LSTC Board’s Transformative Meeting Sets the Stage for Ambitious Plans in the Seminary’s Future

In a symbolic move to embrace change and face the challenges of tomorrow, the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago (LSTC) Board of Directors gathered for their annual November meeting in the seminary’s newly established location at the Catholic Theological Union. This significant shift marked a pivotal moment for the board as they met for the first time in this location and delved into an agenda brimming with both challenges and opportunities.

The meeting commenced with a harmonious blend of prayer, reflection, and a warm welcome extended by Presidents Barbara Reid and David Crawford from the Catholic Theological Union and McCormick Theological Seminary, respectively. As the minutes from the previous meeting were approved, the stage was set for a carefully curated schedule designed to address the school’s routine business blended with a board retreat.

Key decisions emanated from the Academics and Community Committee, notably the approval of sabbatical proposals for Esther Menn and Brooke Petersen, promising enriching experiences for the faculty in the upcoming years. The Committee’s commitment to addressing pertinent issues was further underscored by the call to review and update the LSTC Harassment Policy, demonstrating the board’s dedication to fostering a safe and inclusive environment.

The LSTC Board of Directors delegated to the Finance and Operations Committee approval authority of the Tuition and Fee Schedule for Fiscal Year 2025, with the advice and counsel of LSTC Administration. The fees will be approved by December 31, 2023, and published by January 31, 2024.

However, the board’s commitment to innovation was most evident during the retreat portion, where presentations on the evolving landscape of higher education and opportunities in online learning took center stage. 

President Nieman’s thought-provoking remarks set the tone, navigating the complexities of higher education, addressing the wealth gap, and acknowledging societal shifts. His emphasis on the ‘nones’ and the marginalized underscored the need for transformative change in theological education.

Following Nieman’s lead, LSTC staff presented a compelling case for transitioning to asynchronous learning. The presentations included an introduction to future prospective audiences through nine learner personas, an overview of the most successful distance learning models currently in the marketplace, an example of a phased approach to asynchronous learning at LSTC, and a discussion around budgeting. The board, recognizing the urgency and potential of this initiative, culminated the session with three groundbreaking resolutions. 

Resolution 1 authorizes research and development on asynchronous education approaches, Resolution 2 establishes an Asynchronous Learning Task Force, and Resolution 3 allocates up to $500,000 for this transformative journey.

As LSTC boldly charts its future, these resolutions signify a commitment to adaptability, innovation, and a vision that echoes beyond the seminary walls, impacting the broader landscape of theological education.

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