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ALPB => Your Turn => Topic started by: Harry Edmon on February 10, 2020, 01:32:58 PM

Title: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Harry Edmon on February 10, 2020, 01:32:58 PM
From https://www.cu-portland.edu/closure:

February 10, 2020—Portland, Ore.—Concordia University - Portland’s Board of Regents has voted that the University will cease operations at the end of the Spring 2020 academic semester. The resolution was approved February 7, 2020 at 6:00 p.m. PST. The Board’s decision came after years of mounting financial challenges, and a challenging and changing educational landscape.

“After much prayer and consideration of all options to continue Concordia University - Portland’s 115-year legacy, the Board of Regents concluded that the university’s current and projected enrollment and finances make it impossible to  continue its educational mission,” said Interim President Dr. Thomas Ries. “We have come to the decision this is in the best interest of our students, faculty, staff and partners.”

April 25, 2020 will mark the last commencement ceremony at the Concordia University - Portland campus. May 2, 2020 will mark the commencement ceremony for the graduating class of Concordia University School of Law. The Board made this decision to prioritize the well-being of students, faculty, and staff and fulfill its fiduciary obligations. In the Board’s best judgment, a thoughtful and orderly closure process offers the best possible outcome for all affected parties.

Throughout this process, students, faculty and staff will remain the top priority. The University is in active discussions with our accrediting bodies to provide our students the opportunity to continue their educational journey under the guidance of new institutions that fit their needs and can help faculty and staff transition to the next phase of their professional lives.

The Northeast Portland campus has been a part of the Portland community for more than a hundred years. Upon closure, the University will return the Northeast property to the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod and one of the lenders, the Lutheran Church Extension Fund. It is expected they will seek a buyer for the 24-acre campus property.

As soon as more information is known, it will be shared.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 10, 2020, 01:55:32 PM
I am sorry to hear this. It marks the third synodical school to close in my time (St. John's -1986, Concordia - Selma, AL - 2018, Concordia-Portland - 2020).

The landscape of education is changing.  I suspect it will change much more in the immediate years to come.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 10, 2020, 03:24:55 PM
Sad. I always liked that our Concordias were all over the country-- New York, Chicago, LA, Texas, Oregon, Nebraska, Alabama, Twin Cities, Wisconsin, and Ann Arbor. These developments have the feel, in military terms, of a constricting perimeter. Not sure what to do about it, though. It is just a sad thing.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 10, 2020, 04:15:06 PM
I think that we will see more changes, and closures, in the Concordia system in the foreseeable years ahead.  We have had closures going back to at least 1973.

Concordia - Oakland (1973)
St.Paul's College, Concordia, MO (1986) (now a high school)
St. John's College, Winfield, KS (1986)
Concordia - Selma (2018)
Concordia - Portland (2020)

The field is competitive - and costly.  Many have been trying to adapt to a greater online presence, even the Ivy Leagues.  As with anything in the marketplace I suspect that economic factors alone will remove a number of smaller institutions in the next few years. 

Although it is sad to see changes, these changes might end up for the better in the long run.  Many of our Concordias over the last several years have added a wide diversity of programs to remain competitive, programs far afield from their original charter as church work schools.  Not that any of this is wrong, but when you go outside of your original strengths you have to be that much better than the next guy in the same field.  Because the Concordias are private schools their tuition is going to be higher than the state run schools. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 10, 2020, 05:14:04 PM
Wow!  Quite a surprise - I had just read in the Reporter that Tom Ries was appointed as Interim President.  Apparently a short-term assignment.  This is sad indeed. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 10, 2020, 06:24:35 PM
I think that we will see more changes, and closures, in the Concordia system in the foreseeable years ahead.  We have had closures going back to at least 1973.

Concordia - Oakland (1973)
St.Paul's College, Concordia, MO (1986) (now a high school)
St. John's College, Winfield, KS (1986)
Concordia - Selma (2018)
Concordia - Portland (2020)

The field is competitive - and costly.  Many have been trying to adapt to a greater online presence, even the Ivy Leagues.  As with anything in the marketplace I suspect that economic factors alone will remove a number of smaller institutions in the next few years. 

Although it is sad to see changes, these changes might end up for the better in the long run.  Many of our Concordias over the last several years have added a wide diversity of programs to remain competitive, programs far afield from their original charter as church work schools.  Not that any of this is wrong, but when you go outside of your original strengths you have to be that much better than the next guy in the same field.  Because the Concordias are private schools their tuition is going to be higher than the state run schools.


I just wonder what might have happened if Portland had stayed a small jr college (with the high school on the same campus) as it was when my wife and I attended there. The high school moved away in 1977. There were only about 180 students in the college at that time. It now lists about 1200 undergraduate enrollment, but only 54% graduation rate! In addition Wiki says that there are 5200 online and off-site students.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: mj4 on February 10, 2020, 07:07:20 PM
Take a look at these headlines in the Chronicle of Higher Education: https://www.chronicle.com/ (https://www.chronicle.com/). It's a whole new world from when we were in school.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 10, 2020, 10:33:32 PM
Wow!  Quite a surprise - I had just read in the Reporter that Tom Ries was appointed as Interim President.  Apparently a short-term assignment.  This is sad indeed. 

Dave Benke

Pres. Ries was also involved in the Selma closure.  I'm surprised, after the issues from that event, that he would take on another.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 10, 2020, 10:37:09 PM
Take a look at these headlines in the Chronicle of Higher Education: https://www.chronicle.com/ (https://www.chronicle.com/). It's a whole new world from when we were in school.

"Forty percent of institutions are destined to struggle." That's a sobering statistic for college administrators.  But that's all I could read.  "This content is available exclusively to Chronicle subscribers."   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: mj4 on February 10, 2020, 10:55:30 PM
Take a look at these headlines in the Chronicle of Higher Education: https://www.chronicle.com/ (https://www.chronicle.com/). It's a whole new world from when we were in school.

"Forty percent of institutions are destined to struggle." That's a sobering statistic for college administrators.  But that's all I could read.  "This content is available exclusively to Chronicle subscribers."   

Susan Campbell Baldridge is a professor of psychology and former provost at Middlebury College. Susan Shaman is the former director of institutional research at the University of Pennsylvania. Robert Zemsky is a professor of higher education at the University of Pennsylvania. Together, they are the authors of The College Stress Test (Johns Hopkins University Press), from which this essay is adapted.

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on February 11, 2020, 10:55:35 AM
I was a bit caught off-guard by this because I was under the impression that Concordia-Portland was fairly strong due to the growth of its online programs, but I also know that institutions have to be very careful in regards to what they share about their circumstances.  Though, I do remember their having had issues with the U.S. Department of Education over a company they partnered with to grow their said programs.  Turns out that they never recovered from the dip in enrollment that that issue may have caused along with other factors.  From what I understand the big problem for small private liberal arts colleges is that a good portion of their operating budgets (upwards of 90%) come from tuition revenue.  If a college takes a hit in enrollment or its administration makes decisions that turn out to be unsuccessful recovery will be incredibly challenging; they may not be able to get out of the hole even if enrollment increases in the coming year(s).  Our Concordias have a lending agency to rely upon (LCEF) that other colleges may not have, but there is a tipping point in which the risks end up being too big. 

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 11:09:27 AM
I was a bit caught off-guard by this because I was under the impression that Concordia-Portland was fairly strong due to the growth of its online programs, but I also know that institutions have to be very careful in regards to what they share about their circumstances.  Though, I do remember their having had issues with the U.S. Department of Education over a company they partnered with to grow their said programs.  Turns out that they never recovered from the dip in enrollment that that issue may have caused along with other factors.  From what I understand the big problem for small private liberal arts colleges is that a good portion of their operating budgets (upwards of 90%) come from tuition revenue.  If a college takes a hit in enrollment or its administration makes decisions that turn out to be unsuccessful recovery will be incredibly challenging; they may not be able to get out of the hole even if enrollment increases in the coming year(s).  Our Concordias have a lending agency to rely upon (LCEF) that other colleges may not have, but there is a tipping point in which the risks end up being too big. 

Peace,
Scott+

I agree with your assessment, Scott. 

My question has to do with the past several years in the transition and process of leadership selection following the retirement of the past president and the (non)selection of a new president.  There had to be a ramp-up time-frame for the board and national leadership in the months prior to the last president leaving.  If there are gaps in funding or changes in program, all the more reason to expedite the selection process.  This one, from my recollection of the timing, seems to have stopped and gone to extended interim at some point.  That could be either due to board concerns or to what we call in the Missouri Synod the Prior Approval Panel Process. 

I don't know what if any board concerns there were as they assembled their list of candidates or as they determined to hold things up.  However, I've been through a stopped Prior Approval Panel Process at one of our beloved synodical colleges, and know that it can present a significant bump/chasm in the road for the board of regents in exercising their regency.

Of course, there's no going back, but in order for this closure to provide a "teaching moment," there should be sufficient transparency in what happened that other colleges, and even the seminary, can learn from them.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on February 11, 2020, 12:10:18 PM
I just received news that Concordia University - Wisconsin & Ann Arbor (CUWAA) has started an Inquiry Management Team, focused on helping CU-Portland students transition from their programs in the wake of the school's impending closure.  It is run by Ryan Fesser, and if you are an affected student, you can contact them at: inquiry.support@cuw.edu or call them at (262) 243-2090
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on February 11, 2020, 12:15:42 PM
I was a bit caught off-guard by this because I was under the impression that Concordia-Portland was fairly strong due to the growth of its online programs, but I also know that institutions have to be very careful in regards to what they share about their circumstances.  Though, I do remember their having had issues with the U.S. Department of Education over a company they partnered with to grow their said programs.  Turns out that they never recovered from the dip in enrollment that that issue may have caused along with other factors.  From what I understand the big problem for small private liberal arts colleges is that a good portion of their operating budgets (upwards of 90%) come from tuition revenue.  If a college takes a hit in enrollment or its administration makes decisions that turn out to be unsuccessful recovery will be incredibly challenging; they may not be able to get out of the hole even if enrollment increases in the coming year(s).  Our Concordias have a lending agency to rely upon (LCEF) that other colleges may not have, but there is a tipping point in which the risks end up being too big. 

Peace,
Scott+

I agree with your assessment, Scott. 

My question has to do with the past several years in the transition and process of leadership selection following the retirement of the past president and the (non)selection of a new president.  There had to be a ramp-up time-frame for the board and national leadership in the months prior to the last president leaving.  If there are gaps in funding or changes in program, all the more reason to expedite the selection process.  This one, from my recollection of the timing, seems to have stopped and gone to extended interim at some point.  That could be either due to board concerns or to what we call in the Missouri Synod the Prior Approval Panel Process. 

I don't know what if any board concerns there were as they assembled their list of candidates or as they determined to hold things up.  However, I've been through a stopped Prior Approval Panel Process at one of our beloved synodical colleges, and know that it can present a significant bump/chasm in the road for the board of regents in exercising their regency.

Of course, there's no going back, but in order for this closure to provide a "teaching moment," there should be sufficient transparency in what happened that other colleges, and even the seminary, can learn from them.

Dave Benke

I found this article to be helpful:https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/portlands-concordia-university-will-close-at-end-of-spring-semester.html (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/portlands-concordia-university-will-close-at-end-of-spring-semester.html).  It highlights some of the issues I mentioned.  I looked up when President Schlimpert retired (2018) which was a couple of years after they started having serious financial issues (2015).  Though, I'm not all that familiar how the presidential search would work in such a circumstance, I would think that would put a damper on the process. What say you?

The northeast is also facing similar issues of enrollment because of demographic changes. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 12:46:27 PM
I was a bit caught off-guard by this because I was under the impression that Concordia-Portland was fairly strong due to the growth of its online programs, but I also know that institutions have to be very careful in regards to what they share about their circumstances.  Though, I do remember their having had issues with the U.S. Department of Education over a company they partnered with to grow their said programs.  Turns out that they never recovered from the dip in enrollment that that issue may have caused along with other factors.  From what I understand the big problem for small private liberal arts colleges is that a good portion of their operating budgets (upwards of 90%) come from tuition revenue.  If a college takes a hit in enrollment or its administration makes decisions that turn out to be unsuccessful recovery will be incredibly challenging; they may not be able to get out of the hole even if enrollment increases in the coming year(s).  Our Concordias have a lending agency to rely upon (LCEF) that other colleges may not have, but there is a tipping point in which the risks end up being too big. 

Peace,
Scott+

I agree with your assessment, Scott. 

My question has to do with the past several years in the transition and process of leadership selection following the retirement of the past president and the (non)selection of a new president.  There had to be a ramp-up time-frame for the board and national leadership in the months prior to the last president leaving.  If there are gaps in funding or changes in program, all the more reason to expedite the selection process.  This one, from my recollection of the timing, seems to have stopped and gone to extended interim at some point.  That could be either due to board concerns or to what we call in the Missouri Synod the Prior Approval Panel Process. 

I don't know what if any board concerns there were as they assembled their list of candidates or as they determined to hold things up.  However, I've been through a stopped Prior Approval Panel Process at one of our beloved synodical colleges, and know that it can present a significant bump/chasm in the road for the board of regents in exercising their regency.

Of course, there's no going back, but in order for this closure to provide a "teaching moment," there should be sufficient transparency in what happened that other colleges, and even the seminary, can learn from them.

Dave Benke

I found this article to be helpful:https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/portlands-concordia-university-will-close-at-end-of-spring-semester.html (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/portlands-concordia-university-will-close-at-end-of-spring-semester.html).  It highlights some of the issues I mentioned.  I looked up when President Schlimpert retired (2018) which was a couple of years after they started having serious financial issues (2015).  Though, I'm not all that familiar how the presidential search would work in such a circumstance, I would think that would put a damper on the process. What say you?

The northeast is also facing similar issues of enrollment because of demographic changes.

To begin, I don't have enough data to make an informed comment, so I'm just making a best guess based on instinct.

So we start with
a problem - decreased financials and enrollment

Then we have a retirement of a longtime leader

At that point, there are several basic tracks:
1) interim with belt-tightening
2) fast-track new leader selection going for
a) trusted leader
b) leader unafraid to make tough decisions
c) leader who brings both a financial accountability team and a fresh start team
3) wait and see - interim as interim not much happens.

I would pick #2 if I were interested in taking the best shot at keeping it going.  Even then I'd make sure people were aware that the new leader was on a tightrope.  So you'd have to pick someone who could walk the tightrope.

The Prior Approval Process is a sticky wicket if choice #2 is the one that the board wants to go with, because it takes time and can eliminate candidates.

Beyond the PAP, there's this - the major announcement in and around the last synodical convention was that the "historical college debt" had been eliminated by a property sale overseas.  So there is no more historical college debt.  Cool.  Does that not give greater flexibility of approach to institutions that are below the water line?  Apparently the answer is No.  Because the same question could have been asked surrounding the closing of Selma - if you're gaining $15-20 million, is there no way to support the struggling schools?  The answer times two to date is No.

I don't know what happened or when it happened, am blessedly out of that loop, but would simply ask those kinds of questions.

Because at the bottom of the day, all these smallish institutions without a big foundation behind them are on notice.  As you indicate, the demographics are daunting. 

This goes to the downturn in numbers of Lutheran kids in our schools and the downturn in the seminaries' enrollments over the years (with the exception in the seminaries of the SMP/Alternate Route student bodies).  In that instance, I don't see a problem with prioritizing getting "traditional" student enrollment up as a goal.  But realize it's a higher hill than you think because except for the clergy coming through the "family business" route (grandpa, dad, our uncles and cousins are pastors - it's what we do - a small but somewhat dependable group for recruitment), there are way less young men from among us who are available or who have interest in this vocation.  So I would specifically NOT advise throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and downsizing/downgrading the SMP and Alternate Route programs to serve traditional students only.  That's begging for trouble, in my opinion.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Richard Johnson on February 11, 2020, 12:52:14 PM
There are people over on the ELCA clergy Facebook page arguing that Concordia Portland's problems stem from its inhospitality to LGBTQ students.

I'm not kidding.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Matt Staneck on February 11, 2020, 12:55:27 PM
There are people over on the ELCA clergy Facebook page arguing that Concordia Portland's problems stem from its inhospitality to LGBTQ students.

I'm not kidding.

There are folks on LCMS clergy pages saying CUP's *embrace* of LGBTQ is reason #1 for their downfall.

We all deserve each other far more than any of us care to admit.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 11, 2020, 12:56:59 PM
I guess this kind of takes the air out of the closing-Selma-was-racist balloon. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 01:10:20 PM
I guess this kind of takes the air out of the closing-Selma-was-racist balloon.

because Selma's the same as Portland?  I don't get it.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 11, 2020, 02:56:54 PM
I guess this kind of takes the air out of the closing-Selma-was-racist balloon.

because Selma's the same as Portland?  I don't get it.

Dave Benke

Because the reasons for closing Selma and Portland are the same: a failing institution.  Finances, enrollment, lack of future hope.  But, when Selma was closed, all that some saw was racism because its student body was largely black.  Now we see the synod making the same determination in a school that is mostly white.  The synod cannot afford either school; it had nothing to do with race. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on February 11, 2020, 02:59:32 PM
I was a bit caught off-guard by this because I was under the impression that Concordia-Portland was fairly strong due to the growth of its online programs, but I also know that institutions have to be very careful in regards to what they share about their circumstances.  Though, I do remember their having had issues with the U.S. Department of Education over a company they partnered with to grow their said programs.  Turns out that they never recovered from the dip in enrollment that that issue may have caused along with other factors.  From what I understand the big problem for small private liberal arts colleges is that a good portion of their operating budgets (upwards of 90%) come from tuition revenue.  If a college takes a hit in enrollment or its administration makes decisions that turn out to be unsuccessful recovery will be incredibly challenging; they may not be able to get out of the hole even if enrollment increases in the coming year(s).  Our Concordias have a lending agency to rely upon (LCEF) that other colleges may not have, but there is a tipping point in which the risks end up being too big. 

Peace,
Scott+

I agree with your assessment, Scott. 

My question has to do with the past several years in the transition and process of leadership selection following the retirement of the past president and the (non)selection of a new president.  There had to be a ramp-up time-frame for the board and national leadership in the months prior to the last president leaving.  If there are gaps in funding or changes in program, all the more reason to expedite the selection process.  This one, from my recollection of the timing, seems to have stopped and gone to extended interim at some point.  That could be either due to board concerns or to what we call in the Missouri Synod the Prior Approval Panel Process. 

I don't know what if any board concerns there were as they assembled their list of candidates or as they determined to hold things up.  However, I've been through a stopped Prior Approval Panel Process at one of our beloved synodical colleges, and know that it can present a significant bump/chasm in the road for the board of regents in exercising their regency.

Of course, there's no going back, but in order for this closure to provide a "teaching moment," there should be sufficient transparency in what happened that other colleges, and even the seminary, can learn from them.

Dave Benke

I found this article to be helpful:https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/portlands-concordia-university-will-close-at-end-of-spring-semester.html (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/portlands-concordia-university-will-close-at-end-of-spring-semester.html).  It highlights some of the issues I mentioned.  I looked up when President Schlimpert retired (2018) which was a couple of years after they started having serious financial issues (2015).  Though, I'm not all that familiar how the presidential search would work in such a circumstance, I would think that would put a damper on the process. What say you?

The northeast is also facing similar issues of enrollment because of demographic changes.

To begin, I don't have enough data to make an informed comment, so I'm just making a best guess based on instinct.

So we start with
a problem - decreased financials and enrollment

Then we have a retirement of a longtime leader

At that point, there are several basic tracks:
1) interim with belt-tightening
2) fast-track new leader selection going for
a) trusted leader
b) leader unafraid to make tough decisions
c) leader who brings both a financial accountability team and a fresh start team
3) wait and see - interim as interim not much happens.

I would pick #2 if I were interested in taking the best shot at keeping it going.  Even then I'd make sure people were aware that the new leader was on a tightrope.  So you'd have to pick someone who could walk the tightrope.

The Prior Approval Process is a sticky wicket if choice #2 is the one that the board wants to go with, because it takes time and can eliminate candidates.

Beyond the PAP, there's this - the major announcement in and around the last synodical convention was that the "historical college debt" had been eliminated by a property sale overseas.  So there is no more historical college debt.  Cool.  Does that not give greater flexibility of approach to institutions that are below the water line?  Apparently the answer is No.  Because the same question could have been asked surrounding the closing of Selma - if you're gaining $15-20 million, is there no way to support the struggling schools?  The answer times two to date is No.

I don't know what happened or when it happened, am blessedly out of that loop, but would simply ask those kinds of questions.

Because at the bottom of the day, all these smallish institutions without a big foundation behind them are on notice.  As you indicate, the demographics are daunting. 

This goes to the downturn in numbers of Lutheran kids in our schools and the downturn in the seminaries' enrollments over the years (with the exception in the seminaries of the SMP/Alternate Route student bodies).  In that instance, I don't see a problem with prioritizing getting "traditional" student enrollment up as a goal.  But realize it's a higher hill than you think because except for the clergy coming through the "family business" route (grandpa, dad, our uncles and cousins are pastors - it's what we do - a small but somewhat dependable group for recruitment), there are way less young men from among us who are available or who have interest in this vocation.  So I would specifically NOT advise throwing the baby out with the bathwater, so to speak, and downsizing/downgrading the SMP and Alternate Route programs to serve traditional students only.  That's begging for trouble, in my opinion.

Dave Benke

My only thought with Selma is that based on the info available it was a money pit.  Incredibly low graduation rate, locationally limited, deferred maintenance, etc..  With Concordia Portland, like Selma, it seems that with the debt accrued there was no way out.  Certainly, money could be dumped in to sustain for the present moment but then what about a year from now?  In the big picture both institutions would have no problem eating through 20 million, but what then? 

In another way, what I am trying to wrap my mind around is how it gets to this point.  Certainly, demographics are a challenge, but budgets can be adjusted.  That’s what I would really like to see in order to make sense of things; projected budgets and actuals.  I never feel like I am working with all of the information.  Was it really this bad or was it a series of really bad decisions that led to where we are?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 11, 2020, 03:02:18 PM
This article was linked over on the discussion of this topic over at LutherQuest: https://www.oregonlive.com/portland/2016/10/concordia_gained_thousands_of_new_students_--_and_a_federal_inquiry.html


Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 11, 2020, 03:17:22 PM
"The institutions of the Concordia University System, the national higher education network of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, extend together our collective support for the students, faculty, staff, and administration of our sister campus in Portland, Oregon, which announced today its intention to cease operations at the close of this spring semester. 

Although the institutions of the Concordia University System operate independently, we walk together in mission. We resolve to help Portland students, who have unexpectedly found themselves in a very difficult situation. We are committed to offering pathways that enable our fellow Concordians to find their way to a new Concordia home. Our primary aim in the wake of this announcement is to care for displaced students and faculty and to smooth their transitions. 

The loss of the Portland campus reflects the seriousness of the challenges facing the nation’s private institutions and strengthens the resolve of our campuses in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin to collectively provide the highest quality Lutheran educational choice for future generations of post-secondary learners

Across the nation and around the world, Concordia system schools educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty. Like never before, we are working as One Concordia to face the challenges in higher education.

We are strong and by God’s grace and goodness, remain steadfast in our mission to further Christ’s Kingdom."
                 ---Joint Statement from the Concordia University System presidents

https://blog.cuw.edu/a-statement-from-the-concordia-university-system-presidents-on-concordia-portland-closure/?fbclid=IwAR3QuTYU3SVJTR5CuVGz_YWC9O4BGge1HiJ6kAvTOCAOWJJbyICBfvnBqiU (https://blog.cuw.edu/a-statement-from-the-concordia-university-system-presidents-on-concordia-portland-closure/?fbclid=IwAR3QuTYU3SVJTR5CuVGz_YWC9O4BGge1HiJ6kAvTOCAOWJJbyICBfvnBqiU)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 03:20:52 PM
"The institutions of the Concordia University System, the national higher education network of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, extend together our collective support for the students, faculty, staff, and administration of our sister campus in Portland, Oregon, which announced today its intention to cease operations at the close of this spring semester. 

Although the institutions of the Concordia University System operate independently, we walk together in mission. We resolve to help Portland students, who have unexpectedly found themselves in a very difficult situation. We are committed to offering pathways that enable our fellow Concordians to find their way to a new Concordia home. Our primary aim in the wake of this announcement is to care for displaced students and faculty and to smooth their transitions. 

The loss of the Portland campus reflects the seriousness of the challenges facing the nation’s private institutions and strengthens the resolve of our campuses in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin to collectively provide the highest quality Lutheran educational choice for future generations of post-secondary learners

Across the nation and around the world, Concordia system schools educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty. Like never before, we are working as One Concordia to face the challenges in higher education.

We are strong and by God’s grace and goodness, remain steadfast in our mission to further Christ’s Kingdom."
                 ---Joint Statement from the Concordia University System presidents

https://blog.cuw.edu/a-statement-from-the-concordia-university-system-presidents-on-concordia-portland-closure/?fbclid=IwAR3QuTYU3SVJTR5CuVGz_YWC9O4BGge1HiJ6kAvTOCAOWJJbyICBfvnBqiU (https://blog.cuw.edu/a-statement-from-the-concordia-university-system-presidents-on-concordia-portland-closure/?fbclid=IwAR3QuTYU3SVJTR5CuVGz_YWC9O4BGge1HiJ6kAvTOCAOWJJbyICBfvnBqiU)

This is helpful, and coming directly from the CUS Presidents, it demonstrates unity of purpose.  Nice!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 11, 2020, 03:26:58 PM
Concordia University Wisconsin has taken Concordia, Ann Arbor under her wings with
one President for both schools.  This arrangement has been in effect for at least 5 years.
This solution has increased the vitality of the Michigan campus for the future.  This is
a good example of how to make lemonade out of lemons.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 11, 2020, 03:43:31 PM
"The institutions of the Concordia University System, the national higher education network of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, extend together our collective support for the students, faculty, staff, and administration of our sister campus in Portland, Oregon, which announced today its intention to cease operations at the close of this spring semester. 

Although the institutions of the Concordia University System operate independently, we walk together in mission. We resolve to help Portland students, who have unexpectedly found themselves in a very difficult situation. We are committed to offering pathways that enable our fellow Concordians to find their way to a new Concordia home. Our primary aim in the wake of this announcement is to care for displaced students and faculty and to smooth their transitions. 

The loss of the Portland campus reflects the seriousness of the challenges facing the nation’s private institutions and strengthens the resolve of our campuses in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas, and Wisconsin to collectively provide the highest quality Lutheran educational choice for future generations of post-secondary learners

Across the nation and around the world, Concordia system schools educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty. Like never before, we are working as One Concordia to face the challenges in higher education.

We are strong and by God’s grace and goodness, remain steadfast in our mission to further Christ’s Kingdom."
                 ---Joint Statement from the Concordia University System presidents

https://blog.cuw.edu/a-statement-from-the-concordia-university-system-presidents-on-concordia-portland-closure/?fbclid=IwAR3QuTYU3SVJTR5CuVGz_YWC9O4BGge1HiJ6kAvTOCAOWJJbyICBfvnBqiU (https://blog.cuw.edu/a-statement-from-the-concordia-university-system-presidents-on-concordia-portland-closure/?fbclid=IwAR3QuTYU3SVJTR5CuVGz_YWC9O4BGge1HiJ6kAvTOCAOWJJbyICBfvnBqiU)

What strikes me is the "educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty".  That's less than 9 students per faculty member.  Remember, that states "faculty" and not "staff" so I assume we need to add more employees under that heading (administrators, clerical, maintenance and cleaning, etc.).  Then there is the cost of physical plant.  That is just not sustainable. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 11, 2020, 04:00:16 PM


In another way, what I am trying to wrap my mind around is how it gets to this point.  Certainly, demographics are a challenge, but budgets can be adjusted.  That’s what I would really like to see in order to make sense of things; projected budgets and actuals.  I never feel like I am working with all of the information.  Was it really this bad or was it a series of really bad decisions that led to where we are?
I don't think it is an example of an institution in decline, but an institutional casualty of a larger church-culture in decline. As with the body of Christ analogy, the various parts get life from and give life to the other parts. Ill health manifests itself in all kinds of ways.

Last night we were discussing our so far unsuccessful (going by attendance at least) attempt to re-organize Sunday school away from the various age-segregated classrooms (which had been cratering in attendance for some time) toward something more multi-generational and interactive. Sadly, it hasn't helped the generally low participation rate. My point in that discussion was that if three year old never learn Jesus Love Me or This Little Gospel Light, and middle-schoolers still need a table of contents to look up a Bible verse, then teaching confirmation becomes that much harder, etc. All of the facets of what we do depend on the other facets of what we do.

At the same meeting I discovered from our principal that unfortunately we wouldn't be getting student teachers this year after having them the past few years with great success. We have a full staff nearly all of whom are synodically trained and called and active in the congregation, a nice facility, and a stable, diverse student body. It is a great place to student teach. But we won't betting a student teacher because there aren't enough candidates in the Concordia system to supply us with one. Sad. Not sure what to do about it, just sad. And likely it means that a generation from now it will be almost impossible for us to have a full staff of synodically trained teachers.

I keep coming back to military analogies, but the health of the campaign depends on the health of all the parts of the campaign. Training with equipment does no good. Equipment without training does no good. Supply lines, recruiters, code-breakers, medics, morale-boosters, etc.-- everything plays a role.

To me, it suggests that the LCMS, as with most denominational churches, is a product of the Reformation and Western Christendom that operates on a platform of certain institutional assumptions. It can adapt itself to conditions within that platform, but not to the collapse of that platform. When the faith becomes personalized and privatized and loses a sense of church as kingdom of grace/church militant, it eventually dissipates.   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 11, 2020, 04:26:51 PM
ELCA colleges, that is, the colleges established by the predecessor church bodies, never existed solely to train church workers. They did that, of course, but it was never their primary mission. I believe that gave them an opportunity to expand, to attract a larger student body, and to be more competitive with other colleges. And by training more than just church workers, they were able to develop a significant number of wealthy alumni, with loyalty to their colleges.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on February 11, 2020, 04:33:40 PM


In another way, what I am trying to wrap my mind around is how it gets to this point.  Certainly, demographics are a challenge, but budgets can be adjusted.  That’s what I would really like to see in order to make sense of things; projected budgets and actuals.  I never feel like I am working with all of the information.  Was it really this bad or was it a series of really bad decisions that led to where we are?
I don't think it is an example of an institution in decline, but an institutional casualty of a larger church-culture in decline. As with the body of Christ analogy, the various parts get life from and give life to the other parts. Ill health manifests itself in all kinds of ways.

Last night we were discussing our so far unsuccessful (going by attendance at least) attempt to re-organize Sunday school away from the various age-segregated classrooms (which had been cratering in attendance for some time) toward something more multi-generational and interactive. Sadly, it hasn't helped the generally low participation rate. My point in that discussion was that if three year old never learn Jesus Love Me or This Little Gospel Light, and middle-schoolers still need a table of contents to look up a Bible verse, then teaching confirmation becomes that much harder, etc. All of the facets of what we do depend on the other facets of what we do.

At the same meeting I discovered from our principal that unfortunately we wouldn't be getting student teachers this year after having them the past few years with great success. We have a full staff nearly all of whom are synodically trained and called and active in the congregation, a nice facility, and a stable, diverse student body. It is a great place to student teach. But we won't betting a student teacher because there aren't enough candidates in the Concordia system to supply us with one. Sad. Not sure what to do about it, just sad. And likely it means that a generation from now it will be almost impossible for us to have a full staff of synodically trained teachers.

I keep coming back to military analogies, but the health of the campaign depends on the health of all the parts of the campaign. Training with equipment does no good. Equipment without training does no good. Supply lines, recruiters, code-breakers, medics, morale-boosters, etc.-- everything plays a role.

To me, it suggests that the LCMS, as with most denominational churches, is a product of the Reformation and Western Christendom that operates on a platform of certain institutional assumptions. It can adapt itself to conditions within that platform, but not to the collapse of that platform. When the faith becomes personalized and privatized and loses a sense of church as kingdom of grace/church militant, it eventually dissipates.

Please don't misunderstand me as I am very much in agreement with you here.  I think that in many regards we are simply witnessing the end of an era as you note.  But I know from my own pastoral experience that one or two bad decisions can have a lasting impact on an institution like a Concordia.  An impact that 40 years ago could have been lessened because of the stronger institutional position of the church. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 04:46:29 PM
To me, it suggests that the LCMS, as with most denominational churches, is a product of the Reformation and Western Christendom that operates on a platform of certain institutional assumptions. It can adapt itself to conditions within that platform, but not to the collapse of that platform. When the faith becomes personalized and privatized and loses a sense of church as kingdom of grace/church militant, it eventually dissipates.   

Bingo.  And in the general decline of the Lutheran parochial education system, which was the second largest in the country behind the Roman Catholics (also in steep decline) we have had plenty of warning for a couple of decades about what we see transpiring now.

I think Mark Brown used the term "decadence," which may (?) have been taken from a recent Ross Douthat column, but the decadent side of our denomination, as opposed to the ELCA, is that we have hewn to the principal that whatever we have done that was orthodox will continue as is because it is orthodox Lutheran.  Which is not a vision, but a fantasy.

And because of our institutional decadence, we think we have time. So we set up commissions to study.  No, we don't have time, two higher ed institutions down the hatch later, with badly languishing grade schools, less kids in the pre-school because there are simply less kids, and right on up the line.  We have not allowed our educational institutions to be the canaries in the coal mine for our benefit.  So they've died and are gone, school by school by school.  Or they're made up of 4 in K, 2 in 1, 3 in 2, 5 in 3, 4 in 4, for a total of 38 students where there were eight years ago 136 and 18 years ago 195.  How does that business model work?  It doesn't.

