The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Higher education news

Thanks to donors interested in reducing seminarian debt, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago awarded 12 full-tuition scholarships to new master of divinity students for their three years of academic coursework. (Students spend one additional nonacademic year on internship.) Seven of the awards were part of the seminary’s Visionary Leaders Scholarship program, which has awarded a total of 27 scholarships in the last three years. The other five scholarships were awarded by the ELCA Fund for Leaders.  

Krista Tippett, host and producer of American Public Media’s On Being, was the featured speaker for the Bern-hard M. Christensen Symposium,  Oct. 1, at Augsburg College, Minneapolis. Tippet, a Fulbright scholar with a master of divinity degree, offered her thoughts on “Einstein’s God: Revisiting Science and Religion in a New Century.” Since 1990  the annual symposium has honored Christensen (Augsburg College and Seminary president from 1938 to 1962) by reinforcing the principles of academic integrity, the gospel and a mutually supportive relationship with the church. 

Designing for a cause, Cyndi Wiley, an art and design professor at Grand View University, Des Moines, Iowa, organized students in her senior-level Interactive Design class to create a website and collateral pieces for the Ethnic Minorities of Burma Advocacy and Resource Center. The students are using a design framework developed by Wiley that is based on empathy, connectivity, authenticity, trust and spirituality. Their project is part of the national AIGA Design for Good initiative

Blueprints for a treasure trove? Augustana College, Rock Island, Ill., hired an architect to draw up plans for an $8 million to $12 million addition to its art museum, which will include space for display, a flexible theater and music practice. Augustana President Steven Bahls told the Quad-Cities Online that the school has been “blessed by significant donations of art over the last few years” and wants to exhibit them. The college tapped a new museum director, Preston Thayer, to help implement the plans. 

A 665-strong student body is the largest at Bethany College, Lindsborg, Kan., in more than 15 years. In the last six years, enrollment has grown 24 percent, increasing every year except 2012 when there was a nationwide trend of decreasing enrollment (the U.S. Census Bureau reported a loss of 467,000 students across U.S. colleges that year). With the campus at full capacity, a small number of students and a resident director are being housed off-campus in a hotel. “Now we are exploring housing options to meet the increased demand next fall and in the years to come,” said Bethany President Edward F. Leonard III.

As arguments continued over the Affordable Care Act, Michael Dulitz, a senior atAugustana College, Sioux Falls, S.D., published a research article, “Betting the Farm,” in the October 2013 issue of South Dakota Medicine. Dulitz plans to attend medical school and pursue a master’s degree in public health. As part of a class on social science research methods, he surveyed 135 farmers in nine South Dakota counties about their health and health insurance status before the Jan. 1, 2014, start of the act’s health insurance mandate. Dulitz said he found that as farmers age they “are paying an increasing cost for their health insurance” and making “significant sacrifices in order to afford their health-care coverage.” 

“As we approach the end of the Civil War sesquicentennial, we need to think seriously — not only about how wars end, but also about our obligations to those oft-unsung heroes who defend our freedom,” wrote Gettysburg [Pa.] College professor Brian Jordan in the Sept. 15 New York Times Sunday Review. Jordan’s piece is one of a seven-part Gettysburg College-sponsored series to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. He compared the struggles of Civil War veterans with those of veterans today. Thousands of Union veterans “developed addictions to the rum and laudanum they had first tasted in field hospitals,” he wrote. “Homelessness, unemployment and destitution became realities for many,” and like today’s vets, many tried to explain their sacrifices to a skeptical public.

Journalist and author Richard Rodriguez, known for his observations on class, ethnicity, race and religion in America, headlined the Gerhold Lecture in the Humanities on Oct. 10 at Capital University, Columbus, Ohio. Rodriguez’s new book of essays, Darling: A Spiritual Autobiography, explores Islam, Judaism, Christianity and their connection to the desert. The annual lecture seeks to promote peace, dialogue and greater understanding of the human experience. Lecture founders Edward L. and Mary Catherine Gerhold were longtime Bexley, Ohio, residents, and Edward Gerhold was a lifelong Lutheran.

