210-year-old seminary merging with Yale Divinity School

NEW HAVEN — A 210-year-old seminary outside Boston will be packing up for Yale University, a move that will unite two institutions with deep historical ties and shore up the finances of the Andover Newton Theological School.

The seminary, which has seen declining enrollment, agreed last month to partner with Yale Divinity School. It sold its property in Massachusetts and is working on the academic program it will offer at Yale beginning in the fall of 2018.

The merger is one of the most prominent examples of traditional Protestant seminaries teaming with universities as they struggle to stay open. Of over 270 schools that are members of the Association of Theological Schools, more than a third are now embedded or affiliated with a university, according to the association.

The arrangements "represent a variety of responses to growing financial pressures and slipping enrollment among theological schools," association spokeswoman Eliza Smith Brown said. "I like to think they also represent a growing creative energy among schools that recognize that new institutional models can bring a synergy of strengths and opportunities."

The leaders of the two schools say both are committed to educating leaders of congregational faith communities.

"We believe that we can do more together to fulfill this mission than we could separately," Andover Newton President Martin Copenhaver and Yale Divinity School Dean Gregory Sterling said in a joint statement.

The schools also aim to make seminary tuition-free for any students with demonstrated need. At Andover Newton, tuition has cost as much as $16,000 annually.

The seminary remains in operation in Massachusetts for this academic year, but it will be known as the Andover Newton Seminary at Yale Divinity School once it relocates to New Haven. Officials say it will operate as a kind of school within a school, keeping its independence while integrated with Yale.

Connections between the two schools date back to 1807 when minister Timothy Dwight IV, the eighth president of Yale College, helped to found Andover Theological Seminary.



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