I shouldn't get wound up, because it has been my job to speak with and confront and hold the hand and pray with those those who live in that fantasy world for a long time.  I know all about the downside scenarios. 
We, like you, Peter, are trying to take a fresh tack on vision for the future at my own church, with a 73 year old pastor in the lead.  We do have some signs of hope, but you can't place them on 73 year old shoulders for long.  So we'll see what we see by God's grace as the neighborhood adds many people (lots of building going on) but loses the family connectivity that has held us together so well.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on February 11, 2020, 05:13:06 PM
To me, it suggests that the LCMS, as with most denominational churches, is a product of the Reformation and Western Christendom that operates on a platform of certain institutional assumptions. It can adapt itself to conditions within that platform, but not to the collapse of that platform. When the faith becomes personalized and privatized and loses a sense of church as kingdom of grace/church militant, it eventually dissipates.   

Bingo.  And in the general decline of the Lutheran parochial education system, which was the second largest in the country behind the Roman Catholics (also in steep decline) we have had plenty of warning for a couple of decades about what we see transpiring now.

I think Mark Brown used the term "decadence," which may (?) have been taken from a recent Ross Douthat column, but the decadent side of our denomination, as opposed to the ELCA, is that we have hewn to the principal that whatever we have done that was orthodox will continue as is because it is orthodox Lutheran.  Which is not a vision, but a fantasy.

And because of our institutional decadence, we think we have time. So we set up commissions to study.  No, we don't have time, two higher ed institutions down the hatch later, with badly languishing grade schools, less kids in the pre-school because there are simply less kids, and right on up the line.  We have not allowed our educational institutions to be the canaries in the coal mine for our benefit.  So they've died and are gone, school by school by school.  Or they're made up of 4 in K, 2 in 1, 3 in 2, 5 in 3, 4 in 4, for a total of 38 students where there were eight years ago 136 and 18 years ago 195.  How does that business model work?  It doesn't.

I shouldn't get wound up, because it has been my job to speak with and confront and hold the hand and pray with those those who live in that fantasy world for a long time.  I know all about the downside scenarios. 
We, like you, Peter, are trying to take a fresh tack on vision for the future at my own church, with a 73 year old pastor in the lead.  We do have some signs of hope, but you can't place them on 73 year old shoulders for long.  So we'll see what we see by God's grace as the neighborhood adds many people (lots of building going on) but loses the family connectivity that has held us together so well.

Dave Benke

Alas, it is a 73 year old ex-DP, but you don't know how good it is to read the above.  Somebody gets it.

(Except for the fact that any changes take place on the extreme margins, get dumped on sometimes viscously, lack any and all access to real funding that can't be bootstrapped, and then when they don't work get paraded out as bad examples.  What Peter is feeling now, I've been feeling for 10 years.  I have wanted to call a teacher.  Full Salary with benefits.  I have tried three times.  But none were available.  Which makes institutional sense.  You send the teachers to already healthy or healthy-ish places.  You keep the façade going.  Just an example of a decadent institution.  Keep all the buildings, even if there are no people in them, right up until they can't afford themselves.  Then viscously cut them loose.)

Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: mj4 on February 11, 2020, 06:08:34 PM
Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.

I haven't heard any gossip, but the Chronicle of Higher Education has an article on the CUP situation.

Quote from: Bennett Leckrone, Chronicle of Higher Education, February 10, 2020
The university saw stunning enrollment growth in the early 2010s thanks to the development of online graduate programs. But The Oregonian reported in 2016 that the growth had come at a price: Concordia paid more than $160 million to a contractor, HotChalk Inc., that handled many aspects of the university’s immensely popular online graduate-degree program.

Concordia’s relationship with HotChalk also drew federal scrutiny. Regulators alleged that HotChalk was too heavily involved in Concordia’s operations. Concordia and HotChalk eventually signed a $1-million settlement that admitted no wrongdoing in the case, according to The Oregonian.

Ries said the payment and work with HotChalk had nothing to do with Concordia’s closure. The contractor has remained a partner, but strong competition in the online market from ascendant mega-universities has practically starved Concordia of students.

“Enrollment actually has declined significantly over the last four years,” he said. More than 7,000 students, with more than 6,000 of them in graduate programs, were enrolled in Concordia in the fall of 2014, according to federal data. By the fall of 2018, the graduate enrollment had dropped to just over 3,800.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on February 11, 2020, 06:12:26 PM
CUWAA has opened a transfer portal for CUP students.  Please see the link in the following article: https://blog.cuaa.edu/concordia-university-ann-arbor-works-to-smooth-transition-for-portland-students/
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on February 11, 2020, 06:19:55 PM
What strikes me is the "educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty".  That's less than 9 students per faculty member.  Remember, that states "faculty" and not "staff" so I assume we need to add more employees under that heading (administrators, clerical, maintenance and cleaning, etc.).  Then there is the cost of physical plant.  That is just not sustainable.   

The 4,000 faculty number includes part-time (adjunct) faculty who may teach only a single course a semester and who earn, generally, about $900ish per credit hour taught (don't get me started on compensation rates for adjunct faculty).  A more relevant number would be credits sold vs. faculty compensation and would require much more investigation to arrive at, but it still wouldn't be in the ballpark for determining a university's viability.  In any case, though, the above calculation of 35,000 per 4,000 is essentially meaningless.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 06:51:50 PM
What strikes me is the "educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty".  That's less than 9 students per faculty member.  Remember, that states "faculty" and not "staff" so I assume we need to add more employees under that heading (administrators, clerical, maintenance and cleaning, etc.).  Then there is the cost of physical plant.  That is just not sustainable.   

The 4,000 faculty number includes part-time (adjunct) faculty who may teach only a single course a semester and who earn, generally, about $900ish per credit hour taught (don't get me started on compensation rates for adjunct faculty).  A more relevant number would be credits sold vs. faculty compensation and would require much more investigation to arrive at, but it still wouldn't be in the ballpark for determining a university's viability.  In any case, though, the above calculation of 35,000 per 4,000 is essentially meaningless.

On the adjunct topic, the way to the future for colleges in certain types of financial bind and/or regulatory bind is to double, triple or quintuple down on adjunct faculty, which cost a small fraction of the fully compensated professorial, especially tenured, faculty.  That being said, I really enjoyed teaching adjunct religion courses, especially to adult learner/students. 

Anyway, I understand thoroughly that the 35000 and 4000 numbers are not useful for direct parsing.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: mj4 on February 11, 2020, 06:55:38 PM
ELCA colleges, that is, the colleges established by the predecessor church bodies, never existed solely to train church workers. They did that, of course, but it was never their primary mission. I believe that gave them an opportunity to expand, to attract a larger student body, and to be more competitive with other colleges. And by training more than just church workers, they were able to develop a significant number of wealthy alumni, with loyalty to their colleges.

Expanding program offerings, if done strategically, can help attract a larger student body, but you might also need to cut programs that prove to be less profitable.

Here are a few things I've noticed some colleges doing to survive:

1. relying on adjunct faculty (mentioned by the Yak as a money saving move).
2. recruiting full tuition paying foreign students (ie. students from China, Korea, the Middle East).
3. starting programs in healthcare which is apparently more profitable.
4. applying for government research grants.
5. and lastly, as always, building a gianormous endowment.

I wonder if CUP was relying too heavily on the success of their online programs, but when other larger schools with greater resources joined them in offering these programs, they couldn't compete. Hence the fall in enrollment.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 11, 2020, 07:09:41 PM
ELCA colleges, that is, the colleges established by the predecessor church bodies, never existed solely to train church workers. They did that, of course, but it was never their primary mission. I believe that gave them an opportunity to expand, to attract a larger student body, and to be more competitive with other colleges. And by training more than just church workers, they were able to develop a significant number of wealthy alumni, with loyalty to their colleges.

Expanding program offerings, if done strategically, can help attract a larger student body, but you might also need to cut programs that prove to be less profitable.

Here are a few things I've noticed some colleges doing to survive:

1. relying on adjunct faculty (mentioned by the Yak as a money saving move).
2. recruiting full tuition paying foreign students (ie. students from China, Korea, the Middle East).
3. starting programs in healthcare which is apparently more profitable.
4. applying for government research grants.
5. and lastly, as always, building a gianormous endowment.

I wonder if CUP was relying too heavily on the success of their online programs, but when other larger schools with greater resources joined them in offering these programs, they couldn't compete. Hence the fall in enrollment.

Absolute yes to every one of the things you mentioned.  The last one of course is the toughie in the Missouri Synod, given, as was referenced above, our long emphasis on church worker training, which produces pretty much zero really wealthy people.  But very nice people, it must be added.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on February 11, 2020, 07:26:36 PM
What strikes me is the "educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty".  That's less than 9 students per faculty member.  Remember, that states "faculty" and not "staff" so I assume we need to add more employees under that heading (administrators, clerical, maintenance and cleaning, etc.).  Then there is the cost of physical plant.  That is just not sustainable.   

The 4,000 faculty number includes part-time (adjunct) faculty who may teach only a single course a semester and who earn, generally, about $900ish per credit hour taught (don't get me started on compensation rates for adjunct faculty).  A more relevant number would be credits sold vs. faculty compensation and would require much more investigation to arrive at, but it still wouldn't be in the ballpark for determining a university's viability.  In any case, though, the above calculation of 35,000 per 4,000 is essentially meaningless.

On the adjunct topic, the way to the future for colleges in certain types of financial bind and/or regulatory bind is to double, triple or quintuple down on adjunct faculty, which cost a small fraction of the fully compensated professorial, especially tenured, faculty.  That being said, I really enjoyed teaching adjunct religion courses, especially to adult learner/students. 

Anyway, I understand thoroughly that the 35000 and 4000 numbers are not useful for direct parsing.

Dave Benke

Thankfully, we keep our adjunct rates relatively low here at CUWAA.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 11, 2020, 07:33:18 PM
I was an adjunct instructor at a state university in New Jersey for four semesters. I taught creative writing to freshman. As I looked at it over those four semesters I figure I was paid somewhere under $15 an hour. I didn’t even get a parking place, and usually had to park about five or six blocks away from the building where I was to teach.
I enjoyed a lot of it, but it was not necessarily a good way to spend my time.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 11, 2020, 07:39:44 PM
To begin, I don't have enough data to make an informed comment, so I'm just making a best guess based on instinct.

So we start with
a problem - decreased financials and enrollment

Then we have a retirement of a longtime leader

At that point, there are several basic tracks:
1) interim with belt-tightening
2) fast-track new leader selection going for
a) trusted leader
b) leader unafraid to make tough decisions
c) leader who brings both a financial accountability team and a fresh start team
3) wait and see - interim as interim not much happens.

I would pick #2 if I were interested in taking the best shot at keeping it going.  Even then I'd make sure people were aware that the new leader was on a tightrope.  So you'd have to pick someone who could walk the tightrope.

The Prior Approval Process is a sticky wicket if choice #2 is the one that the board wants to go with, because it takes time and can eliminate candidates.


Dana College in Blair, NE, tried #2. They called Jim Kallas, a dynamic speaker and pretty well-known author, as their president. He was great at getting people excited about Dana College. He was not an administrator. I heard from a member of their board, that to get him, he was the highest paid college president at our ELCA colleges, while the Dana faculty was the lowest paid. The good he did was not enough to change the direction of the college. It closed.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 11, 2020, 07:44:36 PM
What strikes me is the "educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty".  That's less than 9 students per faculty member.  Remember, that states "faculty" and not "staff" so I assume we need to add more employees under that heading (administrators, clerical, maintenance and cleaning, etc.).  Then there is the cost of physical plant.  That is just not sustainable.   

The 4,000 faculty number includes part-time (adjunct) faculty who may teach only a single course a semester and who earn, generally, about $900ish per credit hour taught (don't get me started on compensation rates for adjunct faculty).  A more relevant number would be credits sold vs. faculty compensation and would require much more investigation to arrive at, but it still wouldn't be in the ballpark for determining a university's viability.  In any case, though, the above calculation of 35,000 per 4,000 is essentially meaningless.

Yeah, and some of those 35,000 students are only taking one class per semester too.  So, it kind of evens out, I would think.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 11, 2020, 08:06:58 PM
There are people over on the ELCA clergy Facebook page arguing that Concordia Portland's problems stem from its inhospitality to LGBTQ students.

I'm not kidding.


Which ELCA Clergy page? ELCA? ELCA Clergy? ELCA Clergy Uncensored? ELCA Clergy 2.0? ELCA Rostered Ministers?


It's not something I've seen on any of the ELCA pages I'm on, but I don't read everything that comes through. I've tried searching for "Concordia," and that hasn't produced any results.


I do know that one of the graduates (from my time there) is married to her female partner and has taught there.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 11, 2020, 08:19:49 PM
What strikes me is the "educate more than 35,000 students and employ more than 4,000 faculty".  That's less than 9 students per faculty member.  Remember, that states "faculty" and not "staff" so I assume we need to add more employees under that heading (administrators, clerical, maintenance and cleaning, etc.).  Then there is the cost of physical plant.  That is just not sustainable.   

The 4,000 faculty number includes part-time (adjunct) faculty who may teach only a single course a semester and who earn, generally, about $900ish per credit hour taught (don't get me started on compensation rates for adjunct faculty).  A more relevant number would be credits sold vs. faculty compensation and would require much more investigation to arrive at, but it still wouldn't be in the ballpark for determining a university's viability.  In any case, though, the above calculation of 35,000 per 4,000 is essentially meaningless.

On the adjunct topic, the way to the future for colleges in certain types of financial bind and/or regulatory bind is to double, triple or quintuple down on adjunct faculty, which cost a small fraction of the fully compensated professorial, especially tenured, faculty.  That being said, I really enjoyed teaching adjunct religion courses, especially to adult learner/students. 

Anyway, I understand thoroughly that the 35000 and 4000 numbers are not useful for direct parsing.

Dave Benke

I have been an adjunct for CTSFW for the last three summers in the SMP program which is almost entirely online.  Right now I'm in week 5 as a new online adjunct for Concordia-St.Paul.  Not sure I'll do it again for a university.  Grading is the most tedious part, especially with 20 students.  And time consuming when you are a full-time pastor with other responsibilities besides.  I think that adjuncts are certainly helpful for any institution by having more courses available without burdening the regular faculty, but personally I think there should be a cap on them.  Ideally one should not end up taking all or most your course just from the adjuncts.  There's a reason we call/hire full-time faculty.  Adjuncts simply fill in the gaps.  We have limits of time and the attention we can give to the course and the students. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Richard Johnson on February 11, 2020, 08:25:31 PM
Either ELCA Clergy or ELCA Clergy, Uncensored. I think the former, but I'm not sure.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 11, 2020, 09:18:51 PM
There are people over on the ELCA clergy Facebook page arguing that Concordia Portland's problems stem from its inhospitality to LGBTQ students.

I'm not kidding.


Which ELCA Clergy page? ELCA? ELCA Clergy? ELCA Clergy Uncensored? ELCA Clergy 2.0? ELCA Rostered Ministers?


It's not something I've seen on any of the ELCA pages I'm on, but I don't read everything that comes through. I've tried searching for "Concordia," and that hasn't produced any results.


I do know that one of the graduates (from my time there) is married to her female partner and has taught there.

Am I understanding you to say that Concordia-Portland had a married lesbian as an instructor?  If so, was she married to her partner when she taught there?  Did the university know this?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 11, 2020, 10:27:32 PM
Pastor Bohler:
Am I understanding you to say that Concordia-Portland had a married lesbian as an instructor?  If so, was she married to her partner when she taught there?  Did the university know this?
Me:
Little late for a trial, don’t you think?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 12, 2020, 12:26:18 AM
Is Concordia, St. Paul, a Missouri Synod school? It is not evident from the website.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 12:37:12 AM
Is Concordia, St. Paul, a Missouri Synod school? It is not evident from the website.
The only Concordia that isn’t LCMS is Moorehead.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 08:17:33 AM
My morning ruminations about Concordia Portland, now that information is dribbling in, run to themes that need exploring:

1) Churchmanship (best practices in a religious way).  Church-personship?  Churchly-ness? 
The statement by the presidents of the other Concordias was good churchmanship.  The opening of the portal for cross-enrollment in the Concordia system presents a collaborative option for student assistance.  There's way more that needs to be done and said for me to be confident about "best practice" churchly behavior on the closing of Portland, however.
2) Transparency.  We have come to expect, not only but somewhat especially in the Missouri Synod, well less than a transparent approach to churchly matters.  Keep moving, nothing to see here - no, that's specifically NOT the case.  There's plenty to see here. The Non-Disclosure Agreement is a primary fear tool on an individual basis.  The greater tool of transparency prevention is the "executive session."  The closing of Concordia Portland, with 5000 in the student body, by the Board of Regents of the institution, after (and I was given this info late last night) the Prior Approval Panel rejected ALL of the candidates that the board had put forward for president, extending the "interim" interminably, absolutely begs for transparency.  As does the relationship with the third party for rapid expansion that was linked yesterday. 
3) Learning and Teaching Moment.  If and as lack of transparency continues as usual, there is far less opportunity to learn by those who are key stakeholders in other institutions.  There is either a learning and teaching moment that folks at all leadership levels are open to receiving and giving, or the learning/teaching window closes and opacity reigns. 
4) Bottom up vs. Top Down management and expectation and strategy.  The reality across American Christianity is that we Christians have lost a lot of our hold on society culturally and spiritually.  We have way, way less children being baptized and catechized pretty much across the board.  Our school systems, for those who have them, are in peril.  I have always disagreed with the proviso that our Missouri Synod schools must return to their primary task of training church workers, because it's an impossibility that is used against the university system schools by the ultra-conservative wing as a tool to encourage closing schools that are providing Christian vocational education.  "Church worker" is the cudgel that inappropriately views Lutheran vocation as preachers and teachers.  Maybe that was baked into our brains back in the day - the only true spiritual/Lutheran vocations are preaching and teaching.  But it was wrong then and it's wrong now.
That being said, any examination of where Lutheran kids go to high school and college would take you down a road less traveled - the high end Lutheran kids academically are going with their parents' blessing to high end colleges and universities, whether they're Lutheran or not.  That's an uncomfortable truth, I guess.  But the basic truth is that there are far less (Missouri Synod) Lutheran young adults available to go to any college.  Therefore, the strategies to engage would have to do with rebuilding from the bottom up.  And that would include congregations with unproductive schools getting out of that business and back into the business of engaging families and children with the Gospel without the school.  Or revamping the school to be productive.  Etc. Etc. 
I don't catch that vision, though as the A priority.  Too much smoke from too many smoke-filled executive session rooms exists at the upper levels.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 08:24:42 AM
What would make a traditional k-8 school “productive”?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 12, 2020, 08:51:44 AM
Is Concordia, St. Paul, a Missouri Synod school? It is not evident from the website.

Yes, CSP is a LCMS school.  It's my alma mater and now my part-time employer.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev Mathew Andersen on February 12, 2020, 09:04:55 AM
There are people over on the ELCA clergy Facebook page arguing that Concordia Portland's problems stem from its inhospitality to LGBTQ students.

I'm not kidding.


Which ELCA Clergy page? ELCA? ELCA Clergy? ELCA Clergy Uncensored? ELCA Clergy 2.0? ELCA Rostered Ministers?


It's not something I've seen on any of the ELCA pages I'm on, but I don't read everything that comes through. I've tried searching for "Concordia," and that hasn't produced any results.


I do know that one of the graduates (from my time there) is married to her female partner and has taught there.

Am I understanding you to say that Concordia-Portland had a married lesbian as an instructor?  If so, was she married to her partner when she taught there?  Did the university know this?
If it is the person I  am thinking of, I am not sure how much teaching she actually did.  She was in charge of the gay/straight alliance or club and, unlike most G/S clubs, they were working with the college administration and faculty to try and make LGBT students feel welcome while not changing the theological stance of the college in any way.  It was taking some experimentation that sometimes worked and sometimes didn't.  It is something all the Concordias will have to do if we continue to want non-LCMS students.  We do have to figure out how to live with each other.  And she was pretty good at checking with the faculty and communicating with them from what I heard.  Of course, the Wackos of John Steadfast jumped all over there being a G/S organization at CPU.  But I lost a lot of respect for them long ago.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 12, 2020, 09:05:50 AM
While I support "church colleges" as the happy graduate of one, and while I believe the ELCA colleges are in generally good shape; I have felt for a long time that we should do better in maintaining a strong presence, solid, professional, well-supported campus ministries at non-church institutions of higher education.
And the "churchiness" of our church colleges should be in the foundational aspects of the schools, visible and wide-reaching presence of the faith throughout the college, not as the "answer-of-all-answers," but in dialogue with all the academic and social disciplines.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 09:24:08 AM
What would make a traditional k-8 school “productive”?

That's a great question, and I would imagine you have a set of answers.  I would connect to grace-filled attitudes throughout, Lutheran core religious principles in religious education as wel as worship; high quality academics by credentialed teachers in a system that promotes excellence in instruction; excellent structure that supports families, children and staff; financial and tuition structure that makes it possible for members and community families to be part of your school family and sustains the school through generations; accountability and evaluation processes that bring quality assurance; intentional connection to "next step" education at the high school and college level; a plan for continuing relationships with students and families beyond their time in the school.

What doesn't work is
outdated curricula
minimal connection to school families
large financial holes that can't be filled
minimal or badly taught religion courses
lack of followup to potential involvement in the church by non-church families

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 09:25:09 AM
The opening chapter of Neuhaus's Freedom for Ministry is entitled The Thus-and So-ness of the Church. In it, there is a sub-head labelled "Confusing Collapse with the Cross" and lists ways it was very trendy in the 60's to see the institutional decline of Christianity as a renewal of "authentic" Christianity. But Neuhaus comes down on the side of thinking that a short-sighted approach.

There are reasons that transparency is not always good, and those reasons usually apply to situation likes this, because they deal with morale and the future. You can't sell season tickets if your trial-balloon discussions about relocating the team are in the newspaper. You can't hire fresh college graduates if they're in on the discussion of whether the company will be closing its doors next month. Nobody will donate your campaign if the truth that you're merely hanging in the race in the hopes of getting tabbed for veep comes out. Until you know your way forward, you can't radiate indecision and lack of confidence. So your discussions of worst case scenarios, long shot possibilities, medium term prognosis within expected parameters, etc. must, for the sake of the stakeholders, not include all the stakeholders. 

It is fundamental to leadership and communication that how we describe reality actually helps shape reality. Some prophesies really are self-fulfilling. This is where our LCMS zeal for more discussions and commissions paralyses us. As we talked about in another thread, it is all motion and no action, which, when it goes on long enough, deflates enthusiasm entirely.

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 09:51:33 AM
What would make a traditional k-8 school “productive”?

That's a great question, and I would imagine you have a set of answers.  I would connect to grace-filled attitudes throughout, Lutheran core religious principles in religious education as wel as worship; high quality academics by credentialed teachers in a system that promotes excellence in instruction; excellent structure that supports families, children and staff; financial and tuition structure that makes it possible for members and community families to be part of your school family and sustains the school through generations; accountability and evaluation processes that bring quality assurance; intentional connection to "next step" education at the high school and college level; a plan for continuing relationships with students and families beyond their time in the school.

What doesn't work is
outdated curricula
minimal connection to school families
large financial holes that can't be filled
minimal or badly taught religion courses
lack of followup to potential involvement in the church by non-church families

Dave Benke
By those criteria I can state without any qualifications that St. Paul's in Munster, IN is a productive church/school ministry. But the institutional framework within which we function is crumbling. Both LCMS high schools within driving distance have closed in the last decade. The neighboring LCMS congregations that might supply students are mostly withering. We can't get student teachers because the Concordias aren't producing enough of them. The definition of productive depends on how something functions within a system. A healthy heart is great, but without other healthy organs, the heart won't remain healthy for long.

The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We know that. But the shape of any church institution may not endure. We have decided, very deliberately, to double-down on this traditional k-8 ministry. We have a 16 acre suburban campus with a 70k sq/ft facility. Repurposing for some other kind of ministry would be like repurposing an aircraft carrier for non-naval use. And any talk of doing so would kill morale. We had some students transfer here after sinking 700k into HVAC and roof repairs because it sent the message to parents who'd had other private school close out from underneath them that we weren't going to do that. We're in for the foreseeable future.     
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 10:14:51 AM
What would make a traditional k-8 school “productive”?

That's a great question, and I would imagine you have a set of answers.  I would connect to grace-filled attitudes throughout, Lutheran core religious principles in religious education as wel as worship; high quality academics by credentialed teachers in a system that promotes excellence in instruction; excellent structure that supports families, children and staff; financial and tuition structure that makes it possible for members and community families to be part of your school family and sustains the school through generations; accountability and evaluation processes that bring quality assurance; intentional connection to "next step" education at the high school and college level; a plan for continuing relationships with students and families beyond their time in the school.

What doesn't work is
outdated curricula
minimal connection to school families
large financial holes that can't be filled
minimal or badly taught religion courses
lack of followup to potential involvement in the church by non-church families

Dave Benke
By those criteria I can state without any qualifications that St. Paul's in Munster, IN is a productive church/school ministry. But the institutional framework within which we function is crumbling. Both LCMS high schools within driving distance have closed in the last decade. The neighboring LCMS congregations that might supply students are mostly withering. We can't get student teachers because the Concordias aren't producing enough of them. The definition of productive depends on how something functions within a system. A healthy heart is great, but without other healthy organs, the heart won't remain healthy for long.

The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We know that. But the shape of any church institution may not endure. We have decided, very deliberately, to double-down on this traditional k-8 ministry. We have a 16 acre suburban campus with a 70k sq/ft facility. Repurposing for some other kind of ministry would be like repurposing an aircraft carrier for non-naval use. And any talk of doing so would kill morale. We had some students transfer here after sinking 700k into HVAC and roof repairs because it sent the message to parents who'd had other private school close out from underneath them that we weren't going to do that. We're in for the foreseeable future.   

That's great - and you will/could be the One That Makes It.  If and as stuff happens, which it does invariably, you have to adapt and usually adapt quickly.  Charter schools change the game immediately, because they offer a disciplined academic education with some moral structure (no religion during the school day, however) for the tuition level of zero.  Zero.  Tuition credits as leveraged through your state government can mean that you go with whatever that means or ignore it and do your own thing.  If you ignore and do your own thing, again, somebody else is able to give a similar education for zero.  Those are financial.  The rest has to do with personnel changes, demographics, your own church's health and growth and congregational vision/leadership, etc.

What I can say is that what I outlined is not being done at many, if not most Lutheran grade schools.  Because they've gone below the enrollment line that might work and are plugging away without vision, framework, or plan.  In many cases there is no annual evaluation other than the budget.  Fatal.  In other cases, no matter the budget deficit, the theory is that the mission is being advance, without (again) any evaluative process to back up that claim other than anecdotes one and two and the continued ability to pay somebody something to do it.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 10:26:08 AM
What would make a traditional k-8 school “productive”?

That's a great question, and I would imagine you have a set of answers.  I would connect to grace-filled attitudes throughout, Lutheran core religious principles in religious education as wel as worship; high quality academics by credentialed teachers in a system that promotes excellence in instruction; excellent structure that supports families, children and staff; financial and tuition structure that makes it possible for members and community families to be part of your school family and sustains the school through generations; accountability and evaluation processes that bring quality assurance; intentional connection to "next step" education at the high school and college level; a plan for continuing relationships with students and families beyond their time in the school.

What doesn't work is
outdated curricula
minimal connection to school families
large financial holes that can't be filled
minimal or badly taught religion courses
lack of followup to potential involvement in the church by non-church families

Dave Benke
By those criteria I can state without any qualifications that St. Paul's in Munster, IN is a productive church/school ministry. But the institutional framework within which we function is crumbling. Both LCMS high schools within driving distance have closed in the last decade. The neighboring LCMS congregations that might supply students are mostly withering. We can't get student teachers because the Concordias aren't producing enough of them. The definition of productive depends on how something functions within a system. A healthy heart is great, but without other healthy organs, the heart won't remain healthy for long.

The gates of hell will not prevail against the church. We know that. But the shape of any church institution may not endure. We have decided, very deliberately, to double-down on this traditional k-8 ministry. We have a 16 acre suburban campus with a 70k sq/ft facility. Repurposing for some other kind of ministry would be like repurposing an aircraft carrier for non-naval use. And any talk of doing so would kill morale. We had some students transfer here after sinking 700k into HVAC and roof repairs because it sent the message to parents who'd had other private school close out from underneath them that we weren't going to do that. We're in for the foreseeable future.   

That's great - and you will/could be the One That Makes It.  If and as stuff happens, which it does invariably, you have to adapt and usually adapt quickly.  Charter schools change the game immediately, because they offer a disciplined academic education with some moral structure (no religion during the school day, however) for the tuition level of zero.  Zero.  Tuition credits as leveraged through your state government can mean that you go with whatever that means or ignore it and do your own thing.  If you ignore and do your own thing, again, somebody else is able to give a similar education for zero.  Those are financial.  The rest has to do with personnel changes, demographics, your own church's health and growth and congregational vision/leadership, etc.

What I can say is that what I outlined is not being done at many, if not most Lutheran grade schools.  Because they've gone below the enrollment line that might work and are plugging away without vision, framework, or plan.  In many cases there is no annual evaluation other than the budget.  Fatal.  In other cases, no matter the budget deficit, the theory is that the mission is being advance, without (again) any evaluative process to back up that claim other than anecdotes one and two and the continued ability to pay somebody something to do it.

Dave Benke
One major windfall/landmine is that Indiana has a school voucher system. Depending on where they live and their family income, many people can send their kids to St. Paul's with pretty close to zero tuition. Going into that system was one reason we established in writing what our teachings were on various social issues and why those teachings are an essential part of the mission of the school. We anticipate the day coming when the whole voucher system faces legal challenge for supporting hate speech with tax dollars. That iceberg looms out there and we need to be vigilant.

This intersects, of course, with politics. Set aside abortion and gay marriage and what-not. Who appoints the Secretary of Education, who appoints judges at levels below the SCOTUS, and who controls state legislatures makes a huge difference when it comes to the ability of religious schools to compete on a equal playing field. When candidates obsess about the virtues of public education, they're often attacking private education and seeking to put out of reach for people whose income is less than their own, since their own children generally attend private schools.   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 11:16:16 AM
One major windfall/landmine is that Indiana has a school voucher system. Depending on where they live and their family income, many people can send their kids to St. Paul's with pretty close to zero tuition. Going into that system was one reason we established in writing what our teachings were on various social issues and why those teachings are an essential part of the mission of the school. We anticipate the day coming when the whole voucher system faces legal challenge for supporting hate speech with tax dollars. That iceberg looms out there and we need to be vigilant.

This intersects, of course, with politics. Set aside abortion and gay marriage and what-not. Who appoints the Secretary of Education, who appoints judges at levels below the SCOTUS, and who controls state legislatures makes a huge difference when it comes to the ability of religious schools to compete on a equal playing field. When candidates obsess about the virtues of public education, they're often attacking private education and seeking to put out of reach for people whose income is less than their own, since their own children generally attend private schools.   


Good deal, in so many ways, and a major planning assist going forward not only in terms of the school side but in terms of parishioners being educated on the political process of continuing to give you that opportunity.

That being said, many states have addressed this in different ways than establishing school vouchers.  The negotiators in New York were the Roman Catholics, the Yeshivas, and then the Lutherans.  And the deal was made not to have vouchers for tuition but to have reimbursement for textbooks, which is far less costly to the state.  The public education lobby in NYS is at tier one.  Which is why the other deal was made by Bloomberg and others to make NYS one of the top recipients of charter schools in the country.  That was done mainly to give another and often better educational opportunity than prevailed in urban/inner urban neighborhoods.  But it also had the side effect of crushing parochial schools like a bug on the Christian side.  The Yeshivas really are at the professional level of knowing how to play the system.  So my church's zip codes are so full of charter schools that the NYC Department of Education put up the white flag and determined that they, the public system, would establish a charter school in my zip code.  And they did so.

So the Lutherans could have become leaders in the charter school movement but out here it's first come first served and we were well to the back of the line.  Whereas in other parts of the country the best charter schools are those founded by our good friends in the WELS.  So say in Arizona the most profitable and beneficial college system - Phoenix and Grand Canyon - is an outgrowth of Missouri Synod people, and the best charter schools are those run by the WELS leaders.  All of these are, of course, independent of the bylaws and encumbrances of their denominations, which is in no small part why they are successful.

The charter movement in its Lutheran version has a component called "wrap-around," which is to figure out how to use the financials from the daytime charter contract and build a tuition-based but low tuition payment plan into before and after school programs that can have a Christian framework.  Which is a tremendous opportunity.

Dave Benke



Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Buckeye Deaconess on February 12, 2020, 11:21:26 AM
In my previous position with the LCMS, I was in a support role for the LCMS Board of Directors and recognize there were challenges coming where Portland was concerned.  This didn't happen overnight.  While I didn't support the direction the school was going as it relates to our confession of faith, I appreciate much more the social media responses of the likes of Dr. Gard and the Yak who understand that the situation is much more complex and could benefit from some nuancing rather than rejoicing and celebrating a victory of some sort.  Flesh and blood people are losing their livelihoods, and students are experiencing unexpected upheaval accompanied by some amount of shock that their path to a career has been altered significantly.  What has brought me some joy in the aftermath of this news is the quick offering of landing spots for these students at our other Concordias.  I don't know how realistic it is given geography, but it's a great witness to those outside the church that we actually care and do act on the love we proclaim to have for others as Lutheran Christians.  I don't think I need to point out the opposite witness we give by rejoicing and throwing out novel little quips in such a public manner about why this situation came to pass.

