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The Relocation of St Vladimir’s Seminary

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Source: St. Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary

We wanted to share with you a major announcement regarding the future of St Vladimir’s Seminary, included below. The Seminary’s Board of Trustees came to this decision after many, many months of prayer, deliberation, and work with multiple professional consulting groups. This will be anything but easy, as much history, many blessings, and many fond memories are tied to the Yonkers campus St Vladimir’s has called home since the 1960s. But the Board feels strongly this is the right course of action in order for St Vladimir’s to carry out her mission for future generations.
Please continue to keep the Seminary and all our seminarians in your prayers.
Yours Faithfully in Christ,
The Very Rev. Dr. Chad Hatfield
President & Professor of Pastoral Theology
Board votes to relocate St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
Location to be determined
[SVOTS Communications / YONKERS, NY] To address the growing need for priests and other vocations in the Orthodox Church, the Board of Trustees of St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary (SVOTS) has voted to relocate SVOTS from its current location in Yonkers, NY. The new location and the timing of the move have yet to be determined, but the Board recognizes that the Seminary will not be able to expand and adapt to the needs of the twenty-first century Church if the campus remains in Yonkers.
Following eighteen months of extensive research and deliberation at five Board meetings, the Board reached the relocation decision on Friday, November 5, 2021. Board members and Seminary administration worked with three professional consulting groups during this process and concluded that SVOTS’ current location is untenable for numerous reasons, including the following:
  • The New York City area’s high and rising cost of living impacts seminarians, their families, and employees and makes it difficult for SVOTS to recruit faculty, staff, and students.
  • The Yonkers campus is landlocked, leaving no room for expansion. Expansion is needed due to rising enrollment, increasing operational and staffing needs, ongoing and future initiatives (such as adding online educational programs to current residential offerings), and other infrastructure needs.
  • The legal and regulatory environment in the New York area makes significant alterations to campus infrastructure or growth extremely difficult, even if expansion of the current campus were possible.
  • Preliminary estimates from contractors have revealed it would take tens of millions of dollars to make necessary improvements to SVOTS’ aging and deteriorating campus in order to be a viable institution in the twenty-first century. Simply bringing the Yonkers campus to an adequate standard could easily cost as much or more than relocating and building a brand new campus to fit the Seminary’s needs for decades to come.
“Much prayer and a long process of due diligence and discussion led to the Board’s unanimous decision to relocate the campus of St Vladimir’s Seminary,” said Dn Michael Hyatt, trustee and executive chair of SVOTS. “We considered doing nothing; we explored investing into the campus in Yonkers; but we believe without doubt the legacy and long-term future of SVOTS lies with relocation in order to expand and meet the demands of the twenty-first century.”
“Over its more than eighty-year history, St Vladimir’s Seminary has relocated multiple times in order to fulfill its mission and purpose, including the move to Yonkers in the 1960s,” said Fr Chad Hatfield, president of SVOTS. “Now we find ourselves again at a critical juncture in the Seminary’s history, and we simply cannot afford to do nothing or to try staying in New York—there is risk no matter which avenue we decide to take.”
“We have a duty to serve the Orthodox Church in the face of the current reality confronting theological seminaries in North America. Over the past decade, more than fifty seminaries accredited by the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) have either merged or closed their doors entirely,” added Fr Chad. “The time has come to make a bold move, not just to survive but to thrive and expand for the sake of the Gospel of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.”
Because of the Board’s decision, a relocation task force will evaluate various cities throughout the country, and Seminary administration will complete a comprehensive project plan, a detailed fundraising plan, and a five-year financial model. The Board will consider the location and timeline for relocation at its May 2022 meeting.
St Vladimir’s Orthodox Theological Seminary
575 Scarsdale Road
Yonkers NY 10707
914.961.8313
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15 Comments

  1. If changing the location of St. Vlad’s Seminary isn’t an opportunity to merge with St. Tikhon’s, I don’t know what is.

    • Cato the Elder on

      If the Assembly of Bishops was a synod of an administratively united autocephalous Orthodox Church in North America, it would merge all of the Orthodox Seminaries into a single, well-run, growing school with the best faculty and curriculum.

      It would resist the ethno-centrists and diasporists as well as the far-right and far-left extremists and promote a missionary church with outreach to newcomers and re-evangelize those who have left.

      It would understand who its flock is and serve its needs.

