The Magazine of The Evangelical Lutheran Church in America


Higher education

Phyllis Anderson, president of Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, Berkeley, Calif., retires at the end of this month. Anderson extended the time line of her retirement to help the seminary transition into becoming Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary of California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks. At presstime, the merger was waiting for final approval by the Western Association of Schools and Colleges. PLTS also had not yet announced the name of Anderson's replacement — a seminary dean and chief administrative officer who will report to the CLU provost. The CLU-PLTS agreement is the second merger of an ELCA university and seminary following Lenoir-Rhyne University and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary in 2012. It will allow the college and seminary to share resources and expand academic offerings. Under the agreement, PLTS will remain a full seminary of the ELCA. If approved, the merger will take effect Jan. 1, 2014.

Matt Rasmussen, a visiting professor and 1998 graduate of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minn., was named one of five finalists for the National Book Award in Poetry for his debut collection titled Black Aperture (LSU Press, 2012). The award, one of the nation's most prestigious literary prizes, was first given to William Carlos Williams in 1950. Rasmussen said his first creative writing class was at Gustavus. "The English department at Gustavus made me into a poet," he added. Two of the professors who most influenced him were Minnesota Poet Laureate Joyce Sutphen and Phil Bryant — today his colleagues in the college's English department. Rasmussen's Black Aperture also won the 2012 Walt Whitman Award of the Academy of American Poets.

Staff at Carthage College, Kenosha, Wis., notice signs of student difficulties (missing classes, tuition payments or other issues) and begin interventions before things go too far. Launched in the fall, the Center for Student Success uses staff, resources and an early alert system to help students who are having trouble academically, financially or socially. More than 700 students have already responded "to this call to be cared for," said center director Gary Williams. Gregory Woodward, Carthage president, said he has watched the process, which involves a personalized plan for each student, help "great students get back on track to become outstanding and vibrant members of our Carthage family."

The California Wellness Foundation awarded California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, a one-year $100,000 grant to study the neurobehavioral effects of pesticide exposure among residents of Oxnard County. CLU faculty and students will test concentration, memory, information-processing speed, motor speed and visual-spatial skills of county farmworkers and people who live near the farmland. California has the highest agricultural production in the U.S., but few studies have been done on the effect of pesticides on neurobehavioral performance within the state.

Costuming, makeup and dystopia were themes in Lenoir-Rhyne University's free, public Young Adult Literature and Film Series Nov. 1-2. Cheralyn Lambeth, a costumer and performer, spoke with students and the community of Hickory, N.C., about her professional experiences with costuming and publicity for The Hunger Games, constructing Muppet costumes and more. Professional makeup artist Jennifer McCollom also spoke about her experience working on The Hunger Games and demonstrated her makeup techniques. The Hunger Games was filmed predominantly in the region, including outside of Hickory and around Asheville, N.C. Lenoir-Rhyne's young adult series began in 2011 with the Harry Potter Festival, which offered a scholarly look at the works of author J.K. Rowling and co-curricular adventures with wizard rock bands, quidditch matches and trivia games.

In November, Benjamin Sasse began campaigning as a Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate while continuing to serve as president of Midland University, Fremont, Neb. Sasse, a Tea Party favorite, told The Chronicle of Higher Education that the university expects to name an interim president before the May 2014 primary and that he would keep campaign ties separate from his work for the college. This work includes a fundraising campaign to open the now-shuttered Dana College campus in Blair, Neb., for classes in 2015 or 2016. Midland had fewer than 600 students when Sasse began serving as president in 2009, enrolled 321 former Dana students when that school closed and now has an enrollment of more than 1,200.

The campus of Gettysburg (Pa.) College is the setting of the new movie 1,000 to 1: The Cory Weissman Story. Weissman, a basketball standout who suffered a debilitating stroke in his first year at Gettysburg, made a comeback to score one point in the final game of his senior season. Weissman, a 2012 graduate, has been featured in Sports Illustrated and on National Public Radio. Gettysburg staff were featured in the Hollywood film, and students assisted with a variety of tasks and networked with industry professionals.

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