I teach because I love and care about the students that God has entrusted me to serve.  I understand how some cite our historic position of having these institutions for the sole/main purpose of training church workers.  That is important.  But I happen to also recognize the value of inspiring others on different vocational paths, many (if not most at some of our institutions) who haven't had the privilege of being taught the importance of the Christian faith.  As an adjunct at CUC teaching online MBA courses, I've had the pleasure of interacting with souls from many countries who may be exposed to the Christian faith for the first time.  What an honor.  I admit it's not always easy to integrate the faith in business and accounting courses, but in my personal interactions, I'm able to freely communicate in a way that doesn't hinder me from speaking openly about Jesus.   What a privilege we have to do so at our Concordias!

I teach for another conservative Christian university locally that is growing steadily.  A good number of my students aren't drawn there because of the Christian faith; other factors attracted them.  It provides an opportunity yet again to be a light in a world that can be pretty dark for some of these kids.  I can't believe some of the challenges they're dealing with (actually, I can, given I have two of my own kids in college and one heading off next year).  Without the faith being an integral part of their lives like most of us on this board can claim, they are lost about how to cope with some of the things that are happening around them.  Again, what a privilege to be able to build relationships and be a light for them as we're free (and expected) to witness to our faith in Christ.

With respect to adjuncts, I share a different view than what was described above.  My undergraduate accounting curriculum was all designed to prepare for the test (CPA exam) without much real-world practical accounting matters introduced.  I have the ability to bring years and years (I'm getting old) of practical professional experience into the classroom, and my students appreciate that.  My experience as a student was textbook and theory-driven only.  This still works somewhat in the Accounting profession, but more and more employers are expecting to see practical knowledge that can immediately be transferred onto the job.  It's a joy to bring this into the classroom.  Now I don't know if it's because I'm just an overall nice person, I can empathize because I not too long ago finished my own course of study, or because I have three kids who are currently or recently experiencing college life (with one to go), but my students seem to offer positive comments about my approach and complain a lot about their long-tenured, full-time faculty.  It could just be that they're old-school and a lot tougher than I am, who knows.  I care more about my students learning concepts than inundating them with unnecessary homework assignments and impossible-to-pass exams.
 
Speaking as a former university budget office staff member, I think the other fact we have to face, like it or not, is that the rapidly growing costs associated with operating a traditional campus is forcing universities to have to cut costs.  Adjuncts will be utilized more commonly as a result, obviously.  Students won't be drawn to brick and mortar institutions that haven't invested in upgraded dorms, rec facilities, athletic fields, etc.  That costs a chunk of change, and private institutions will struggle to keep pace with larger universities that have fundraising machines at work on their behalf.  Also, the demand for online education is growing, partly because of costs, and partly because of the growing dependence newer generations of students have on technology.  This will also increase the reliance on adjuncts to satisfy this demand.  I started out teaching online only, then offered to help out my local university in a pinch as they seek accreditation for their business programs . . . they are finding it difficult to find a PhD with a CPA that can also adhere to their strict confession of faith.  I have to say I'm loving being in the physical classroom teaching undergraduate students and would love to do it full-time.  But alas, there just aren't that many full-time faculty positions available.  I guess you can blame the adjuncts for this, or place it squarely on the true culprit . . . the skyrocketing costs of higher education (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/24/why-college-tuition-keeps-rising.html).

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 11:58:03 AM
Nice post, Deaconess! 

I appreciate all of your comments and the spirit in which they were made.  My concern is similar to yours.  I was not aware of people declaring this closure a victory, which is to me incredibly weird and unfortunately indicative of existing mindsets.  My concern is that whatever lessons might be learned about good, bad and indifferent decisions made in the ongoing struggle to provide quality Christian education would be far more able to become lessons if there's transparency.

With regard to adjuncts, full disclosure - I was the chair of a board of regents that went to more of an adjunct framework in and around cost savings; I then became an adjunct myself.  So I get it. 

What is missed by oldsters such as me is Mr. Chips.  I went through the whole synodical system with a bunch of Mr. Chips (it's from the oldish movie, Goodby, Mr. Chips) who were teachers and professors and had, in our estimation, arrived on the boat with Walther - Happy Phil Schroeder, Pips Zanow, John Henry Gienapp, Mr. Ernst, Miss Bender, my grandpa Dr. J. F. Boerger, Lorenz Wunderlich, Edwin Hattstaedt, Prexy Stuenkel, Bill Ackmann, Ollie Rupprecht, Tab Jenne, Walter Jenreich, Dr. Neeb and the list goes on - OK it's a really long list of superannuated men who kept on keeping on in their professorial teaching roles on a full-time basis pretty much forever.  Some I believe became like Bernie in Weekend at Bernie's.  I think they were teaching after they had passed away sometime in their 90s.  We had Zanow at the end of his career and convinced him to show the same movie five days in a row - and that was physics class - what kind of movie must that have been?

That can't work any more.  Unless THEY the superannuated become adjuncts.  But there was this thing where you were taught to believe in the permanence of values and beliefs by people who, it seemed, had been there when Moses went up on the mountain.  THEY were in a sense why we understood permanence and tradition.  They embodied it.  "The Apostles?  Yes, I knew them all; Judas was a bad egg from the beginning."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 12:03:56 PM
One major windfall/landmine is that Indiana has a school voucher system. Depending on where they live and their family income, many people can send their kids to St. Paul's with pretty close to zero tuition. Going into that system was one reason we established in writing what our teachings were on various social issues and why those teachings are an essential part of the mission of the school. We anticipate the day coming when the whole voucher system faces legal challenge for supporting hate speech with tax dollars. That iceberg looms out there and we need to be vigilant.

This intersects, of course, with politics. Set aside abortion and gay marriage and what-not. Who appoints the Secretary of Education, who appoints judges at levels below the SCOTUS, and who controls state legislatures makes a huge difference when it comes to the ability of religious schools to compete on a equal playing field. When candidates obsess about the virtues of public education, they're often attacking private education and seeking to put out of reach for people whose income is less than their own, since their own children generally attend private schools.   


Good deal, in so many ways, and a major planning assist going forward not only in terms of the school side but in terms of parishioners being educated on the political process of continuing to give you that opportunity.

That being said, many states have addressed this in different ways than establishing school vouchers.  The negotiators in New York were the Roman Catholics, the Yeshivas, and then the Lutherans.  And the deal was made not to have vouchers for tuition but to have reimbursement for textbooks, which is far less costly to the state.  The public education lobby in NYS is at tier one.  Which is why the other deal was made by Bloomberg and others to make NYS one of the top recipients of charter schools in the country.  That was done mainly to give another and often better educational opportunity than prevailed in urban/inner urban neighborhoods.  But it also had the side effect of crushing parochial schools like a bug on the Christian side.  The Yeshivas really are at the professional level of knowing how to play the system.  So my church's zip codes are so full of charter schools that the NYC Department of Education put up the white flag and determined that they, the public system, would establish a charter school in my zip code.  And they did so.

So the Lutherans could have become leaders in the charter school movement but out here it's first come first served and we were well to the back of the line.  Whereas in other parts of the country the best charter schools are those founded by our good friends in the WELS.  So say in Arizona the most profitable and beneficial college system - Phoenix and Grand Canyon - is an outgrowth of Missouri Synod people, and the best charter schools are those run by the WELS leaders.  All of these are, of course, independent of the bylaws and encumbrances of their denominations, which is in no small part why they are successful.

The charter movement in its Lutheran version has a component called "wrap-around," which is to figure out how to use the financials from the daytime charter contract and build a tuition-based but low tuition payment plan into before and after school programs that can have a Christian framework.  Which is a tremendous opportunity.

Dave Benke
When something works, it is easy to look back and lament not getting in on the ground floor. When is doesn't, as with CUP and the online learning investment, it is easy to look back and lament a reckless decision. Trying to get in on the ground floor of something is a high-risk venture, and you only get one shot. Take it and miss, and you've spent all your ammo. Hold back, and no better shot may ever present itself.

There are thousands of stocks for sale. In a decade, some will be grown exponentially in value, others will be worth zero. There were probably good reasons people in LCMS education were a bit leery of going in on a new format/system headed up by the city or state of New York. Here in one of the most crumbling and decrepit areas of the nation, Gary, Indiana, we have a new Lutheran parochial adding a grade per year and run independently of any parish by a group out of Milwaukee that works exclusively on a school choice funding model. Of course, it is also only a few miles from an old established LCMS school in Hobart that is on its last legs, so that hasn't necessarily helped in some other ways. But it is a school where there wasn't one. And it does teach the catechism, though virtually none of the students are Lutheran.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 12, 2020, 12:29:38 PM
In my previous position with the LCMS, I was in a support role for the LCMS Board of Directors and recognize there were challenges coming where Portland was concerned.  This didn't happen overnight.  While I didn't support the direction the school was going as it relates to our confession of faith, I appreciate much more the social media responses of the likes of Dr. Gard and the Yak who understand that the situation is much more complex and could benefit from some nuancing rather than rejoicing and celebrating a victory of some sort.  Flesh and blood people are losing their livelihoods, and students are experiencing unexpected upheaval accompanied by some amount of shock that their path to a career has been altered significantly.  What has brought me some joy in the aftermath of this news is the quick offering of landing spots for these students at our other Concordias.  I don't know how realistic it is given geography, but it's a great witness to those outside the church that we actually care and do act on the love we proclaim to have for others as Lutheran Christians.  I don't think I need to point out the opposite witness we give by rejoicing and throwing out novel little quips in such a public manner about why this situation came to pass.

I teach because I love and care about the students that God has entrusted me to serve.  I understand how some cite our historic position of having these institutions for the sole/main purpose of training church workers.  That is important.  But I happen to also recognize the value of inspiring others on different vocational paths, many (if not most at some of our institutions) who haven't had the privilege of being taught the importance of the Christian faith.  As an adjunct at CUC teaching online MBA courses, I've had the pleasure of interacting with souls from many countries who may be exposed to the Christian faith for the first time.  What an honor.  I admit it's not always easy to integrate the faith in business and accounting courses, but in my personal interactions, I'm able to freely communicate in a way that doesn't hinder me from speaking openly about Jesus.   What a privilege we have to do so at our Concordias!

I teach for another conservative Christian university locally that is growing steadily.  A good number of my students aren't drawn there because of the Christian faith; other factors attracted them.  It provides an opportunity yet again to be a light in a world that can be pretty dark for some of these kids.  I can't believe some of the challenges they're dealing with (actually, I can, given I have two of my own kids in college and one heading off next year).  Without the faith being an integral part of their lives like most of us on this board can claim, they are lost about how to cope with some of the things that are happening around them.  Again, what a privilege to be able to build relationships and be a light for them as we're free (and expected) to witness to our faith in Christ.

With respect to adjuncts, I share a different view than what was described above.  My undergraduate accounting curriculum was all designed to prepare for the test (CPA exam) without much real-world practical accounting matters introduced.  I have the ability to bring years and years (I'm getting old) of practical professional experience into the classroom, and my students appreciate that.  My experience as a student was textbook and theory-driven only.  This still works somewhat in the Accounting profession, but more and more employers are expecting to see practical knowledge that can immediately be transferred onto the job.  It's a joy to bring this into the classroom.  Now I don't know if it's because I'm just an overall nice person, I can empathize because I not too long ago finished my own course of study, or because I have three kids who are currently or recently experiencing college life (with one to go), but my students seem to offer positive comments about my approach and complain a lot about their long-tenured, full-time faculty.  It could just be that they're old-school and a lot tougher than I am, who knows.  I care more about my students learning concepts than inundating them with unnecessary homework assignments and impossible-to-pass exams.
 
Speaking as a former university budget office staff member, I think the other fact we have to face, like it or not, is that the rapidly growing costs associated with operating a traditional campus is forcing universities to have to cut costs.  Adjuncts will be utilized more commonly as a result, obviously.  Students won't be drawn to brick and mortar institutions that haven't invested in upgraded dorms, rec facilities, athletic fields, etc.  That costs a chunk of change, and private institutions will struggle to keep pace with larger universities that have fundraising machines at work on their behalf.  Also, the demand for online education is growing, partly because of costs, and partly because of the growing dependence newer generations of students have on technology.  This will also increase the reliance on adjuncts to satisfy this demand.  I started out teaching online only, then offered to help out my local university in a pinch as they seek accreditation for their business programs . . . they are finding it difficult to find a PhD with a CPA that can also adhere to their strict confession of faith.  I have to say I'm loving being in the physical classroom teaching undergraduate students and would love to do it full-time.  But alas, there just aren't that many full-time faculty positions available.  I guess you can blame the adjuncts for this, or place it squarely on the true culprit . . . the skyrocketing costs of higher education (https://www.cnbc.com/2019/10/24/why-college-tuition-keeps-rising.html).

Thank you for your balanced and informative response.  I, too, have children in the system, one who is finishing her Ph.D (my eldest) at the University of Minnesota (educational research and analysis) and my youngest as a new deaconess student at CUC (which she loves!) I talk a lot with my eldest daughter who has taught at the university and has firsthand knowledge of the system and how it works.  And from talking to her I know that its a complex arrangement and that full-time tenured positions are hard to get and very competitive. 

In my current online class, which is a 300-level theology course at CSP, not one of my students (20 of them) is a church work student or a theology major/minor.  They come from all over the spectrum of race and religion, some claiming not to be Christians, one claiming to be Muslim, one a pastor's son.  Some appear to be first or second generation immigrants, one is bilingual in Swahili and English.  What a change for a guy like me whose life is immersed within a local rural church and community!  I also teach every summer online for the seminary in Ft. Wayne, but my students there are vastly different (older adult, churched, etc).  I give CSP a lot of credit for requiring religion classes for everyone, but I know it's tough for many of these students.  I'm in the midst of grading midterms and you can imagine some of the students I just described reading and reflecting on Luther's treatise Temporal Authority: To What Extent It Should Be Obeyed (1523).  The course is on vocation and they do study the whole range of historical approaches to calling and vocation, frequently reading primary sources from each era (biblical, early church, medieval, reformation, modern).  When I took over the course, which was new and designed by another professor, I felt like I jumped into the deep end of the academic pool.  Being new to the online platform (Blackboard - I use Moodle at the seminary), new to the curriculum, and new to teaching university students, I have been running to stay ahead and just even with them (especially with grading - I envy the math and science people. Grading for the humanities is much more tedious.)

You are right that online education is not only the leading edge of university programs today, it is the future. We are not going to go back. I also know that it is one reason that people like you and my daughter will struggle all the more to secure full-time positions in the brick-and-mortar world of traditional systems.  For schools to succeed and survive they must be leaner and more efficient and more cost effective.  Adjuncts are far less expensive (e.g. no benefits), and there is, I suspect, an ever expanding pool of prospective teachers out there like me looking for supplementary work.  I do not teach for the money (although the little extra is nice), but rather for the experience.  I'm just not sure I want to do this at the university level at this point considering all my other vocational duties (district secretary, chaplaincy work, parish pastor, etc.)  Admittedly, like many of my generation and older, I struggle to see the advantage of online over traditional classroom experiences.  I think that part of the solution is in internet providers.  I live in a rural area and do most of my online work via a satellite arrangement.  So asynchronous programs work well within my limitations.  But I think that as internet access increases offering high speed access to a majority of people, online education would be best served in a synchronous system utilizing face-to-face, real time programs like Zoom.  We have the technology to approximate traditional in class system; we just lack the access to adequate internet speed for all teachers and students.


Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 12:47:23 PM
One major windfall/landmine is that Indiana has a school voucher system. Depending on where they live and their family income, many people can send their kids to St. Paul's with pretty close to zero tuition. Going into that system was one reason we established in writing what our teachings were on various social issues and why those teachings are an essential part of the mission of the school. We anticipate the day coming when the whole voucher system faces legal challenge for supporting hate speech with tax dollars. That iceberg looms out there and we need to be vigilant.

This intersects, of course, with politics. Set aside abortion and gay marriage and what-not. Who appoints the Secretary of Education, who appoints judges at levels below the SCOTUS, and who controls state legislatures makes a huge difference when it comes to the ability of religious schools to compete on a equal playing field. When candidates obsess about the virtues of public education, they're often attacking private education and seeking to put out of reach for people whose income is less than their own, since their own children generally attend private schools.   


Good deal, in so many ways, and a major planning assist going forward not only in terms of the school side but in terms of parishioners being educated on the political process of continuing to give you that opportunity.

That being said, many states have addressed this in different ways than establishing school vouchers.  The negotiators in New York were the Roman Catholics, the Yeshivas, and then the Lutherans.  And the deal was made not to have vouchers for tuition but to have reimbursement for textbooks, which is far less costly to the state.  The public education lobby in NYS is at tier one.  Which is why the other deal was made by Bloomberg and others to make NYS one of the top recipients of charter schools in the country.  That was done mainly to give another and often better educational opportunity than prevailed in urban/inner urban neighborhoods.  But it also had the side effect of crushing parochial schools like a bug on the Christian side.  The Yeshivas really are at the professional level of knowing how to play the system.  So my church's zip codes are so full of charter schools that the NYC Department of Education put up the white flag and determined that they, the public system, would establish a charter school in my zip code.  And they did so.

So the Lutherans could have become leaders in the charter school movement but out here it's first come first served and we were well to the back of the line.  Whereas in other parts of the country the best charter schools are those founded by our good friends in the WELS.  So say in Arizona the most profitable and beneficial college system - Phoenix and Grand Canyon - is an outgrowth of Missouri Synod people, and the best charter schools are those run by the WELS leaders.  All of these are, of course, independent of the bylaws and encumbrances of their denominations, which is in no small part why they are successful.

The charter movement in its Lutheran version has a component called "wrap-around," which is to figure out how to use the financials from the daytime charter contract and build a tuition-based but low tuition payment plan into before and after school programs that can have a Christian framework.  Which is a tremendous opportunity.

Dave Benke
When something works, it is easy to look back and lament not getting in on the ground floor. When is doesn't, as with CUP and the online learning investment, it is easy to look back and lament a reckless decision. Trying to get in on the ground floor of something is a high-risk venture, and you only get one shot. Take it and miss, and you've spent all your ammo. Hold back, and no better shot may ever present itself.

There are thousands of stocks for sale. In a decade, some will be grown exponentially in value, others will be worth zero. There were probably good reasons people in LCMS education were a bit leery of going in on a new format/system headed up by the city or state of New York. Here in one of the most crumbling and decrepit areas of the nation, Gary, Indiana, we have a new Lutheran parochial adding a grade per year and run independently of any parish by a group out of Milwaukee that works exclusively on a school choice funding model. Of course, it is also only a few miles from an old established LCMS school in Hobart that is on its last legs, so that hasn't necessarily helped in some other ways. But it is a school where there wasn't one. And it does teach the catechism, though virtually none of the students are Lutheran.

OK.  Sort of.  But if I'm reading you correctly, when you say the new school in Gary is run "exclusively on a school choice funding model," that means that the state/municipality is paying the tuition, doesn't it?  So it's not the parents paying all of the tuition out of their own pockets, or even paying any tuition.   

All I was saying is that schools depending on the congregation to pay for the education or for the family of the child to pay for the education, all costs inclusive, are looking to other sources to pay for the education - like "school choice vouchers," or like the charter schools.  Those are at the bottom line not costing the parent for the education of the child.

I'd have to know more about what school choice vouchers give to the school on a per student basis.  Let's say you get $5000 per child in Indiana.  That might work there.  It's not competitive here.  It's nice that religion can continue to be taught.  And since it's by choice, if the parents find that education valuable for their kids, they'll make that choice.  Out here, the Lutheran schools flourished when the public schools were at their worst.  That should not per se be your prayer on Sunday morning - help them to suffer so that we might flourish.  Because along the way, the Lutheran schools if not engaged in quality evaluation, can sink well below what is offered today academically at other schools, public or private.  The tech alone is incredible. 

All things equal, I miss all my Mr./Miss/Rev./Mrs. Chips.  They were usually not up with the times and current trends - of course when you're teaching Shakespeare or Latin that might not matter - but they did bring that sense of belief wed to tradition.

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on February 12, 2020, 02:12:21 PM
My morning ruminations about Concordia Portland, now that information is dribbling in, run to themes that need exploring:

1) Churchmanship (best practices in a religious way).  Church-personship?  Churchly-ness? 
The statement by the presidents of the other Concordias was good churchmanship.  The opening of the portal for cross-enrollment in the Concordia system presents a collaborative option for student assistance.  There's way more that needs to be done and said for me to be confident about "best practice" churchly behavior on the closing of Portland, however.
2) Transparency.  We have come to expect, not only but somewhat especially in the Missouri Synod, well less than a transparent approach to churchly matters.  Keep moving, nothing to see here - no, that's specifically NOT the case.  There's plenty to see here. The Non-Disclosure Agreement is a primary fear tool on an individual basis.  The greater tool of transparency prevention is the "executive session."  The closing of Concordia Portland, with 5000 in the student body, by the Board of Regents of the institution, after (and I was given this info late last night) the Prior Approval Panel rejected ALL of the candidates that the board had put forward for president, extending the "interim" interminably, absolutely begs for transparency.  As does the relationship with the third party for rapid expansion that was linked yesterday. 
3) Learning and Teaching Moment.  If and as lack of transparency continues as usual, there is far less opportunity to learn by those who are key stakeholders in other institutions.  There is either a learning and teaching moment that folks at all leadership levels are open to receiving and giving, or the learning/teaching window closes and opacity reigns. 
4) Bottom up vs. Top Down management and expectation and strategy.  The reality across American Christianity is that we Christians have lost a lot of our hold on society culturally and spiritually.  We have way, way less children being baptized and catechized pretty much across the board.  Our school systems, for those who have them, are in peril.  I have always disagreed with the proviso that our Missouri Synod schools must return to their primary task of training church workers, because it's an impossibility that is used against the university system schools by the ultra-conservative wing as a tool to encourage closing schools that are providing Christian vocational education.  "Church worker" is the cudgel that inappropriately views Lutheran vocation as preachers and teachers.  Maybe that was baked into our brains back in the day - the only true spiritual/Lutheran vocations are preaching and teaching.  But it was wrong then and it's wrong now.
That being said, any examination of where Lutheran kids go to high school and college would take you down a road less traveled - the high end Lutheran kids academically are going with their parents' blessing to high end colleges and universities, whether they're Lutheran or not.  That's an uncomfortable truth, I guess.  But the basic truth is that there are far less (Missouri Synod) Lutheran young adults available to go to any college.  Therefore, the strategies to engage would have to do with rebuilding from the bottom up.  And that would include congregations with unproductive schools getting out of that business and back into the business of engaging families and children with the Gospel without the school.  Or revamping the school to be productive.  Etc. Etc. 
I don't catch that vision, though as the A priority.  Too much smoke from too many smoke-filled executive session rooms exists at the upper levels.

Dave Benke

The PAP process has the potential to have a very negative impact on the community.  With the retirement of a president comes a certain air of excitement in regards to the future.  Lots of time and effort goes into the search process and to have it rejected by the PAP is very deflating.   That is certainly what happened to CCNY a few years back.  I can’t speak to the board side of things, but I can say that it is still referenced from time to time by the rank and file close to a decade later. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Buckeye Deaconess on February 12, 2020, 02:28:07 PM
Thank you for your balanced and informative response.  I, too, have children in the system, one who is finishing her Ph.D (my eldest) at the University of Minnesota (educational research and analysis) and my youngest as a new deaconess student at CUC (which she loves!)

This is great for reasons that are both close to my heart.   :)  I have had the opportunity to be a guest presenter in CUC deaconess classes as well as host a field worker from there last summer.  Excellent program and students.

I enjoyed reading the description of your teaching duties and the population of students that you serve.  I can't say enough about the privilege we have to reach students who haven't experienced Christ's love in their lifetime.

Quote
I give CSP a lot of credit for requiring religion classes for everyone, but I know it's tough for many of these students.

This is the same at the Baptist university that I teach at.  I have the privilege of being Lutheran and helping students understand in a much clearer manner how the Gospel factors in with the Law. lol I ended up spending an entire evening accounting class one time with adults talking theology because a few were struggling with understanding the faith.  My segue is usually through discussing business ethics, but it's an opening I gladly take advantage of.

Quote
Being new to the online platform (Blackboard - I use Moodle at the seminary), new to the curriculum, and new to teaching university students, I have been running to stay ahead and just even with them (especially with grading - I envy the math and science people. Grading for the humanities is much more tedious.)

I'm sure you're doing better than you give yourself credit for.  It is night and day the difference for me between grading accounting problems and MBA capstone projects or non-profit/board governance writing assignments, to be sure.  It is indeed a balancing act to keep it all straight on top of our regular vocational duties.

Quote
I live in a rural area and do most of my online work via a satellite arrangement.  So asynchronous programs work well within my limitations.  But I think that as internet access increases offering high speed access to a majority of people, online education would be best served in a synchronous system utilizing face-to-face, real time programs like Zoom.  We have the technology to approximate traditional in class system; we just lack the access to adequate internet speed for all teachers and students.

This is not something I even considered when it comes to rural students.  I've had some students from African nations who had internet issues and requested extensions on assignments, but this is helpful to think about.  I believe the best option for online course delivery is a combination of distance learning and residencies, or at a minimum, Zoom/Skype sessions to interact directly as a class.  One of my favorite experiences was teaching a face-to-face night class for graduate students, but a group of students from a satellite campus looped in through Zoom to join us.  It made for an interesting term, but it ended up working quite well.

Any way, blessings on your continued outreach through your teaching.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 03:16:23 PM
One major windfall/landmine is that Indiana has a school voucher system. Depending on where they live and their family income, many people can send their kids to St. Paul's with pretty close to zero tuition. Going into that system was one reason we established in writing what our teachings were on various social issues and why those teachings are an essential part of the mission of the school. We anticipate the day coming when the whole voucher system faces legal challenge for supporting hate speech with tax dollars. That iceberg looms out there and we need to be vigilant.

This intersects, of course, with politics. Set aside abortion and gay marriage and what-not. Who appoints the Secretary of Education, who appoints judges at levels below the SCOTUS, and who controls state legislatures makes a huge difference when it comes to the ability of religious schools to compete on a equal playing field. When candidates obsess about the virtues of public education, they're often attacking private education and seeking to put out of reach for people whose income is less than their own, since their own children generally attend private schools.   


Good deal, in so many ways, and a major planning assist going forward not only in terms of the school side but in terms of parishioners being educated on the political process of continuing to give you that opportunity.

That being said, many states have addressed this in different ways than establishing school vouchers.  The negotiators in New York were the Roman Catholics, the Yeshivas, and then the Lutherans.  And the deal was made not to have vouchers for tuition but to have reimbursement for textbooks, which is far less costly to the state.  The public education lobby in NYS is at tier one.  Which is why the other deal was made by Bloomberg and others to make NYS one of the top recipients of charter schools in the country.  That was done mainly to give another and often better educational opportunity than prevailed in urban/inner urban neighborhoods.  But it also had the side effect of crushing parochial schools like a bug on the Christian side.  The Yeshivas really are at the professional level of knowing how to play the system.  So my church's zip codes are so full of charter schools that the NYC Department of Education put up the white flag and determined that they, the public system, would establish a charter school in my zip code.  And they did so.

So the Lutherans could have become leaders in the charter school movement but out here it's first come first served and we were well to the back of the line.  Whereas in other parts of the country the best charter schools are those founded by our good friends in the WELS.  So say in Arizona the most profitable and beneficial college system - Phoenix and Grand Canyon - is an outgrowth of Missouri Synod people, and the best charter schools are those run by the WELS leaders.  All of these are, of course, independent of the bylaws and encumbrances of their denominations, which is in no small part why they are successful.

The charter movement in its Lutheran version has a component called "wrap-around," which is to figure out how to use the financials from the daytime charter contract and build a tuition-based but low tuition payment plan into before and after school programs that can have a Christian framework.  Which is a tremendous opportunity.

Dave Benke
When something works, it is easy to look back and lament not getting in on the ground floor. When is doesn't, as with CUP and the online learning investment, it is easy to look back and lament a reckless decision. Trying to get in on the ground floor of something is a high-risk venture, and you only get one shot. Take it and miss, and you've spent all your ammo. Hold back, and no better shot may ever present itself.

There are thousands of stocks for sale. In a decade, some will be grown exponentially in value, others will be worth zero. There were probably good reasons people in LCMS education were a bit leery of going in on a new format/system headed up by the city or state of New York. Here in one of the most crumbling and decrepit areas of the nation, Gary, Indiana, we have a new Lutheran parochial adding a grade per year and run independently of any parish by a group out of Milwaukee that works exclusively on a school choice funding model. Of course, it is also only a few miles from an old established LCMS school in Hobart that is on its last legs, so that hasn't necessarily helped in some other ways. But it is a school where there wasn't one. And it does teach the catechism, though virtually none of the students are Lutheran.

OK.  Sort of.  But if I'm reading you correctly, when you say the new school in Gary is run "exclusively on a school choice funding model," that means that the state/municipality is paying the tuition, doesn't it?  So it's not the parents paying all of the tuition out of their own pockets, or even paying any tuition.   

All I was saying is that schools depending on the congregation to pay for the education or for the family of the child to pay for the education, all costs inclusive, are looking to other sources to pay for the education - like "school choice vouchers," or like the charter schools.  Those are at the bottom line not costing the parent for the education of the child.

I'd have to know more about what school choice vouchers give to the school on a per student basis.  Let's say you get $5000 per child in Indiana.  That might work there.  It's not competitive here.  It's nice that religion can continue to be taught.  And since it's by choice, if the parents find that education valuable for their kids, they'll make that choice.  Out here, the Lutheran schools flourished when the public schools were at their worst.  That should not per se be your prayer on Sunday morning - help them to suffer so that we might flourish.  Because along the way, the Lutheran schools if not engaged in quality evaluation, can sink well below what is offered today academically at other schools, public or private.  The tech alone is incredible. 

All things equal, I miss all my Mr./Miss/Rev./Mrs. Chips.  They were usually not up with the times and current trends - of course when you're teaching Shakespeare or Latin that might not matter - but they did bring that sense of belief wed to tradition.

Dave Benke

Dave Benke
In Munster, the public schools are among the best in the state. And graduates of private schools in Munster automatically get to go to Munster high school even if they live out of district (though not if they live in Illinois; Illinois is an increasingly bad joke, btw, which only props our our property values on the border). That makes a big difference when we're only a few miles from some of the very worst schools in the state.

The state reimbursements under the voucher system are based on the cost of educating the child in the public school district they live in. So, for example, we can be reimbursed more for a student from Hammond, East Chicago, or Gary than we would get for a student from places south of us. The range goes from $5000 to about $6700. (We don't necessarily get all of that because they only reimburse up to full tuition for non-voucher students after all other discounts have been applied, so if your member tuition is $2500, then even if a member student income qualifies for vouchers and lives in a bad school district, the state only reimburses the $2500. A lost of school are changing their tuition structures as a result.) The student has to income-qualify for a full or partial voucher, but line extends well into middle-class territory; it isn't just for the poverty-stricken.

Indiana also has a great program called the Scholarship Granting Organization. Basically, you can donate to it and get a 50% tax credit (not deduction, but credit) against your state income taxes. The donated money goes toward scholarships to the school of your choice (though not to the designated student of your choice) via the SGO.

In Gary, the group organizing the new school started in Milwaukee based on Wisconsin's limited voucher program. Basically, they think they can start a school from the ground up partnering with local churches but basing their income projections entirely on vouchers. Ascension Lutheran, headed up by Rev. John Albers (LCMS), operates out of an old LCMS facility right on the border of Gary, and has been adding a grade per year.     
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 03:25:54 PM
John Albers!  Give him a shout-out from me. 

Munster - isn't Gil Meilaender originally from Munster? 

When it comes to Munsters, however, I was always a big fan of Fred Gwynne and Yvonne DeCarlo.  Best Munsters ever!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 12, 2020, 03:28:45 PM
John Albers!  Give him a shout-out from me. 

Munster - isn't Gil Meilaender originally from Munster? 

When it comes to Munsters, however, I was always a big fan of Fred Gwynne and Yvonne DeCarlo.  Best Munsters ever!

Dave Benke
Meilaender was from nearby Hobart, where I once had a call to be associate pastor (declined) and where my Uncle Tom Speckhard, recently deceased, was a vicar back in the day.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Buckeye Deaconess on February 12, 2020, 04:00:09 PM
Ascension Lutheran, headed up by Rev. John Albers (LCMS), operates out of an old LCMS facility right on the border of Gary, and has been adding a grade per year.     

I've been in touch with him lately.  He just single-handedly helped ensure we obtained a $650k grant reimbursement for the LCMS RSO that I lead since we lost our partner, LCMS Housing Support.  We just got the good news yesterday that all of our documentation was approved! He generously came out of the woodwork from his time when he worked on the grant request several years ago to guide us to final completion.  Great guy.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 06:21:28 PM
I hadn't thought about this in some years, OK, since the moment I no longer had to think about these things which is 4 1/2 years ago, but I asked myself the question, "Can the Board of Regents of an institution close the institution like what just happened?"  The reason I asked that question was because I remember that being a decision reserved for the Almighty Synod Assembled in Convention.  And it took some kind of agreement by other commissions and councils and offices.  In my remembrance.

So I dug out the most recent and most recently arrived copy of the LCMS Handbook.  First of all, the Handbook has an orange a blue color framework, which is Simply Amazing, because those are the NY Mets colors.  Inside the cover there's a reference to Bylaw 3.10.6.4 (i)(7).  The overall topic is membership on a college/university Board of Regents.  Subheading (i) carries the weight in letting you and me know that the Board of Regents is operating under the authority of the Synod's Board of Directors which is given custody of the Synod's property as part of its duty, and then through the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System to do local governance.  Okeydokey so far.

