Board Report: May-June 2023

The LSTC board of directors met Tuesday, June 20 to approve the seminary’s operating budget for fiscal year 2023-24. 

Following LSTC’s commencement ceremony, the board gathered over two days on May 22-23 for its final in-person meeting for the 2022-23 academic year.

Setting the stage for an historic meeting, President James Nieman began by acknowledging the significance of the 193 days that had passed since their last in-person meeting.

When the group last met in November 2022, LSTC was in the throes of deciding where it would move. Standing at the cusp of change, Nieman asked the room to pause and give thanks to God because LSTC held a secure and solid lease with Catholic Theological Union with construction beginning on the seminary’s new home. 

“We are now on the edge of an historic arrangement that sets our course for years to come,” Nieman declared. “Whenever we may doubt or despair, let’s recall that God’s ways and time are not our own, and the sometimes antique-sounding idea of providence still has relevance.”

Nieman also stopped to acknowledge the hard work of LSTC staff and faculty over the last year, particularly the hard press within the last several months. 

Looking forward, the president asked the board to consider the strategic work outlined in the months and years ahead, who and what LSTC is becoming, and how shaping that vision could be the focus of the board’s work.

During the two-day meeting, the board also heard from the seminary’s executive leaders who presented an update on the strategic plan, the budget planning process and financials related to the sale of the facility, fundraising and the Re-imagine campaign, construction of the new building and decommissioning of the old building, relocation plans, faculty searches and new hires, a forecast of fall enrollment, digital marketing, distance learning, and a timeline for the reparations initiative.

On the afternoon of the meeting’s first day, board members toured the new facility at Catholic Theological Union . Later that evening, the LSTC Board of Directors awarded the 2023 Distinguished Service Award to Dr. Kristi Ferguson, MSW, PhD. who began her service to LSTC as a board member in the fall of 2015. The Distinguished Service Award is conferred annually by the LSTC Board of Directors to an individual who exemplifies service supporting the mission and ministry of the seminary. Bob Berridge senior project manager of facilities, was also honored for his service to the seminary for nearly 40 years. Berridge retires from this position June 30, 2023.

Board Actions

The board unanimously approved the appointment of Brooke Petersen to the prestigious position of Tietjen Chair in Pastoral Care, in recognition and appreciation of her expertise and commitment to nurturing the community’s spiritual well-being. Additionally, new hire Karri Whipple was appointed assistant professor in the New Testament, acknowledging both her academic strength in the field and many other gifts she brings to this position.

Recognizing the importance of worship and preaching, the board authorized searches to fill the tenure-eligible faculty positions of the Braatz Chair of Worship and the Carlson Chair of Preaching. These roles aim to enhance the spiritual and theological education of the students at LSTC.

The board turned its attention to matters of faculty development, approving the sabbatical proposal for Klaus-Peter Adam, allowing him to explore new avenues of theological research during the spring of 2024. They also approved revisions to the Faculty Handbook in alignment with the recommendations of the Antiracism Transformation Team and the faculty’s approval on March 14, 2023. These changes aim to foster an inclusive and equitable environment within LSTC.

Turning its attention to the Audit Committee’s report,the board approved the Audit Engagement Letter for the June 30, 2023, fiscal year. The Chair of the Audit Committee was duly authorized to sign this engagement letter, ensuring transparency and accountability in LSTC’s financial operations.

The Finance and Operations Committee had no immediate actions to present, allowing the board to move to the Marketing and Fundraising Committee’s proposals. The board accepted the gift acceptance, gift counting, and gift recognition policies, which will govern the management of donations to LSTC. They also accepted the changes to the Foundation Board of Trustees bylaws, nominating Roger Lewis as the first Emeritus Trustee and appointing Carrie Lewis LaPlant to the Foundation Board of Trustees. In addition, they approved the changes to the Investment Policy, aiming to safeguard the institution’s financial future.

The Governance Committee presented a revised Audit Committee Charter, which the board readily approved, enhancing its effectiveness and aligning it with best practices.

Lastly, the board wholeheartedly endorsed the plan and timeline presented by the Reparations Task Force, acknowledging historical injustices and committing to address them by taking tangible steps forward.

The board’s next meeting will be held, Tuesday, June 20. The purpose of this meeting is to receive recommendations on the FY24 budget from the Finance and Operations committee.

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