      • Cato: Understand, SVS has ALWAYS been a Pan-Orthodox institution. Frs. Florovsky, Schmemann, Hopko, etc. have always supported this. Many Greeks, Antiochians, Converts, etc. have attended SVS. It always focused on the principals of an “Academy” offering the highest and best academic standards. Holy Cross in Brookline, MA was instituted to address the particular needs of the GOA (Greek usage, Byzantine Music, ethnic identity). St. Tikhon’s was originally a Pastor’s School connected to a monastery located in the mountains of PA. There is no need to combine the schools, but allow each their own historic identity and purpose.

        • Cato the Elder on

          Nikolai,

          So, SVS is perfect and merging HC (and other struggling Orthodox seminaries in North America) with SVS would dumb-down SVS?

          SVS needs to grow and has decided to sell its present location and relocate, because of limitations to expansion and local regulatory obstacles.

          Rather than cursing the darkness (HC’s ethnocentrism, etc.) why not light a candle (the combined resources of HC and SVS+ others) to create a first class theological school?

    • I have been a site selector for years and I believe this is a very good decision. You should seriously consider the SE part of the US. It would be cheaper and you could get a large parcel fairly cheap compared to NY. Additionally, once you sell that very valuable St Vladimir’s property you could pay for a new site and building with the funds. I would like to help you with this, if you like. I have years of experience. Maggie Rogers

  2. Nicholas Zolotov on

    This appears to be an incredibly bad decision. Large institutions are scaling back brick and mortar projects and St. Vlad’s wants to expand? They should be joining forces with St. Tikhon’s seminary not making a decision which could ultimately force them into bankruptcy. Ask the Greek archdiocese how well Holy Cross is really doing. The Claremont School of Theology was for sale just a few years ago. Why? Because their board said it was too costly to maintain. I get trying to lower costs but starting from scratch in a new city when you have another sister seminary right next to you that is also struggling is complete arrogance and stupidity. As an alum of St. Vlad’s I am deeply disappointed in this idiotic, grandiose plan. It seems that the school has truly lost its way.

    • Mr. Zolotov, you are correct! The school has lost it’s way. The Board of Trustees really doesn’t have a handle on Orthodoxy in America, the real challenges of SVS nor providing real direction. They are told what to do and how to act. As previously said, if this is a money issue, find better people to raise money. They want to expand – SVS hasn’t had a full compliment of students in years. People need to ask, “What is really going on?” Why did the Board decide to demote one of the brightest Orthodox theologians in the world and throw him out with the trash. The Board is clueless.
      As far as uniting with STOTS, who really wants to relocate to the arctic wilderness? What is needed is for the Metropolitan to stand up and stop this madness and reorganize the Board and SVS management.

      • Mr. Zolotov: Please also consider this, the push seems to be to relocate SVS to the South, Texas. Where is this coming from? Right-wing Orthodox fringe elements who … believe they are the saviors of the Orthodox Church…I believe we have a serious problem of right-wing nuts infiltrating Orthodoxy trying to infuse their twisted agenda on the Church. If they can capture SVS, then who will stand up for what Orthodoxy really is in America?…

  3. Solon P. Patterson on

    I wish you well and Godspeed.
    Solon Patterson
    P.S. Have you considered merging with Fordham’s School of Theology and it’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center?

  4. A petition will be circulated online shortly opposing this move. It will be presented to the Metropolitan and many will be attending the Spring meeting of the SVS Board. We want to know who is driving this move and the real reason why this is even being considered. Right-wing radical Orthodoxy must be stamped out.

  5. I wish to reiterate, SVS needs to remain where it is. If money is the issue, find better fundraisers. Expansion is ridiculous since SVS has had a full complement of students for years. People pushing to move SVS will DESTROY THE SCHOOL! Those wanting an Orthodox theological school elsewhere should go start one. All of the current SVS Board should be retired along with the current SVS head. A new Board should be installed consisting of people who REALLY have the future of SVS in their hearts and minds. A new leader of SVS is necessary who will not be swayed by outside forces who will destroy the school. It really is a shame Fr. Behr is no longer there to lead…

  6. Pauline Costianes on

    YEARS AGO, there was a push for St Vlad’s to get out of NYC, one of the most expensive cities in the world to operate in, and buy one of the many former Roman Catholic seminaries in the Midwest that were up for sale – cheap! We had one right here in metro Detroit! But NOOOOO! They couldn’t leave and went and built a new chapel and housing, etc, etc…Yes, the Metropolitan and the Synod of Bishops need to stop this in its tracks!…

  7. Institutions of higher learning have always been established in or near major cities where higher learning institutions were established. In this case, NYC. Major libraries, universities and heads of all the Orthodox Churches. the GOA, the Antiochians, etc. The OCA Met to move to Wash., D.C. is another stupid move. Again, if it’s money, get better fund raisers. Expansion? SVS hasn’t had a full compliment of students in years!

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