Southern Religion

Shared sacrifice (not layoffs) is working at NOBTS

No hint of inquisition. No layoffs. Shared sacrifice was the New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary (NOBTS), model response to the recession announced in January.

Bruce Nolan of The New Orleans Times-Picayune described it this week:

. . . nearly across-the-board 5 percent pay cuts for some 250 faculty and staff. Beyond that, other austerity measures: a hiring freeze, energy conservation and rigorous cost-cutting. Increases in teaching loads and, for the families of student workers, loss of medical benefits. . . . President Chuck Kelley . . . 10 percent . . . Key administrators would take a 7 percent cut.

Returning to NOBTS six weeks after that austerity was imposed, he found “the seminary seems to have absorbed the news with a mixture of determination, grim acceptance and relief that the administration chose not to cut jobs.”


“I think, to a person, people are saying that a 5 percent pay cut is better than a layoff. I don’t think I have any colleagues who are thinking, ‘We could do without those two (people). I’d put a noose around their necks if I could have my 5 percent back,’ ” said Bob Stewart, an associate professor of philosophy and theology.

This binding together of the ethics of Christian compassion and business practice is the way to go, some say. Something NOBTS staff affirmed this week. Lloyd Harsch, an associate professor of church history, told Nolan:

We feel like we’re in this together. Whether you’re cleaning the carpets or the president, we’re in this together.

Thus far, shared (necessary) sacrifice for a shared mission = a stronger team.

March 12, 2009 Posted by | Economy, Religion | , , , , , | Comments Off on Shared sacrifice (not layoffs) is working at NOBTS