Catalogue of Giving Goals
Divinity School Annual Fund
A major challenge to students who want to pursue theological education is cost, particularly since many graduates ultimately choose professions that, although richly rewarding and fulfilling, tend to be low-paying. Increasingly, YDS students in recent years have had to rely on borrowing to meet their financial needs. The average total indebtedness of students in the 2009 graduating class was almost $47,000, with $35,670 borrowed during Yale days. The average of the top decile of indebtedness among that group was an alarming $94,522. To reduce reliance on debt, the Divinity School's goal is to increase the proportion of tuition covered by scholarship aid to 100 percent. Donations to the Divinity School Annual Fund, coupled with endowed scholarship support, will help accomplish that, as all Annual Fund contributions go toward financial aid.
Yale Divinity School has been in the forefront of the burgeoning religion/ecology synthesis. A number of alumni, some with established reputations nationally, are engaged at the intersection of these two areas of inquiry, as are a solid group of current students. While YDS has developed a foundation and growing reputation in the field, it now has an extraordinary and unique opportunity to provide further leadership in this arena. Several distinct options exist for helping bring this vision to fruition: scholarships for students in the joint YDS/FES degree program; a research fund focused on collaboration between YDS and FES; a lecture/colloquia series on religion and ecology.
In 2008, Berkeley Divinity School began the process of creating a program for the entire Yale Divinity community that would help prepare students for vocations in educational ministry. Three years later, YDS has an introductory course entitled “Leadership Ministry in Schools and Colleges,” a course in “Models and Methods of College and University Chaplaincy,” and an advanced seminar in “Leadership Ministry in Schools and Colleges,” in addition to the introductory course. YDS now seeks to place this pioneering program on a firm foundation with endowment support to secure its future.
In 2009, Dean Attridge announced an expanded program of global programs including student exchange programs with partner theological schools; a commitment to enhance global learning opportunities for US students; and a renewed program seeking to bring promising young leaders from churches around the world especially for the STM program. The Global Education and Partnership initiative seeks to provide new financial support for students from the US to participate in the new spectrum of global opportunity programs including seminars, exchanges and internships. At the same time, YDS is committed to supporting some of the brightest and best of future leaders from churches around the world. The Divinity School has long been committed to international engagement. At any given time 10 percent or more of YDS students come from countries other than the US. New resources are needed to build and sustain the expanded program.
For more than 300 years, Yale has educated generations of leading preachers, theologians, and lay practitioners for lives of service. That tradition of excellence continues today at Yale Divinity School, but YDS has emerged from its early Congregational origins to become a thoroughly ecumenical, nonsectarian institution, with Roman Catholics representing the second largest faith group within the student body after Episcopalians. Nonetheless, while many donors have created funds with a preference for various Protestant denominations, not until recently did a fund exist to assist Roman Catholic students, who demonstrate the same level of need as the overall student body. By establishing more funds like the newly created Henri Nouwen Scholarship fund, YDS can ensure that gifted students of all religious traditions, including Roman Catholic, can pursue rigorous theological inquiry at the Divinity School each year.
YDS is perhaps best known for preparing leaders to serve the churches with both pastoral sensitivity and theological sophistication. With a program of rigorous scholarship, professional preparation also includes opportunities for experiential learning in parish settings as well as in mission service. Though a strong program of experiential learning exists through “supervised ministries,” in recent years a critical shift in funding for these programs has occurred. The vast majority of parishes and mission programs seeking to host students in their programs no longer have the financial resources to support them. Supervised ministry is a required component of the M. Div program, and increasing numbers of M.Div. students, along with some M.A.R. students, seek summer internship opportunities. An endowed fund is being established to support expanded service and learning opportunities in Supervised Ministries. Funds are also sought to create an endowed professorship in evangelism focused on proclamation of the Gospel in ways that are comprehensible and compelling to women and men of the 21st century, and to establish a "best practices" program to strengthen congregational leadership.