A Letter From the President
The news is out. Meadville Lombard is committed to increasing scholarship assistance for our students. It is not so well known, however, that we have been wildly successful in fulfilling that commitment. Today I'm giving up my reticence and announcing the proud facts: we have done a unique and exceptional job of raising scholarship funds. In the last five or six years, generous, farsighted donors have endowed scholarships at Meadville Lombard totaling $2.4 million!
The income from these endowments enables us to recruit students who demonstrate the greatest promise for liberal religious ministry - recruit them away from well financed but non-UU seminaries. These scholarships have been a key factor in Meadville Lombard's stepping into the leadership ranks of theological education in America.
Knowing that our success is tied to the quality of our student body, we continue to concentrate on expanding scholarships. We have to! Scholarships allow Meadville Lombard to reduce overall tuition costs by 35% and yet, even with all we have accomplished, it is still not nearly enough.
The average seminarian leaves school with a debt load of approximately $40,000. As the recent graduates move into ministry, their student debt places an extreme burden on them, their families and the congregations they serve for each in their own way must wrestle with issues of adequate compensation. As our new class enrollments continue their healthy upward trend--from 13 in 2012 to 23 in 2013 to 36 in 2014 - the need becomes ever more pressing. Right now, we anticipate only ten percent of the large entering class in 2015 will be on full scholarship. We need to do better by our students, their families and our congregations!
If you are wondering what financial resources are required to endow a full scholarship at Meadville Lombard, the answer is $400,000. But that is not the only way to assure that a promising applicant can come to Meadville Lombard and receive an affordable UU ministerial education. Some donors decide to give a cash gift of $60,000 over three years, $20,000 per year. With this gift, the donor provides one person with a full tuition, named scholarship and is able to follow the seminary experience of a grateful recipient. Other donors with big commitment but less resources, designate gifts for tuition-reducing grants - $10,000 a year for three years, for example. The point is to find a variety of ways to furnish the funds that make it possible for tomorrow's excellent ministers to be students at the outstanding theological school Meadville Lombard is widely recognized as being.
Please think about making your own tuition-assistance gift and know that I am pleased to talk about your plans and possibilities when you e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org. These are exciting times for our school and I welcome your participation as together we shape the future of Unitarian Universalism. You can understand that Meadville Lombard's success in raising scholarship funds is not due to our commitment alone. It is also due to the commitment of many, many Unitarian Universalists across the continent who believe in the future of our faith and have the well-founded confidence that Meadville Lombard students are a worthy investment in that future. We are deeply grateful and could not agree more.
Rev. Dr. Lee Barker, DMin '78, DD '01
President and Professor of Ministry
Meadville Lombard Theological School