Point (7) then lets us in on a feature that I think is new.  Is it new?  I don't have a comparison copy handy.  But I'm pretty sure it's new.  Because in between conventions the Board of Regents may close the institution in the event of legal insolvency necessitating immediate closure after consultation with the BOD of Synod and the BOD of the University System. 

Huh.  First, this is worded interestingly, because the "consultation" means that the weight of closure does NOT fall on the Synod or University System's BODs, but on the local board of regents.  Except - the property, according to (i), pertains to the Synod. 

Take that Big Gulp if you've been asked to serve on a local Board of Regents.  Because you get to be caught in the middle, invariably and inevitably.

But - the board of regents can close the institution in between conventions of the Synod.  Was this discussed at the last convention?  If so, was there a thought that Portland was about ready to fall beneath the sword?  Selma was tough enough.  I was caught way off guard here because I didn't think there were any schools about to go under, and I wasn't really sure that it could be accomplished in the way I'm now reading about. 

Finally, without being Darth Vader, who's next?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on February 12, 2020, 07:44:41 PM
I hadn't thought about this in some years, OK, since the moment I no longer had to think about these things which is 4 1/2 years ago, but I asked myself the question, "Can the Board of Regents of an institution close the institution like what just happened?"  The reason I asked that question was because I remember that being a decision reserved for the Almighty Synod Assembled in Convention.  And it took some kind of agreement by other commissions and councils and offices.  In my remembrance.

So I dug out the most recent and most recently arrived copy of the LCMS Handbook.  First of all, the Handbook has an orange a blue color framework, which is Simply Amazing, because those are the NY Mets colors.  Inside the cover there's a reference to Bylaw 3.10.6.4 (i)(7).  The overall topic is membership on a college/university Board of Regents.  Subheading (i) carries the weight in letting you and me know that the Board of Regents is operating under the authority of the Synod's Board of Directors which is given custody of the Synod's property as part of its duty, and then through the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System to do local governance.  Okeydokey so far.

Point (7) then lets us in on a feature that I think is new.  Is it new?  I don't have a comparison copy handy.  But I'm pretty sure it's new.  Because in between conventions the Board of Regents may close the institution in the event of legal insolvency necessitating immediate closure after consultation with the BOD of Synod and the BOD of the University System. 

Huh.  First, this is worded interestingly, because the "consultation" means that the weight of closure does NOT fall on the Synod or University System's BODs, but on the local board of regents.  Except - the property, according to (i), pertains to the Synod. 

Take that Big Gulp if you've been asked to serve on a local Board of Regents.  Because you get to be caught in the middle, invariably and inevitably.

But - the board of regents can close the institution in between conventions of the Synod.  Was this discussed at the last convention?  If so, was there a thought that Portland was about ready to fall beneath the sword?  Selma was tough enough.  I was caught way off guard here because I didn't think there were any schools about to go under, and I wasn't really sure that it could be accomplished in the way I'm now reading about. 

Finally, without being Darth Vader, who's next?

Dave Benke

Pray I don't change the deal again....
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: aletheist on February 12, 2020, 08:54:21 PM
Point (7) then lets us in on a feature that I think is new.  Is it new?  I don't have a comparison copy handy.  But I'm pretty sure it's new.
Yes, that provision was apparently changed last year.  There is a version of the 2019 Handbook available online (https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=qQE9rrTiTaIqwPse1sjvxw8gbhq65gwf) that indicates revisions by striking out deleted text and underlining added text, like this:

Quote from: LCMS Bylaw 3.10.6.4.(i).(7)
Establishing and placing a priority on the capital needs of the institution and determining the plans for the maintenance and renovation of the buildings and property and purchase of needed equipment, but having no power by itself, without the prior consent of the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System and the Board of Directors of the Synod, to close the institution or to sell all or any part of the property which constitutes the main campus, except that the Board of Regents may close the institution in the event of legal insolvency necessitating immediate closure after consultation with the Board of Directors of the Synod and the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on February 12, 2020, 08:56:53 PM
I hadn't thought about this in some years, OK, since the moment I no longer had to think about these things which is 4 1/2 years ago, but I asked myself the question, "Can the Board of Regents of an institution close the institution like what just happened?"  The reason I asked that question was because I remember that being a decision reserved for the Almighty Synod Assembled in Convention.  And it took some kind of agreement by other commissions and councils and offices.  In my remembrance.

So I dug out the most recent and most recently arrived copy of the LCMS Handbook.  First of all, the Handbook has an orange a blue color framework, which is Simply Amazing, because those are the NY Mets colors.  Inside the cover there's a reference to Bylaw 3.10.6.4 (i)(7).  The overall topic is membership on a college/university Board of Regents.  Subheading (i) carries the weight in letting you and me know that the Board of Regents is operating under the authority of the Synod's Board of Directors which is given custody of the Synod's property as part of its duty, and then through the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System to do local governance.  Okeydokey so far.

Point (7) then lets us in on a feature that I think is new.  Is it new?  I don't have a comparison copy handy.  But I'm pretty sure it's new.  Because in between conventions the Board of Regents may close the institution in the event of legal insolvency necessitating immediate closure after consultation with the BOD of Synod and the BOD of the University System. 

Huh.  First, this is worded interestingly, because the "consultation" means that the weight of closure does NOT fall on the Synod or University System's BODs, but on the local board of regents.  Except - the property, according to (i), pertains to the Synod. 

Take that Big Gulp if you've been asked to serve on a local Board of Regents.  Because you get to be caught in the middle, invariably and inevitably.

But - the board of regents can close the institution in between conventions of the Synod.  Was this discussed at the last convention?  If so, was there a thought that Portland was about ready to fall beneath the sword?  Selma was tough enough.  I was caught way off guard here because I didn't think there were any schools about to go under, and I wasn't really sure that it could be accomplished in the way I'm now reading about. 

Finally, without being Darth Vader, who's next?

Dave Benke

Dave, as a member of the Atlantic District and a former member of Concordia, Bronxville's Board of Regents, what can you tell us about Concordia New York's accreditation issues? One of the concerns cited is "fiscal sustainability."

https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 12, 2020, 09:59:37 PM
I hadn't thought about this in some years, OK, since the moment I no longer had to think about these things which is 4 1/2 years ago, but I asked myself the question, "Can the Board of Regents of an institution close the institution like what just happened?"  The reason I asked that question was because I remember that being a decision reserved for the Almighty Synod Assembled in Convention.  And it took some kind of agreement by other commissions and councils and offices.  In my remembrance.

So I dug out the most recent and most recently arrived copy of the LCMS Handbook.  First of all, the Handbook has an orange a blue color framework, which is Simply Amazing, because those are the NY Mets colors.  Inside the cover there's a reference to Bylaw 3.10.6.4 (i)(7).  The overall topic is membership on a college/university Board of Regents.  Subheading (i) carries the weight in letting you and me know that the Board of Regents is operating under the authority of the Synod's Board of Directors which is given custody of the Synod's property as part of its duty, and then through the Board of Directors of the Concordia University System to do local governance.  Okeydokey so far.

Point (7) then lets us in on a feature that I think is new.  Is it new?  I don't have a comparison copy handy.  But I'm pretty sure it's new.  Because in between conventions the Board of Regents may close the institution in the event of legal insolvency necessitating immediate closure after consultation with the BOD of Synod and the BOD of the University System. 

Huh.  First, this is worded interestingly, because the "consultation" means that the weight of closure does NOT fall on the Synod or University System's BODs, but on the local board of regents.  Except - the property, according to (i), pertains to the Synod. 

Take that Big Gulp if you've been asked to serve on a local Board of Regents.  Because you get to be caught in the middle, invariably and inevitably.

But - the board of regents can close the institution in between conventions of the Synod.  Was this discussed at the last convention?  If so, was there a thought that Portland was about ready to fall beneath the sword?  Selma was tough enough.  I was caught way off guard here because I didn't think there were any schools about to go under, and I wasn't really sure that it could be accomplished in the way I'm now reading about. 

Finally, without being Darth Vader, who's next?

Dave Benke

Dave, as a member of the Atlantic District and a former member of Concordia, Bronxville's Board of Regents, what can you tell us about Concordia New York's accreditation issues? One of the concerns cited is "fiscal sustainability."

https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin

Short answer is "not much," Jim.  I hadn't seen this letter, for instance.  What I had heard was that there was a personnel issue in the finance department that threw things off, and has been solved, both with better personnel and with the usual other thing, which is cutbacks and RIFs (reduction in force).  But I do not know the details of any of that or the enrollment prognosis.  Pray it's getting better; it wasn't a full pull of accreditation, so that's good.

One of my better transitional moves was to stay in my lane.  My lane does not head over the Throg's Neck Bridge much any more and up to Westchester/Bronxville.  I go East and West on Long Island - no tolls.  I love the parish vocation, as difficult as it can be.  In my case, every day is a day down memory lane as well as a chance to meet new people.  Today a woman called to put her granddaughter in our school.  She said, "I went to Sunday School at St. Peter's back in the early 80s; there was a young pastor there, and we had a great time, learned a lot." 

Er, uh.  That was me.  With the comb-over.  So I re-invited her to bring her grandkid, and herself, back to church.  I guess they had moved, and then moved back recently.  35 year break in the action.  That's fun!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steve Ames on February 13, 2020, 09:35:33 AM
Rev Dr, Dave Benke:  “What I had heard was that there was a personnel issue in the finance department that threw things off, and has been solved, both with better personnel and with the usual other thing, which is cutbacks and RIFs (reduction in force).”

Reading “a personnel issue in the finance department” frequently means that money was stolen so I look up the report of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Regarding the finance department the issue is failing to have: “(3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11).”

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Concordia College – New York  https://www.msche.org/institution/0299/
Link to letter: Notification of Non-Compliance Action
June 27, 2019
To acknowledge receipt of the self-study report. To note the visit by the Commission’s representatives. To place the institution on probation and note that the institution’s accreditation is in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard V (Educational Effectiveness Assessment), Standard VI (Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement), and Requirements of Affiliation 8, 10, and 11. To note that the institution remains accredited while on probation. To note further that federal regulations limit the period during which an institution may be in non-compliance to two years. To request a monitoring report due, March 1, 2020, demonstrating evidence that the institution has achieved and can sustain ongoing compliance with Standards V and VI and Requirements of Affiliation 8, 10, and 11, including but not limited to (1) the development and implementation of organized and systematic assessments that evaluate the extent of student achievement (Standard V and Requirements of Affiliation 8 and 10); (2) demonstrated and documented use of assessment results to improve educational effectiveness (Standard V and Requirements of Affiliation 8 and 10); (3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11); and (4) adequate fiscal and human resources, including physical and technical infrastructure, to support operations (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11). To require that the institution complete and submit for approval, by March 1, 2020, a comprehensive, implementable teach-out plan (Teach-Out Plans and Agreements Policy and Procedures). In accordance with Commission policy and federal regulations, the teach-out plan must provide for the equitable treatment of students to complete their education, if the Commission were to withdraw accreditation, and include any signed, teach-out agreements that the institution has entered into or intends to enter into with another institution. To direct a follow-up team visit following submission of the monitoring report. To direct a prompt Commission liaison guidance visit to discuss the Commission's expectations. Upon reaffirmation of accreditation, the next evaluation visit is scheduled for 2027-2028.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on February 13, 2020, 10:58:38 AM
Rev Dr, Dave Benke:  “What I had heard was that there was a personnel issue in the finance department that threw things off, and has been solved, both with better personnel and with the usual other thing, which is cutbacks and RIFs (reduction in force).”

Reading “a personnel issue in the finance department” frequently means that money was stolen so I look up the report of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Regarding the finance department the issue is failing to have: “(3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11).”

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Concordia College – New York  https://www.msche.org/institution/0299/
Link to letter: Notification of Non-Compliance Action
June 27, 2019
To acknowledge receipt of the self-study report. To note the visit by the Commission’s representatives. To place the institution on probation and note that the institution’s accreditation is in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard V (Educational Effectiveness Assessment), Standard VI (Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement), and Requirements of Affiliation 8, 10, and 11. To note that the institution remains accredited while on probation. To note further that federal regulations limit the period during which an institution may be in non-compliance to two years. To request a monitoring report due, March 1, 2020, demonstrating evidence that the institution has achieved and can sustain ongoing compliance with Standards V and VI and Requirements of Affiliation 8, 10, and 11, including but not limited to (1) the development and implementation of organized and systematic assessments that evaluate the extent of student achievement (Standard V and Requirements of Affiliation 8 and 10); (2) demonstrated and documented use of assessment results to improve educational effectiveness (Standard V and Requirements of Affiliation 8 and 10); (3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11); and (4) adequate fiscal and human resources, including physical and technical infrastructure, to support operations (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11). To require that the institution complete and submit for approval, by March 1, 2020, a comprehensive, implementable teach-out plan (Teach-Out Plans and Agreements Policy and Procedures). In accordance with Commission policy and federal regulations, the teach-out plan must provide for the equitable treatment of students to complete their education, if the Commission were to withdraw accreditation, and include any signed, teach-out agreements that the institution has entered into or intends to enter into with another institution. To direct a follow-up team visit following submission of the monitoring report. To direct a prompt Commission liaison guidance visit to discuss the Commission's expectations. Upon reaffirmation of accreditation, the next evaluation visit is scheduled for 2027-2028.

Steve, I appreciate the link. Can you please translate into English?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 13, 2020, 11:57:08 AM
Rev Dr, Dave Benke:  “What I had heard was that there was a personnel issue in the finance department that threw things off, and has been solved, both with better personnel and with the usual other thing, which is cutbacks and RIFs (reduction in force).”

Reading “a personnel issue in the finance department” frequently means that money was stolen so I look up the report of the Middle States Commission on Higher Education.  Regarding the finance department the issue is failing to have: “(3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11).”

Middle States Commission on Higher Education
Concordia College – New York  https://www.msche.org/institution/0299/
Link to letter: Notification of Non-Compliance Action
June 27, 2019
To acknowledge receipt of the self-study report. To note the visit by the Commission’s representatives. To place the institution on probation and note that the institution’s accreditation is in jeopardy because of insufficient evidence that the institution is currently in compliance with Standard V (Educational Effectiveness Assessment), Standard VI (Planning, Resources, and Institutional Improvement), and Requirements of Affiliation 8, 10, and 11. To note that the institution remains accredited while on probation. To note further that federal regulations limit the period during which an institution may be in non-compliance to two years. To request a monitoring report due, March 1, 2020, demonstrating evidence that the institution has achieved and can sustain ongoing compliance with Standards V and VI and Requirements of Affiliation 8, 10, and 11, including but not limited to (1) the development and implementation of organized and systematic assessments that evaluate the extent of student achievement (Standard V and Requirements of Affiliation 8 and 10); (2) demonstrated and documented use of assessment results to improve educational effectiveness (Standard V and Requirements of Affiliation 8 and 10); (3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11); and (4) adequate fiscal and human resources, including physical and technical infrastructure, to support operations (Standard VI and Requirement of Affiliation 11). To require that the institution complete and submit for approval, by March 1, 2020, a comprehensive, implementable teach-out plan (Teach-Out Plans and Agreements Policy and Procedures). In accordance with Commission policy and federal regulations, the teach-out plan must provide for the equitable treatment of students to complete their education, if the Commission were to withdraw accreditation, and include any signed, teach-out agreements that the institution has entered into or intends to enter into with another institution. To direct a follow-up team visit following submission of the monitoring report. To direct a prompt Commission liaison guidance visit to discuss the Commission's expectations. Upon reaffirmation of accreditation, the next evaluation visit is scheduled for 2027-2028.

This is the way it goes, then. 

"Frequently means that money was stolen" is not what I said or what I meant.  I did not say directly or indirectly or indicate in any way that money had been stolen.  I knew and know nothing like that.  Do not implicate me in any way in that part of your thought process.  I'm communicating to you directly to tell you not to attribute anything to me other than that what I had stated, which was, in fact, very little.

What you have just unearthed is something I am seeing for the first time.  My prior post was an attempt to answer a Missouri Synod brother's question by stating that what I know and have known about Bronxville is "not much."

There is a two year window, starting last summer (from what I have read here) for Concordia Bronxville to address the concerns raised.  My prayers are that the concerns are addressed and that the college flourishes going forward.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steve Ames on February 13, 2020, 12:10:10 PM
The point “(3) financial planning and budget processes that are aligned with mission, goals and objectives and are evidence-based” I understand as the Concordia University New York did not have a sound process to forecast its cash inflows compared to cash outflows perhaps caused by adding a new education program.  The criticism appears to be that the financial plans and budgets failed in meeting the standard of fairly representing how the university operations impacted its available cash.  My impression from the little I read of Concordia Portland suggests that their spending versus revenues caused cash deficits to a point no one wanted to lend them additional money.  In comparison the Middle States Commission on Higher Education is insisting that Concordia New York correct their budget planning process which should assist Concordia New York’s administration in avoiding cash deficits which could threaten the university’s long-term viability.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on February 13, 2020, 08:59:16 PM
My blog post for today is about Concordia, Portland:

http://matthewlbecker.blogspot.com/2020/02/christi-crux-est-mihi-lux.html

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on February 13, 2020, 10:30:24 PM
My blog post for today is about Concordia, Portland:

http://matthewlbecker.blogspot.com/2020/02/christi-crux-est-mihi-lux.html

Matt Becker

Nicely done, Matt!
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: James J Eivan on February 14, 2020, 01:17:22 AM
Dave, as a member of the Atlantic District and a former member of Concordia, Bronxville's Board of Regents, what can you tell us about Concordia New York's accreditation issues? One of the concerns cited is "fiscal sustainability."

https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin)
Thank you for bringing this to the attention of at least this small group of LCMS members. 


It’s surprising that the call for ‘transparency’ has not been made once by the forum participants who have cried for transparency on numerous occasions when the topic was Selma and/or Portland. It is clear from the links posted to the accrediting agency’s website that this is (or should be) public information.


Knowing that the above link (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin) existed, I went to the college website (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/) to evaluate ‘transparency’.  Nothing about it under the Latest News (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/news) link, nothing on the President’s Page (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/presidents-message) or the Board of Regents (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/board-of-regents) page despite the fact that the link (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin) cited above indicates that the message is signed by BOTH the College President and the Board of Control Chairman.


The Accreditation (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/accreditation) link was chosen ... first glance down the webpage revealed nothing ... links normally stand out as the links used in this post do ... either due to unique color of the link (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/accreditation) or due to the fact that the link is underlined or as in the case of links on the CUNY webpage, links are Bold (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/accreditation).


Is real transparency practiced by presenting the ‘Read More’ link virtually the same font/color as the non linked text on the page? Is transparency, as pleaded for in the Selma closing, served when information on this probation has not been reported at district/synod level.


Is this the level of transparency a forum poster referenced four times in one post when discussing the Selma closure?  Perhaps it is not considered news since the phrase “ To remind the institution of the warning that its accreditation may be in jeopardy (https://www.msche.org/institution/0299/)” appears multiple times during the last ten years.


Forum member Matt Staneck (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/board-of-regents) is a current member of of the CUNY Board of Regents ... and should be able to provide transparency as the March 1, 2020 deadline approaches for the monitoring report (https://msche.box.com/shared/static/ug7hmphnh6cncgf5xembvzfba9eqvgz5.pdf).

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 14, 2020, 08:26:33 AM
A call for transparency is really rich coming from you, "James Eivan," whoever you opaquely are.  Diga me, hermano, as we have it here in Brooklyn, quien eres tu?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 14, 2020, 08:49:31 AM
As usual, whose ox is being gored becomes the main issue. Everyone says ,”Trust me on this,” more willingly than they listen to those words. Everyone expects to be believed implicitly when they say, “We’re doing all we can,” but finds it easy to demand proof from others who say it.

I took my daughters out to Bronxville in November for a college visit. I can’t speak to the board, but I know John Nunes offers quality leadership.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 14, 2020, 09:48:45 AM
A call for transparency is really rich coming from you, "James Eivan," whoever you opaquely are.  Diga me, hermano, as we have it here in Brooklyn, quien eres tu?

Dave Benke

Why?  Why is his call for transparency "really rich coming from you, 'James Eivan'"?  Why do you need to know his biography?  Doesn't his call for transparency have merit on its own?  Or does such a request only count when it comes from someone you know?

Or, and by the way, why do you seem to always try to dazzle us with non-English words/phrases?  If we know the language, so what?  If we do not, then you are only a "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on February 14, 2020, 10:12:19 AM
Dave, as a member of the Atlantic District and a former member of Concordia, Bronxville's Board of Regents, what can you tell us about Concordia New York's accreditation issues? One of the concerns cited is "fiscal sustainability."

https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin)
Thank you for bringing this to the attention of at least this small group of LCMS members. 


It’s surprising that the call for ‘transparency’ has not been made once by the forum participants who have cried for transparency on numerous occasions when the topic was Selma and/or Portland. It is clear from the links posted to the accrediting agency’s website that this is (or should be) public information.


Knowing that the above link (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin) existed, I went to the college website (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/) to evaluate ‘transparency’.  Nothing about it under the Latest News (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/news) link, nothing on the President’s Page (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/presidents-message) or the Board of Regents (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/board-of-regents) page despite the fact that the link (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/special-message-from-president-nunes-and-board-of-regents-chair-joe-carlin) cited above indicates that the message is signed by BOTH the College President and the Board of Control Chairman.


The Accreditation (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/accreditation) link was chosen ... first glance down the webpage revealed nothing ... links normally stand out as the links used in this post do ... either due to unique color of the link (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/accreditation) or due to the fact that the link is underlined or as in the case of links on the CUNY webpage, links are Bold (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/accreditation).


Is real transparency practiced by presenting the ‘Read More’ link virtually the same font/color as the non linked text on the page? Is transparency, as pleaded for in the Selma closing, served when information on this probation has not been reported at district/synod level.


Is this the level of transparency a forum poster referenced four times in one post when discussing the Selma closure?  Perhaps it is not considered news since the phrase “ To remind the institution of the warning that its accreditation may be in jeopardy (https://www.msche.org/institution/0299/)” appears multiple times during the last ten years.


Forum member Matt Staneck (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/about/board-of-regents) is a current member of of the CUNY Board of Regents ... and should be able to provide transparency as the March 1, 2020 deadline approaches for the monitoring report (https://msche.box.com/shared/static/ug7hmphnh6cncgf5xembvzfba9eqvgz5.pdf).

One the one hand, I'd always argue for embracing the fishbowl.  If you are going to immanentize the eschaton, might as well start with letting daylight hit everything you do, because it is all going to come out eventually.  Rather here than in front of THE light.

But on the other, if you can't grok the distinction between the sensitivity of a Historically Black College run by a 97% white denomination and run of the mill accreditation reviews.  Every private religious affiliated organization that depends on tuition (i.e. doesn't have a massive endowment or some golden patina that would prevent it from closing) is getting these type of "warnings".  Why?  Well, that whole less than 1.5 kids per female thing, yeah, it is coming home to roost.  The number of college students (the demand) is expected to fall by 15% over the next 5 years, maybe more.  And when demand goes down, prices go down and the weakest competitors go out of business.  Hence the warning to a lot of institutions.

I don't know enough about CCNY to comment specifically, but being a liberal arts school in a pricy area not aimed at particularly competitive academic class, it seems to be in the neither fish nor fowl tight spot.  It isn't a brand on the sheepskin that gets you the first rung on the cursus honorum, nor is it a purely practical credential at the lowest possible price.  And making the pitch to parents (or kids) that buying a new car a year so your fine average kid can think deep thoughts in leafy groves is a tough sell.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 14, 2020, 10:17:07 AM
Or, and by the way, why do you seem to always try to dazzle us with non-English words/phrases?  If we know the language, so what?  If we do not, then you are only a "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".

This is maybe the fifteenth time you've made this comment, SW.  As we say here Out East, "uñas de los pies duras."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 14, 2020, 11:00:59 AM
Or, and by the way, why do you seem to always try to dazzle us with non-English words/phrases?  If we know the language, so what?  If we do not, then you are only a "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".

This is maybe the fifteenth time you've made this comment, SW.  As we say here Out East, "uñas de los pies duras."

Dave Benke

Fifteenth time?  And you are still doing it?  I guess you must really feel a bit of an inferiority complex for yourself or your words. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: J.L. Precup on February 14, 2020, 11:29:34 AM
Or, and by the way, why do you seem to always try to dazzle us with non-English words/phrases?  If we know the language, so what?  If we do not, then you are only a "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".

This is maybe the fifteenth time you've made this comment, SW.  As we say here Out East, "uñas de los pies duras."

Dave Benke

Fifteenth time?  And you are still doing it?  I guess you must really feel a bit of an inferiority complex for yourself or your words.

No te preocupes.  A los quince te puedes tener una quinceañera.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 14, 2020, 11:49:21 AM
I have a question.
So the real reason for concordia closing is that it was on suspension for its accreditation, was likely to lose it’s accreditation , and did not think it could get it back?
Ces’t vrai?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 14, 2020, 12:18:35 PM
Or, and by the way, why do you seem to always try to dazzle us with non-English words/phrases?  If we know the language, so what?  If we do not, then you are only a "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".

This is maybe the fifteenth time you've made this comment, SW.  As we say here Out East, "uñas de los pies duras."

Dave Benke



Fifteenth time?  And you are still doing it?  I guess you must really feel a bit of an inferiority complex for yourself or your words.

No te preocupes.  A los quince te puedes tener una quinceañera.

A pat on your head too, I guess, is in order.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on February 14, 2020, 12:29:14 PM
I have a question.
So the real reason for concordia closing is that it was on suspension for its accreditation, was likely to lose it’s accreditation , and did not think it could get it back?
Ces’t vrai?

Fiscal insolvency. Too much money going out, too little coming in.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 14, 2020, 01:10:30 PM
Or, and by the way, why do you seem to always try to dazzle us with non-English words/phrases?  If we know the language, so what?  If we do not, then you are only a "noisy gong or clanging cymbal".

This is maybe the fifteenth time you've made this comment, SW.  As we say here Out East, "uñas de los pies duras."

Dave Benke

Fifteenth time?  And you are still doing it?  I guess you must really feel a bit of an inferiority complex for yourself or your words.

No te preocupes.  A los quince te puedes tener una quinceañera.

Ha!  Porque no?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on February 14, 2020, 01:31:19 PM
Here is a further, quite long online article that offers additional insight into the imminent closure of Concordia, Portland:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/14/warning-signs-concordia-university-portlands-closure-which-now-stretches-across 

I find it interesting that apparently LCMS leaders (via LCEF) made a loan offer to CUP that was conditional on changing the LBGTQ Center at CUP, whereas elsewhere in the article an LCMS spokesperson states that the Concordias are "substantially independent" of the Synod.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on February 14, 2020, 02:18:35 PM
Here is a further, quite long online article that offers additional insight into the imminent closure of Concordia, Portland:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/14/warning-signs-concordia-university-portlands-closure-which-now-stretches-across


It just doesn't add up.

Quote from: What Led Concordia Portland to Close?
Two years prior, in 2010, the university had partnered with a third-party service provider with marketing and recruitment expertise. Enrollment went on to double each year, jumping from 350 students in 2010 to 700 in 2011 and about 1,400 in 2012. Looking forward, leaders expected to enroll 2,500 students in 2013.

By all accounts, Concordia was massively successful in the ensuing years. Total enrollment more than doubled from over 3,000 students in 2012 to more than 7,400 in 2014, according to federal data. Much of that growth was among graduate students, where enrollment spiked from about 1,700 students to more than 6,000. Enrollment of adults aged 25 to 64 went from about 1,100 in 2011 to 3,697 in 2014.

So, what was the school's enrollment in [pick a year in the last decade] 2012?

What a mess.

spt+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 14, 2020, 02:26:27 PM
Here is a further, quite long online article that offers additional insight into the imminent closure of Concordia, Portland:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/14/warning-signs-concordia-university-portlands-closure-which-now-stretches-across

I find it interesting that apparently LCMS leaders (via LCEF) made a loan offer to CUP that was conditional on changing the LBGTQ Center at CUP, whereas elsewhere in the article an LCMS spokesperson states that the Concordias are "substantially independent" of the Synod.

Matt Becker

From this article, it looks as though Concordia Portland is around $50 million under water - $38 million to LCEF and $12 million in operations.  That's a chunk of change, if that's the number.  Of course I suppose it could be higher (!). 

With regard to the LCEF and "LCMS leaders," my past understanding has been that LCEF is a corporation independent of the LCMS superstructure.  They inhabit a different building in St. Louis kind of as a sign that they're not one and the same.  But, as with so much, maybe that's another thing that is morphing as we tumble forward into the future.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 14, 2020, 03:06:12 PM
Another little apple in the upset cart, from my possibly not too accurate recollection is that the Board of Regents at Portland requested the next level in the chain of command, either the Concordia University System board or the Board of Directors of Synod, to become independent of the Missouri Synod, and/or set in motion the process to make that happen.  That might have happened while I was still doing my midwestern district presidential journeys.  But nothing came of it.  So.....

As of now, what would take the massive hits, from what Matt Becker forwarded us, is the combo of the Lutheran Church Extension Fund and LCMS Inc.  I'm sure the property is worth more than a buck fifty, so there's an offset value.  But it's not that easy.

When I get out to Milwaukee, I (and probably others from the old State Street Concordia days) head over to the campus where I lived and dwelt and had my teenage being.  The Potawatomi tribe purchased that land, and calls it the Wgema Center.  My first experience there was in Wunder Dormitory, named after somebody named Wunder, not Wunderbar, which is Wonderful (!).  Now that structure is called The Bgemagen Building. 

Anyway, what happens to our vacant college campuses is interesting to follow.  My view is that once the building is de-commissioned for Lutheran or sacred use, it doesn't matter.  As for the Potawatomi tribe, their tribe is increasing, at least financially, with a couple of cash cow casinos right there in the land of the Cheeseheads and Brewers.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 14, 2020, 03:25:02 PM
My college lives and prospers,  it the dorm I lived in my first three years will be torn down this summer and replaced with a “modern” dorm that will house men and women. A lot of fine ghosts will be homeless when Men’s Memorial Hall, built for men returning from WWII, is razed.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on February 14, 2020, 03:31:22 PM
Here is a further, quite long online article that offers additional insight into the imminent closure of Concordia, Portland:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/14/warning-signs-concordia-university-portlands-closure-which-now-stretches-across

I find it interesting that apparently LCMS leaders (via LCEF) made a loan offer to CUP that was conditional on changing the LBGTQ Center at CUP, whereas elsewhere in the article an LCMS spokesperson states that the Concordias are "substantially independent" of the Synod.

Matt Becker

From this article, it looks as though Concordia Portland is around $50 million under water - $38 million to LCEF and $12 million in operations.  That's a chunk of change, if that's the number.  Of course I suppose it could be higher (!). 

With regard to the LCEF and "LCMS leaders," my past understanding has been that LCEF is a corporation independent of the LCMS superstructure.  They inhabit a different building in St. Louis kind of as a sign that they're not one and the same.  But, as with so much, maybe that's another thing that is morphing as we tumble forward into the future.

Dave Benke

Friends who are still on the faculty there have told me that the debt is around $58 million, conservatively.

MB
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on February 14, 2020, 04:04:56 PM
Did the LBGTQ center at Concordia Portland reflect the doctrine and practice of the LCMS? I've not followed this topic so I honestly don't know.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 14, 2020, 04:06:53 PM
What exactly would be wrong with putting conditions on what would clearly be a high risk loan? Fiscal responsibility and good stewardship would seem to demand that if the leaders of the LCMS are going to give the okay on loaning out LCMS funds or credit, the money be clearly used on something that furthers the LCMS mission. Supporting something that ay leads on the surface compromises LCMS teaching would make no sense.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 14, 2020, 04:37:59 PM
What exactly would be wrong with putting conditions on what would clearly be a high risk loan? Fiscal responsibility and good stewardship would seem to demand that if the leaders of the LCMS are going to give the okay on loaning out LCMS funds or credit, the money be clearly used on something that furthers the LCMS mission. Supporting something that ay leads on the surface compromises LCMS teaching would make no sense.

Back in the day, before the "University System" approach, the Board for Higher Education would arrive to check out financial underperformance at a Synodical college, and if they felt it was dire, they would/could institute an oversight approach that included their designee becoming basically the CFO & Co.  It was certainly a shot across the bow, but it was meant to allow for draconian measures to right the situation, taken by an party outside the normal college pathway.

More and more, and I guess this is the way of the world, LCMS Inc. is more concerned with ascending liabilities from lawsuits and the like to the end that the language keeps LCMS Inc. further away from operations, for fear of anything from a slip and fall to a misconduct suit winding up at their purported deep pocket door. 

The old BHE system I think saved a couple of schools because those strong measures were taken appropriately and limited themselves to fiscal oversight.  In this case, the LCEF and LCMS Inc. end up holding the bag, unless there are those coming after the local BOR as well.  I am sure the D & O insurances are kept up to date so the corporate veil can't be pierced to individual assets.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 14, 2020, 05:36:06 PM
The postage stamp size campus of Concordia High School and Junior College in Milwaukee
was squeezed in between State Street and Kilbourn Ave in the 1950's and early 1960's.
The good news is that it was in walking distance of Milwaukee County Stadium which was
the home of the Milwaukee Braves with Warren Spahn, Hank Aaron and Eddie Matthews.

In 1987 I went back to Milwaukee for a Summer vacation with my wife and daughter.
In 1983, Concordia University Wisconsin was in Mequon and in 1986 the old campus
was sold to an American Indian Community School.   So, in July of 1987, I stopped by
the home of Bill Ackmann and his wife.  He had been the Dean of Students during my
tenure at Milwaukee campus.  We chatted for about 45 minutes in his living room.
He was wearing swimming trunks and seemed in excellent shape.  He voiced his opinion
that Concordia, Mequon was no longer focused on pre-seminary students and that
was not a good thing for him.

