April 2020 News Perspective Online

New Partnership: Central Methodist University

As a Perkins grad and a Central Methodist University trustee, Bishop Bob Farr saw a need for a stronger link between the two institutions. Farr, who is bishop of the Missouri Conference of the United Methodist Church, worked his dual connections to forge that link.

That vision will become reality as SMU and Perkins sign a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with Central Methodist University (CMU) in Fayette, Missouri.

As part of the agreement, Perkins will offer a pathway for preferred consideration and early decision for admission to graduates of CMU, and students at CMU will have enhanced opportunities to learn about Perkins as a graduate school option.

“Right now, we have no students from the Missouri Conference currently at Perkins,” said Farr, who earned his M.Div. at Perkins in 1985. “A few years ago, Dean Hill asked me why. I told him that nobody in Missouri knew about Perkins.”

Also, Farr added, some church leaders were reluctant to recommend Perkins because Missouri students who studied at Perkins often didn’t return. The 2018 launch of Perkins’ Houston-Galveston hybrid program, which combines online learning with classroom instruction, eliminated that objection.

Farr believes that having more clergy from Perkins will be a bonus for the Missouri Conference.

“I’d like to have a mix of people from different seminaries in Missouri,” he said. “I think that’s healthier.”

Farr has served on the board of trustees for CMU off and on for years, and notes that the school is not only thriving but working to strengthen programs that attract students with an interest in ministry.

“CMU is bucking every trend that’s affecting the small private universities,” he said. “Enrollment has been up year after year. The school has a robust online program, with numerous satellite campuses across Missouri, and they have revitalized the student body on campus too.”

Stronger ties between the schools makes strategic sense. As stated in the MOU document, “CMU and SMU share a common heritage within the United Methodist Church and are committed to the training of students for ministry. With the MOU, both institutions seek to create an efficient, streamlined potential path from undergraduate study at CMU to graduate study at SMU’s Perkins School of Theology.”