Holding the Course
Recently, YTI has been going through a season of change. This season is still upon us, so I write to you from the trenches! Last spring, we laid off several faculty members. This act was neither easy nor ideal. We had built a team here, but student attendance and financial numbers were simply not where they needed to be to retain these talented scholars. The pain from this lay-off continues to linger.
If this were not enough, we have decided to overhaul our summer programs and how we approach our community connections. I am reminded of a football game where one side kept running the same play over and over again with little or no success. After half time, they began the same routine, and then suddenly tried a different play that got them into the end zone. The goal of football is not to make offensive plays; it’s to score points. The moral of the story: if you are not fully successful with what you have been doing, then try something else, and try something else until you are able to succeed! So, for those of you who were wondering, this is where YTI is – we are in a season of adjustments and change, and we are revisiting our basics.
To facilitate this process, we have brought together a “Community Advisory Board” to work with us. The board consists of Dr. Derry Long, Rev. Jim Keena, Rev. Clark Sherman, Mr. Chris Budeski, Mrs. Juliene Sinclair, Mrs. Patrice Parks, and Dr. Megan Peach — three ordained pastors, two civil engineers, a local television journalist, and a physical therapist. All of them are a big part of the Bozeman community and have wonderful contributions to make to YTI.
Finally, I believe I have aged 20 years in the last 8 years. This October marks my fifth anniversary as President of Yellowstone Theological Institute. The time has flown by. I would like to be able to tell you that it has been easy; I cannot. What it is has been is fulfilling. It has, and continues to be a challenge; a challenge I gladly take up. It has its moments of absolute joy, and its moments of bitter disappointment. We have had, and continue to have, our detractors. There are those who say seminaries “have had their day” and those who believe Bozeman is not a location that would be friendly to this kind of venture. There are those who have attacked my person and leadership, and have attempted to steer the Institute in different directions. Yet we hold the course. The vision and direction is clear. Bozeman is the place; now is the time. Keep us in your prayers as we make our course adjustments.
Grace & Peace,
Dr. Jay Smith, President
Bridger Professor of Theology & Ethics