June 28, 2005
The Rev. J. Philip Wogaman
A UMNS Report
By Linda Green*
School of Theology, placed on a warning list by the United Methodist
Church following an investigation last fall, has regained positive
standing with the denomination.
“We welcome this. It is a
constructive response to the efforts we’ve made this year,” said the
Rev. J. Philip Wogaman, the seminary’s interim president. “I think Iliff
is a better school because of what we have been through this year. We
will build on the legacy of the past as we move into a new future.”
is one of 13 theological schools affiliated with the United Methodist
Church. The church’s University Senate determines college and seminary
affiliation with the denomination. At its June 23 meeting, the senate
removed previous sanctions from the 110-year-old Denver seminary, and
the school regained positive status.
review team, investigating complaints of leadership problems and
cultural insensitivity at the seminary, sanctioned the school with a
“public warning” last November. The team made 19 recommendations for
Iliff to address what investigators said was a pattern of issues that
The warning also included the notice that support
from the United Methodist Ministerial Education Fund could be withdrawn.
The fund contributed $900,000 to the school’s $5.14 million budget in
School officials were informed June 27 that the University
Senate had approved the actions that Iliff had taken in response to the
recommendations. The senate’s actions were based on a follow-up review
by the church in April.
A review team, from the University
Senate and the denomination’s Commission on Religion and Race, told
school officials they had “found an impressive amount of work in
addressing the 19 recommendations.” The team cited in particular the
resolution of disputes between Iliff and its former president, the
clarification of Iliff’s institutional mission, and the school’s
“long-term commitment to model the values embracing diversity, mutual
respect and accountability, honest communication, and critical
The senate and commission also pledged to work closely with Iliff as it continues to progress in the future.
The senate was pleased with the follow-up review team’s report on the
April 25-28 visit, according to Henry N. Tisdale, president of both the
University Senate and Claflin University, Orangeburg, S.C. Based on that
report, the senate voted to approve listing Iliff School of Theology as
a United Methodist school and removed the previous sanction.
Henry N. Tisdale
“We were very pleased to be able to that,” Tisdale said. “It was based on the progress that we believe that they have made.
one of our very important institutions training leaders for the church,
we believe that this is a cause of celebration,” he said.
response to Iliff regaining it status, Wogaman said, “We will continue
to build on our outstanding commitment to inclusiveness and diversity
because we understand that diversity is a gift and not an obstacle to
genuine community. We will continue to honor our commitment to the
church, to the academy and society, understanding that these commitments
are mutually supportive.”
The investigation and Iliff’s loss of
status were prompted by complaints following the abrupt retirement of
former president David Maldonado Jr. in 2004.
the first Latino president of a United Methodist seminary in June 2000,
but he left May 26, 2004, saying the faculty resisted his leadership,
and that some faculty accused him of being too theologically
conservative or moderate. He said he was told that he did “not fit” or
was “culturally different,” and he felt pressured to leave by faculty
leadership and some trustees.
The investigative team from the
University Senate and the Commission on Religion and Race examined
complaints against Iliff and found “patterns of institutional governance
and perceived racial and cultural insensitivities.” The team determined
that “institutional racism was a major, significant factor” leading to
Groups expressing concern
about the situation included the church caucus MARCHA—its full name,
translated from Spanish, means Methodists Associated Representing the
Cause of Hispanic Americans. MARCHA had called on Iliff to reinstate
Maldonado as president and to issue a public apology to him and the
The caucus also advocated for the
“well-being of other racial ethnic minorities working or studying at
Iliff, and for the quality of theological education in the United
The seminary reached a settlement with Maldonado last spring. An April
19 joint declaration issued by Maldonado and Iliff named him as
president emeritus and said the school would “honor his legacy” by
establishing the David and Charlotte Maldonado Scholarship Fund.
Maldonado would also serve as special adviser to the president in the
The Rev. German Acevedo-Delgado
“We (MARCHA) are happy that Iliff took all
the steps it did,” said the Rev. German Acevedo-Delgado, a leader of
MARCHA. He affirmed the school being returned to positive standing in
the church but expressed concern about “adequate follow-up and the
continuing commitment of Iliff to inclusiveness,” even though the
seminary has implemented new programs to reach out to the Latino
community in the Denver area.
Acevedo-Delgado said MARCHA would
continue to monitor Iliff’s progress, and if the school “does all the
things they say they are going to do, we will be happy.”
Wogaman expressed thanks for the work done by Iliff supporters.
want to thank the people of the Iliff community—board members, faculty,
students, staff and alumni/ae—for their hard work this year in meeting
the expectations of the United Methodist Church,” he said.
is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.
Greta Clovin, Iliff’s director of marketing communications, provided
material used in this story.
News media contact: Linda Green, (615) 742-5470 or email@example.com.