Theologian Tink Tinker, a professor at the Iliff School of Theology in Denver, spoke Oct. 2 at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis., about “World Balance vs. Personal Salvation: American Indian and Euro-Christian Worldviews in Conflict.” Tinker, a member of the Osage Nation, teaches courses in American Indian cultures, history and religious traditions; cross-cultural and Third World theologies; and justice and peace studies. He is co-editor of Fortress Press’ Peoples’ Bible (2008).

Students at Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., give their professors top marks, according to the website www.RateMyProfessors.com. Gustavus was No. 16 on the site’s list of the top 25 U.S. college and university faculties, according to the students themselves. It joined schools such as Duke University, Durham, N.C.;Stanford [Calif.] UniversityCornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.;  and Washington University in St. Louis on the list. Founded in 1999, RateMyProfessors.com is the largest online destination for professor ratings. It lists professors according to “easiness,”  “helpfulness,” “clarity,” the rater’s “interest” in the class prior to taking it, and the degree of “textbook use” in the course.

Undergraduate students at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C., are doing cutting-edge research on sequencing the genome of the blueberry. Students from Lenoir-Rhyne and others from Davidson [N.C.] College and North Carolina State University, Raleigh, are helping Allan Brown of NC State’s Plants for Human Health Institute; A. Malcolm Campbell, Davidson biology professor; and Scott Schaefer, Lenoir-Rhyneassistant professor of biology. The students are carrying out blueberry research in an effort that seeks to increase their competitiveness for biotechnology careers.

On Oct. 1, the community of Luther College, Decorah, Iowa, considered: Why did John write a Gospel? Why is the Gospel of John so different from those of Matthew, Mark and Luke? James Barker, visiting assistant professor of religion, argued in his Luther College Religion Forum lecture that John knew the earlier Gospels, disagreed with parts of them, and wrote his own to correct the record. Before joining Luther’s religion department, Barker taught at Roanoke College, Salem, Va.

As President Barack Obama’s administration considered whether tuition, graduation rates, and the debt and earnings of graduates should affect the amount of federal financial aid provided to students at colleges, PayScale released its 2013-14 College Salary Report. In that report, salaries of almuni at Wagner College, Staten Island, N.Y., ranked in the top 6 percent (59 on a list of 1,016 schools) among graduates of American colleges and universities. The report was based on a nationwide survey of 1.4 million full-time employees in civilian jobs with bachelor’s degrees.

Speaking of the Obama administration’s proposal to evaluate colleges by alumni salaries, Gettysburg [Pa.] College President Janet Morgan Riggs wrote in an editorial for The Huffington Post: “The irony hit me immediately. [A few months earlier] President Obama recognized Gettysburg College and four other higher education institutions as national models for our commitment to civic engagement and community service. Does it really make sense to measure the value of a college by the income of its graduates? … While many of our students go on to lucrative careers, many of them also pursue careers in public service — they join the Peace Corps, they become educators, they work in nonprofits. And we consider them to be successful. … A system that rates our colleges and universities based upon graduate income is likely to dissuade institutions from encouraging students to take on important roles.”

This fall’s entering freshman class at Newberry (S.C.) College won’t have a tuition rate hike during its four consecutive years at the school. Concerned about the rising costs of higher education, Newberry leaders also froze tuition for continuing and transfer students. “We understand the pressures involved in pursuing a college education and want to minimize the financial challenges as much as possible,” said NewberryPresident Maurice Scherrens. Tuition for 2013-14 is $22,050, a cost offset by institutional aid, which 96 percent of students receive in the form of about $12 million in “academic, departmental, leadership, service, athletic and other merit-based scholarships, as well as need-based grants,” he said.

“Legacy of the Forty-Eighters,” an Oct. 20-22 conference at Wartburg College, Waverly, Iowa, focused on the wide-ranging impact mid-19th century German immigrants had on American life. U.S. and German experts discussed how refugees left behind Germany’s failed democratic revolution of 1848 and arrived in the U.S. from 1847 to 1856 ready to play a role in the fight against slavery. The refugees were involved in: the Civil War (eight prominent Union generals including Carl Schurz, who became secretary of the interior); journalism (Joseph Pulitzer); business (Levi Strauss); and education (Margarethe Schurz, Carl’s wife, founded the first U.S. kindergarten; and more. Learn more at www.wartburg.edu/1848.


