July 8, 2010
Today's headline in our local paper screams "Employees fear for Seminary's future." What a nice way to start a day!
The sub-heading notes: "Dean: Concerns about school's viability unfounded." That's a little better. Then the article follows with a fair description of our climate at the seminary in light of layoffs due to the world's economic downturn and our hard work to balance our ministry's financials.
How did the article originate? Someone gave the Argus Leader a consultant's report that was part of our quest to address our employees' needs. It was an in-house document that does not stand alone apart from the unpacking it underwent in the institution's discussion process in May and in subsequent weeks.
Since the layoffs were announced in early November we have lived with those who would not receive contracts in the next fiscal year. This necessary reality made it hard to communicate clearly and the resultant fears were allowed to worsen. The steps taken in the budget and in the discussions around the seminary have actually strengthened us both economically and as a community. We continue the process of developing better communication with our employees as a result. I am encouraged by the upbeat attitudes around the school. We feel like we are moving forward in healthy ways at every level.
Back to the article again. The article does not quote a single employee who is worried about our future. The acting dean, Dr. Philip Thompson, is quoted but expresses no such fears. Our consultant, Chris Gambil, says the opposite to the headline. Did the editor read the article? It becomes a non-story the way it is.
We will have to live with the headline and the fact that many newspaper readers only read the headlines, never venturing into the actual article.
I am mentioned in the piece as unavailable, traveling. Two and a half weeks ago I was in Montreal for five days for business meetings, but I have been back here for two weeks, at my desk every day, available.
We are not the only industry that is feeling the pinch, including the newspaper business. Of course, fears about viability, increased workloads, and internal communication will arise during times like these. We are addressing our situation like many other entities are. And I think we're doing a good job of responsible fiscal management and working through the subsequent issues.
It does feel bad that we are trying to do the right things by balancing the budget and by bringing in a consultant to work through the fall out, and we get dinged for it. I am convinced God is working through all these things to make us the best we can be for his glory. Thanks to our Lord, for God is wiser than we are. Even in this we give thanks.