 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 14, 2020, 05:37:45 PM
Here is a further, quite long online article that offers additional insight into the imminent closure of Concordia, Portland:

https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/14/warning-signs-concordia-university-portlands-closure-which-now-stretches-across (https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2020/02/14/warning-signs-concordia-university-portlands-closure-which-now-stretches-across)


It just doesn't add up.

Quote from: What Led Concordia Portland to Close?
Two years prior, in 2010, the university had partnered with a third-party service provider with marketing and recruitment expertise. Enrollment went on to double each year, jumping from 350 students in 2010 to 700 in 2011 and about 1,400 in 2012. Looking forward, leaders expected to enroll 2,500 students in 2013.

By all accounts, Concordia was massively successful in the ensuing years. Total enrollment more than doubled from over 3,000 students in 2012 to more than 7,400 in 2014, according to federal data. Much of that growth was among graduate students, where enrollment spiked from about 1,700 students to more than 6,000. Enrollment of adults aged 25 to 64 went from about 1,100 in 2011 to 3,697 in 2014.

So, what was the school's enrollment in [pick a year in the last decade] 2012?

What a mess.


I remember seeing ads in national publications. My sister-in-law, who is not and never has been Lutheran, went there for her Masters degree.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 14, 2020, 05:48:02 PM
Another news report: https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/did-concordia-get-shut-down-because-it-was-too-progressive-on-gay-rights.html (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/did-concordia-get-shut-down-because-it-was-too-progressive-on-gay-rights.html)

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: James J Eivan on February 15, 2020, 12:37:37 AM
But on the other, if you can't grok the distinction between the sensitivity of a Historically Black College run by a 97% white denomination and run of the mill accreditation reviews.
If we are truly striving for equality, should there be “the distinction”?


Perhaps I see things from a different ... and possibly more objective prospective than some ....


One of the men I am privileged to call Pastor is a CC-Selma alum, former CC-Selma faculty/staff member, and previously served a Historically Black Chicago LCMS congregation.  Given the financial condition and enrollment realities, he like many, saw no other reasonable alternative.


Multiple previous generation family members are proud graduates of St. John’s College, Winfield, KS ... and watched it close many years after their graduation ... realizing there was no other option.


Having a two year AA degree from CUAA, I often wonder if the realities of 2020 were present when CUAA merged with CUW if the millions of dollars in debt would have been written off today in order to facilitate the merger. The fund raising materials I receive throughout the year have yet to convince me the institution is serving the purpose for which it was established.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: James J Eivan on February 15, 2020, 12:39:29 AM
A call for transparency is really rich coming from you, "James Eivan," whoever you opaquely are.  Diga me, hermano, as we have it here in Brooklyn, quien eres tu?

Dave Benke
I’m stunned .... I expected Brooklyn kudos for calling for transparency ... I apologize for stealing your thunder failing to wait for your transparency call ... or as was previously suggested perhaps the issue is whose ox is being gored ... or what political agenda is being catered to today.


I’m sorry ... How did I mislead you to thinking that Spanish is necessary to communicate with me ... to my knowledge my limited posts on this forum have been English only .... my last century high school Spanish knowledge regrettably is rather rusty.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: NGB on February 15, 2020, 06:08:16 PM
Another news report: https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/did-concordia-get-shut-down-because-it-was-too-progressive-on-gay-rights.html (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/did-concordia-get-shut-down-because-it-was-too-progressive-on-gay-rights.html)

Betteridge's law of headlines seems apropos: "Any headline that ends in a question mark can be answered by the word no".
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 21, 2020, 02:42:22 PM
For those so interested, here is the joint statement sent out by the presidents of Concordia Seminary - St. Louis and Concordia Theological Seminary - Ft. Wayne, IN regarding the Concordia - Portland closure:

LCMS seminaries share concern over
Concordia, Portland closure

Dr. Dale A. Meyer, president of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and Dr. Lawrence R. Rast, Jr., president of Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, Ind., expressed concern for those affected by the recent announcement that Concordia University, Portland, Ore. (CUP), would be closing at the end of this academic year and issued the following statement:

“Lutherans have always placed the highest importance on education and, since its inception, The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) has considered its schools, universities and seminaries to be of the highest priority,” Rast said. “Concordia University, Portland was founded in 1905 as an academy to meet regional needs for pastors and school teachers for the LCMS. The need for theologically sound, faithful and caring pastors and teachers is as true today as it was then. We lift our prayers to the Lord of the church that He would continue to provide laborers for the harvest. And we thank the members of the LCMS for their ongoing partnership in supporting our seminaries and schools.”
 
“Regardless of the reasons behind the decision, the closure of a long-standing institution has far-reaching consequences and is riddled with emotion,” Meyer said. “We are seeing significant changes and challenges across the higher education industry. Though experts have been predicting mergers and closures of this nature for some time, the experience is not any easier when it hits home. Dr. Rast and I would like to express our prayerful support for the faculty, staff and students of CUP as they begin to plan a path forward.”

Presidents Rast and Meyer further stated, “The challenges facing our church’s seminaries, universities and schools are many, but our Lord is faithful and He will see us through these current and future challenges just as He has in the past.”
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 29, 2020, 09:36:48 AM
Continuing information on the Concordia - Portland situation:
https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/concordia-universitys-online-vision-hid-grim-reality.html?fbclid=IwAR3NrH02g7evVqSiYCZ99XKOJT-Au3cKHDh0mteeVIkXcCQHS9qX0xPNtqY (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/concordia-universitys-online-vision-hid-grim-reality.html?fbclid=IwAR3NrH02g7evVqSiYCZ99XKOJT-Au3cKHDh0mteeVIkXcCQHS9qX0xPNtqY)

The anatomy of a university's closing is probably always going to be complex.  As a smaller brick-and-mortar school they partnered with HotChalk to make them a big school online.  And they grew. Rapidly, it appears.  But no one apparently looked far enough into the future to see how viable one degree area would be with changes in the educational arena.  HotChalk and CUP banked on an endless flow of students to their masters and doctoral program.  In fact, they "became one of the nation’s largest providers of Master of Education degrees." 

"Changes in state laws compounded the problems. Fewer states required teachers to complete Master of Education degrees to attain full certification, cutting into what officials thought was an endless stream of students."

Then there was the simple reality of education and the economy and the available pool of students from which to draw. "Fewer young people pursued college as the economy recovered from the Great Recession. Colleges became more competitive amid a shrinking student pool."

It's easy to become enthusiastic about growth and choose not to see the danger signs looming just behind the optimism.  I hope that other schools learn from this, especially the remaining Concordias.

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 29, 2020, 09:54:14 AM
Continuing information on the Concordia - Portland situation:
https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/concordia-universitys-online-vision-hid-grim-reality.html?fbclid=IwAR3NrH02g7evVqSiYCZ99XKOJT-Au3cKHDh0mteeVIkXcCQHS9qX0xPNtqY (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/concordia-universitys-online-vision-hid-grim-reality.html?fbclid=IwAR3NrH02g7evVqSiYCZ99XKOJT-Au3cKHDh0mteeVIkXcCQHS9qX0xPNtqY)

The anatomy of a university's closing is probably always going to be complex.  As a smaller brick-and-mortar school they partnered with HotChalk to make them a big school online.  And they grew. Rapidly, it appears.  But no one apparently looked far enough into the future to see how viable one degree area would be with changes in the educational arena.  HotChalk and CUP banked on an endless flow of students to their masters and doctoral program.  In fact, they "became one of the nation’s largest providers of Master of Education degrees." 

"Changes in state laws compounded the problems. Fewer states required teachers to complete Master of Education degrees to attain full certification, cutting into what officials thought was an endless stream of students."

Then there was the simple reality of education and the economy and the available pool of students from which to draw. "Fewer young people pursued college as the economy recovered from the Great Recession. Colleges became more competitive amid a shrinking student pool."

It's easy to become enthusiastic about growth and choose not to see the danger signs looming just behind the optimism.  I hope that other schools learn from this, especially the remaining Concordias.


How many congregations do something similar? Annually they increase their spending plans when attendance and giving is decreasing. Trusting God to provide is not always a viable financial option - especially when there has been three or more years of declining income.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on February 29, 2020, 01:12:44 PM
Schlimpert cannot be that hard to find, can he? A $310000 salary? That has to be the very definition of outrageous.

And are lawsuits on the horizon? From parents and students and faculty and staff?

One Concordia for church worker preparation. One Concordia for generic education. Maybe two. Seward, Mequon. That's it. That's the list.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on February 29, 2020, 01:33:56 PM
Schlimpert cannot be that hard to find, can he? A $310000 salary? That has to be the very definition of outrageous.

And are lawsuits on the horizon? From parents and students and faculty and staff?

One Concordia for church worker preparation. One Concordia for generic education. Maybe two. Seward, Mequon. That's it. That's the list.

Jeremy
Valpo is at a critical juncture. If the Concordias continue to topple like dominoes or else struggle to be seen as legit universities, there will be high demand among LCMS folks for a place like Valpo. But only if Valpo hasn't burned its remaining bridges with the LCMS by embracing every lunacy of academic progessivism. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on February 29, 2020, 01:40:17 PM
Schlimpert cannot be that hard to find, can he? A $310000 salary? That has to be the very definition of outrageous.

And are lawsuits on the horizon? From parents and students and faculty and staff?

One Concordia for church worker preparation. One Concordia for generic education. Maybe two. Seward, Mequon. That's it. That's the list.

Jeremy

Dr. Schlimpert now lives in Montana.  He still has an .edu email address.  Guess that won't be too good for long.
http://locator.lcms.org/nworkers_frm/w_detail.asp?W18658 (http://locator.lcms.org/nworkers_frm/w_detail.asp?W18658)

As far as the Concordias are concerned, I'd like to advocate for Chicago.  They have the only undergraduate deaconness program in synod and their music program is excellent for the size of the school. Disclaimer: My daughter goes there.  But other than that I'm not at all biased.  ;)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on February 29, 2020, 01:48:49 PM
I'm an RF alum, so I have a bias too. But I also am trying to look ahead with a dose of realism. Fond memories of quarter beer nights at Shuler's only go so far.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on February 29, 2020, 07:13:07 PM
In the Fall of 2020, there will be 8 Concordia Universities still standing:

New York and Irvine on the coasts and Texas in the southwest.

Five are centered in the Midwest: Ann Arbor, Wisconsin, Chicago,
St. Paul, Nebraska.

The Top Four in terms of full-time equivalent students
Wisconsin (5,290), Chicago (4,112) St.Paul (3,910) Irvine (3,886)
The Remaining Four range from 934 to 2,112 students

Just for point of comparison, on its website, Valparaiso University
lists 3,500 students.  One would surmise that Valpo has a big
endowment fund that empowers them to go forward.








Financial stability will determine if the LCMS still has 8 Universities in 2030.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on March 01, 2020, 08:58:06 AM
In the Fall of 2020, there will be 8 Concordia Universities still standing:

New York and Irvine on the coasts and Texas in the southwest.

Five are centered in the Midwest: Ann Arbor, Wisconsin, Chicago,
St. Paul, Nebraska.

The Top Four in terms of full-time equivalent students
Wisconsin (5,290), Chicago (4,112) St.Paul (3,910) Irvine (3,886)
The Remaining Four range from 934 to 2,112 students

Just for point of comparison, on its website, Valparaiso University
lists 3,500 students.  One would surmise that Valpo has a big
endowment fund that empowers them to go forward.








Financial stability will determine if the LCMS still has 8 Universities in 2030.

Like CUP many of the Concordias have beefed up their graduate programs over the years (a lot of them online), probably to attract new students to balance out declining undergraduate residential students. The online  degree has grown tremendously over the years in universities and colleges across the country.  CUP, unfortunately grew rapidly in an area that plateaued and declined (education).  Some of the Concordias have spread out into physical therapy and pharmaceuticals to diversify.  Another area that is cutting edge right now is leadership, but I predict that it has a limited lifespan.  I was a bit concerned to see that my daughter's school - CUC - has a seemingly disproportionate amount of graduate students vs. undergraduates (4,494 - 1,511) compared to some of the other Concordias.  I hope that this does not make them vulnerable in the same way as CUP.  They currently have well over 20 online master's degree programs, with a good chunk of it in the educational field. They also have an online MBA program, but I'm not so sure those are as popular as they once were.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: therevev on March 02, 2020, 10:47:59 AM
The Concordia universities are regional universities. It would not work to have each Concordia focus on a different speciality. A regional university needs to be as full-featured as possible, but this invariably creates a crunch on resources.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on March 03, 2020, 08:52:04 PM
The Concordia universities are regional universities. It would not work to have each Concordia focus on a different speciality. A regional university needs to be as full-featured as possible, but this invariably creates a crunch on resources.

You're right on this.  And the competitors in a given region or even metropolitan area, to make it tighter, are both the similarly sized small/mid-sized schools but also the larger state schools that have both better programs and in some state big discounts on tuition within the state/city.  For instance, the City University of New York is specifically inside - guess what - the city of New York, and has 23 campuses with 275,000 students.  The tuition rate ranges from $4800 to $6900 per year.  All in all done.  SUNY (State University of New York) has a tidy 1.4 million students with tuition roughly the same as CUNY, although there are far more housing needs and that runs up the bill substantially.  But still cheap.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Tom McMichael on April 18, 2020, 01:12:23 AM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 18, 2020, 05:57:38 AM
Very interesting set of relationships and actions described in that story: Concordia, the Synod, the LCEF, the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, students, HotChalk, transfers of assets, the timing of announcements, the district.
Who was doing what to whom? When? Why? Who knew? Who was owed money and why? Who made what decisions and why? Was Concordia a “financial train wreck” or not?
Tough situation indeed.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 08:21:26 AM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Gulp.  For that amount of money, this isn't going away easily or any time soon.  In the interim, one thing is certain - billable hours from attorneys will escalate on a steep curve.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 18, 2020, 09:57:11 AM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Gulp.  For that amount of money, this isn't going away easily or any time soon.  In the interim, one thing is certain - billable hours from attorneys will escalate on a steep curve.

Dave Benke
I didn't even know Concordia had a law school in Boise, Idaho. Maybe they could give HotChalk that and few people in synod would be any the wiser. But seriously, what a mess. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 18, 2020, 10:02:05 AM
I realize that Concordia-Portland is a somewhat unique case, to some degree.  But coming on the heels of another Concordia closure in the south, it makes we concerned that with the economic downturn caused by the pandemic quarantine, other Concordias that are in the smaller category like Portland might suffer similar fates.  I pray not.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 11:24:26 AM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Gulp.  For that amount of money, this isn't going away easily or any time soon.  In the interim, one thing is certain - billable hours from attorneys will escalate on a steep curve.

Dave Benke
I didn't even know Concordia had a law school in Boise, Idaho. Maybe they could give HotChalk that and few people in synod would be any the wiser. But seriously, what a mess.

Think not only, Missouri Synod folks, about the Concordias.  That's a tough enough conversation and I am with you, Don, in seeing it as negatively impactful.  But - think also about LCMS Inc., and about the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.  Something needs to emanate from HQ on this in the short term for us investors and members, because this is an attempt to break into the bank, actually to break the bank, to break into Mission Central and actually to break the mission.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Voelker on April 18, 2020, 12:21:52 PM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html (https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html)

Gulp.  For that amount of money, this isn't going away easily or any time soon.  In the interim, one thing is certain - billable hours from attorneys will escalate on a steep curve.

Dave Benke
I didn't even know Concordia had a law school in Boise, Idaho. Maybe they could give HotChalk that and few people in synod would be any the wiser. But seriously, what a mess.

Think not only, Missouri Synod folks, about the Concordias.  That's a tough enough conversation and I am with you, Don, in seeing it as negatively impactful.  But - think also about LCMS Inc., and about the Lutheran Church Extension Fund.  Something needs to emanate from HQ on this in the short term for us investors and members, because this is an attempt to break into the bank, actually to break the bank, to break into Mission Central and actually to break the mission.

Dave Benke
And with the ongoing and increasing economic crisis, attempts to loot each and every piggybank have begun in earnest. I'm still wondering why those in authority positions at the college haven't been openly called out and asked to explain just why, and on what basis, they made what was — to the eyes of anyone with a lick of sense — the crazed decision to hitch the college's future to an outside business entity, all based on some vague hopes that this would be the trick to draw students in. It appears that those who made these terrible decisions are going to get away with it.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on April 18, 2020, 12:22:36 PM
A $302 million dollar law suit is going to need some outstanding lawyers to defend LCMS.
Would this case be settled by a judge or a jury?  There is a remote possibility there could
be an out of court settlement.  However, it will probably see the daylight of a court room.
The LCMS Headquarters in Kirkwood, Missouri is likely in a state of shock.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on April 18, 2020, 12:29:15 PM
A $302 million dollar law suit is going to need some outstanding lawyers to defend LCMS.
Would this case be settled by a judge or a jury?  There is a remote possibility there could
be an out of court settlement.  However, it will probably see the daylight of a court room.
The LCMS Headquarters in Kirkwood, Missouri is likely in a state of shock.

I would hope they are not in a state of shock.  I would hope that they foresaw this coming, given their knowledge of the situation over the last months and even years.  At the very least, I would assume the synod's legal team had advised them such was a possibility and that they have been preparing for just such a situation.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 18, 2020, 12:36:41 PM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Many questions and not a lot of answers, so we are left, as usual, to speculate. 

But after reading the article I am wondering about two items in particular:
1.  Why didn't they heed the advice of HotChalk about cutting costs?

But with estimated 2020 revenue of about $100 million HotChalk claims     Concordia could have survived. It just needed to cut costs. In its lawsuit, HotChalk claims it pleaded with Concordia to cut its athletic program and other extra-curricular programs.

2.  Why were they unwilling to fully address the "gay issues" that were raised by the Synod? They must have been aware that this was a problem for a conservative denomination like the LCMS.  Was this a case of 'dig in your heels and wait it out' thinking that the LCEF would finally relent and give in?

Leadership, of course, will have to provide answers.  If this is fully transparent, it will only fuel more speculation and more anger. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 18, 2020, 12:56:17 PM
I think you mean, if this is not fully transparent…
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RandyBosch on April 18, 2020, 12:57:14 PM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Many questions and not a lot of answers, so we are left, as usual, to speculate. 

But after reading the article I am wondering about two items in particular:
1.  Why didn't they heed the advice of HotChalk about cutting costs?

But with estimated 2020 revenue of about $100 million HotChalk claims     Concordia could have survived. It just needed to cut costs. In its lawsuit, HotChalk claims it pleaded with Concordia to cut its athletic program and other extra-curricular programs.

2.  Why were they unwilling to fully address the "gay issues" that were raised by the Synod? They must have been aware that this was a problem for a conservative denomination like the LCMS.  Was this a case of 'dig in your heels and wait it out' thinking that the LCEF would finally relent and give in?

Leadership, of course, will have to provide answers.  If this is fully transparent, it will only fuel more speculation and more anger.

This is a civil contractual dispute - perhaps breach of contract, loss of assumed future earnings, et.al. -- but most probably, none of us know the details of it past the opening salvo.  We have several commercial law (including contracts) folks hanging about who might have a general, non-specific take on how these things pan out and who also probably do not know the details or ongoing legal maneuvering - or if they did would not comment on them out of professional integrity.  I am not a contract law expert, having only been involved in aiding the drafting and administration of about a thousand of them.  Action was taken against my firm by a client once in 40 years for breach of contract.  The Judge threw their case out with prejudice and heavily sanctioned their attorney.  Let's not assume anything.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 18, 2020, 12:59:27 PM
I think you mean, if this is not fully transparent…

Yes. Thank you for catching that.  I normally proofread my responses.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 18, 2020, 01:03:43 PM
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Many questions and not a lot of answers, so we are left, as usual, to speculate. 

But after reading the article I am wondering about two items in particular:
1.  Why didn't they heed the advice of HotChalk about cutting costs?

But with estimated 2020 revenue of about $100 million HotChalk claims     Concordia could have survived. It just needed to cut costs. In its lawsuit, HotChalk claims it pleaded with Concordia to cut its athletic program and other extra-curricular programs.

2.  Why were they unwilling to fully address the "gay issues" that were raised by the Synod? They must have been aware that this was a problem for a conservative denomination like the LCMS.  Was this a case of 'dig in your heels and wait it out' thinking that the LCEF would finally relent and give in?

Leadership, of course, will have to provide answers.  If this is fully transparent, it will only fuel more speculation and more anger.
Those are all judgment calls. Sometimes you have to hang onto the frills to avoid reaching a tipping point where everyone sees the cost-cutting, decides it is not a serious or viable place, and goes elsewhere, thus exacerbating the problem. But not always. And there will always be people advocating for both sides of that equation.

As for the gay issue, my guess is the same thing-- there were passionate voices making arguments for both sides. "This is Portlandia for heaven's sakes! We have to acknowledge our context!" Or: "We're the LCMS, for heaven's sakes! If we do not stand for what we believe, what is the purpose of the school?" There are a lot of rolls of the dice involved. In hindsight it always seems obvious. If the Seahawks beat the Patriots, what a genius move to use Beast Mode as a decoy. If not, what on earth were they thinking passing from the one yard line when they had the best power running back in the league? You make the call and see what happens. I doubt anyone was incompetent or malicious in this. But who knows?

 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on April 18, 2020, 02:08:50 PM
Just because there is a lawsuit doesn't mean the suit has merit nor does it mean that all parties named in the suit are culpable. The point of a suit is to sort those things out. So everybody stay calm and pray.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on April 18, 2020, 02:15:46 PM
The law firm of Dewey,  Cheathem and Howe has been hired by the LCMS.
Their firm goes back to the days of General Custer, when his wife filed
a wrongful death suit against the U.S.Army. She petitioned the court
that her husband George was not given the promised troops to survive 
 the Battle of Little Big Horn in Montana.
.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 02:56:07 PM
Just because there is a lawsuit doesn't mean the suit has merit nor does it mean that all parties named in the suit are culpable. The point of a suit is to sort those things out. So everybody stay calm and pray.

Wise counsel.  The
And now things get even uglier. . .

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/04/online-education-firm-sues-concordia-university-parent-for-302-million-claims-it-was-defrauded.html

Many questions and not a lot of answers, so we are left, as usual, to speculate. 

But after reading the article I am wondering about two items in particular:
1.  Why didn't they heed the advice of HotChalk about cutting costs?

But with estimated 2020 revenue of about $100 million HotChalk claims     Concordia could have survived. It just needed to cut costs. In its lawsuit, HotChalk claims it pleaded with Concordia to cut its athletic program and other extra-curricular programs.

2.  Why were they unwilling to fully address the "gay issues" that were raised by the Synod? They must have been aware that this was a problem for a conservative denomination like the LCMS.  Was this a case of 'dig in your heels and wait it out' thinking that the LCEF would finally relent and give in?

Leadership, of course, will have to provide answers.  If this is fully transparent, it will only fuel more speculation and more anger.

This is a civil contractual dispute - perhaps breach of contract, loss of assumed future earnings, et.al. -- but most probably, none of us know the details of it past the opening salvo.  We have several commercial law (including contracts) folks hanging about who might have a general, non-specific take on how these things pan out and who also probably do not know the details or ongoing legal maneuvering - or if they did would not comment on them out of professional integrity.  I am not a contract law expert, having only been involved in aiding the drafting and administration of about a thousand of them.  Action was taken against my firm by a client once in 40 years for breach of contract.  The Judge threw their case out with prejudice and heavily sanctioned their attorney.  Let's not assume anything.

Sage advice. 

It is an interesting case from both plaintiff and defendant sides.  The plaintiff provides online educational platforms including admissions, courses, teachers, the whole enchilada.  This is a big deal.  In the world of our new tomorrow this promises to be a bigger deal in terms of the delivery and quality of higher education (and maybe lower). 

The Concordia University system, which is inside the Missouri Synod corporate system, provides higher education at multi-sites across the country.  The sites are quasi independent.  Assets in almost all cases revert to the parent(s) at headquarters upon closure.  So the question, Randy, is whether, since assets to to headquarters, there in this civil suit ascending liability to headquarters.  Secondly, when it comes to leadership selection (an important indicator of independence or the lack thereof), headquarters has a type of ability to stop/influence the selection process called Prior Approval.  Does this mean, again, that there is ascending liability to headquarters in a civil suit, leadership selection being deemed so highly important to corporate life?  Beams far brighter than I/mine are lit on these issues.

As you indicate, it's a fertile field for legal maneuvering.  And, the stakes are high. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on April 18, 2020, 03:00:26 PM

...Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.

Hate quoting myself, but this was known a long time ago.  The other part though is that filing a lawsuit is simply getting in line these days.  You file for full restitution.  Hot Chalk has the biggest number, but probably the least claim.  You get everyone with a big claim in the room, go open Kimono, and spell out what they are going to get as going away presents, and they get it fast.  If they don't like their present and continue to sue, you declare bankruptcy.  The court steps in with a set schedule: secured debt, general debt, operating suppliers (i.e. gas, light, food, printing), and last "ongoing operations" contracts like Hot Chalk.  Usually there isn't enough to even cover general debt, secure gets paid, general takes a haircut, everyone else gets zeroed out.  And it happens on a slow time frame while paying lawyers.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 03:17:52 PM

...Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.

Hate quoting myself, but this was known a long time ago.  The other part though is that filing a lawsuit is simply getting in line these days.  You file for full restitution.  Hot Chalk has the biggest number, but probably the least claim.  You get everyone with a big claim in the room, go open Kimono, and spell out what they are going to get as going away presents, and they get it fast.  If they don't like their present and continue to sue, you declare bankruptcy.  The court steps in with a set schedule: secured debt, general debt, operating suppliers (i.e. gas, light, food, printing), and last "ongoing operations" contracts like Hot Chalk.  Usually there isn't enough to even cover general debt, secure gets paid, general takes a haircut, everyone else gets zeroed out.  And it happens on a slow time frame while paying lawyers.

Isn't there an "except" there, Mark, in this case?  If the inter-corporate LCMS veil is pierced, would the assets of the bank (LCEF) and the Headquarters (LCMS Inc) be open for pillage and plunder?  Put another way, is my LCEF investment safe?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on April 18, 2020, 03:45:31 PM

...Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.

Hate quoting myself, but this was known a long time ago.  The other part though is that filing a lawsuit is simply getting in line these days.  You file for full restitution.  Hot Chalk has the biggest number, but probably the least claim.  You get everyone with a big claim in the room, go open Kimono, and spell out what they are going to get as going away presents, and they get it fast.  If they don't like their present and continue to sue, you declare bankruptcy.  The court steps in with a set schedule: secured debt, general debt, operating suppliers (i.e. gas, light, food, printing), and last "ongoing operations" contracts like Hot Chalk.  Usually there isn't enough to even cover general debt, secure gets paid, general takes a haircut, everyone else gets zeroed out.  And it happens on a slow time frame while paying lawyers.

Isn't there an "except" there, Mark, in this case?  If the inter-corporate LCMS veil is pierced, would the assets of the bank (LCEF) and the Headquarters (LCMS Inc) be open for pillage and plunder?  Put another way, is my LCEF investment safe?

Dave Benke

99.99% of the time I would say no.  There is always an "except", which is why we have lawyers and days in court.  But this is pretty cut and dried stuff that happens every day.

The 0.01% of the chance is why Hot Chalk's lawyers are arguing "intolerance".  They are going to shop for a judge in the Pacific Northwest that will look past the cut and dried nature of a bankrupt business and look to make his name turning an everyday reality case into a "Gay Rights vs. The Big Bad Church" case.  But even if they find that judge.  LCEF couldn't be breached beyond two things: the $4 line of credit which had already been extended and the property itself.  What the argument is going to be is: "LCEF/LCMS are such bigots, you judge should remove their secured loan status and elevate our (Hot Chalk) operations claims to secured status giving us the property and a much larger amount of any liquidation funds."  An after the fact changing of secured status based on who is an ally of the gays.

Of course not a single student, not even a gay student, will get a dollar of tuition back.  The real people hurt won't get justice.  But it might give a judge a chance to audition for higher office while process punishing the bad people.  But I really doubt, even in the Pac NW, that you'd find a judge willing to entertain that argument. Although they are suing Masterpiece Cakes again, so, I could be way off in my estimations. 

Quote
HotChalk also claims that the intolerance of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod prompted the shutdown and amounted to intentional interference in HotChalk’s contract with Concordia. “When Concordia failed to close the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, the Synod and the Synod Fund forced Concordia to close by starving Concordia of operating funds as a consequence,” the lawsuit claims...The synod’s board approved the line of credit but made it clear this was the last time until Concordia’s stance on gay issues became more in line with the synod’s more conservative belief system...

...On that same day, HotChalk claims, the synod recorded new property deeds giving the synod a security interest in Concordia’s land in Northeast Portland and in Boise, Idaho, where Concordia’s law school is based...

...The new property deeds allegedly gave the Synod the first legal right to take possession of the land if Concordia were to default on the debt payments it owed to its parent organization.

And Concordia was already in default. HotChalk argues it was a fraudulent transfer conducted secretly to benefit the synod to the tune of about $30 million at the expense of other creditors.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 03:56:35 PM

...Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.

Hate quoting myself, but this was known a long time ago.  The other part though is that filing a lawsuit is simply getting in line these days.  You file for full restitution.  Hot Chalk has the biggest number, but probably the least claim.  You get everyone with a big claim in the room, go open Kimono, and spell out what they are going to get as going away presents, and they get it fast.  If they don't like their present and continue to sue, you declare bankruptcy.  The court steps in with a set schedule: secured debt, general debt, operating suppliers (i.e. gas, light, food, printing), and last "ongoing operations" contracts like Hot Chalk.  Usually there isn't enough to even cover general debt, secure gets paid, general takes a haircut, everyone else gets zeroed out.  And it happens on a slow time frame while paying lawyers.

Isn't there an "except" there, Mark, in this case?  If the inter-corporate LCMS veil is pierced, would the assets of the bank (LCEF) and the Headquarters (LCMS Inc) be open for pillage and plunder?  Put another way, is my LCEF investment safe?

Dave Benke

99.99% of the time I would say no.  There is always an "except", which is why we have lawyers and days in court.  But this is pretty cut and dried stuff that happens every day.

The 0.01% of the chance is why Hot Chalk's lawyers are arguing "intolerance".  They are going to shop for a judge in the Pacific Northwest that will look past the cut and dried nature of a bankrupt business and look to make his name turning an everyday reality case into a "Gay Rights vs. The Big Bad Church" case.  But even if they find that judge.  LCEF couldn't be breached beyond two things: the $4 line of credit which had already been extended and the property itself.  What the argument is going to be is: "LCEF/LCMS are such bigots, you judge should remove their secured loan status and elevate our (Hot Chalk) operations claims to secured status giving us the property and a much larger amount of any liquidation funds."  An after the fact changing of secured status based on who is an ally of the gays.

Of course not a single student, not even a gay student, will get a dollar of tuition back.  The real people hurt won't get justice.  But it might give a judge a chance to audition for higher office while process punishing the bad people.  But I really doubt, even in the Pac NW, that you'd find a judge willing to entertain that argument. Although they are suing Masterpiece Cakes again, so, I could be way off in my estimations. 

Quote
HotChalk also claims that the intolerance of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod prompted the shutdown and amounted to intentional interference in HotChalk’s contract with Concordia. “When Concordia failed to close the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, the Synod and the Synod Fund forced Concordia to close by starving Concordia of operating funds as a consequence,” the lawsuit claims...The synod’s board approved the line of credit but made it clear this was the last time until Concordia’s stance on gay issues became more in line with the synod’s more conservative belief system...

...On that same day, HotChalk claims, the synod recorded new property deeds giving the synod a security interest in Concordia’s land in Northeast Portland and in Boise, Idaho, where Concordia’s law school is based...

...The new property deeds allegedly gave the Synod the first legal right to take possession of the land if Concordia were to default on the debt payments it owed to its parent organization.

And Concordia was already in default. HotChalk argues it was a fraudulent transfer conducted secretly to benefit the synod to the tune of about $30 million at the expense of other creditors.

Thanks - that makes some sense to me.  It's the both/and, having it both ways conundrum that stops me.  Yes, you are an independent institution.  Your bills and invoices belong to you.  But yes, the property belongs to us, and yes, we can stop/start/influence leadership selection.  One says affiliation, the other says hierarchy.  I may be wrong, but I think the schools (not seminaries)affiliated with the ELCA have far more actual selection independence and less hierarchy.  I think the Recognized Service Organization component of the Missouri Synod is different in that the Synod does not have selection of leadership/CEO/President choice, whereas Synod does have powers in leadership choice in a school. 

My instinct is that a press release of some kind should emanate from St. Louis in the next couple of weeks, to calm the troubled waters now that the pot has been stirred.

Dave Benke 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 18, 2020, 04:15:34 PM

...Gossip wise, I have it from the location, that there might be some very interesting facts to come out of Portland regarding a 20 year contract and distance education tech.

Hate quoting myself, but this was known a long time ago.  The other part though is that filing a lawsuit is simply getting in line these days.  You file for full restitution.  Hot Chalk has the biggest number, but probably the least claim.  You get everyone with a big claim in the room, go open Kimono, and spell out what they are going to get as going away presents, and they get it fast.  If they don't like their present and continue to sue, you declare bankruptcy.  The court steps in with a set schedule: secured debt, general debt, operating suppliers (i.e. gas, light, food, printing), and last "ongoing operations" contracts like Hot Chalk.  Usually there isn't enough to even cover general debt, secure gets paid, general takes a haircut, everyone else gets zeroed out.  And it happens on a slow time frame while paying lawyers.

Isn't there an "except" there, Mark, in this case?  If the inter-corporate LCMS veil is pierced, would the assets of the bank (LCEF) and the Headquarters (LCMS Inc) be open for pillage and plunder?  Put another way, is my LCEF investment safe?