The 92-member St. Olaf College Orchestra is the 2013 winner of the American Prize in Orchestral Performance. Composed entirely of undergraduate students and conducted by Steven Amundson, the Northfield, Minn., school bested the Ithaca [N.Y.] CollegeSymphony Orchestra and the Mannes Orchestra of New York, among other ensembles. Judges called the St. Olaf orchestra’s performances “technically brilliant, exciting” and “full of life.” The American Prize is a series of nonprofit competitions that recognize and reward the best performing artists, ensembles and composers in the U.S. based on submitted recordings.

At presstime, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Columbus, Ohio, was preparing for two days of leadership events around the installation of its new president, ELCA pastor Rick Barger. Barger’s installation was set to take place Oct. 27 during a Reformation Sunday worship service with ELCA Presiding Bishop Elizabeth A. Eaton preaching andSouthern Ohio Synod Bishop Suzanne Dillahunt presiding.  A day of conversation on leadership and theological education was to follow, with faculty, alumni, students and others focusing on theological education today, the church, ecumenical realities, musical leadership and more.

The $20-million Karen Hille Phillips Center for the Performing Arts opened in October at Pacific Lutheran University, Tacoma, Wash. Jeff Clapp, PLU artistic director of theater, said it is designed for both music and the spoken word. Previously students used Eastvold Chapel’s auditorium, which was completed in 1952 and designed with musical performances in mind.

Midland University, Fremont, Neb., has had four consecutive years of enrollment growth, and the current student body is 1,288 students — more than double the enrollment of just four years ago. In recent years Midland has offered a “four-year graduation guarantee” and an extensive student support network. University officials said the average Midland graduate accumulates less debt than is common in Midwest state university systems.

Muhlenberg College, Allentown, Pa., committed $10 million for a one-to-one match that would establish endowed scholarships for students in need. The college said it would match gifts ranging from $25,000 to $250,000, until the entirety of the $10 million is committed. “We see access to higher education as the ultimate democratic value,” said Muhlenberg President Randy Helm, calling the match a chance for donors to double their impact. Each year, Muhlenberg runs out of scholarship and grant funds before it runs out of students in need. Eighty-seven percent of this year’s freshman class receive institutional grant and scholarship aid (up from 83 percent last year for the Class of 2016). 

Interfaith Youth Core founder Eboo Patel invited only four U.S. college students to participate in a panel discussion at the third annual President’s Interfaith and Community Service Campus Challenge gathering in Washington, D.C. Those students included senior Anastasia Young from Concordia College, Moorhead, Minn., and senior Tyler Coles from Roanoke College, Salem, Va. More than 350 colleges and universities are involved in the challenge. The gathering offered new ideas for interfaith service efforts, including making use of students’ existing interests for service projects. 

At the start of the fall academic year, more than 600 students at Susquehanna University, Selinsgrove, Pa., joined  faculty and staff Aug. 24 for SU GIVE (Get Into Volunteer Experiences), a day of volunteering at community sites in surrounding counties. The annual event helps freshmen get to know other students and learn about service opportunities in the region. The event is organized by Susquehanna’s Center for Civic Engagement, which helps students, faculty and staff become more active, informed citizens within the community. 

Wittenberg University, Springfield, Ohio, hosted “Bridging Cultures Bookshelf: Muslim Journeys,” a Muslim literature reading and discussion series that began in September and is free to the public. Led by sociology professor Jerry Pankhurst and reference librarian and associate professor Ken Irwin, the series is funded with grants from theNational Endowment for the Humanities and the American Library Association. It was presented in partnership with the Global Peace and Education Network.

What happens to God’s mission when the hands and feet of the disciples are no longer sturdy enough to go out into the world? What does it mean when some disciples struggle with dementia? Wartburg Seminary’s 14-year-old Tri-State Forum offered an Oct. 17 presentation by Audrey West on “Storied Lives: Friendship, Ethics and Care at the End of Life,” focusing on the importance of story for engaging in God’s mission. The forum’s series of five lectures throughout the year is attended by students from the Dubuque, Iowa, seminary; pastors; ministry professionals; and interested laity.

Through its Haller Enterprise Institute, Thiel College, Greenville, Pa., encourages highly motivated students from any major to begin their own business while continuing their education. Named for college benefactors Henry E. and Grace Mary Haller, the institute offers an Introduction to Entrepreneurship course, an advisory board of local business owners, and up to 20 $2,000 academic scholarships a year to student-entrepreneurs. David M. Miller, a Thiel economics and business administration professor, directs the institute.

