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United Methodist seminary ordered to sell campus to local consortium amid financial woes

Claremont School of Theology
Claremont School of Theology in Southern California retains its affiliation with The United Methodist Church. |

A California-based seminary affiliated with the United Methodist Church dealing with financial woes was recently ordered by a court to sell its campus to a local consortium of higher education institutions although it hoped to merge with another college with ties to Methodism. 

The Los Angeles Superior Court issued a ruling earlier this month ordering Claremont School of Theology to provide an offer to Claremont Colleges, Inc., a consortium of local schools, to buy the campus.

In a statement released on Jan. 6, CST said that while it is considering an appeal to the decision, the school aims to make sure that it receives a fair price for the property.

“Our number one priority is ensuring our current and prospective students maintain access to the world-class education they want and deserve from Claremont School of Theology,” said CST President Rev. Jeffrey Kuan in the statement.

“We hope to collaborate in good faith with The Claremont Colleges Inc. to identify a mutually beneficial and fair resolution to this matter that will allow CST to continue to operate on our present property, perhaps on a smaller footprint, while also supporting the future fiscal stability of our institution.”

In 2015, due to financial struggles, CST had expressed an interest in merging with Willamette University of Salem, Oregon, which has historic ties to the Methodist Mission.

However, citing a 1957 agreement, Claremont Colleges argued that it has the right of the first offer on the CST property and could purchase the property well below what CST was asking.

“We are pleased with the Court’s rulings,” a Claremont Colleges statement reads. “As invested members of the Claremont community for 135 years and firmly committed to our home, The Claremont Colleges are duty bound to protect the property entrusted to us for the benefit of our students, faculty and staff as well as the community.”

Claremont Colleges includes seven other member institutions: Claremont Graduate University, Claremont McKenna College, Harvey Mudd College, Keck Graduate Institute, Pitzer College, Pomona College and Scripps College.

“CST purchased the land from TCC, at a negotiated price, to begin operations in Claremont in 1957,” the consortium explained in its statement.“As part of the parties’ original agreement, TCC retained a right to repurchase the property according to an agreed purchase-price formula if CST ever desired to sell or transfer the property or left Claremont.”

“CST agreed to the repurchase right in 1957, that right was documented in their 1957 agreement, and that right has been recorded in the property’s chain of title ever since.”

The consortium has stated that it has several potential plans for the property, which include the creation of new student housing, additional classroom spaces while other institutions renovate older facilities and new academic programs.

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