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GGBTS professors were asked: ‘Interested in resigning?’

MILL VALLEY, Calif. (BP)–Two music professors at Golden Gate Baptist Theological Seminary were asked if they would resign and accept a settlement following the trustees’ April 8 decision to close the school of church music. The resignations of Craig and Beth Singleton led to the trustees April 19 decision to keep the school in operation.
Trustees had voted to close the school, effective July 31, due to a “financial emergency” but later voted to keep it open with two remaining full-time and adjunct professors.
Craig Singleton told Baptist Press he was not changing his mind about earlier reports that he did not want to comment on the matter publicly, but rather chose not to respond through the seminary’s news and information office at that time.
Singleton said he and his wife accepted a settlement package offered by the seminary — termed a most generous settlement by seminary administrators — through an intermediary, Mike Dixon, a week after the trustees voted to close the school. Singleton said they were asked, “Interested in resigning?” Dixon is the son of benefactors for which the school is named, Bill and Pat Dixon.
However, the couple had met with William O. Crews, seminary president, two weeks before the trustee meeting where, Singleton said, they were told the school would close. Singleton said they then contacted an attorney who sent the seminary a letter indicating the Singletons were willing to resign and requested mediation.
Crews told Baptist Press he did receive an eight-page letter from the Singletons’ attorney requesting, among other things, the Singletons be paid salaries until they turned 65, but the seminary’s attorney concluded the letter’s conditions appeared to be a foundation for a possible lawsuit, advising the administration not to respond to the letter.
In the final agreement, Crews said the seminary has agreed to pay the Singletons’ salaries for two more years; will loan the couple $165,000 to pay off their house mortgage for which they will reimburse the seminary whenever they sell the house, plus 2 percent interest per year; will pay their health insurance, which includes insurance for their son who has had health problems, until 2007 or until they have insurance through other employment; and will pay the Singletons $12,000 each from a housing subsidy fund normally reserved for retiring faculty. In addition, Beth Singleton requested six months ago and the seminary agreed to pay her $39,600 for a retroactive housing commute subsidy which she had not requested since being elected to the faculty in 1984.
The couple agreed to the settlement after looking at three options, Singleton said. The first, to simply let the school close was rejected because they felt the school was so important; it’s the only school in the SBC with no ethnic majority and is critical in helping to reach the West and Pacific Rim.
The second was to try a procedural move, going to court. The Singletons said they rejected that because they wanted to be positive and litigation would bring a negative taint on the school.
A third option was to deal with the financial emergency by resigning, although the Singletons disagree that the deficit was in the $200,000 range. Singleton said $100,000 of that amount was “overhead” which the school would continue to have regardless. It was their opinion, Singleton said, that trustees were closing the school over about $71,000. That is approximately the combined salaries of the Singletons. But, since they had not heard from the seminary following the attorney’s letter, they weren’t sure resignations would keep the school open.
Singleton also reiterated a charge he made during the trustees meeting that the faculty had not addressed the school’s closing, pursuant to seminary guidelines, although he agreed the trustees did have the right to shut down the school. Crews said the problem with the church music school had been discussed numerous times over the past years with the music faculty. Differing philosophies about church music style, lack of response by churches in the West in hiring music school graduates and why, and the declining enrollment and subsequent lack of revenue were cited as points of discussion over the years.
Singleton said he and his wife do not have any employment opportunities at this time, although they will continue as co-ministers of music at nearby Tiburon Baptist Church.
The Singletons’ resignation is effective July 31, the end of the seminary’s fiscal year.
Craig Singleton, 46, is the former director of the music school and has taught at the school 17 years. Beth Singleton, 47, was an instructor in church music for four years before her election to the faculty.
A financial analysis presented to the trustees showed rising costs combined with falling revenue from years of declining enrollment led to deficits ranging from $35,820 in 1994-95 to $70,959 expected this fiscal year, without including overhead costs. With the overhead factor, deficits ranged from $181,036 to $187,468, respectively.
Currently 25 students are enrolled in the seminary’s two church music degree programs. The 25 students are generating 17 FTEs, the seminary said, which are “full-time equivalents,” the basic unit upon which funding from the SBC’s Cooperative Program to the six SBC seminaries is allocated. Since 1985, 60 degrees in the church music programs have been granted by the seminary.
“It was never the desire of anyone connected with Golden Gate Seminary that the church music program be stopped,” Crews said. “Rather, it was the desire of all persons involved in this decision that the music program be both helpful to the churches and financially viable. We believe the future of shaping effective leaders for music and worship in the churches will be enhanced by these actions.”
In addition to the Singletons, the school of music includes the director, Gary McCoy; Max Lyall, music professor for 23 years; and several adjunct faculty.
The Dixon school has earned a 10-year notation-free accreditation and it is the only triply accredited school of church music west of Texas, administrators noted.

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  • Herb Hollinger