Butler may buy Christian Theological Seminary property in bid to expand campus

Butler University is in talks with Christian Theological Seminary to purchase most of its adjacent 40-acre campus, according to announcements sent Monday by both institutions.

CTS said its board of trustees plans to vote in September on an agreement that would allow the Indianapolis-based seminary to remain in its current location at 1000 W. 42nd St. for at least 100 years through a lease with Butler.

Butler would purchase the seminary’s main building, its counseling center, 36 student apartments and its Hospitality House—and the land they sit on. CTS said it would continue to own a land parcel on the far west side of its campus.

Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed. But CTS said discussions with Butler have been ongoing since 2015.

The total assessed value for four parcels of land and improvements on them belonging to Christian Theological Seminary is $27.6 million, according to a database from the Indiana Department of Local Government Finance.

Butler’s College of Education would move to the CTS campus in 2018 under the agreement.

The campuses would continue to remain independent and separate in terms of governance and finances. But they would "share space and collaborate on academic programming and select operational services,” according to CTS.

"The agreement under consideration would be neither a relocation nor a merger,” according to CTS. "Instead, it would embody a partnership enabling us to remain strong, positioning CTS to continue to help shape the future of theological education, and through it the future of the church."

The seminary said the sale of the property would create “a major annual revenue stream.” It plans to invest more in tuition scholarships, faculty positions and other community programs with the proceeds.

Butler President Jim Danko said in a blog post that the "agreement is a creative collaboration that benefits both schools.”

"It supports the growth and momentum of Butler 2020, providing our university with new physical space, including the CTS apartments, for potential development as we seek to further enhance the Butler academic experience,” Danko said. "Meanwhile, CTS finds itself with an abundance of space and believes strongly in the responsible stewardship of its resources, including land and buildings. This partnership helps advance the vision of both institutions while keeping them independent.”

Dank said the boards of trustees of both institutions would “finalize the remaining details” in the next few months.

CTS, founded in 1855, has been struggling with decreasing enrollment. Its spring enrollment was 167, compared with 210 in 2011—a 27 percent drop.

Butler’s enrollment has gone in the other direction. From 2007 to 2016, enrollment has grown nearly 15 percent. It was 4,834 in fall 2016.

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