Kalif Crutcher 0

Open Letter to G-ETS Board of Trustees

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Dear Board of Trustees,

The co-chairs of the Student Council would like to inform you that we are extremely disheartened by those entrusted with leading the search for the new president of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary.

Bishop Sally Dyck, Ms. Anne Driscoll, and Mr. Jerre L. Stead made a unilateral decision to terminate a finalist candidate and submit the second finalist candidate as a recommendation as Garrett's next president without consulting with the staff, student body, faculty, leadership team, or even the entire presidential search committee. Understand that Garrett-Evangelical is operating in a dangerous space of whiteness, capitalism, and anti-black bias, and that is sinful. While this disproportionately impacts students of color, it is damaging to the institution as a whole. Such acts are a direct violation of our institutional commitments to race, diversity and inclusion as indicated in the anti-discrimination statement. Furthermore, Garrett-Evangelical publicly and proudly positions itself as “[having] a long history of advocating for social justice and being committed to women and the Black Church experience.” While we make such claims, Garrett-Evangelical, vis-a-vis its Board of Trustees, is complicit in the proverbial lynching of a highly qualified finalist dared to seek the office of president.

As participants in a United Methodist institution, we acknowledge the historic and ever-present sins of racism and sexism as we name in our Constitution (¶ 5 in The Book of Discipline of the United Methodist Church, 2016 and ¶ 66 in the December 2019 Addendum and Errata). In acknowledging these historic and systemic sins, we invoke the voice of John Wesley, the founder of Methodism, who worked for the liberation of women and people of color in his day. In his sermon “The Duty of Reproving One’s Neighbor,” Wesley insists that we must rebuke one’s neighbor if they are sin or in danger of falling into sin and evil. We do this both out of love for our neighbor and our baptismal vows to resist evil, injustice, and oppression in whatever form they present themselves. This perpetuation of systemic racism, concentration of power in the hands of a select few, and refusal to hear the concerns of those disenfranchised do not further our mission, and, in fact, endanger the very nature and mission of Methodism.

We take very seriously the Wesleyan call to rebuke in love. We see this letter and the actions of students, faculty, and alumni as an institutional call to repentance in response to the sinful acts of our Board Members. Therefore, we extend this call in love based upon the following facts.

Presidential Search Timeline


  • 3:38pm Anne Driscoll and Bishop Sally Dyke sent an email stating:
    • “Following the constituency meetings and pending feedback from those groups, the search committee will recommend the finalist candidate to the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees, who will then call together the full Board of Trustees to consider the recommendation and vote to extend a formal offer to the President-Designate. Following acceptance of the offer by the President-Designate, the Board will announce the appointment of our next President. It is our sincere hope that the Board will be able to announce our new President by mid-May.”


  • 4:00pm Presidential Finalist Leadership Team Meeting


  • 9:00am Presidential Finalist Candidate Staff Meeting
    • First finalist candidate meets with all staff.
  • 10:00am Presidential Finalist Candidate Student Meeting
    • First finalist candidate meets with all students.


  • Presidential Finalist Candidate Faculty Meeting scheduled for the day was cancelled.


  • Executive Session votes to extend an offer to the second finalist candidate.

MAY 10

  • Students receive notice to meet with co-chairs about presidential search the next day.
  • Faculty receive notice to meet with co-chairs about presidential search the next day.

MAY 11

  • 9:00am Anne Driscoll and Bishop Sally Dyck meet with staff announcing:
    • that the process with the first finalist candidate has been terminated because of new information from an anonymous source.
    • that the second candidate will become the next president.
    • that they will not disclose any information about the second finalist candidate.
  • 10:00am Anne Driscoll and Bishop Sally Dyck meet with students announcing:
    • that the process with the first finalist candidate has been terminated because of new information from an anonymous source
    • that the second candidate will become the next president
    • that they will not disclose any information about the second finalist candidate
  • Afternoon Anne Driscoll and Bishop Sally Dyck meet with faculty announcing:
    • that the process with the first finalist candidate has been terminated because of new information from an anonymous source
    • that the board voted and had already extended an offer to the second finalist candidate.
    • that the faculty would find out who the candidate is when the public does.
  • Students start #GarrettSoWhiteToo on social media and letter from students and alumni to BoT

