Q&A

"Faculty and staff alike have dedicated considerable time and creative energy to chart and implement a strategic plan, which should put the school on a clear path to recovery by growing tuition revenue."

Jan Love

Dean and Professor of Christianity and World Politics, Candler School of Theology 

The Academic Exchange: What are Candler’s traditional funding sources?

Jan Love: The two big legs we stand on are tuition and endowment income. When the financial crisis hit in 2008, Candler was almost 40 percent dependent on endowment income. We removed about one million dollars from our operating budget. It was a huge hit, and we’ve been trying to climb back from that crisis ever since; we’re doing a pretty good job. The endowment is recovering, but tuition income from some streams has declined somewhat. The consequence is that we have decreased our operating budget twice since 2008.

AE: How have you weathered the financial downturn? 

JL: Our approved operating budget for fiscal 2013 is a little more than $17 million. Of that, the amount of money we spend on running Candler itself is a little more than $12 million. The other $5 million goes to run the university, the “allocated costs.” Faculty and staff alike have dedicated considerable time and creative energy to chart and implement a strategic plan, which should put the school on a clear path to recovery by growing tuition revenue.

We’ve also been successful in fundraising. Our goal for Campaign Emory was $60 million. We reached that one year early and ultimately reached $65 million. We’ve had a long history of being successful in fundraising, but in this climate, to exceed your goal by so much is something we feel very good about. 

AE: What alternate sources of funding are you pursuing?

JL: We’re working hard to increase tuition by developing new degree programs. Candler is different than most schools of theology because it overwhelmingly concentrates faculty, time, and energy on one degree—the Master of Divinity. In recent years, 75 to 80 percent of our students have been in that program. With that market flat, it’s hard to grow that degree program; all of our competitors are in the same circumstance, and we’re trying to attract the same pool of students. We’re creating two new degrees, the Master of Religious Leadership and the Doctor of Ministry. We’re also creating a third new program, a dual Master of Social Work degree, with the University of Georgia. These will diversify our degree base and make us less vulnerable to market swings.

AE: Have you sought less conventional sources of revenue? 

JL: We’ve spent a lot of time and energy on continuing education and lifelong learning as a revenue source. While that has been a great experiment in how to deliver more opportunities for community and alumni engagement, it hasn’t brought in the income we’d hoped for. We’ve also spent a lot of energy with online learning. The new Doctor of Ministry program will be online. That doesn’t make its delivery cheaper, but it distinguishes it in the market. No other school in our peer group or in our caliber of school offers this degree online. 

AE: How much influence do faculty have on the budgeting process and establishing funding priorities? 

JL: I consult closely with senior staff about budget development, and I have a very strong ethic of more transparency rather than less. I also share the budget with Candler’s Personnel and Academic Policy Committee and our Strategic Planning Committee. We receive many requests and suggestions about how to increase revenue, reactions about whether we can afford this or that, or recommendations to consider shifting our emphasis here or there. That’s a wonderful role that those committees play, and it helps us chart a course well into the future. 

AE: What are your strategies for hiring right now?

JL: We have to pay attention to several things. One is that we’ve had several retirements since I began here, and the demographics of our faculty suggest we’re going to have a wave of retirements. That leaves holes in the curriculum. When someone really distinguished retires, such as Brooks Holifield, then it matters a great deal how we replenish the stature of our faculty. There are strategic calculations about whether you hire mid-career people who have already made a name but are in their late forties or fifties, or if you hire entry-level people and groom them to stay here for a long time. We’ve used both strategies to good effect.

AE: What are you looking forward to at Candler? 

JL: We’re building a new building, which is made possible by a generous gift, the healthy reserves we’ve built up, and some help from the university. It will be constructed where Bishop’s Hall is now and will extend nearly to Cannon Chapel. Bishop’s Hall will be torn down this spring. Construction-related work has been ongoing for quite some time.