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Reimagining Fuller Seminary in Pasadena

At the recent Board of Trustees meeting the board considered two scenarios regarding the future location of Fuller’s California campus: stay in Pasadena or continue with a relocation to Pomona. On Thursday, October 24, the trustees unanimously affirmed that Fuller will remain in Pasadena. This shift in the board’s plans was occasioned by two major factors: (1) dramatically escalated costs of construction in Southern California, which have affected the proposed Pomona campus, and (2) differences with the City of Pasadena, which affected the sale and sale price of the seminary’s Pasadena campus. Board Chair Dan Meyer put it simply, “The economics and timing on which we based our original plan have changed too significantly to make it the best course for Fuller’s future. We have determined another positive way forward and will now pursue that vigorously.”

This means re-embracing our home in Pasadena, a place we love and want to serve, even as we feel nothing but gratitude for the support and welcome we were extended from the City of Pomona. This decision will require working closely with the city in immediate steps toward consolidating our Pasadena footprint to better serve the needs of our current students and community (while continuing, as always, to provide student housing). As we’ve discussed in several employee meetings, the new way forward will continue to involve moving some of Fuller’s offices to the modern but underutilized campus the seminary operates in Houston—now the third largest city in the United States.

Additionally, we will increase access to online programs and strengthen our Arizona MFT program. While we continue to offer both residential and online educational programs—marked by the academic rigor to which we have always been committed—we are reimagining what a responsive, formational education looks like for a world campus.

The next logical question is: how will we enact strategic plans to secure the future for Fuller? The board has reviewed the penultimate draft of Fuller’s strategic plan, constructed by the Strategic Planning Steering Committee, who will work with faculty and administration to bring the fully developed plan back to the board for ratification in January.

This combined work—consolidating the Pasadena campus, selling off non-core properties, rightsizing Fuller’s financial outlook through debt reduction and the launch of a comprehensive capital campaign, and maximizing our admission and retention efforts—will provide the foundation for Fuller’s stability. Dan Meyer adds, “The proceeds from those eventual sales and the capital campaign we will mount starting in 2020 will enable us to reduce our debt, modernize our Pasadena campus, increase our student scholarships, and fund other enhancements to the quality of our education and community life.”

While there is disappointment that Fuller will not be relocating to Pomona with a new physical beginning, there is also relief that the city that has been our home for over 70 years will continue to be our home. We recommit ourselves to being good neighbors with the City of Pasadena, and we will keep working alongside the city in addressing the various needs and challenges within our community, while continuing to build on the need to be a different, more intentional, more responsive Fuller.

I know, and share with you, the loss and tumult that the community has patiently endured in recent years. The board’s decision to reinvest here in Pasadena brings greater clarity and stability as we continue to enact the creative measures needed for Fuller to flourish for decades to come.

Grateful for this moment and anticipating God’s faithfulness for a new era in Fuller’s life,

Mark Labberton,
Clifford L. Penner Presidential Chair