On Monday, the Yale Divinity School announced a partnership with Andover Newton Theological School: a two-phase process that could possibly bring the the nation’s oldest graduate seminary to New Haven.
In a letter to the Div School community, Divinity School Dean Greg Sterling said the school had signed a letter of intent with Andover Newton to “explore the possibility of a phased affiliation” by which the latter would relocate to the divinity Quad. The first phase, which will begin in fall 2016 and last through spring 2017, involves inviting four visiting faculty and one temporary support staff member. from Andover Newton. If negotiations prove successful, the two would enter the second phase and Andover Newton would be permanently affiliated with the Div School. For the second phase, the school envisions that six people from Andover Newton — its current president, dean, a development staff, an administrative assistant, and two faculty members — will move their offices to New Haven. Andover Newton is a graduate school of theology offering degree programs such as Master of Arts and Doctor of Ministry.
“I think that this affiliation is mutually beneficial. It allows Andover Newton, the nation’s oldest graduate institution of theological education, to continue to serve its constituencies. Although it will exist in a different form, its mission will continue,” Sterling said in the Monday announcement to the Div School community. “In its more than two-hundred-year history, Andover Newton has previously partnered with other institutions based on the needs of the times; we hope that this partnership would be the most productive.”
The announcement came after speculation of a potential affiliation between the two institutions, following Andover Newton’s announcement in November that it would sell its current 23-acre campus outside Boston, Massachusetts due to financial pressure. Even with the partnership, the school will continue to operate in Massachusetts for the next two years — one year on its current campus and one year in another location — to allow its current students to complete their degrees, Sterling said.
In a Nov. 12 letter to the Andover Newton community, the school’s senior administrators said the school saw a steady decline in enrollment for more than a decade and that it was no longer “financially sustainable” to continue occupying the large campus, which was “built to meet the needs of another era.”
The Andover Newton administration said in the same letter that it would either narrow its focus and relocate to a smaller location, or become affiliated with a larger institution and retain independence. In particular, the letter highlighted that the school was already engaging in preliminary conversations with the Div School. The Div School’s Monday announcement was the school’s first official announcement on the topic.
Sterling said in his announcement that the partnership will benefit the Div School by accentuating ministerial training and serving as an ecumenical complement to Berkeley Divinity School, Yale Divinity School’s Episcopal and Anglican affiliate. He added that Andover Newton will also help the Div School achieve its goal of providing full-tuition scholarships for all demonstrated needs by 2022.
Andover Newton has 15 full-time faculty members.