Meeting the Economic Challenge

Message from the President banner

photo of Rebecca ParkerDear Starr King Friends,

“These are tough economic times.”
“Small seminaries may not survive.”
“We had to cut staff and hours at our congregation.”

Comments and concerns like these come up frequently these days.  “How is Starr King School doing?”  I am often asked.  Here’s what I can report:

My biggest current concern is our students, many of whom are struggling in this economy. Their stress is at the most basic level:  running out of money for food before the month is out, delaying needed health care due to lack of funds, making do with poor housing situations, finding work.  Our theological students need an extra helping hand right now.  To that end, I’ve established the President’s Discretionary Fund to provide emergency assistance to our students. If you’d like to help, you can donate on line to the fund or mail a check to SKSM, 2441 Le Conte Ave., Berkeley CA 94709.

The picture for the School itself is hopeful.  This year we are operating with a balanced budget which we are accomplishing by tightening our belts-delaying salary increases and practicing frugal simplicity in every way we can. I am deeply appreciative that Starr King’s contributors have continued to make the School a priority in their giving, despite the economic crisis. The growth we are experiencing in our enrollment is another positive factor in our financial picture.  Our modest endowment, which provides about 20% of our annual operating budget, is beginning to recover from the steep losses in the fall of 2008.  The Unitarian Universalist Association has given us an extra boost of support this year-a very helpful boon.

Looking ahead, signs are good that Starr King School for the Ministry will survive and thrive.  Solid fiscal foundations are already in place, and we are building on them. We are taking a prudent draw on our endowment (5%) and investing it in socially responsible ways; we are debt-free; we have a generous circle of donors and a good track record of fiscal discipline; our membership in the Graduate Theological Union unites us in partnership with eight other theological schools with whom we share educational resources and collaborate on administrative infrastructure.   Major funders, such as the Luce Foundation, are excited by our commitments to counter-oppressive, multi-religious theological education and are investing in our educational work.

Starr King’s abiding mission is to educate people for Unitarian Universalist ministry and for progressive religious leadership for society.  We are doing so with strength, passion, and creativity.  I welcome your support, your questions and comments, and encourage you to spread the good word to potential students! In grace and gratitude,

Rebecca Parker
President and Professor of Theology

Your comments and questions are always welcome.
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We are currently accepting applications for fall 2010 admissions. The remaining rolling application deadlines are March 1 and May 1. For information on applying for our M.Div , our M.A. in Religious Leadership for Social Change,  or the Graduate Theological Union Common MA, see How to Apply on

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