From the Worldwide Faith News archives

PSCE Trustees Vote to Sell Campus Property

Date 04 May 1996 20:51:40


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 
options together." 
     According to Houff, the transaction will relieve PSCE of Watts' high 
operating and maintenance costs, (currently 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 
"finite resource." 
     "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   Web page: 


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