Dave Benke

99.99% of the time I would say no.  There is always an "except", which is why we have lawyers and days in court.  But this is pretty cut and dried stuff that happens every day.

The 0.01% of the chance is why Hot Chalk's lawyers are arguing "intolerance".  They are going to shop for a judge in the Pacific Northwest that will look past the cut and dried nature of a bankrupt business and look to make his name turning an everyday reality case into a "Gay Rights vs. The Big Bad Church" case.  But even if they find that judge.  LCEF couldn't be breached beyond two things: the $4 line of credit which had already been extended and the property itself.  What the argument is going to be is: "LCEF/LCMS are such bigots, you judge should remove their secured loan status and elevate our (Hot Chalk) operations claims to secured status giving us the property and a much larger amount of any liquidation funds."  An after the fact changing of secured status based on who is an ally of the gays.

Of course not a single student, not even a gay student, will get a dollar of tuition back.  The real people hurt won't get justice.  But it might give a judge a chance to audition for higher office while process punishing the bad people.  But I really doubt, even in the Pac NW, that you'd find a judge willing to entertain that argument. Although they are suing Masterpiece Cakes again, so, I could be way off in my estimations. 

Quote
HotChalk also claims that the intolerance of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod prompted the shutdown and amounted to intentional interference in HotChalk’s contract with Concordia. “When Concordia failed to close the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, the Synod and the Synod Fund forced Concordia to close by starving Concordia of operating funds as a consequence,” the lawsuit claims...The synod’s board approved the line of credit but made it clear this was the last time until Concordia’s stance on gay issues became more in line with the synod’s more conservative belief system...

...On that same day, HotChalk claims, the synod recorded new property deeds giving the synod a security interest in Concordia’s land in Northeast Portland and in Boise, Idaho, where Concordia’s law school is based...

...The new property deeds allegedly gave the Synod the first legal right to take possession of the land if Concordia were to default on the debt payments it owed to its parent organization.

And Concordia was already in default. HotChalk argues it was a fraudulent transfer conducted secretly to benefit the synod to the tune of about $30 million at the expense of other creditors.

Thanks - that makes some sense to me.  It's the both/and, having it both ways conundrum that stops me.  Yes, you are an independent institution.  Your bills and invoices belong to you.  But yes, the property belongs to us, and yes, we can stop/start/influence leadership selection.  One says affiliation, the other says hierarchy.  I may be wrong, but I think the schools (not seminaries)affiliated with the ELCA have far more actual selection independence and less hierarchy.  I think the Recognized Service Organization component of the Missouri Synod is different in that the Synod does not have selection of leadership/CEO/President choice, whereas Synod does have powers in leadership choice in a school. 

My instinct is that a press release of some kind should emanate from St. Louis in the next couple of weeks, to calm the troubled waters now that the pot has been stirred.

Dave Benke
I think you've got it exactly backwards as to who was angling for a both/and. “When Concordia failed to close the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center, the Synod and the Synod Fund forced Concordia to close by starving Concordia of operating funds as a consequence,” the lawsuit claims. In other words, when the synod said they'd only support the institution if the institution supported the goals of synod, that made life hard for HotChalk's client. They have a right to run a gay group on campus AND a right to ongoing financial support from synod, seems to be their claim.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 18, 2020, 04:33:33 PM
Was it HotChalk that was running the gay friendly group? That wasn’t clear from the new story.
Was it  the controversy surrounding the gay friendly group that lit the fuse sending the spark of “Close it or we will not fund you” into the financial ammo dump?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 04:42:57 PM
That argument could cut both ways, Peter, no?  A little deke move by  HotChalk - so when you in the hierarchy and hierarchy bank messed with one of your institutions cutting them and indirectly us off, what you did was to send a clear message that you are the controlling entity, and thereby in the ascending line of liability.   Thank you, please pay at this window.  $20s, unmarked if you wouldn't mind.  Yes, that's 154,000 twenties. 

All dialog and devil's advocating aside, my desire is for HotChalk to be sent away empty.   

As important as institutional survival is going to be in the wider church, my primary fear is not for institutions but for congregations.  I have been very open about stating that a quarter of congregations across the Lutheran spectrum are at or below the margin of institutional and compensational viability.  Many many closures, mergers, shared staff patterns and other survival measures will be in play as of this crisis.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on April 18, 2020, 04:55:12 PM
That argument could cut both ways, Peter, no?  A little deke move by  HotChalk - so when you in the hierarchy and hierarchy bank messed with one of your institutions cutting them and indirectly us off, what you did was to send a clear message that you are the controlling entity, and thereby in the ascending line of liability.   Thank you, please pay at this window.  $20s, unmarked if you wouldn't mind.  Yes, that's 154,000 twenties. 

All dialog and devil's advocating aside, my desire is for HotChalk to be sent away empty.   

As important as institutional survival is going to be in the wider church, my primary fear is not for institutions but for congregations.  I have been very open about stating that a quarter of congregations across the Lutheran spectrum are at or below the margin of institutional and compensational viability.  Many many closures, mergers, shared staff patterns and other survival measures will be in play as of this crisis.

Dave Benke

You'd better check your math, Dr. Benke.  If you want it in $20's, then it would be 100 times what you wrote.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 18, 2020, 05:04:43 PM
That argument could cut both ways, Peter, no?  A little deke move by  HotChalk - so when you in the hierarchy and hierarchy bank messed with one of your institutions cutting them and indirectly us off, what you did was to send a clear message that you are the controlling entity, and thereby in the ascending line of liability.   Thank you, please pay at this window.  $20s, unmarked if you wouldn't mind.  Yes, that's 154,000 twenties. 

All dialog and devil's advocating aside, my desire is for HotChalk to be sent away empty.   

As important as institutional survival is going to be in the wider church, my primary fear is not for institutions but for congregations.  I have been very open about stating that a quarter of congregations across the Lutheran spectrum are at or below the margin of institutional and compensational viability.  Many many closures, mergers, shared staff patterns and other survival measures will be in play as of this crisis.

Dave Benke
I don't think that flies. If I cut off some group I had been supporting and they then go bankrupt with fiscal harm to their creditors, have I claimed hierarchical control over the bankrupt group? Of course not. I support what I want, when I want, and I choose things to support that agree with my goals.

If some wealthy alum of Portland cut off funding the school, I don't think that means he or she owes HotChalk anything because he or she implicitly has hierarchical control and was calling the shots. The fact that the center was not closed despite synod's warning demonstrates conclusively where the control was.

At any rate, it is as least good to see from an outsider's perspective that synod's support of the Concordias is not insignificant.   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 05:17:57 PM
That argument could cut both ways, Peter, no?  A little deke move by  HotChalk - so when you in the hierarchy and hierarchy bank messed with one of your institutions cutting them and indirectly us off, what you did was to send a clear message that you are the controlling entity, and thereby in the ascending line of liability.   Thank you, please pay at this window.  $20s, unmarked if you wouldn't mind.  Yes, that's 154,000 twenties. 

All dialog and devil's advocating aside, my desire is for HotChalk to be sent away empty.   

As important as institutional survival is going to be in the wider church, my primary fear is not for institutions but for congregations.  I have been very open about stating that a quarter of congregations across the Lutheran spectrum are at or below the margin of institutional and compensational viability.  Many many closures, mergers, shared staff patterns and other survival measures will be in play as of this crisis.

Dave Benke

You'd better check your math, Dr. Benke.  If you want it in $20's, then it would be 100 times what you wrote.

I hoped someone would catch that.  I was trying to short-change HotChalk.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 05:23:41 PM
That argument could cut both ways, Peter, no?  A little deke move by  HotChalk - so when you in the hierarchy and hierarchy bank messed with one of your institutions cutting them and indirectly us off, what you did was to send a clear message that you are the controlling entity, and thereby in the ascending line of liability.   Thank you, please pay at this window.  $20s, unmarked if you wouldn't mind.  Yes, that's 154,000 twenties. 

All dialog and devil's advocating aside, my desire is for HotChalk to be sent away empty.   

As important as institutional survival is going to be in the wider church, my primary fear is not for institutions but for congregations.  I have been very open about stating that a quarter of congregations across the Lutheran spectrum are at or below the margin of institutional and compensational viability.  Many many closures, mergers, shared staff patterns and other survival measures will be in play as of this crisis.

Dave Benke
I don't think that flies. If I cut off some group I had been supporting and they then go bankrupt with fiscal harm to their creditors, have I claimed hierarchical control over the bankrupt group? Of course not. I support what I want, when I want, and I choose things to support that agree with my goals.

If some wealthy alum of Portland cut off funding the school, I don't think that means he or she owes HotChalk anything because he or she implicitly has hierarchical control and was calling the shots. The fact that the center was not closed despite synod's warning demonstrates conclusively where the control was.

At any rate, it is as least good to see from an outsider's perspective that synod's support of the Concordias is not insignificant.

Apples and oranges in my opinion, Peter.  I'm not an attorney, but I have played one at Synodical hearings.  The comparison between a wealthy alum and a corporate entity that has property reversion rights is your apple to my orange.  To say nothing about the role in leadership succession played by the corporate entity - another apple, another orange.  But - very thankfully, you and I are not only not attorneys but are not directly involved in this situation.  We're just trying to eat healthy.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 18, 2020, 05:33:49 PM
There is little observable internal accountability for corporate LCMS.  Now that there is external accountability we will see what happens.  The St. Louis two step of finger pointing and plausible deniability won’t help with a law suit.  Just gotta get through the process.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 18, 2020, 05:41:07 PM
There is little observable internal accountability for corporate LCMS.  Now that there is external accountability we will see what happens.  The St. Louis two step of finger pointing and plausible deniability won’t help with a law suit.  Just gotta get through the process.

This is most certainly true.  Having been sued more than a few times, the "process" is very similar to a hemorrhoidectomy (which on its own is a great spelling bee word).  "What are you doing back there?  Is it over?"

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 18, 2020, 06:24:13 PM
No question, it’s like a cloud hanging over the organization for a long time.  It never goes away.  When you think it’s over it’s not.  But it also comes with some culpability, the law suit figures out how much.  Let’s hope there’s not a tie to financing and cultural nuance.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 27, 2020, 01:30:17 PM
The story about the HotChalk lawsuit against the LCMS is on today's front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

http://e-edition.stltoday.com/st-louis-post-dispatch

Last week I spoke with a former administrator at Concordia who thinks the lawsuit has merit. I suspect this suit could result in the bankruptcy of the LCMS.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 27, 2020, 01:41:50 PM
The story about the HotChalk lawsuit against the LCMS is on today's front page of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

http://e-edition.stltoday.com/st-louis-post-dispatch

Last week I spoke with a former administrator at Concordia who thinks the lawsuit has merit. I suspect this suit could result in the bankruptcy of the LCMS.

Matt Becker

The official statement of LCMS Inc./the Board of Directors of the Synod (I guess that's who/what is meant by "The Missouri Synod") is as follows:  The Missouri Synod also declined to comment about the ongoing litigation other than to say in a prepared statement that it "intends to vigorously defend itself in court against these frivolous claims."

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 27, 2020, 02:37:23 PM
From the story (my question after)
In early 2018, Harrison told a gathering of church leaders in Indiana that Concordia College Alabama not only struggled financially but hadn’t sent anybody to the Missouri Synod’s seminaries in Clayton or Fort Wayne in a decade. The seminaries, similar to the network of colleges and universities, are supposed to help produce future leaders of the global church mission.
   In the speech, Harrison also discussed Concordia University-Portland, where he said he had put his foot down for allowing a gay student club to begin about eight years prior that ended up flourishing.
   “That morphed into a gay advocacy club that was posting trans photos and all kinds of offensive stuff on its Facebook page,” Harrison said of the club. What’s more, he said, the leader of the group was a young man whose husband was elected student body president. Harrison said he’d sent a letter to the Board of Regents saying “this must stop” because it is “contrary to the doctrine and practice of the Missouri Synod.” He said the university responded by eliminating all clubs and chartering them anew in an “acceptable way.”
   “They should have just, I think, eliminated all clubs permanently,” Harrison said, referencing Concordia College Bronxville in New York, which he said doesn’t have clubs.
   The student organization in question went public and drew support from the Portland community, which Harrison described as “very pro gay.” Numerous student internship positions in the Portland public school system were threatened, which Harrison said, could “collapse the School of Education, which could collapse the university.”
   At the time, he said, the university had a contract for “hundreds of millions of dollars” with a firm that helped develop and support its online graduate degree programs.
   According to a 2016 report in the Oregonian newspaper, Concordia University-Portland, with the assistance of HotChalk Inc., granted more master of education degrees than any other public or private nonprofit school in the country.
In addition to catching the eye of federal regulators, the partnership came at a heavy cost, one that the university allegedly struggled to pay.
   “We do have the potential for a $400 million crater,” Harrison told the group of church leaders in Indiana in 2018 about what was possibly at stake in Portland. “So it has to be handled very gently, but it finally may be the case that we simply cannot operate a Christian Lutheran university in that context and so we are working on those challenges.”

My question: was the problem with the gay advocacy group, the Synod’ s crack-down on it, and the reaction the real cause of the lawsuit?
Another question: The Synod president says the Portland community is ”very pro-gay”.  What does he mean when he says it “ finally may be the case that we simply cannot operate a Christian Lutheran university in that context”?
And one more: the story says “According to a 2016 report in the Oregonian newspaper, Concordia University-Portland, with the assistance of HotChalk Inc., granted more master of education degrees than any other public or private nonprofit school in the country.” Is this a good thing or a bad thing, that a small private university would grant more Advanced degrees in education Than any other school in the country?
Oops One more, re the student body President: do all students at  Concordia have to follow “the doctrine and practice of the Missouri Synod”?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RandyBosch on April 27, 2020, 02:56:02 PM
Apparently, CUP is one of a vast array of private and public colleges/universities who "partnered" with for-profit (and often venture capital driven) companies for similar purposes.  Most if not all of them are or may see the same trouble in the near future, particularly with an anticipated decline in college attendance by young people.

Forbes article:  https://www.intellectualtakeout.org/how-fanatics-hack-our-minds-and-why-we-let-them/

HuffPost: https://www.huffpost.com/highline/article/capitalist-takeover-college/
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dan Fienen on April 27, 2020, 03:01:41 PM

Charles, those are good questions, and ones that I do not have answers for. I hope that more of the facts will become known. although right now with pending litigation everybody involved needs to be circumspect. As to what the community of Portland is like, perhaps Pr. Stoffregen could give us some insight since he attended college there. That was some time ago, but perhaps he has some insight.


What do you think, should a school that is sponsored by a church body be subject to that church's doctrinal and moral positions? Would it be acceptable for an ELCA college to hold the position that homosexual sexual relations is a sin? Or that women should not be pastors? (Not that that would happen, I understand.)


Perhaps it says something to the degree of control that the LCMS had over Concordia Portland that the gay advocacy club existed on campus for at least 8 years despite the LCMS clear teaching on such matters.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on April 27, 2020, 03:23:40 PM
My question: was the problem with the gay advocacy group, the Synod’ s crack-down on it, and the reaction the real cause of the lawsuit?

From my reading of the article, no. A better question might be whether or not that issue was a reason the school closed. From what I'm reading about its finances, I don't think so.

Another question: The Synod president says the Portland community is ”very pro-gay”.  What does he mean when he says it “ finally may be the case that we simply cannot operate a Christian Lutheran university in that context”?

From the article, I think its similar to what happened with Gordon College north of Boston about six years ago. The President of the institution was one of several who signed a letter to the Obama Department of Education concerning religious freedom in dealing with LGBT issues. In response, the city of Salem cancelled a contract with Gordon for the management of its town theater (which dated back two decades), several towns refused to allow their education students to student teach any longer, there were accreditation threats against its school of social work, etc. It was very clear: you will conform to a certain way of thinking or there will be consequences.

And one more: the story says “According to a 2016 report in the Oregonian newspaper, Concordia University-Portland, with the assistance of HotChalk Inc., granted more master of education degrees than any other public or private nonprofit school in the country.” Is this a good thing or a bad thing, that a small private university would grant more Advanced degrees in education Than any other school in the country?

When I first heard about that some years ago, I thought it was a bad thing; I still do. First, if you read the requirements for the M.Ed. at CUP, the online requirements were less than the residential. That right there is a problem. Second, I think it is an indication of putting institutional survival ahead of anything else. You want students, any students, because you need money, any money.

Oops One more, re the student body President: do all students at  Concordia have to follow “the doctrine and practice of the Missouri Synod”?

Short answer: no. But how that would work for a Student Body president to argue positions and have a lifestyle that are openly opposed to its practice is another question. Would the reaction have been any different it he had been part of a throuple with two women? Or if he was living with his girlfriend?

These were really good questions. Thank you for asking them.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: pearson on April 27, 2020, 03:29:51 PM

b]And one more: [/b] the story says “According to a 2016 report in the Oregonian newspaper, Concordia University-Portland, with the assistance of HotChalk Inc., granted more master of education degrees than any other public or private nonprofit school in the country.” Is this a good thing or a bad thing, that a small private university would grant more Advanced degrees in education Than any other school in the country?


Well, it's a good thing if you want to churn as many students as possible in the least amount of time with minimal cost and maximum profit.

It's a bad thing if you have some interest in educating those students.

Randy Bosch's citation of the article from the Huffington Post nails it accurately.  External, for-profit companies offering packaged online degree programs are driven by the numbers: graduation rate and degree granting numbers.  Their job is to distribute credentials as far, and as fast, as possible.  If those clutching those credentials are also educated, that's gravy.

I don't know anything at all about the situation at Concordia-Portland.  But I do know other small, private, liberal arts colleges that have bought into this model, with very discouraging results.

I pray that this episode at CU-Portland will not damage the mission and ministry of the LCMS.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 27, 2020, 03:46:07 PM
I am not entirely sure where President Harrison got the idea that Concordia-NY doesn’t have clubs.  There’s a link on the website: https://www.concordia-ny.edu/student-life/clubs-and-organizations (https://www.concordia-ny.edu/student-life/clubs-and-organizations).  Weird.

Tom,

You would have a better idea than me, but doesn't a high acceptance rate of the given program/institution work against the credibility of the degree? 

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: pearson on April 27, 2020, 04:17:19 PM

Tom,

You would have a better idea than me, but doesn't a high acceptance rate of the given program/institution work against the credibility of the degree? 


I want to be sure I know what you're asking, Pr. Geminn -- when you say "high acceptance rate," do you mean the number of students accepted into the program/institution?  If so, then you're exactly right: inflated numbers produces deflated credibility.  In too many of the current models, quantity trumps quality, with predictable results.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on April 27, 2020, 05:04:29 PM

Charles, those are good questions, and ones that I do not have answers for. I hope that more of the facts will become known. although right now with pending litigation everybody involved needs to be circumspect. As to what the community of Portland is like, perhaps Pr. Stoffregen could give us some insight since he attended college there. That was some time ago, but perhaps he has some insight.


My wife and I both grew up in Portland. (We met at Concordia, but learned we'd gone to the same high school, but in different classes.) As a friend who moved and lived in Southern Oregon for a time said, "This whole state is too liberal for me." Portland was much more liberal than where he lived.


Perhaps more significant than the liberal/conservative spectrum is that Oregon, even 50+ years ago, was ranked the least churched state in the union. As I recall, about 29% of the population claimed to be church-goers. Washington State usually came in second. Issues that stem from religious convictions are not likely to be the popular ones.


I believe Oregon was the first state to permit assisted suicides. That could be seen as the liberal slant of the State.


Even when we were at Concordia, a phrase often heard was, "We're along way from St. Louis." Meaning: we might not toe the line as well as the midwestern hierarchy would like us to.

My father-in-law, after my wife was not allowed to receive communion, said that he called all the other LCMS congregations in the Portland area and all of them would have allowed her to receive communion. (This is a statement that sounds both too good to be true and a bit exaggerated.) It wouldn't surprise me if there were some LCMS congregations in the area who bucked the system and practiced open communion.


There were nine of us in the pre-seminary program. Only three of us are still on a clergy roster - all ELCA.


My sister-in-law, who has never been a Lutheran, got her Masters in Education from Concordia.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 27, 2020, 05:17:49 PM
Pastor Fienen:
What do you think, should a school that is sponsored by a church body be subject to that church's doctrinal and moral positions?
Me:
Depends. And varies according to charter, constitution and the church body.

Pastor Fienen:
Would it be acceptable for an ELCA college to hold the position that homosexual sexual relations is a sin? Or that women should not be pastors? (Not that that would happen, I understand.)
Me:
A “college” Cannot hold a position. But if the president of the student body were a Missouri Synod Lutheran who did not believe women should be ordained, I cannot see that that would be a problem with him Or her holding that position. And I can’t imagine the presiding Bishop of the ELCA looking down from her office and saying, “Hey! We can’t have that!”

Pastor Fienen:
Perhaps it says something to the degree of control that the LCMS had over Concordia Portland that the gay advocacy club existed on campus for at least 8 years despite the LCMS clear teaching on such matters.
Me:
Maybe not. Maybe it says something about whether the Synod exercised control, or decided not to exercise control over certain things or tacitly decided to allow a pro-gay organization on campus. Then something happened. Change in  personnel? Angry letters from constituents? Somebody in St. Louis suddenly noticing what was going on? Somebody looking to earn some “bones” with a constituency, or to declare who’s really in charge?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on April 27, 2020, 05:25:45 PM
Perhaps it says something to the degree of control that the LCMS had over Concordia Portland that the gay advocacy club existed on campus for at least 8 years despite the LCMS clear teaching on such matters.


I know that the issue came up during the events that led to Seminex about who controls the school: the synod or the school's board of regents. I believe that the decision favored the school's board. Similarly over the discipline of a church worker; that comes from the Districts, not the synod.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: TimKlink on April 27, 2020, 05:33:51 PM
The LCMS either has authority over the schools or not. For a long time, including the present administration, they have tried to exercise some sense of control through prior review process, funneling money to them or saying things in meetings that is somewhat threatening.  The lawsuit has the potential to finally answer the question, "What is the specific relationship of the Concordia University System to Corporate LCMS?"  IF there's no real relationship and we all just kind of say silly things, then we aren't going to have a lot of liability.  But if the lawyers prove that it's reasonable that corporate LCMS has influence over the workings of the Concordia University System, then there may very well be liability.  Even 10% of the amount is over $30,000,000 and if it comes to negotiations and mediation, that's a ton of dough.  Praying for our Board and our legal counsel.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 27, 2020, 07:22:53 PM

Tom,

You would have a better idea than me, but doesn't a high acceptance rate of the given program/institution work against the credibility of the degree? 


I want to be sure I know what you're asking, Pr. Geminn -- when you say "high acceptance rate," do you mean the number of students accepted into the program/institution?  If so, then you're exactly right: inflated numbers produces deflated credibility.  In too many of the current models, quantity trumps quality, with predictable results.

Tom Pearson

Yes, that's what I meant, thanks for the reply. 

The little that I know from being a Ph.D student is that a program can only handle so many students depending upon the amount of professors.  For example, my program accepts about five a year due to the hands-on nature of the mentoring process throughout the writing of the dissertation (which as far as I understand is the norm for most programs).   It is really a great process, but it is awfully time consuming on the part of the mentor, but it is what makes it so invaluable, too.  So when I learn of graduate programs accepting people in droves (Ph.D or not) something just doesn't compute in my mind. 

Nonetheless, back to my nightly dissertation writing.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: pearson on April 27, 2020, 07:34:20 PM

Nonetheless, back to my nightly dissertation writing.


This will doubtless provoke thead drift (but I don't mind, if you don't):  what are you writing your dissertation on?

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 27, 2020, 09:11:44 PM
The LCMS either has authority over the schools or not. For a long time, including the present administration, they have tried to exercise some sense of control through prior review process, funneling money to them or saying things in meetings that is somewhat threatening.  The lawsuit has the potential to finally answer the question, "What is the specific relationship of the Concordia University System to Corporate LCMS?"  IF there's no real relationship and we all just kind of say silly things, then we aren't going to have a lot of liability.  But if the lawyers prove that it's reasonable that corporate LCMS has influence over the workings of the Concordia University System, then there may very well be liability.  Even 10% of the amount is over $30,000,000 and if it comes to negotiations and mediation, that's a ton of dough.  Praying for our Board and our legal counsel.

The "prior review process" in my opinion is challenging.  It inserts a level that is part of the national system into a local succession of leadership selection, which is indicative of control/ownership.  That insertion can over-rule, stop, change and/or subvert the direction of the local board/committes assigned the task of leadership succession.
That's a process approved at the national level.  The question then is does that establish the ascending liability sought by HotChalk? 
I join you in prayer.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 27, 2020, 09:21:14 PM

Nonetheless, back to my nightly dissertation writing.


This will doubtless provoke thead drift (but I don't mind, if you don't):  what are you writing your dissertation on?

Tom Pearson

I sure hope it doesn't.  I am writing it on how the portrayal of the humanity of the Synoptic Jesus can serve as a source and guide for religiously educating towards becoming authentically human. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RandyBosch on April 27, 2020, 09:29:27 PM
More the story than meets the eye, and more questions raised about everyone in this deal than answers:
https://philonedtech.com/concordia-university-portland-closure-theres-more-to-the-story/
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: pearson on April 27, 2020, 09:45:00 PM

I sure hope it doesn't.  I am writing it on how the portrayal of the humanity of the Synoptic Jesus can serve as a source and guide for religiously educating towards becoming authentically human.


Thanks for this, Pr. Geminn.

Someday, on another thread off in the future, I hope you can explain to me what "becoming authentically human" looks like, for folks such as you and me.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 27, 2020, 10:09:19 PM

I sure hope it doesn't.  I am writing it on how the portrayal of the humanity of the Synoptic Jesus can serve as a source and guide for religiously educating towards becoming authentically human.


Thanks for this, Pr. Geminn.

Someday, on another thread off in the future, I hope you can explain to me what "becoming authentically human" looks like, for folks such as you and me.

Tom Pearson
That’s what I was going to say. Just the dissertation’s operational definitions would be worth the read.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Jeremy Loesch on April 27, 2020, 11:00:12 PM
More the story than meets the eye, and more questions raised about everyone in this deal than answers:
https://philonedtech.com/concordia-university-portland-closure-theres-more-to-the-story/

I can read, but sometimes my comprehension skills aren't the greatest.  In reading that article neither CU-P nor HotChalk came out looking too good.  HotChalk's lawsuit against the various entities of the L-C-M-S appears to be a cash grab of their own because they aren't on the best financial footing either. (Microsoft says no two spaces after punctuation and that randomly inserting hyphens is totally cool.  ;) )  Was that article a good thing for CU-P, for HotChalk, for neither, or what? 

Where is Pres. Emeritus Schlimpert?  Is he that hard to find?  Is anyone questioning him about this?  He has some 'splaining to do. 

Jeremy
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 27, 2020, 11:06:16 PM
More the story than meets the eye, and more questions raised about everyone in this deal than answers:
https://philonedtech.com/concordia-university-portland-closure-theres-more-to-the-story/

I can read, but sometimes my comprehension skills aren't the greatest.  In reading that article neither CU-P nor HotChalk came out looking too good.  HotChalk's lawsuit against the various entities of the L-C-M-S appears to be a cash grab of their own because they aren't on the best financial footing either. (Microsoft says no two spaces after punctuation and that randomly inserting hyphens is totally cool.  ;) )  Was that article a good thing for CU-P, for HotChalk, for neither, or what? 

Where is Pres. Emeritus Schlimpert?  Is he that hard to find?  Is anyone questioning him about this?  He has some 'splaining to do. 

Jeremy
Also, how could they possibly have had $300,000,000.00 worth of contracts with CUP? Is the campus and everything in it even worth that much?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 08:18:20 AM
My recollection from when the school closed is that their existing debts, not including that much to HotChalk, were way more than the value of the school property (its main asset) if and when the property would be sold.  Tens of millions more.  HotChalk then entered the shutdown sweepstakes with its lawsuit based on what it is owed contractually; the assets of the Synod would be where the big money, in that effort, are stowed.

The risk/threat, as articulated in other posts on this thread, is the penetrating of the corporate veil of separation between related synodical entities - in this case its school, its bank (LCEF) and its headquarters and their assets, by the HotChalk lawsuit. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Matt Staneck on April 28, 2020, 08:38:05 AM
A slight update to the story that was posted upstream: https://philonedtech.com/hotchalk-responds-to-concordia-university-closure-with-302m-lawsuit/ (https://philonedtech.com/hotchalk-responds-to-concordia-university-closure-with-302m-lawsuit/)

The crux of the whole thing to me is not LGBTQ-related. Of course LGBTQ issues make the story more interesting to a wider audience (and may also prove to be a lifeline to the LCMS in this re: religious liberty) but, as far as liability is concerned, if HotChalk's lawyers know about the prior approval process in synod then I think it does answer the question. We obviously won't owe $300M, but can we afford to settle for $30M? $3M? My hunch is no, we can't.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 28, 2020, 09:00:19 AM
It could be that the Synod's actions towards the school with regard to the gay-friendly group and its existence on campus triggered the idea that St. Louis was in "control" of the college and therefore a valid target.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 28, 2020, 09:03:07 AM
Great little summation.  Dave’s comment about ascending liability is the crux of this financially imho.  LCMS Inc can’t have it both ways, you’re either in charge or you are not. This is a painful way to do and handle what should have have been a collegial conversation and decision when the Concordia’s went from sleepy little colleges to big time universities. May have been better to discuss this rather than all the tedium that we at the previous LCMS Convention.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on April 28, 2020, 09:23:38 AM
Great little summation.  Dave’s comment about ascending liability is the crux of this financially imho.  LCMS Inc can’t have it both ways, you’re either in charge or you are not. This is a painful way to do and handle what should have have been a collegial conversation and decision when the Concordia’s went from sleepy little colleges to big time universities. May have been better to discuss this rather than all the tedium that we at the previous LCMS Convention.

A loud YES to what I have bolded. The transition from "Prep Schools" to universities was quick, hasty, and ill considered. In fact, it seemed to me, that it was not considered at all.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven Tibbetts on April 28, 2020, 10:17:38 AM
It could be that the Synod's actions towards the school with regard to the gay-friendly group and its existence on campus triggered the idea that St. Louis was in "control" of the college and therefore a valid target.


HotChalk's lawsuit will likely be as successful as that of the AugsburgFortress employees who sued the ELCA when AFP dissolved its pension fund.

spt+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2020, 10:19:57 AM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 10:28:53 AM
Great little summation.  Dave’s comment about ascending liability is the crux of this financially imho.  LCMS Inc can’t have it both ways, you’re either in charge or you are not. This is a painful way to do and handle what should have have been a collegial conversation and decision when the Concordia’s went from sleepy little colleges to big time universities. May have been better to discuss this rather than all the tedium that we at the previous LCMS Convention.

A loud YES to what I have bolded. The transition from "Prep Schools" to universities was quick, hasty, and ill considered. In fact, it seemed to me, that it was not considered at all.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

Funny this should be mentioned.  I was thinking back to my own process through "the system" in Lutheran education. 
a) In my part of the world, there definitely was a Lutheran grade school in your backyard.  There is a serious transition taking place right now on the downside.  Lutheran grade schools are to great extent in peril.  This is not unique to us - the Roman Catholic system is in the same peril.  But I sailed through eight years of Lutheran grade school with daily devotions, daily religion class, and daily choir/singing in school, with 100% of the students coming from my congregation(s).  I don't know where the statistics are kept, but they must be stark across the country.  My grade school is now funded by tax credits, and I would be surprised if more than a couple of the students are Lutheran.
b) The Prep School German Gymasium system went by the boards forty or fifty years ago without much of a peep.  No hubbub, just a Concordia by Concordia shutting down of the high school division, with the addition of two more years of college.  "Here's to our Dear Concordia" was the Milwaukee Concordia's song.  For us six year guys, it was dear to a good chunk of our growing up.  And - there it went.
c) Concomitantly, the Synodical subsidy to the institutions went the way of all flesh, diminishing to zero over a decade (?). 
d) Concomitantly, the Senior College was deemed to be not needed because the feeder system through the formerly Junior Colleges had gone the way of all flesh.  Another institution down the drain.
e) At a certain point, even as subsidy went to zero, oversight shot up dramatically at the national level, with far more attention paid to who got hired and selected, from faculty all the way to presidency.  The Concordia University System was born, bringing the national level of church into the lives of the colleges in a more direct way. 
f) Small private colleges became and are now becoming far more difficult to run and manage from a business perspective. 
g) When I was a student, I would say 90 plus percent of the students in the system synod-wide from grade school through seminary were Missouri Synod Lutherans.  From grade school through college now what is that percentage?
It's been a brave new world for some time.  And only the brave survive.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rob Morris on April 28, 2020, 10:48:43 AM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 11:01:02 AM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.

That sounds about right.  Except in that scenario isn't the LCEF left holding the bag for a bunch of its loans to Portland?

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on April 28, 2020, 11:34:59 AM
Great little summation.  Dave’s comment about ascending liability is the crux of this financially imho.  LCMS Inc can’t have it both ways, you’re either in charge or you are not. This is a painful way to do and handle what should have have been a collegial conversation and decision when the Concordia’s went from sleepy little colleges to big time universities. May have been better to discuss this rather than all the tedium that we at the previous LCMS Convention.

