By Beverly Lapp, Ed.D., Vice President and Academic Dean
Anabaptist Mennonite Biblical Seminary (AMBS) has been accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) since 1958. As we have done every 10 years since then, in 2018–19 we gave an extensive accounting of our work and hosted a campus visit for a team of accreditors to assess our compliance with the ATS Commission Standards and Procedures. These standards are used to measure the quality of theological education among approximately 170 ATS theological schools in Canada and the U.S. We submitted AMBS’s Self Study Report to ATS in December 2018 and hosted a four-member ATS Evaluation Committee for a visit in February 2019.
The ATS Board of Commissioners met in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, in early June and voted to reaffirm the accreditation of AMBS for a period of 10 years.
We were heartened by encouragement from the Evaluation Committee during their visit. The committee members made a point of communicating to us four “distinctive strengths” they observed at AMBS as part of the evaluation process:
- a cohesive group of faculty members who collectively carry the ethos of the school, and a hard-working administration and staff who are committed to the welfare of the seminary;
- the development of organizational structures that foster transparency and shared governance to a rare degree in institutional life;
- a deeply held institutional commitment to intercultural competence and the dismantling of institutionalized racism as an embodiment of justice- and peace-making;
- a spirit of courage, creativity and experimentation that enables the school to try new endeavors while closing those that should not be continued.
The visit team also offered specific recommendations for reviewing required courses in the areas of ministry practice and for how AMBS gathers and shares quantitative and qualitative information for decision-making. We will provide ATS with an updated financial sustainability plan by November 2021 and a revised educational assessment plan for all degree programs by April 2022.
The rigor of the accreditation process is a gift to us as a higher education institution. We were grateful to have the committee reflect back to us the strengths they saw in us as a theological school within the Anabaptist-Mennonite tradition. We will seek to build on what we have learned to strengthen our work in nurturing and preparing leaders for the church and world.
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