Additional Findings of Fact

When Trustee Driscoll first met with students on February 25th, there were concerns voiced about the lack of student and faculty representation on the search committee. During this listening session, Trustee Driscoll described this as “unnecessary” and a diversion from her company's general practices. Additionally, concerns about a conflict of interest were raised given that her company was performing the search while she was a Trustee. After significant outcry and pushback from the student body, the co-chair relented and offered the students two seats on the committee.

On April 29th, we received a communication from the chairs of the search committee notifying the entire community of impending meetings with the finalist candidate. Although “the search committee completed five first round interviews and two second round interviews,” only one candidate would be presented to the entire community. Specifically regarding this finalist candidate, the committee shared, at length:

Each one of us is confident the finalist candidate is the right person to lead Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary. As we hope you will see in the constituency meetings, this candidate is an experienced and innovative administrator in theological education who is deeply committed to students, passionate about peace and justice-making, and understands their work not merely as a job but as God’s calling on their life. But perhaps most importantly, they are excited about Garrett-Evangelical, our mission, and they want to build upon the good work we have done and are already doing, while also leading us into new possibilities.

The committee closed with “[i]t is our sincere hope that the Board will be able to announce our new President by mid-May.”

This was the expectation of the community when we received an invitation to a meeting with committee chairs Driscoll and Dyck on May 10th. When they held a meeting with the student body, Trustee Driscoll and Trustee Dyck informed us that they terminated the finalist’s candidacy and made an offer to a second unpresented and unnamed candidate.When asked the reason for termination, Trustee Dyck initially claimed that it was based off of a conversation with one reference of the four that were given by the initial finalist. This purportedly was the only reference that was contacted. Later, however, she suggested the information was provided by an anonymous, but “trusted” third party! If this process was ever compromised, it was initially compromised by the actions of the search committee co-chairs.

If there was legitimate information, then this was information for the entire search committee to consider in addition to any other information provided by the remaining references. The candidate was not given due process, but rather, egregiously discarded and discredited by the unilateral actions of the search committee co-chairs.

Let us be clear, this is a proverbial lynching to ensure that the whiteness of the institution remains intact. The student body will not stand for this process or behavior. Based upon our direct experiences in the listening sessions and the results of their actions, we reject the actions of the co-chairs of the presidential search committee, Trustee Dyck and Trustee Driscoll, the Executive Committee, and the Chairman of the Board of Trustees, Jerre Stead, and the entire Board of Trustees (excluding the faculty and student representatives). To wit, the student body is publicly declaring a vote of NO CONFIDENCE in the Board of Trustees. We are demanding that Trustee Sally Dyck, Trustee Anne Driscoll, and Jerre Stead be removed promptly from the Board of Trustees. And finally, we are demanding that there be a new presidential search with an outside, national search firm. This new search must include input from various stakeholders in the community, including, but not limited to: students, staff, faculty, and non-Trustee alumni.

Please be advised that ATS has been alerted to this issue. As a reminder, the ATS Commission on Accrediting mandates:

“Institutional integrity [be] demonstrated by the consistency of a theological school’s actions with commitments it has expressed in its formally adopted statement of purpose, with agreements it assumes with accrediting and governmental agencies, with covenants it establishes with ecclesiastical bodies, and with ethical guidelines for dealing with students, employees, and constituencies.”

This open letter, initiated by the students, is an embodiment of what it means when a seminary institution makes a missional commitment to be a “... graduate theological school that prepares skilled, bold and articulate leaders who share the transforming love of Jesus Christ.”


[1] https://www.garrett.edu/about-us/about-us

[2] https://www.ats.edu/uploads/accrediting/documents/...

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