Educational debt has become an increasing issue for students in theological schools. They enter with more debt, graduate with more debt, and can carry that burden throughout their careers. Lilly Endowment Inc. has responded to these challenges with a number of initiatives, including the Theological School Initiative to Address Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers (ECFFM).
ATS began coordinating the ECFFM Initiative in 2012. Since then, the Association has partnered with 67 member schools to conduct research into financial issues facing students, to develop new strategies for decreasing financial burdens on students, to create and strengthen educational programs in financial literacy for pastoral leaders, and to use partnerships to address these issues.
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Jo Ann Deasy joined the ATS staff in June 2014 as director, institutional initiatives and student research. Her responsibilities include coordinating the Economic Challenges Facing Future Ministers initiative as well as the management, collection, and interpretation of data for the Entering Student, Graduating Student, and Alumni/ae Questionnaires. She also serves on the research team at ATS and recently contributed to research projects related to assessing spiritual and personal formation, women in leadership in theological education, and mapping the graduate workforce of ATS.
Deasy served for seven years as the dean of students and community life at North Park Theological Seminary in Chicago. An ordained pastor in the Evangelical Covenant Church, she has also served on staff at congregations in Duluth, Minnesota, and Mercer Island, Washington, and came to ATS from Sojourner Covenant Church in Evanston, Illinois, where she served as lead pastor for four years.
Deasy graduated from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary with a PhD in congregational studies with an emphasis in congregational leadership and contextual theologies.