A loud YES to what I have bolded. The transition from "Prep Schools" to universities was quick, hasty, and ill considered. In fact, it seemed to me, that it was not considered at all.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

Funny this should be mentioned.  I was thinking back to my own process through "the system" in Lutheran education. 
a) In my part of the world, there definitely was a Lutheran grade school in your backyard.  There is a serious transition taking place right now on the downside.  Lutheran grade schools are to great extent in peril.  This is not unique to us - the Roman Catholic system is in the same peril.  But I sailed through eight years of Lutheran grade school with daily devotions, daily religion class, and daily choir/singing in school, with 100% of the students coming from my congregation(s).  I don't know where the statistics are kept, but they must be stark across the country.  My grade school is now funded by tax credits, and I would be surprised if more than a couple of the students are Lutheran.
b) The Prep School German Gymasium system went by the boards forty or fifty years ago without much of a peep.  No hubbub, just a Concordia by Concordia shutting down of the high school division, with the addition of two more years of college.  "Here's to our Dear Concordia" was the Milwaukee Concordia's song.  For us six year guys, it was dear to a good chunk of our growing up.  And - there it went.
c) Concomitantly, the Synodical subsidy to the institutions went the way of all flesh, diminishing to zero over a decade (?). 
d) Concomitantly, the Senior College was deemed to be not needed because the feeder system through the formerly Junior Colleges had gone the way of all flesh.  Another institution down the drain.
e) At a certain point, even as subsidy went to zero, oversight shot up dramatically at the national level, with far more attention paid to who got hired and selected, from faculty all the way to presidency.  The Concordia University System was born, bringing the national level of church into the lives of the colleges in a more direct way. 
f) Small private colleges became and are now becoming far more difficult to run and manage from a business perspective. 
g) When I was a student, I would say 90 plus percent of the students in the system synod-wide from grade school through seminary were Missouri Synod Lutherans.  From grade school through college now what is that percentage?
It's been a brave new world for some time.  And only the brave survive.

Dave Benke

Yes it happened very fast on the Express Train with no stops. All attention was on the exciting outcome of the 1973 New Orleans Convention. It may have been assumed that the colleges, especially the Senior College, deserved what they got for providing an academic foundation for the St. Louis Seminary. Ironic that they have ended up needing very tight academic control but no means (DOLLAR$$$) of assuring control.  8) ;D

A related question for those like Dave and myself who went through the "System." I don't recall that anyone in my class (Sr. College/Sem) who had come through Selma; I could be wrong. Did you know anyone from Selma?

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rob Morris on April 28, 2020, 12:01:55 PM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.

That sounds about right.  Except in that scenario isn't the LCEF left holding the bag for a bunch of its loans to Portland?

Dave Benke
Possibly, but I would bet there have been some off-the-record conversations between LCEF and LCMS that would look mutually agreeable when all is tallied up.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 01:05:27 PM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.

That sounds about right.  Except in that scenario isn't the LCEF left holding the bag for a bunch of its loans to Portland?

Dave Benke
Possibly, but I would bet there have been some off-the-record conversations between LCEF and LCMS that would look mutually agreeable when all is tallied up.

Point taken. 

The big story prior to the 2019 LCMS Convention was the sale of the property in Hong Kong, which was said to have eliminated the "historic debt" of the colleges.  That excluded Selma, which was closed.  Back in the day when the decision was made to stop the practice of synodical dollar subsidy to the colleges, the colleges didn't stop having negative balances.  They were all efforting their move to different majors, different emphases, and giving terminal degrees.  That's not a slam dunk.  So the colleges ran up a tab with LCMS Inc or its Board of Higher Education, even as the Synodical Office Building was filled to the rim with its various expanding sub-units.  Parking spots were hard to come by in those days.  Had the synod done business differently, giving a reasonable subsidy but not allowing the accumulation of debt, the process of belt-tightening might have effectuated a different set of results. 

Instead, you have these mounting carryover debts, and then the LCEF kicking in with new loans that go against the property asset, which means the player who benefits from the reversion of property clause, LCMS Inc, has to also satisfy the bank that's been fronting loans against the property, LCEF. 

Now, however, we add in this new world and think about recruitment in a pandemic, classes in a pandemic, dormitories in a pandemic and after a pandemic, ways to balance a budget in a pandemic, and what do we have? 

Pandemonium.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2020, 01:26:19 PM
If it could have worked, the plan was/could have been for the Concordias to remain church-worker training colleges and for Valpo to be a full fledged university for the well-educated laity and, in many cases, a more broadly educated clergy. When my dad first got to Valpo this seemed like the general vision. Valpo deliberately did not offer elementary education majors because that subject was for the Concordias. Valpo had secondary ed for the training of high school teachers. When Valpo's theology department started to diverge from the synod even as Lutheran high schools were taking off, the Concondias started to "compete" with Valpo by offering secondary ed majors. Valpo then began to compete by offering elementary ed, but the synod did not certify Valpo grads due to Valpo's independence from LCMS doctrinal oversight.

If today the LCMS had one flagship university and several regional colleges offering limited, focused four year degrees, I think we'd all be in better shape. The issue is that it would have to be recognizably an LCMS university, not generically Lutheran.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 01:51:35 PM
If it could have worked, the plan was/could have been for the Concordias to remain church-worker training colleges and for Valpo to be a full fledged university for the well-educated laity and, in many cases, a more broadly educated clergy. When my dad first got to Valpo this seemed like the general vision. Valpo deliberately did not offer elementary education majors because that subject was for the Concordias. Valpo had secondary ed for the training of high school teachers. When Valpo's theology department started to diverge from the synod even as Lutheran high schools were taking off, the Concondias started to "compete" with Valpo by offering secondary ed majors. Valpo then began to compete by offering elementary ed, but the synod did not certify Valpo grads due to Valpo's independence from LCMS doctrinal oversight.

If today the LCMS had one flagship university and several regional colleges offering limited, focused four year degrees, I think we'd all be in better shape. The issue is that it would have to be recognizably an LCMS university, not generically Lutheran.

In the general sell-off and restructuring, that would make sense.  Right now, the other Concordias have accepted students from Portland across the country including their accumulated credits.  The same thing would have to transpire in the Great Right-Sizing. 

The unknown is what higher education will look like five years from now, since the online versions have been upgraded to the extent that less and less students will (in my estimation following the pandemic) want to return to dorm life away from home. 

For good or evil, the way it would make most sense is to keep the four Midwestern schools -
Wisconsin, St. Paul, Chicago and Seward

This would give the denomination nothing on the east, south or west coasts.  Then if you sold off Ft. Wayne there would be four lodestar urban locations for education - St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul plus one rural outlier, Seward.

I'm remembering all the call day services I attended and how midwestern the whole enterprise really is - when someone got a call to New York City, there would be oohs and aahs.  Or Florida or Hawaii or LA.  Exotic locales.  Warmth, beaches, weird people.

It's Hunker Down time now.  We hunker best with cheese, sausage and brewskis.  No Ivy.  No League.  Beer.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on April 28, 2020, 02:49:52 PM
If it could have worked, the plan was/could have been for the Concordias to remain church-worker training colleges and for Valpo to be a full fledged university for the well-educated laity and, in many cases, a more broadly educated clergy. When my dad first got to Valpo this seemed like the general vision. Valpo deliberately did not offer elementary education majors because that subject was for the Concordias. Valpo had secondary ed for the training of high school teachers. When Valpo's theology department started to diverge from the synod even as Lutheran high schools were taking off, the Concondias started to "compete" with Valpo by offering secondary ed majors. Valpo then began to compete by offering elementary ed, but the synod did not certify Valpo grads due to Valpo's independence from LCMS doctrinal oversight.

If today the LCMS had one flagship university and several regional colleges offering limited, focused four year degrees, I think we'd all be in better shape. The issue is that it would have to be recognizably an LCMS university, not generically Lutheran.

In the general sell-off and restructuring, that would make sense.  Right now, the other Concordias have accepted students from Portland across the country including their accumulated credits.  The same thing would have to transpire in the Great Right-Sizing. 

The unknown is what higher education will look like five years from now, since the online versions have been upgraded to the extent that less and less students will (in my estimation following the pandemic) want to return to dorm life away from home. 

For good or evil, the way it would make most sense is to keep the four Midwestern schools -
Wisconsin, St. Paul, Chicago and Seward

This would give the denomination nothing on the east, south or west coasts.  Then if you sold off Ft. Wayne there would be four lodestar urban locations for education - St. Louis, Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul plus one rural outlier, Seward.

I'm remembering all the call day services I attended and how midwestern the whole enterprise really is - when someone got a call to New York City, there would be oohs and aahs.  Or Florida or Hawaii or LA.  Exotic locales.  Warmth, beaches, weird people.

It's Hunker Down time now.  We hunker best with cheese, sausage and brewskis.  No Ivy.  No League.  Beer.

Dave Benke

I don't think you can "sell off" the Fort Wayne campus.  As I recall, there was some stipulation in the Kramer donation of the property that it had to be used for LCMS educational purposes.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on April 28, 2020, 02:52:29 PM
A historical Ph.D. dissertation that I think would be very interesting would be an explanation (or even oral history) of how the Synod went from a relatively simple, compact and concrete idea of itself as exemplified in the early constitutions (quote inserted below) to what it became.  How did a synod where its expected duties were basically: CPH, Seminary and its feeders, Uniform Worship Resources, Missions decide to cut loose many of these functions and pick up a whole bunch of others?  How did we adopt a para-church form of organization after being founded as a church organization?

And the follow on, not at all historical, question would simply be: what is a simple, compact and concrete idea of itself that the majority of the current confederation would sign onto?  For example, could you get 3000 congregations to sign onto establishing and fully funding: 1 sem, 1 undergrad institution, 1 publishing house and one hymnbook/Agenda?  Could you add missions?

Quote
I. Reasons for forming a synodical organization.
1. The example of the Apostolic Church. (Acts 15:1-31.)
2. The preservation and furthering of the unity of pure confession (Eph. 4:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:10) and to provide common defense against separatism and sectarianism. (Rom. 16:17.)
3. Protection and preservation of the rights and duties of pastors and congregations.
4. The establishment of the largest possible conformity in church government.
5. The will of the Lord that the diversities of gifts be used for the common good. (1 Cor. 12:4-31.)
6. The unified spread of the kingdom of God and to make possible the promotion of special church projects. (Seminary, agenda, hymnal, Book of Concord, schoolbooks, Bible distribution, mission projects within and outside the Church.)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: James J Eivan on April 28, 2020, 03:06:19 PM
Along with Rev Bohler, I’m reminded that I have heard that there legal terms in the Fort Wayne property deed indicating that if the property ceased being used as a Lutheran educational facility ... or legalese to that effect, ownership would revert to the heirs of the original donors/sellers.

It is NOT my intent or desire to start a false rumor or provoke a St Louis vs Ft Wayne rivalry  ... can Rev Benke or anyone speak authoritatively on this subject ... can Ft. Fort Wayne campus be sold with proceeds net after debt, sales and legal costs benefiting Synod and/or CUS or would sales proceeds benefit heirs of the original property donor/sellers?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on April 28, 2020, 03:07:49 PM
So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

It's not wise to state that someone is engaged in criminal extortion, Pr. Morris. The jaws of justice may turn around and bite you.   :(
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rob Morris on April 28, 2020, 03:19:23 PM
Threatening litigation as a way to ensure an out of court settlement is de facto criminal extortion? Enlighten me. Happy to be taught.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2020, 03:24:27 PM
Culturally, the Concordias (and Valpo), and even Lutheran high schools, have served as ways of maintaining the church through generations. That's because many people meet their future spouse in school. Online dating apps got a big head start on online high ed, it seems, but no matter how it shakes out, the fact that the LCMS is a subculture means it needs cultural hubs.

I think we would be even better served for the future with one bigger, full-fledged university that included some graduate degrees, including the M.Div, in place of all the Concordias and the Purple Palace, including both seminaries (again, with a suitable plan for Ft. Wayne, perhaps as a first rate international Lutheran boarding high school) with participation available either online or in person. Everyone could get their degree regardless of geography, and students could aspire to maybe doing one or two years on campus.

That consolidation coupled with a newly reorganized Walther League for in-person servant events and social events all around the nation would Make the LCMS Great Again in a forward-looking way that accounted for the educational and cultural shifts caused by the internet.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on April 28, 2020, 03:41:18 PM
The next LCMS National Convention needs to have an agenda that includes appointing a task force
 to examine our Concordia University System.   There needs to be a re-examination of our primary
purpose for these universities and ways to increase funding for them.   In terms of providing church
workers for the LCMS, Seward, Nebraska and Mequon, Wisconsin are the current leaders in this
regard.

If some of our current universities are on financially shaky ground, then it should be made known.
Congregations need to do a better job of promoting LCMS universities as an option for our youth.
Hopefully, the LCMS can come up with a viable plan for the future which will offer stability for our
universities.  Times are changing fast and there needs to be a reality check on where we are now.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 03:59:11 PM
The next LCMS National Convention needs to have an agenda that includes appointing a task force
 to examine our Concordia University System.   There needs to be a re-examination of our primary
purpose for these universities and ways to increase funding for them.   In terms of providing church
workers for the LCMS, Seward, Nebraska and Mequon, Wisconsin are the current leaders in this
regard.

If some of our current universities are on financially shaky ground, then it should be made known.
Congregations need to do a better job of promoting LCMS universities as an option for our youth.
Hopefully, the LCMS can come up with a viable plan for the future which will offer stability for our
universities.  Times are changing fast and there needs to be a reality check on where we are now.

The idea is right, Dave; the timing should be upgraded to this fall.  A task force starting in 2022/2023 is behind the 8 ball going in. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on April 28, 2020, 05:32:59 PM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.


A possible hypothetical scenario could be that Concordia and HotChalk had a ten year contract. With the closing of the school, HotChalk is losing their future earnings from the contract.


I know from experience that having an accident in a rental car, my insurance company covered the repairs, but I was charged for the loss of use of that car during the time it was in the shop. My car insurance didn't cover that. (I learned that I could add a rider in California that covered that when renting a car. Arizona doesn't offer it.) Fortunately, by using a credit card to pay for the rental, they have insurance coverage, it they covered that charge.


If there is a way to argue for more money, they will find it.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on April 28, 2020, 06:33:15 PM
The next LCMS National Convention needs to have an agenda that includes appointing a task force
 to examine our Concordia University System.   There needs to be a re-examination of our primary
purpose for these universities and ways to increase funding for them.   In terms of providing church
workers for the LCMS, Seward, Nebraska and Mequon, Wisconsin are the current leaders in this
regard.

If some of our current universities are on financially shaky ground, then it should be made known.
Congregations need to do a better job of promoting LCMS universities as an option for our youth.
Hopefully, the LCMS can come up with a viable plan for the future which will offer stability for our
universities.  Times are changing fast and there needs to be a reality check on where we are now.

The idea is right, Dave; the timing should be upgraded to this fall.  A task force starting in 2022/2023 is behind the 8 ball going in. 

Dave Benke

I agree that a task force would be very critical at this juncture.  Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic we will no doubt see a very different picture of the viability of our individual universities than we did going in.  The Synod is committed to providing quality education and training for church workers.  That, I believe, has historically been our primary focus.  Unfortunately, when funding models changed and the universities were left to themselves to find funding outside of the Synod, educational programing also changed - of necessity.  But we are competing with larger and better funded institutions, both private and public, and it is time to discuss what our Concordia University System should look like long-term.  Personally I have my doubts as to the long-term viability of all of the institutions we now have under that Concordia umbrella.  But I don't want to see them all implode and lose good institutions that could continue to provide solid training for future teachers, deaconesses, pastors, etc. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 28, 2020, 07:15:52 PM

I sure hope it doesn't.  I am writing it on how the portrayal of the humanity of the Synoptic Jesus can serve as a source and guide for religiously educating towards becoming authentically human.


Thanks for this, Pr. Geminn.

Someday, on another thread off in the future, I hope you can explain to me what "becoming authentically human" looks like, for folks such as you and me.

Tom Pearson
That’s what I was going to say. Just the dissertation’s operational definitions would be worth the read.

Yes, indeed.  Maybe someday.  I must say it is strange for me to consider that this has been in the works since my time in seminary.  I credit my time in Confessions I and II with Dr. Arand, even though at that time I had no desire for further graduate study.  Nonetheless, as a result of the prodding of my wife and the blessing of certain circumstances falling into place, here I am.  I can share a snippet from the second paragraph of my proposal, which indicates that it all began with my study of the Solid Declaration and the Epitome.  Crazy, how things work.

In Article I: Concerning Original Sin of the Solid Declaration of The Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church (2000, 540) a distinction is made between the nature or substance of the human being and the means by which he or she has been corrupted, namely, original sin. Human beings, it is argued, became so corrupted by sin that it became their nature to sin.  At the same time, though, this does not mean that original sin is the nature and essence of the human being.  Rather it must be understood as being an accidens or as something contingent upon the human being.  The Lutheran Confessors wrote: “original sin is not the nature itself but an accidens vitium in natura (that is, a contingent lack or defect in nature) (Kolb and Wengert 2000, 541).  In other words, to be human is not to be sinful, instead it is to be without sin or without defect.  Thus, a sinful human being is a defective human being.  Rather than saying that one is only human in response to some error committed it would be more accurate to say that one is not human enough.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 28, 2020, 07:39:17 PM
All of this would require some vision and foresight that is articulated and followed through the system with specific accountable action.  Our foresight\vision is not articulated, but we are moving toward it.  Our vision is either to collapse our university system, which is articulated in the two more recent closings and maybe as many as two more as has been alluded to, or our vision is quietly wait and see what will happen.  Either way the lack of articulated foresight means instead of leading these changes, LCMS Inc is taking a defensive posture.  That immobile and defensive posture is a sure way to let the rest of the LCMS resources flow through this generation’s fingers.  Thanks God we have courageous pastors and congregations.  That’s the heart beat of the LCMS.  Rural, urban, suburban, small, large or whatever...the parish pastors and congregational lay leaders are the LCMS, and they take very seriously the viability and ongoing ministry of their congregations.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: James J Eivan on April 28, 2020, 07:46:23 PM
The big story prior to the 2019 LCMS Convention was the sale of the property in Hong Kong, which was said to have eliminated the "historic debt" of the colleges.  That excluded Selma, which was closed.
Point of information/clarification ... My understanding of the “historic debt” was that this was accumulated debt from all the colleges/universities that synod assumed when the Concordia University System (CUS) was created in 1992 ... essentially wiping the debt slate clean when the educational institutions were spun off from synod into the CUS. 

If this is the case, any Concordia Selma debt that existed prior to the inception of the CUS would have been included in the ‘historic debt.’ Have I missed something over the years? It is highly doubtful that Selma would have been uniquely debt free when the CUS was formed.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 28, 2020, 07:56:53 PM
All of this would require some vision and foresight that is articulated and followed through the system with specific accountable action.  Our foresight\vision is not articulated, but we are moving toward it.  Our vision is either to collapse our university system, which is articulated in the two more recent closings and maybe as many as two more as has been alluded to, or our vision is quietly wait and see what will happen.  Either way the lack of articulated foresight means instead of leading these changes, LCMS Inc is taking a defensive posture.  That immobile and defensive posture is a sure way to let the rest of the LCMS resources flow through this generation’s fingers.  Thanks God we have courageous pastors and congregations.  That’s the heart beat of the LCMS.  Rural, urban, suburban, small, large or whatever...the parish pastors and congregational lay leaders are the LCMS, and they take very seriously the viability and ongoing ministry of their congregations.

I suspect that may have always been the case; to sit and wait to see what happens because it is easier to kick the can down the road, right?  Is it just LCMS Inc?  Or is it all of us in some symbiotic fashion?  Haven't we had upwards of 10-20-30 years to prepare for this?  Hasn't the data always been there to examine, to grapple with, whether we liked it or not?  For example, Tim, look north from where you are to LA, where many churches are but a remnant of what they once were.  Or look here in the northeast, my home church down to 30 a Sunday, once pastored by the ALPB's very own Adolf Meyer. The signs of decline were there in the 90s.  When I graduated from Concordia-NY in 2004 it paled in comparison to when my sister graduated in 1996, at least as it relates to church worker students.  So the signs have always been there, I just think we've chosen to ignore them at our peril, while pushing forward with the next catchy thing; church growth or confessional. 

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 28, 2020, 07:58:14 PM
FWIW on church colleges: In the ULCA and LCA of the 1950s,  the church colleges were vigorously promoted through congregations - at least through mine - and at all Luther League events. But I chose a church college because I was considering the ordained ministry and the college offered a "pre-theological" curriculum if you wanted it - Greek, basic Bible, church history. I was also considering going into journalism and had that been the dominant option, I would not have gone to a church college, but to the State University of Iowa, which had a notable journalism school.
However, at the church college, I could take journalism courses taught by a man who had not come through academia, but 30 years in newspapers as reporter, editor and managing editor. He was not particularly "churched" and knew I was heading for seminary. "Take the journalism courses anyway," he said, "in case this church thing doesn't work out."
Hardly a day goes by that I do not think of the good basic liberal arts education I got at Midland, Fremont, Nebraska. English and American Literature. Western Civilization (though the history back them had some gaps as we know now). Shakespeare. And enough Greek to see that I was not a total idiot when I reached Seminary and courses under the famed Dr. Arthur Voobus.
Lots of personal contact an mentoring by the professors.
And almost everything Francis Rose taught me about the newspaper business turned out to be true and "worked" when I went out to cover something and phone it in or rush back and write it.
But had I not been considering seminary, I might not have gone to Midland.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on April 28, 2020, 08:30:54 PM
LCMS has a history of being reactive when it comes to our education system.
If we were proactive, then we might already be down to 4 universities.  Ann
Arbor was going down the drain until Mequon reached out and adopted them.
Portland had too many red flags waving in the air and they were ignored until
now.

St.Paul started offering free tuition to bolster its enrollment.  That is not a
long range concept for financial independence.  The other LCMS universities
probably have their internal financial problems due to status quo enrollment.
The Concordia University System needs to be reviewed and revised to face
the future with confidence.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 09:17:49 PM
The next LCMS National Convention needs to have an agenda that includes appointing a task force
 to examine our Concordia University System.   There needs to be a re-examination of our primary
purpose for these universities and ways to increase funding for them.   In terms of providing church
workers for the LCMS, Seward, Nebraska and Mequon, Wisconsin are the current leaders in this
regard.

If some of our current universities are on financially shaky ground, then it should be made known.
Congregations need to do a better job of promoting LCMS universities as an option for our youth.
Hopefully, the LCMS can come up with a viable plan for the future which will offer stability for our
universities.  Times are changing fast and there needs to be a reality check on where we are now.

The idea is right, Dave; the timing should be upgraded to this fall.  A task force starting in 2022/2023 is behind the 8 ball going in. 

Dave Benke

I agree that a task force would be very critical at this juncture.  Coming out of the COVID-19 pandemic we will no doubt see a very different picture of the viability of our individual universities than we did going in.  The Synod is committed to providing quality education and training for church workers.  That, I believe, has historically been our primary focus.  Unfortunately, when funding models changed and the universities were left to themselves to find funding outside of the Synod, educational programing also changed - of necessity.  But we are competing with larger and better funded institutions, both private and public, and it is time to discuss what our Concordia University System should look like long-term.  Personally I have my doubts as to the long-term viability of all of the institutions we now have under that Concordia umbrella.  But I don't want to see them all implode and lose good institutions that could continue to provide solid training for future teachers, deaconesses, pastors, etc.

As Tim puts it so well, the national leadership would have to dramatically amp up articulation of a pathway to get to a sense of vision for the future of higher education in the denomination.  That's not the way they roll by nature; waiting until 2022 is most assuredly a recipe for more reactivity and possibly implosion.  Consolidation and refocus behind strong Lutheran principles including vocation would be a measurable departure and would, I think, be appreciated in the mid-term.  Short term is for panic. 

The preferred model for those in authority at this time is Hillsdale.  It's Reformed, but because of that, is very definite in its offerings and prescriptions.  I think our inner core value is Christian vocation and divine grace - I have seen it in action, and the folks I taught and sent from my congregation have become valued educators, social workers, participants in public life because they understood the holiness of their calling(s) in life.  We can do that - the ordained ministry is one of those vocations, no higher or lower than any other,  a gift of discernment through baptismal grace.  I liked what Charles wrote about Midland - he learned how to think, and how to organize those thoughts around a variety of disciplines. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2020, 09:31:37 PM
My niece is graduating from Hillsdale next month. I think what attracts many LCMS folks to their model is that it is unapologetically pro-Western Civ., and cultural conservatives definitely have a place at the table. It offers a liberal arts education using source materials. It is not afraid to be completely different from most universities. That is what frustrates me about Valpo. It always strives to be like every other university but with a Lutheran tweak. Its Lutheran distinctive is an ornament that fails to make the school a living critique of secular academia.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 28, 2020, 09:37:32 PM
My niece is graduating from Hillsdale next month. I think what attracts many LCMS folks to their model is that it is unapologetically pro-Western Civ., and cultural conservatives definitely have a place at the table. It offers a liberal arts education using source materials. It is not afraid to be completely different from most universities. That is what frustrates me about Valpo. It always strives to be like every other university but with a Lutheran tweak. Its Lutheran distinctive is an ornament that fails to make the school a living critique of secular academia.

I was trained in pro-Western civ thought processes, as was, I'm sure, Charles.  Our points of separation from the Reformed model I think add specific Lutheran depth of field to the college/university experience, and should never be "ornamental."

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 28, 2020, 10:16:14 PM
My niece is graduating from Hillsdale next month. I think what attracts many LCMS folks to their model is that it is unapologetically pro-Western Civ., and cultural conservatives definitely have a place at the table. It offers a liberal arts education using source materials. It is not afraid to be completely different from most universities. That is what frustrates me about Valpo. It always strives to be like every other university but with a Lutheran tweak. Its Lutheran distinctive is an ornament that fails to make the school a living critique of secular academia.

I was trained in pro-Western civ thought processes, as was, I'm sure, Charles.  Our points of separation from the Reformed model I think add specific Lutheran depth of field to the college/university experience, and should never be "ornamental."

Dave Benke
True. But academia today in general is unabashedly anti-Western Civ. We need exceptional schools, not more cookie cutter schools. Whether it is Hillsdale, Ave Maria, Baylor, Brigham Young, Goshen College, Wheaton, or you name it, the main sticking point, the thing I want for Valpo, is the willingness to be culturally distinct and not feel the urge to hide it. That is, not to bend over backwards to appeal to the generic student for the sake of economics. Dedication to excellence and training values-based leaders who will make a positive difference in the world is a bland, trite mission and any school might have. Hillsdale interacts with academia at a high level, but is just as willing to confront the academic zeitgeist as to second it. Valpo not so much. And the LCMS stands against the zeitgeist in too many ways to consider Valpo anything but at best an unreliable ally.

With two academically-inclined high schoolers living in our house, we get a tremendous amount of mail from universities. Hillsdale stands out as different. Valpo does not. If you shuffled the school names and logos on the mailings, you'd probably still be able to pick out Hillsdale's stuff, and that of a small handful of other schools, but you'd never be able to pick out Valpo from the heap. Valpo is a high quality school, to be sure, but it is not substantively different from a lot of other high quality schools dedicated to excellence, values, educating the whole person, making a difference blah blah blah.
   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: pearson on April 28, 2020, 10:48:53 PM
This is only a footnote to your excellent comments about Hillsdale and Valparaiso, Pr. Speckhard.  However, when you say:


But academia today in general is unabashedly anti-Western Civ.


. . .I don't think that is quite right.  From my own perspective, I haven't found that academia today is unabashedly anti-Western Civ.  But they are anti-tradition.  It is specifically traditional accounts of western civilization that many in academia openly spurn.  Almost all liberal arts faculty I know are deeply concerned with western civilization.  But their concern is directed at rewriting the traditional stories of western civilization, in order to make them more "inclusive," more "diverse," allowing more "marginalized voices" to be noticed and celebrated.  It might be the case that an obsessive interest in western civilization has never been greater in American higher education; just look at all the "cultural studies" programs that have been spawned in the last generation.  It is only traditional portrayals of western civilization that are disdained.  So many scholars appear to be intent on redefining what counts as western civilization; they seem to aspire to the status of Michel Foucault redux.  I wish more of them were as firmly anchored in the western tradition as they are in their cultural archeology pursuits.

Yeah, I'm grumpy.

Tom Pearson 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 28, 2020, 11:20:16 PM
This is only a footnote to your excellent comments about Hillsdale and Valparaiso, Pr. Speckhard.  However, when you say:


But academia today in general is unabashedly anti-Western Civ.


. . .I don't think that is quite right.  From my own perspective, I haven't found that academia today is unabashedly anti-Western Civ.  But they are anti-tradition.  It is specifically traditional accounts of western civilization that many in academia openly spurn.  Almost all liberal arts faculty I know are deeply concerned with western civilization.  But their concern is directed at rewriting the traditional stories of western civilization, in order to make them more "inclusive," more "diverse," allowing more "marginalized voices" to be noticed and celebrated.  It might be the case that an obsessive interest in western civilization has never been greater in American higher education; just look at all the "cultural studies" programs that have been spawned in the last generation.  It is only traditional portrayals of western civilization that are disdained.  So many scholars appear to be intent on redefining what counts as western civilization; they seem to aspire to the status of Michel Foucault redux.  I wish more of them were as firmly anchored in the western tradition as they are in their cultural archeology pursuits.

Yeah, I'm grumpy.

Tom Pearson

I think you’re right.  I would add the influence of the Frankfurt School as well.  In the end it presents an oversimplified view of western civ that doesn’t allow for the nuance and complexity of human experience. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: pearson on April 28, 2020, 11:31:39 PM

I think you’re right.  I would add the influence of the Frankfurt School as well.  In the end it presents an oversimplified view of western civ that doesn’t allow for the nuance and complexity of human experience.


True enough.  But at least in the circles I run (well, these days, crawl), the Frankfurt School's authority is crumbling; they are beginning to occupy an ossified niche in one of the decaying traditions of western thought.  They got "class" right; but they missed "race" and "gender."  Time to move on.

Tom Pearson
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rob Morris on April 28, 2020, 11:54:58 PM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.

I should clarify: even if my guess is correct, I do not believe that HotChalk is doing anything illegal or even unethical here. If I were an investor or shareholder, they are doing exactly what I would want them to do. They are using every legal means to try to recoup lost income.

And perhaps they genuinely believe that number is $300M. In which case, they may win the family beet farm, too... I suppose I'd better plant one.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 29, 2020, 12:05:24 AM
Scott, you are right.  I was raised in an LCMS where we lived and died with one another.  I was raised when men cared about one another’s congregation and didn’t compete as much.  My home church too is a shell of itself.  It was a congregation that spun out church workers like crazy.  Seemed like maybe the vision was “get along” and “plant churches”.  I have toured the LA County area and some good people are doing some good work, but as you say there are some huge plants down there that used to house huge schools and big ministries.  Perhaps we quit when it got hard, I’m not sure.  But the rot has worked its way pretty much through the system.  My vote would be for a complete restart of the denomination, even that may be too late.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on April 29, 2020, 10:08:20 AM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.

I should clarify: even if my guess is correct, I do not believe that HotChalk is doing anything illegal or even unethical here. If I were an investor or shareholder, they are doing exactly what I would want them to do. They are using every legal means to try to recoup lost income.

And perhaps they genuinely believe that number is $300M. In which case, they may win the family beet farm, too... I suppose I'd better plant one.

Here is some reporting on the role of HotChalk in the closure.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2020/03/01/a-new-normal-a-college-undone-by-greed/#180354485654

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/concordia-universitys-online-vision-hid-grim-reality.html
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Matt Staneck on April 29, 2020, 10:19:52 AM
And the follow on, not at all historical, question would simply be: what is a simple, compact and concrete idea of itself that the majority of the current confederation would sign onto?  For example, could you get 3000 congregations to sign onto establishing and fully funding: 1 sem, 1 undergrad institution, 1 publishing house and one hymnbook/Agenda?  Could you add missions?

I think you definitely could get that, Pr. Brown. The problem, as you understand well, is that if institutions gravitate towards anything it is status quo. We simply don't have the type of leadership needed to be bold and creative (to be fair, you'd be hard pressed to find a handful of institutions that *can* combine mission fitness, boldness, and creativity).

This isn't anyone's fault. It just is what it is. We don't select leaders to be bold and creative, we select leaders to maintain the status quo. Therefore, I don't think a top-down approach is the way to go for change. I think the kind of change you're asking about needs to happen at the grassroots level. Like Pr. Tim suggests, a total reboot of the denomination may be in order.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 29, 2020, 11:00:25 AM
My question, though, is where HotChalk is coming up with such a ludicrously high amount of damages in their lawsuit. Is that punitive damages? If the entire LCMS disappeared today I fail to see how HotChalk could be out 300 million dollars.

I would bet the family beet farm that the $300M number is just for leverage. From HotChalk's standpoint, LCMS Inc. got assets they think should have gone to them. So, the backroom conversation is going like this:

You received $30M in assets. How about you give us X amount of that or else we'll go ahead with a $300M lawsuit against you, LCEF, and everyone else we can name. You will spend the same amount in legal fees and we'll make it ugly in public opinion, too.

All the talk of future contract values, LGBTQIA+ issues, etc. - those are all just throwing dust in the air.

I should clarify: even if my guess is correct, I do not believe that HotChalk is doing anything illegal or even unethical here. If I were an investor or shareholder, they are doing exactly what I would want them to do. They are using every legal means to try to recoup lost income.

And perhaps they genuinely believe that number is $300M. In which case, they may win the family beet farm, too... I suppose I'd better plant one.

