign and update of the RTS website is currently underway and should be completed by the end of the calendar year.

 

 

Dr. Ric Cannada

rcannada@rts.edu