This article on embedded seminaries, and how they can work well, appeared in In Trust magazine. You can read more here. 

The Oxford dictionary defines embedded as “fixed firmly and deeply in a surrounding mass.” Thirty-six percent of members of the Association of Theological Schools are currently embedded in a college or university, with the percentage rising steadily for the past couple of decades.

All across North America, seminaries are embedded into the life, mission, and campus of universities that — to alternating degrees — support, sustain, surround, and partner with them.

There is no one-size-fits-all way of living the embedded life.

“That’s one of the challenges of trying to deal with a board in an embedded seminary,” says Mark Markuly, dean of the School of Theology and Ministry at Seattle University. “You’re kind of off the grid in the ways people traditionally look at governance boards.”

Jay Phelan agrees. The former dean of North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago, Phelan has researched and written on the complex, challenging life of embedded seminaries. “It’s like trying to grasp smoke,” he says. “Every situation is so different.”