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College President Resigns Following Fight with Denomination

David Norman arrived shortly after Presbyterian church took school to court over "mission drift."

Late last month, trustees for Erskine College and Seminary announced that president David Norman will resign this summer after three years spent helping the South Carolina school recover from a bruising fight with its denomination.

"I am exhausted," wrote Norman in a resignation letter. "The toll this job has taken on me and on my family cannot be ignored. I also know that, although I have committed each day to serve God and this institution to the best of my ability, I have strained or broken relationships with several of Erskine's most important alumni, faculty, and staff."

In the letter, Norman highlighted reasons for optimism after weathering the "most significant challenges in [the school's] history."

"These past three years have not been easy," he wrote. "We have lived and worked within a culture that has been recovering from much brokenness and hurt."

Norman later told the Greenwood Index Journal that he expected a short-term presidency when he accepted the role, though he acknowledged that it had been "his goal to turn Erskine into the kind of school where someone could serve as president for 30 years."

Erskine appointed Norman as president in fall 2010. He was selected following a rather tumultuous period of fighting between the school and its sponsoring denomination, the Associate Reformed Presbyterian Church (ARP), which fired board members and accused faculty of "mission drift" in spring 2010.

But Erskine had some troubles during Norman's presidency as well. A 2012 report re-affirmed the school's relationship with the ARP, and a measure to suspend the school's funding from the denomination narrowly failed.

Erskine's situation raised questions about the strength of colleges with strong denominational ties, which "are enrolling fewer students from within their own ranks."

Related Topics:Higher Education
Posted:May 16, 2013 at 12:07PM
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