Seminary moves to downtown Chicago

October 20, 2011

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(AP Photo/Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies)
The Spertus Institute is the new home of the Meadville Lombard Theological School.

A seminary that's been a fixture in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood since 1926 is moving downtown.

The Meadville Lombard Theological School is moving to the Spertus Institute of Jewish Studies. The Unitarian Universalist seminary shifted from a residential school to distance learning. Students remain working in congregations and communities, then attend intensive classes at Meadville a few times a year.

The Rev. Lee Barker is president of Meadville.

"Every small school is under great pressure these days," Rev. Barker said. "One of the things that is constantly a consideration is: Are we using our facilities to enhance the mission of the school?"

Reverend Barker said the seminary considered renovating or building a new center in Hyde Park, but it was too expensive. He said selling the buildings let the seminary devote resources to education instead of to buildings.

He said the technology in Spertus' smart classrooms was a draw, along with the architecture of the building, and the possibility of a multi-faith partnership.

Betsy Gomberg, a spokeswoman for the Spertus, which has also faced financial pressure, said this will fill up any vacant space in the building. The Spertus was built with room to grow before the recession hit.

Gomberg says the institution also liked the idea of a multi-faith partnership.

The move is scheduled in December.