From Oct. 28-Nov. 2, the A.R. Wentz Library at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg (Pa.)  is exhibiting selected works from its extensive collection of rare and important theological books, including many Martin Luther imprints and those from other Reformers and even anti-Reformers. In many instances the works to be exhibited represent the only North American copy of a particular work; in some cases the works are the only surviving copies known at this time.

Luther Seminary, St. Paul, Minn., held its 2013 Andrew S. Burgess Lecture in Global Mission. Philip Jenkins, professor at Baylor University, Waco, Texas, and religious historian, spoke Oct. 14 on “Four Horsemen: The Catastrophic Four Years That Remade The World’s Religions.” Jenkins said that only “100 years ago Europeans and Americans were deeply involved in [World War I], what both sides understood as a Holy War, and religious and mystical imagery dominated the war’s rhetoric and propaganda.” He argues that the war’s effects reshaped religious life worldwide, creating a massive crisis of confidence for Western Christianity, while modern global Christianity was born.

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary, the Columbia, S.C.-based school of theology at Lenoir-Rhyne University, Hickory, N.C., prepared for a Reformation week celebration, Oct. 25-31, with a symposium on “Toward the 500th Anniversary [of the Reformation in 2017],” a concert by recording artist Bob Bennett, and a Reformation hymn festival. Planners intended the hymn festival to explore the idea of Reformation for the church today, including “the ministry needs of those in our community who suffer or are marginalized members of society.”

Students receiving $10,000 Rossing Physics Scholarships for the 2013-14 school year are seniors Kevin Dalla Santa, Rebecca Gobel and Leah Roth, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minn.; senior James Trevathan, Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn.; junior David Pfotenhauer, Luther College, Decorah, Iowa; and junior Cory Schrandt, Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis. The fund awarded $5,000 each to honorable mention winners: senior Tyler K. Haussener, Susquehanna University,  Selinsgrove, Pa., and senior Morgan Elise Swaidan, California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks. Housed within the ELCA Foundation, the Rossing Fund for Physics Education was started with gifts from Thomas D. Rossing, a professor at Northern Illinois University, Dekalb, who previously taught at St. Olaf

Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., hosted eight world-class scientists, including three Nobel Laureates, at its 49th Nobel Conference Oct. 1-2. Under the theme “The Universe At Its Limits,” 2006 Nobel Laureate in Physics George Smoot, 2004 Nobel Laureate in Physics Frank Wilczek, 1976 Nobel Laureate in Physics Samuel Ting, and five other notable speakers addressed such questions as: What is the universe like? What lies beneath the level of atoms that make up the ordinary matter that the universe contains? What lies beyond our solar system and beyond our galaxy? The Nobel Conference draws about 6,000 people to the campus.  

Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, broke ground Sept. 28 on athletics facilities that will include a football and track and field stadium, a softball stadium and improvements to the baseball field. The project will mean the TLU’s football team can play on campus for the first time since the 1930s. Its nationally competitive women’s track and field team also will have an on-campus, NCAA-compliant track and field complex to call home. 

Juan Marin, assistant professor of mathematics at Finlandia University, Hancock, Mich., is among the Top 25 STEM Professors in Michigan. Compiled by StateStats, in conjunction with Online Schools Michigan, the list recognizes postsecondary educators of science, technology, engineering and math for excellence in the classroom, campus or community. 

Imagine being dean of a seminary graduate school while helping frame the religious freedom article of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948), serving as a diplomat to facilitate an end to the Korean War (1953), and working behind the scenes on Paris Peace Talks negotiations to end the Vietnam War (1968). David Little, a former professor at Harvard Divinity School, Cambridge, Mass., described the contributions of the late O. Frederick Nolde, a 1923 alumnus and professor of religious education at the Lutheran Theological Seminary at Philadelphia, in an Oct. 1 lecture atLSTP. Under the title “The Legacy of Ecumenical Protestantism,” Little shared how Nolde played a key role in the establishment of the World Council of Churches, founded the WCC Commission of the Churches on International Affairs (nominated for the 1966 Nobel Peace Prize) and worked closely with U.S. Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, U.N. General Secretary Dag Hammarskjold and Eleanor Roosevelt on international concerns of the day.

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