From the Worldwide Faith News archives www.wfn.org
PSCE Trustees Vote to Sell Campus Property
04 May 1996 19:51:45
95425 PSCE Trustees Vote to Sell Campus Property
by Julian Shipp
LOUISVILLE, Ky.--In a move deemed "truly historic," the board of trustees
of the Presbyterian School of Christian Education (PSCE) voted 19-9 to sell
campus property to Baptist Theological Seminary at Richmond (BTSR) in
Richmond, Va., which has rented space from the Presbyterian school since
The controversial decision came Nov. 9 during the board's Nov. 8-10
meeting, according to Deona Houff, PSCE director of communications. Houff
said BTSR offered $1.9 million for Watts Hall (a dormitory), the property
from Watts Hall to Brook Road, and half ownership of Lingle Hall (a
multipurpose building housing food services and a campus bookstore).
The sale will close around July 1, 1996. According to Houff, the
purchase price includes $500,000 that will go toward approximately $1
million worth of renovations to Lingle Hall. Any future construction on the
school's campus will have to pass architectural and zoning restrictions.
"This board meeting was truly historic," said PSCE president Dr. Wayne
G. Boulton. "We have approved a transaction to sell Watts Hall and started
work on plans for major campus renovations and a capital campaign.
"Our main focus now and always, though, is on work for the church,"
Boulton said. "And partnerships with our Presbyterian neighbors at Union
Theological Seminary [UTS] in Virginia and other Richmond Theological
Consortium [RTC] schools are growing stronger every day as we explore new
According to Houff, the transaction will relieve PSCE of Watts' high
operating and maintenance costs (campus-wide operating and deferred
maintenance costs are estimated at $419,942), increase the school's small
endowment, and help set the stage for a capital campaign. The board
authorized PSCE's Advancement Office to prepare a detailed plan and case
statement for the campaign by May 1996. The board also appointed a planning
and building committee to select an architect/planner for all buildings and
a comprehensive renovation program.
Houff said fund-raising has been a major priority for PSCE, one of the
few schools in America that specializes in training professional religious
educators, since it began building an endowment following the 1983
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.) reunion.
PSCE hopes to create a stronger partnership between it and UTS through
the endorsement of a study made possible by a grant from the Lilly
Endowment. Boulton said PSCE and UTS have already enacted one study
recommendation: more cooperation between the schools' boards. Both boards
have appointed a joint committee, co-chaired by PSCE trustee Dr. Freda A.
Gardner and UTS trustee W. Taylor Reverly III, and the boards will hold
concurrent meetings next year.
Even so, Boulton acknowledged that the property transaction concerns
some, who say they want the Baptist seminary to receive support and
experience growth but without the sale of property. PSCE officials have
said that if the sale hadn't been approved, some buildings would have to be
closed to reduce costs. In 1992, 15 staff positions were cut when the
trustees cut $1 million from the school's budget.
"We share in the sadness of our friends who are sorry to see Watts
go," Boulton said. "I am reminded of when my alma mater, McCormick
Theological Seminary, sold its entire campus some years ago. Many said that
school would close, but today McCormick is a strong force in our
"The same future awaits us," Boulton said. "That may be difficult for
some to see, but getting our house in better financial order means we can
and will offer better programs and facilities."
But the Rev. Albert C. Winn, a retired Presbyterian minister and
former General Assembly moderator in Decatur, Ga., said he regrets the
board's decision to sell property, since he believes property is a valuable
"I regret that they chose to do that," Winn said. "I think it's a bad
thing to do because there isn't any more property once it's sold. My
reaction is one of regret, but I think we have to respect boards who have
the responsibility to do these things and I'm not condemning anybody."
Stephen S. Grace, a PSCE board of trustees member and Presbyterian
elder of Midland, Mich., said he voted against the measure because he
believes the decision will interfere with the school's long-range goals.
"The long-range capital campaign is an ambitious undertaking," Grace
said. "And I sure wanted the maximum chance for that to succeed, but I am
concerned that by proceeding with the sale we have adversely affected it."
For more information contact Presbyterian News Service
Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.), Louisville, KY 40202
phone 502-569-5504 fax 502-569-8073
E-mail PCUSA.NEWS@pcusa.org Web page: http://www.pcusa.org
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