After a two-year experimentation, Yale Divinity School and Andover Newton Theological School signed an agreement establishing a formal affiliation this Thursday.
“We firmly believe our new affiliation is in the best interest of both institutions and their missions, as well as the future of theological education for the church and the world,” Dean of Yale Divinity School Greg Sterling and President of Andover Newton Martin Copenhaver DIV ’80 said in a joint statement.
With this agreement, Andover Newton ― a theological school that focuses on training ministers in the congregational tradition ― will permanently relocate from its campus in Newton Centre, Massachusetts to the Div School’s Sterling Divinity Quadrangle in New Haven, according to the statement. Throughout the next school year, Andover Newton faculty will partner with four Div School faculty members who agreed to become “founding Affiliate Faculty” of Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School and develop a formal education plan for the fall of 2018.
Andover Newton will continue operations of its Newton Centre campus during the 2017-18 academic year so that current students can complete their degrees. However, any prospective students interested in pursuing studies with Andover Newton must apply directly to the Div School, and future students will ultimately receive their degrees from Yale upon graduation.
In an e-mail to the News, Copenhaver said that those who choose to enter into Andover Newton’s program can receive a “seal of approval” from Andover Newton in addition to a Yale degree.
Prior to the actual signing of the agreement, the governing boards of both institutions voted to formalize the affiliation in June, and Andover Newton finalized the sale of their campus in Massachusetts on June 29.
The partnership between the two schools followed Andover Newton’s decision to sell its 23-acre Massachusetts campus due to financial pressure in November of 2015. In April 2016, Sterling and Copenhaver announced that Andover Newton would have a visiting presence at the Divinity School for the 2016-17 school year, which would culminate in a permanent affiliation if the visiting arrangement went well and negotiations between the two schools were successful.
The affiliation will allow Andover Newton to continue its mission ensure that the Div School, which has a tendency to focus more on the academic than the professional, pays attention to the training of the one-third of Div School students who graduate with degrees in ministerial studies, according to the News article. Furthermore, affiliation will help the Div School achieve its goal of providing full scholarships to any student with demonstrated need by 2022.
For Copenhaver, the formal affiliation is bittersweet.
“In order to affiliate with Yale Divinity School we have to leave a beloved campus that has been our home since 1825,” he said. “Also, we will be giving up some of the privileges, as well as the challenges, of being an independent school.”
Andover Newton Theological is the oldest theological school in the country.
This article has been updated to include comments from administrators.