Strategic plan update: Accomplishments & focus on new priorities

Closeup of two people holding pens

We’re nearly halfway through LSTC’s strategic plan for 2021-2023 that the board of directors approved in November 2020. And although prayer has been part of it, it’s also taken a lot of time, work and commitment. We need it all “for such a time as this” (the strategic plan name).

Soon after the plan was approved, seminary leaders analyzed its 24 priority initiatives. Nine were chosen for focus in 2021 and seven were chosen for 2022. Various faculty and staff have served as priority initiative leaders.

To recap: Strategic Plan 2021

We’re celebrating accomplishments across the nine priority initiatives of 2021, including these:

  • Erik Christensen and Esther Menn, co-leaders of priority initiative “Program Viability,” reported the completion of an audit of the advanced studies program and worship, as well as studies of contextual education and housing. The advanced study audit helped faculty formalize capacity for upcoming admission cycles for the next few years. These audits continue as part of the ongoing work, and there are new ones underway this year.
  • Esther Menn and Brooke Petersen, co-leaders of priority initiative “Curriculum Review,” said faculty successfully revised and passed new curriculum rubrics for the MDiv, MA and MAM programs. • Vima Couvertier-Cruz was “owner” and Erik Christensen was “sponsor” of the “Antiracism Transformation Team” and “Authentic Diversity” initiatives. They completed an antiracism institutional charter and teamcommissioning event.
  • Nate Ramsey and John Damer, co-leaders of priority initiative “Scholarship Support,” performed an in-depth assessment to determine appropriate balance between supporting students and helping the institution reach financial sustainability, all while remaining competitive within the seminary landscape.

Said Damer, “We have already begun changes to how we recruit and talk with prospective students, [communicating] our commitment to them and the steps for which they are responsible. With input from school leadership and board members with expertise, we built an improved budget model to more accurately project future scholarship needs for the various degree programs as LSTC.”

Aaron Copley-Spivey, leader for priority initiative “Administrative Alignment,” said how impressed and humbled he feels after reflecting on strategic plan successes in 2021.

“Change is so difficult and can create a lot of fear and anxiety, yet our community worked through those fears and anxieties to ask tough questions and develop sustainable solutions that better equip us to handle future challenges,” Copley-Spivey said. “We prayed together, showed concern for the most vulnerable among us to ensure equitable and just practices, and celebrated the gifts of new and longstanding community members.” 

Looking ahead: Strategic Plan 2022

This year, community members will focus on seven new priority initiatives under these themes:

Theme: Courageous Service

Seeking equity: race, gender, sexuality: Equip students to frame these issues as theological concerns and gain experience addressing them faithfully in practical contexts.

Climate health: Offer formational experiences of the church as a change agent for rethinking the relationships of economies to ecology to care for creation.

Theme: Stewarding Gifts

Software integration: Fully integrate the institution’s software systems and programs to ensure seamless efficiencies in reporting and decision-making processes.

Coordinated evaluation: Implement an institutional data management plan for streamlining information collection and use to successfully support seminary initiatives.

TEEM Program: Develop, enroll and support clusters of students through the TEEM program, and support enrollment and retention of these candidates through mentoring initiatives with our alumni.

Alumni Involvement: Design and implement multiyear strategy to enlist the alumni board to increase unrestricted donations from alumni; recruit alumni as volunteers for communicating our story to potential donors; connect alumni with students in mentorship roles.

Theme: Dynamic Formation

Authentic Diversity: Examine, prioritize and implement the “Recommendations for theological education and leadership” from the ELCA Task Force for Strategic Authentic Diversity final report.


Original article published in the Winter/Spring 2022 Epistle Magazine; written by Elizabeth Chentland

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