From the President

BY Jay Smith
President and Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics

November-December 2017 Inscribed

Building Relationships

It has begun.

Dr. Jay SmithSince 2014, YTI has been preparing feverishly for the launch of its unique Master of Divinity program. Starting Master of Applied Theology classes in Bozeman; Boise, Idaho; and Bellingham, Wash. were a part of the run up to starting the Master of Divinity. Trying different teaching methods, rethinking learning objectives, looking for the right quality in potential faculty members, building relationships with new partners, and refining marketing approaches have been a part of this three-year run-up. The fact that we have been able to do this—in spite of the death of our founding benefactor and in the midst of a contentious political season—has been nothing short of miraculous. As you have seen in previous issues, our faculty is dedicated to our vision and goals. Our staff is working hard to support our teaching, recruiting, community, and development objectives. Across the board, our people are focused on the task before them.

It has been my privilege to build relationships with schools in several different regions in the last six months. We are building strong relationships with Western Washington University, Montana State University, Carroll College, Baylor University, Howard Payne University, University of North Texas (BSM), University of Arts and Sciences in Oklahoma, Oklahoma City University, University of Tulsa, Northwestern Oklahoma State University, John Brown University, University of Arkansas – Fayetteville (Wesley Center, UCM, BCM), and Southwestern Baptist University in Missouri. Each of these schools has invited us on campus for meetings, to speak, or to openly recruit students. This relationship building is crucial to developing a recruiting base. With the help of their resident faculties, we want to help their students not only choose YTI, but to make their transition to and experience of YTI a positive one. This relationship building process is ongoing. Like any relationship, this will take time, care and cultivation. What has made us different so far is our willingness to reach out personally to these schools. Often, they are surprised by my presence, rather than that of a student recruiter; yet at the same time, they walk away from the encounter more sure of YTI’s program and intent, and more willing to steer students our way.

In the coming weeks and months, each of you will find out more about our “45-in-5” campaign. Like any other non-profit educational organization, our existence must not rely exclusively on one strong financial backer, but rather on a multitude of strong, visionary supporters. Strong visionary supporters see the power of YTI’s vision and are willing to make healthy financial investments in that vision. YTI is training theologically confident, biblically-grounded, and culturally-tuned leaders with powerful critical and creative thinking skills. They are the leaders our culture and churches need in times such as these. We live in a “brave new world” and we need “brave new leaders.” As you plan your annual giving, or if you are looking ahead to making an estate gift or major contribution to an organization that is making a difference, look no further Yellowstone Theological Institute.

One final note. I am writing this letter from 38,000 feet, on United flight 1577 from Tulsa, Oklahoma to Denver, Colorado, the first leg of my flight home from a recruiting trip to Oklahoma, Arkansas, and Missouri. Great relationships with administrators such as Dr. Brad Johnson and faculty members such as Dr. Michael Fuhrman, Dr. Maxie Burch, and Dr. Zach Simpson—and many others!—would not have been possible without the incredible effort by my executive assistant, Mrs. Amy Figgins, and our central states recruiting administrator, Mrs. Kim Treat. Mrs. Figgins made the extra effort to make sure all of our recruiting materials were in Oklahoma waiting for my arrival, and Mrs. Treat worked hard to create the contacts, make the appointments, and navigate the travel to meet with those administrators and faculty members. If you get the opportunity, let these women know how valuable they are to the YTI team—thanks ladies!!

Grace & Peace to You,
Dr. Jay Smith, President