Here is some reporting on the role of HotChalk in the closure.

https://www.forbes.com/sites/dereknewton/2020/03/01/a-new-normal-a-college-undone-by-greed/#180354485654

https://www.oregonlive.com/education/2020/02/concordia-universitys-online-vision-hid-grim-reality.html
The picture seems to be of an institution seeking desperately to survive at the cost of having any reason to survive. That's a tough position to be in.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 29, 2020, 12:50:53 PM
After leaving Concordia-Portland's faculty in 2004 (after a decade of teaching there), I have tried to stay informed about the school. My family's ties to that place go back to my grandfather Emil (class of '18), who also then was an adjunct theo prof there in the 1930s (when he was the founding/first pastor of Calvary Lutheran Church, Portland). Since my wife and I are also alumni, we have been receiving CUP's literature through the decades. I have also received regular reports from the Concordia Foundation, since in 2005 I helped to set up a scholarship fund in it for Lutheran church-worker students there. (Last week I took steps to transfer that endowment fund to Valpo, where it will continue to support Lutheran church-worker students here. My fellow heir and I hope the fund is transferred in the next few weeks. Thankfully, that money is protected from being used to pay lawyers....)

While a lot remains murky, I still think the LCMS, Inc. and the LCEF are in serious jeopardy. The closure of CUP need not have happened, and when that decision was made, it was not handled well. Matt Harrison's concerns with Concordia's LBGTQ student group (run by students; overseen by Concordia's office of student affairs), which were the sole factor in the conditional approval of last fall's LCEF loan, are an important part of this story, but probably not the most important part. (Harrison's negative views toward CUP go back to before he was LCMS prez, to my days on the faculty there, but even after I left the school they have continued. His actions against yours truly took place after 2004.)

Someone at Concordia (the acting president, Ries?) transferred all of Concordia’s properties to the Synod just before announcing the closing. When the people at HotChalk learned of that transfer, they probably concluded that there was fraud. I suspect that the people at HotChalk are looking mostly at the loss of revenue from future years under their 20-year contract with CUP (signed two years ago by former president Schlimpert). The terms of payment are spelled out in that contract. That's where the $302 million probably comes from.

Since last November, how was HotChalk, CUP's most important financial partner, treated by the current acting president and the BOR? It appears that HotChalk was not treated very well in the months leading up to the announcement of Concordia's closure. HotChalk itself is owned by the largest German publisher (perhaps the largest publisher in the world), Bertelsmann (with assets of around $20 billion). It seems to me that an arrangement could have been made for HotChalk/Bertelsmann to buy out Concordia from the LCMS. Why not? Why wasn't that option pursued?

Concordia's soul had already been sold long before HotChalk showed up, as I have argued in a recent blog post, linked upstream, so this financial deal would have been strictly a financial arrangement between the BOR (acting on behalf of the Synod) and HotChalk. But I've been told that such a proposal was never discussed, let alone brought forward. HotChalk was kept in the dark.

Schlimpert's reversal about his retirement in 2017-2018 certainly also contributed to the chaos at Concordia. And why did Dr. Ries act the way he did, as soon as he was appointed interim president? Why didn't he approach HotChalk/Bertelsmann with an offer they couldn't refuse?

My predictions have frequently been wrong here (e.g., Hillary vs. Trump....), but if I were a betting man, my money would be on the highly paid German attorneys for Bertelsmann. (I have an additional bias: most of J. C. K. von Hofmann's books were published by that publisher. He helped them to become what they are today.... Aside: How ironic would it be if the lawsuit by this historically confessional-Lutheran German publisher led to the bankruptcy of the LCMS?)

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 29, 2020, 01:07:21 PM
And why did Dr. Ries act the way he did, as soon as he was appointed interim president? Why didn't he approach HotChalk/Bertelsmann with an offer they couldn't refuse?

Hmmm. If that was an option in play, well, I don't know Dr. Ries, but remind me not to mess with him.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 29, 2020, 02:20:32 PM
And why did Dr. Ries act the way he did, as soon as he was appointed interim president? Why didn't he approach HotChalk/Bertelsmann with an offer they couldn't refuse?

Hmmm. If that was an option in play, well, I don't know Dr. Ries, but remind me not to mess with him.

I couldn't resist using the phrase, since I watched that trilogy last weekend....

MB
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on April 29, 2020, 03:07:04 PM
A 20 year contract for internet based services with the way technology constantly changes? That sounds like a bad decision.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RandyBosch on April 29, 2020, 04:09:21 PM
And thus back to my far earlier post on this matter: Either no one here knows the facts of the case or the detail of the contract - including proffers and representations made and exchanged in the run-up to its execution - and including the actual operations of the principals relative to the contract, or if they do would best not be commenting about intent and potential culpabilities of any party to it.

Comments of concern about the historic and ongoing conditions at Portland and its relationship (if actually known) to other entities seem appropriate.

However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I have a humble layperson's suggestion.  Follow the story, sure.  Pray for fairness, justice, and perhaps a little grace and mercy, too.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on April 29, 2020, 04:37:23 PM
And the follow on, not at all historical, question would simply be: what is a simple, compact and concrete idea of itself that the majority of the current confederation would sign onto?  For example, could you get 3000 congregations to sign onto establishing and fully funding: 1 sem, 1 undergrad institution, 1 publishing house and one hymnbook/Agenda?  Could you add missions?

I think you definitely could get that, Pr. Brown. The problem, as you understand well, is that if institutions gravitate towards anything it is status quo. We simply don't have the type of leadership needed to be bold and creative (to be fair, you'd be hard pressed to find a handful of institutions that *can* combine mission fitness, boldness, and creativity).

This isn't anyone's fault. It just is what it is. We don't select leaders to be bold and creative, we select leaders to maintain the status quo. Therefore, I don't think a top-down approach is the way to go for change. I think the kind of change you're asking about needs to happen at the grassroots level. Like Pr. Tim suggests, a total reboot of the denomination may be in order.

M. Staneck

Pastor Staneck, we are in 100% agreement here.  I'm just dropping this that I posted in another discussion line.  Sounds very similar...

Yeah, I agree with the facts on the ground institutionally.  And that would seem to be the realistic path. But this is my lived experience.  The current incumbents reflect everything up or down.  There is little actual leadership from those quarters.  And it is understandable.  We select those positions not for their leadership, but for their stasis.  Then when you add in the financial reality.  The people we elect for stasis, tend to get a bump in salary that they want to keep for at least 5 years or two terms.  They will fight very hard to be sure to get that.  You'd need a situation where all the incumbents were already full of years.  Which I don't think is true. This situation is very much like ecumenical things.  There is nothing and no possible movement at the hierarch level, but at the local level, there is a lot that does happen and can happen.  And eventually the would-be hierarchs jump in front of the parade and officially recognize reality. 

And the biggest thing I think is simply that going bigger is going in the direction of more complexity.  There tend to be more by-laws and more regulations and just more stasis inducing things the bigger you get.  What is needed is some authentic freedom and risk taking decisions.  As in the fall of any empire, the big guys abandon their positions taking what they can as they go, while real people find new local leadership forged quickly.  Like the nation, all of our current leadership is implicated in the fall.  The next will come from outside.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 29, 2020, 04:39:19 PM
And thus back to my far earlier post on this matter: Either no one here knows the facts of the case or the detail of the contract - including proffers and representations made and exchanged in the run-up to its execution - and including the actual operations of the principals relative to the contract, or if they do would best not be commenting about intent and potential culpabilities of any party to it.

Comments of concern about the historic and ongoing conditions at Portland and its relationship (if actually known) to other entities seem appropriate.

However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I have a humble layperson's suggestion.  Follow the story, sure.  Pray for fairness, justice, and perhaps a little grace and mercy, too.

Grace and mercy in a $300 million lawsuit - there is an aspirational prayer!  I'd say you're tossing a Hail Mary, but that's not our line. 

I note, though, that the official first response of LCMS Inc was to term HotChalk's a "frivolous" lawsuit. So maybe when the justice and fairness bulbs are lit, the most graceful thing for HotChalk to do will be to chortle back to Deutschland with frivolity, empty handed.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Matt Staneck on April 29, 2020, 04:55:22 PM
And the follow on, not at all historical, question would simply be: what is a simple, compact and concrete idea of itself that the majority of the current confederation would sign onto?  For example, could you get 3000 congregations to sign onto establishing and fully funding: 1 sem, 1 undergrad institution, 1 publishing house and one hymnbook/Agenda?  Could you add missions?

I think you definitely could get that, Pr. Brown. The problem, as you understand well, is that if institutions gravitate towards anything it is status quo. We simply don't have the type of leadership needed to be bold and creative (to be fair, you'd be hard pressed to find a handful of institutions that *can* combine mission fitness, boldness, and creativity).

This isn't anyone's fault. It just is what it is. We don't select leaders to be bold and creative, we select leaders to maintain the status quo. Therefore, I don't think a top-down approach is the way to go for change. I think the kind of change you're asking about needs to happen at the grassroots level. Like Pr. Tim suggests, a total reboot of the denomination may be in order.

M. Staneck

Pastor Staneck, we are in 100% agreement here.  I'm just dropping this that I posted in another discussion line.  Sounds very similar...

Yeah, I agree with the facts on the ground institutionally.  And that would seem to be the realistic path. But this is my lived experience.  The current incumbents reflect everything up or down.  There is little actual leadership from those quarters.  And it is understandable.  We select those positions not for their leadership, but for their stasis.  Then when you add in the financial reality.  The people we elect for stasis, tend to get a bump in salary that they want to keep for at least 5 years or two terms.  They will fight very hard to be sure to get that.  You'd need a situation where all the incumbents were already full of years.  Which I don't think is true. This situation is very much like ecumenical things.  There is nothing and no possible movement at the hierarch level, but at the local level, there is a lot that does happen and can happen.  And eventually the would-be hierarchs jump in front of the parade and officially recognize reality. 

And the biggest thing I think is simply that going bigger is going in the direction of more complexity.  There tend to be more by-laws and more regulations and just more stasis inducing things the bigger you get.  What is needed is some authentic freedom and risk taking decisions.  As in the fall of any empire, the big guys abandon their positions taking what they can as they go, while real people find new local leadership forged quickly.  Like the nation, all of our current leadership is implicated in the fall.  The next will come from outside.

Well, there we go. I missed this earlier. Thanks for re-upping it.

M. Staneck
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on April 29, 2020, 05:14:21 PM
And thus back to my far earlier post on this matter: Either no one here knows the facts of the case or the detail of the contract - including proffers and representations made and exchanged in the run-up to its execution - and including the actual operations of the principals relative to the contract, or if they do would best not be commenting about intent and potential culpabilities of any party to it.

Comments of concern about the historic and ongoing conditions at Portland and its relationship (if actually known) to other entities seem appropriate.

However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I have a humble layperson's suggestion.  Follow the story, sure.  Pray for fairness, justice, and perhaps a little grace and mercy, too.

Honestly, some of us are just stunned, mouths agape. When I first heard the figure, it sounded ridiculous and possibly frivolous. As the reporting happens, it just sounds more amazing.

Lord, have mercy. Christ, have mercy. Lord, have mercy.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dan Fienen on April 29, 2020, 09:28:51 PM
At this point anyone with any connection to this will say only what lawyers say they can say. Anything anyone involved says that can be construed in any way that could be damaging will be so construed and used against them in court. That includes statements to their own constituents. A full and open accounting of mistakes made at this point would be a great blessing for the other side.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 30, 2020, 12:23:52 AM
However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I hold an additional presumption about the incompetence or malfeasance of Harrison in this matter. His negative role in this sorry tale will also eventually come to light, I suspect.

Yes, I am biased here. So please consider that, too, when weighing the above assertion.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2020, 12:30:38 AM
However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I hold an additional presumption about the incompetence or malfeasance of Harrison in this matter. His negative role in this sorry tale will also eventually come to light, I suspect.

Yes, I am biased here. So please consider that, too, when weighing the above assertion.

Matt Becker
Wow. Presumption. I’d say that’s beneath you, but I’ll wait for some evidence that you’re better than that.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 30, 2020, 12:52:39 AM
However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I hold an additional presumption about the incompetence or malfeasance of Harrison in this matter. His negative role in this sorry tale will also eventually come to light, I suspect.

Yes, I am biased here. So please consider that, too, when weighing the above assertion.

Matt Becker
Wow. Presumption. I’d say that’s beneath you, but I’ll wait for some evidence that you’re better than that.

Given how Harrison acted unethically with the money from the sale of the Hong Kong property (which was supposed to have been used for the purchase of other Hong Kong property, not for the elimination of LCMS debt), I would think my presumptions/suspicions are well placed. Let's wait and see what comes out of the lawsuit.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 30, 2020, 03:48:27 AM
Pastor Fienen writes:
A full and open accounting of mistakes made at this point would be a great blessing for the other side.
I comment:
That statement is correct only if the “sides” are limited to the adversaries in the lawsuit, involving - as I think Pastor Fienen meant - the Synod/College and HotChalk, one of those “sides” and the “blessing” of winning that legal battle.
But what about other parties? Students. Their parents. College donors. Those who have already received degrees. Those who owe the college money or are employed by the college. Other college creditors. Those who may have fled the scene at great cost. Are they entitled to a “full and open accounting”?
Then there is the blessing of truth itself, the facts of who did what and when and how. A  lawsuit may not determine that and indeed is not really concerned about that. The lawsuit may not reveal a “full and open accounting of mistakes” and may actually cover up some mistakes.
When does the concern for truth and all parties rank higher than winning in court? When big money is involved, my guess is “never.”
But it is an interesting ethical speculation.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dan Fienen on April 30, 2020, 04:59:39 AM
Perhaps after the lawsuits are settled would be the time for such an accounting.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 30, 2020, 06:45:45 AM
Pastor Fienen:
Perhaps after the lawsuits are settled would be the time for such an accounting. And when the “mistakes” may be crimes or lapses in fiscal responsibility....?
Me:
Ten or more years from now?
It is sometimes said: Justice/truth delayed is justice/truth denied.
Maybe. Maybe not. ?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 30, 2020, 09:41:53 AM
The lawsuit at the closing of Portland is one reason for concern for Missouri Synod Lutheran higher education.  The bigger question is whether the small private college model will work for the majority of those institutions going forward.  Here's a short article sounding the alarm.  It's written by the President of Macalester College, which is a highly ranked midwestern liberal arts school: 
https://www.timeshighereducation.com/opinion/will-coronavirus-kill-liberal-arts-colleges#survey-answer.

Points to ponder.  On another thread, we've discussed some of this, and the article serves to amplify.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 30, 2020, 09:50:01 AM
Synod Inc plays two games w accountability one is playing long ball and hoping the problem just fades away quietly.  The Concordia Selma closing was a great example of this “nothing to see here” mentality.  That strategy backfired dramatically at the Tampa Convention. The second is plausible deniability. Matt Becker had to deal w that as surrogates were used to make his life miserable, and leadership denied their influence until the end.  Each will be completely ineffective in dealing with the discovery of a lawsuit.  The light of truth, which sets one free, will be shined on minutes of meetings, unscripted comments captured on video and a host of other snippets.  From this thread it would appear that the plaintiff has enough money to do extensive discovery and deep pockets to be formidable adversary in playing long ball.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on April 30, 2020, 09:54:47 AM
However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I hold an additional presumption about the incompetence or malfeasance of Harrison in this matter. His negative role in this sorry tale will also eventually come to light, I suspect.

Yes, I am biased here. So please consider that, too, when weighing the above assertion.

Matt Becker
Wow. Presumption. I’d say that’s beneath you, but I’ll wait for some evidence that you’re better than that.

Given how Harrison acted unethically with the money from the sale of the Hong Kong property (which was supposed to have been used for the purchase of other Hong Kong property, not for the elimination of LCMS debt), I would think my presumptions/suspicions are well placed. Let's wait and see what comes out of the lawsuit.

Matt Becker

One thing I've learned from my 30 years in District leadership is that one rarely hears the truth, only perspectives. And those perspectives are often strongly colored by bias.

So, your perspective is that Harrison acted unethically in all of this. Another perspective is that he handled it well and made a good decision. In that, he was supported by the Board for International Mission and the Synod's Board of Directors. He is position was also supported by the Synod's lawyers (not only Sherri Strand, but others that were specifically engaged for this purpose whose names I can't remember off hand).

When I was at the COP meeting last April, we had the opportunity to hear, in open session, Ms. Strand and one of the other lawyers lay out their argument. They went over the history of the property, what the contracts said, etc. After they laid out their case, the COP voted to support the SP without dissent (I chose to abstain since I was simply filling in for our DP). We also wrote up a statement of support that was published in the _Reporter_ the next week.

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2020, 10:53:40 AM
However, I am struck, as I was from the beginning, at how many of the comments imply or border on presuming  incompetence or malfeasance on the part of Concordia.

I hold an additional presumption about the incompetence or malfeasance of Harrison in this matter. His negative role in this sorry tale will also eventually come to light, I suspect.

Yes, I am biased here. So please consider that, too, when weighing the above assertion.

Matt Becker
Wow. Presumption. I’d say that’s beneath you, but I’ll wait for some evidence that you’re better than that.

Given how Harrison acted unethically with the money from the sale of the Hong Kong property (which was supposed to have been used for the purchase of other Hong Kong property, not for the elimination of LCMS debt), I would think my presumptions/suspicions are well placed. Let's wait and see what comes out of the lawsuit.

Matt Becker

One thing I've learned from my 30 years in District leadership is that one rarely hears the truth, only perspectives. And those perspectives are often strongly colored by bias.

So, your perspective is that Harrison acted unethically in all of this. Another perspective is that he handled it well and made a good decision. In that, he was supported by the Board for International Mission and the Synod's Board of Directors. He is position was also supported by the Synod's lawyers (not only Sherri Strand, but others that were specifically engaged for this purpose whose names I can't remember off hand).

When I was at the COP meeting last April, we had the opportunity to hear, in open session, Ms. Strand and one of the other lawyers lay out their argument. They went over the history of the property, what the contracts said, etc. After they laid out their case, the COP voted to support the SP without dissent (I chose to abstain since I was simply filling in for our DP). We also wrote up a statement of support that was published in the _Reporter_ the next week.
Quit wrecking the narrative.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 30, 2020, 01:13:28 PM
The lawsuit will allow, I think, insights into the way religious corporations act and are allowed to act to protect their assets.  I'm sure the LCMS attorneys will argue for a high bar of separation between the various religious corporations in the denomination so that a litigant cannot go for the deeper pocket at the national level.  I'm sure the HotChalk attorneys will argue that the corporations do not behave in a separated manner, are already related, and that their pocket is fair game. 

Think of the Diocese by diocese behavior and response to the abuse problem.  That specifically is a hierarchical system.  I really don't know if they're mailing over money from the Vatican when the situation goes south, are they?  What has happened is that many of the dioceses have declared bankruptcy.  The connective tissue from the local parish to the diocese in their system allows for ascending liability to the diocesan level.  And so they go belly up, so to speak, to reorganize.  It's a matter of direct supervision and responsibility. 

The interesting part of the Concordia University System is that the business end of the colleges does not pass through the geographical district any more, but goes directly to the national.  At least in my two and a half decades of involvement with Concordia Bronxville we in the Atlantic District were not financially involved - that all went to the national level. 

Anyway, the lawsuit will take awhile and in its own way is a distraction to the more urgent situations with our Concordias, and all Lutheran colleges - does the depth of reserve funds equal the need of the current crisis which presumably has at least a two year lifespan?  How deep can you make cuts without incising a mortal wound?   Right now everything is in triage.  It's fall 2020 and fall 2021 and maybe fall 2022 that will tell the tale.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on April 30, 2020, 02:56:43 PM
Scott, you are right.  I was raised in an LCMS where we lived and died with one another.  I was raised when men cared about one another’s congregation and didn’t compete as much.  My home church too is a shell of itself.  It was a congregation that spun out church workers like crazy.  Seemed like maybe the vision was “get along” and “plant churches”.  I have toured the LA County area and some good people are doing some good work, but as you say there are some huge plants down there that used to house huge schools and big ministries.  Perhaps we quit when it got hard, I’m not sure.  But the rot has worked its way pretty much through the system.  My vote would be for a complete restart of the denomination, even that may be too late.

Tim, I think the burden of hindsight is that it is 20/20.  That 20/20 vision can pierce our souls like a finely sharpened dagger.  I think back to what some might call my “quarter-life crisis” and a friend saying to me, “Your past seems so bad now because you are looking back at it with a mature mind.”  That was a helpful moment of clarity for me, in some respects, that seems to be how hindsight works, too, at least to me.  When we are in the midst of something it is sometimes hard to see the bigger picture, or to even grasp the long term implications/consequences of our decisions.  In some ways, I would be willing to say we didn’t work hard enough, but I don’t think that’s fair to previous generations.  Things are always more complicated than they seem.  And after all, so much of what we do in ministry can’t really be quantified, because in many ways we are all over the place (Peter Speckhard wrote an article about this in Forum Letter a few years back).  I am also hesitant to say that because our decline is not somehow exceptional, at least when we look at all the Mainlines and the RCs.  So while it may be us and may also just be where the world is heading.  When I look at all of this I find resonance with the words of Franciscan Richard Rohr that, “Everything Belongs.”   

In the 2000s it looked like the LCMS was taking steps to be “more” missiological, even “creative” in some ways, but the data shows that that did not bear much “success”.  The weird part about that era is how it created the momentum for a repristinating movement that didn’t so much see the need for newness/new wineskins, but rather a return to our “heritage” that would, in turn, reinvigorate and revitalize the LCMS in all quarters.  That really hasn’t materialized.  Twelve years ago this fall is when President Harrison wrote, “It’s Time”.  It would be interesting to compare that document to what has actually happened since then. 

As Mark Brown notes it is all about stasis in institutions, yet even creativity can be destructive and disastrous, too.  Especially, right now, when so much seems to be hanging by a thread.  One bad move, and there ain’t no coming back.  The problem as I see it is that resources are drying up in a myriad of ways; whether actual people or dollars.  I’m all for a restart, but will there be people to restart by the time we get to it? How is that done?

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 30, 2020, 03:23:19 PM
One thing I've learned from my 30 years in District leadership is that one rarely hears the truth, only perspectives. And those perspectives are often strongly colored by bias.

Jim,
I completely agree. I think the bias here cuts both ways, though. You got to hear only what you got to hear in the COP meeting. What is the level of dissent within the COP these days? I wonder what perspective you would get if you went to Hong Kong and spoke to the church leaders there....

So, your perspective is that Harrison acted unethically in all of this. Another perspective is that he handled it well and made a good decision. In that, he was supported by the Board for International Mission and the Synod's Board of Directors. He is position was also supported by the Synod's lawyers (not only Sherri Strand, but others that were specifically engaged for this purpose whose names I can't remember off hand).

I don't know that Harrison acted unethically "in all of this." I only know that the (now deceased) individual who managed the Hong Kong property for the Hong Kong church sold an apartment building that had four apartments so that he could buy a different one that had more apartments (and hence, bring in more revenue for the local HK church and its mission). When he sold it, he had to temporarily deposit the $10 million in the Mo-Synod account. But then, he learned later that the money he had deposited was gone. It wasn't in the account. He never got to buy the bigger building for the Hong Kong church, which had been the sole purpose for having sold the other building in the first place. The money was only supposed to have been kept in the MS account for a short term until he could arrange the purchase of the larger building. In the meantime, he then learned that Pres. Harrison had taken the HK money to pay off LCMS debt.

What happened in this matter of taking the $10 million away from the HK church may have been legal (per what you heard from Ms. Strand and the other attorney), but it doesn't seem ethical. Hence, my use of the word "unethical."

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 30, 2020, 03:41:35 PM
Scott, you are right.  I was raised in an LCMS where we lived and died with one another.  I was raised when men cared about one another’s congregation and didn’t compete as much.  My home church too is a shell of itself.  It was a congregation that spun out church workers like crazy.  Seemed like maybe the vision was “get along” and “plant churches”.  I have toured the LA County area and some good people are doing some good work, but as you say there are some huge plants down there that used to house huge schools and big ministries.  Perhaps we quit when it got hard, I’m not sure.  But the rot has worked its way pretty much through the system.  My vote would be for a complete restart of the denomination, even that may be too late.

Tim, I think the burden of hindsight is that it is 20/20...


As Mark Brown notes it is all about stasis in institutions, yet even creativity can be destructive and disastrous, too.  Especially, right now, when so much seems to be hanging by a thread.  One bad move, and there ain’t no coming back.  The problem as I see it is that resources are drying up in a myriad of ways; whether actual people or dollars.  I’m all for a restart, but will there be people to restart by the time we get to it? How is that done?

Peace,
Scott+

Scott...I always enjoy reading your posts because they are so well thought out. I dream of being able to be so articulate with my ideas.  I’m for a restart, if not of leadership at the top of LCMS Inc, then culturally, which I believe each person connected with the LCMS could mold and shape.

What if we had culture that considered before it criticized?  That is what if our first answer to every ambiguity wasn’t no?
What if we had a culture the looked as people as redeemed of Jesus first rather than Moderate/Missional/Confessional etc?
What if we had a culture that would seek to develop leaders rather than gather followers?

I have more but that should prime the pump...

Finally, a restart process would start in a couple ways...First we gather together in a quiet place and sat adn prayed and read Scripture together, no phones, no outside stimulus, and we build meaningful relationships of trust, maybe 15-18 people.  Second included people isn’t he discussion who had never held an LCMS position greater that Circuit Counselor and the people had to all be under 50. [or maybe 45]. Finally we started with zero sacred cows and went after what type of association would best serve both our unique confession of faith and the mission of the Lord Jesus.

Us old guys could cheerlead and buy lunch and host happy hour...Ultimately it will be your generation that decides this, for my generation we should relinquish any semblance of control and put enormous resources around this.  Part of the problem of any organization like the LCMS is that the people with the authority to change it are most invested in the status quo.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on April 30, 2020, 03:52:12 PM
One thing I've learned from my 30 years in District leadership is that one rarely hears the truth, only perspectives. And those perspectives are often strongly colored by bias.

Jim,
I completely agree. I think the bias here cuts both ways, though. You got to hear only what you got to hear in the COP meeting. What is the level of dissent within the COP these days? I wonder what perspective you would get if you went to Hong Kong and spoke to the church leaders there....

So, your perspective is that Harrison acted unethically in all of this. Another perspective is that he handled it well and made a good decision. In that, he was supported by the Board for International Mission and the Synod's Board of Directors. He is position was also supported by the Synod's lawyers (not only Sherri Strand, but others that were specifically engaged for this purpose whose names I can't remember off hand).

I don't know that Harrison acted unethically "in all of this." I only know that the (now deceased) individual who managed the Hong Kong property for the Hong Kong church sold an apartment building that had four apartments so that he could buy a different one that had more apartments (and hence, bring in more revenue for the local HK church and its mission). When he sold it, he had to temporarily deposit the $10 million in the Mo-Synod account. But then, he learned later that the money he had deposited was gone. It wasn't in the account. He never got to buy the bigger building for the Hong Kong church, which had been the sole purpose for having sold the other building in the first place. The money was only supposed to have been kept in the MS account for a short term until he could arrange the purchase of the larger building. In the meantime, he then learned that Pres. Harrison had taken the HK money to pay off LCMS debt.

What happened in this matter of taking the $10 million away from the HK church may have been legal (per what you heard from Ms. Strand and the other attorney), but it doesn't seem ethical. Hence, my use of the word "unethical."

Matt Becker

I guess my ear is less to the ground than it used to be, because this is a new wrinkle to me.  For some reason I thought the LCMS had property that was viewed as not being LCMS but HKS by those in leadership in HKS and LCMS sold it.  You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on April 30, 2020, 05:26:28 PM
If "the world" cared much about the goings-on in a church denomination, and if that "church denomination" had as much impact on "the world" as a Silicon Valley start-up or a PAC, I could see a heck of a movie in this, involving Hong Kong, Selma, CUP, the Synod, the rights of a gay organization on campus, a couple of Synod presidents, and a large German corporation.
But the Synod is not Theranos, the Synod president is not Elizabeth Holmes, and nobody invested billions and billions of dollars in a plan to run a college, be a big-time Church, get money out of a potentially rebellious Hong Kong subsidiary, earn big bucks by injecting master's degrees in education into thousands of students, and along the way proclaim the Gospel.
So no one will be interested in the movie or even a PBS documentary.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 30, 2020, 06:39:27 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2020, 07:13:08 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on April 30, 2020, 08:26:58 PM
The second is plausible deniability. Matt Becker had to deal w that as surrogates were used to make his life miserable, and leadership denied their influence until the end.

This is the mobbing I described. It's effectiveness is limited in a number of ways. The Nag thought he had me shut down as a witness to the abusive practices. But I just kept collecting what they were doing and published it. Next, they tried to slander me as mentally ill in an effort to discredit me. That has also failed and I continue to talk about this disastrous practice. Then other folks, like yourself, jumped in and began describing mobbing problems in the synod. Witnesses to the problem multiplied, making it harder and harder to deny.

I have not released the name of the Nag (who likes to work through proxies as you note, as well as pseudonyms). But others are figuring out who he is. Some contact me to seek confirmation but I maintain my agreement about not naming the individual. I do think it is only a matter of time before the name comes out and the methods are linked to the individual and his political partners. Many people are aware of these problems and the chief person behind them but remain afraid to speak up for now. It is only a matter of time.

In the meantime, real leadership gets squelched (afraid to offend), valuable critique gets silenced, the synod gets weaker and faces greater risks. I pray it may be otherwise.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2020, 08:56:26 PM
The second is plausible deniability. Matt Becker had to deal w that as surrogates were used to make his life miserable, and leadership denied their influence until the end.

This is the mobbing I described. It's effectiveness is limited in a number of ways. The Nag thought he had me shut down as a witness to the abusive practices. But I just kept collecting what they were doing and published it. Next, they tried to slander me as mentally ill in an effort to discredit me. That has also failed and I continue to talk about this disastrous practice. Then other folks, like yourself, jumped in and began describing mobbing problems in the synod. Witnesses to the problem multiplied, making it harder and harder to deny.

I have not released the name of the Nag (who likes to work through proxies as you note, as well as pseudonyms). But others are figuring out who he is. Some contact me to seek confirmation but I maintain my agreement about not naming the individual. I do think it is only a matter of time before the name comes out and the methods are linked to the individual and his political partners. Many people are aware of these problems and the chief person behind them but remain afraid to speak up for now. It is only a matter of time.

In the meantime, real leadership gets squelched (afraid to offend), valuable critique gets silenced, the synod gets weaker and faces greater risks. I pray it may be otherwise.
To be fair, I thought you exhibited signs of mental illness in the aftermath of that article. One could suspect an issue in that regard without being part of a conspiracy or even knowing who the nag is.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on April 30, 2020, 09:20:06 PM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on April 30, 2020, 09:51:36 PM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on April 30, 2020, 10:11:35 PM
That makes me sad...light is shined on everything, a lawsuit like this may out a lot of stuff.  Discovery, when a person has a lot to hide whether related to the case or not, will be very painful and lead to a lot of sleepless nights.  That’s the cloud of a lawsuit.  We have been sued any number of times and every time it drives anxiety.  I would imagine the numbers associated with this suit would put LCMS Inc in jeopardy.  See how long Hot Chalk will play long ball.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: mj4 on April 30, 2020, 10:48:02 PM
If "the world" cared much about the goings-on in a church denomination, and if that "church denomination" had as much impact on "the world" as a Silicon Valley start-up or a PAC, I could see a heck of a movie in this, involving Hong Kong, Selma, CUP, the Synod, the rights of a gay organization on campus, a couple of Synod presidents, and a large German corporation.
But the Synod is not Theranos, the Synod president is not Elizabeth Holmes, and nobody invested billions and billions of dollars in a plan to run a college, be a big-time Church, get money out of a potentially rebellious Hong Kong subsidiary, earn big bucks by injecting master's degrees in education into thousands of students, and along the way proclaim the Gospel.
So no one will be interested in the movie or even a PBS documentary.

Prof. Becker played by Tom Hanks, of course.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 30, 2020, 11:15:39 PM
If "the world" cared much about the goings-on in a church denomination, and if that "church denomination" had as much impact on "the world" as a Silicon Valley start-up or a PAC, I could see a heck of a movie in this, involving Hong Kong, Selma, CUP, the Synod, the rights of a gay organization on campus, a couple of Synod presidents, and a large German corporation.
But the Synod is not Theranos, the Synod president is not Elizabeth Holmes, and nobody invested billions and billions of dollars in a plan to run a college, be a big-time Church, get money out of a potentially rebellious Hong Kong subsidiary, earn big bucks by injecting master's degrees in education into thousands of students, and along the way proclaim the Gospel.
So no one will be interested in the movie or even a PBS documentary.

Prof. Becker played by Tom Hanks, of course.

He's too tall to play yours truly.
MB
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on April 30, 2020, 11:24:27 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 12:02:02 AM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
In meant evidence that you are a better person than your “presumption” post.

You said your “presumption” is that Matt Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance is behind the CUP closing. There is no evidence forthcoming, apparently, that such a despicable comment is beneath you. Even if it were to turn out to be true, you should be deeply ashamed to have presumed it based on what you know so far. You have a home in today’s ELCA, which is where you have always belonged and were the last to know it.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on May 01, 2020, 12:40:04 AM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.

Yes. They should go read. But what they won't find there is the story of Johnny Underbridge. That story and the lawsuit brought by Rev. Craig Stanford (Illinois), which synod lost, is yet to come out. But they will, because those who mob can't make peace.

Again, Peter, I bid you peace. You see how gentle and kind I can be.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 09:29:45 AM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.

Yes. They should go read. But what they won't find there is the story of Johnny Underbridge. That story and the lawsuit brought by Rev. Craig Stanford (Illinois), which synod lost, is yet to come out. But they will, because those who mob can't make peace.

Again, Peter, I bid you peace. You see how gentle and kind I can be.
I don't think it is a matter primarily of gentleness. Your article tarred many demonstrably innocent people with inflammatory charges of organized, deliberate, coordinated spiritual torture. As long as you let those charges stand, you prevent peace. As far as I know I'm not part of the mob in your mind. But maybe I am. Either way, I personally am not at war with you. I just think you genuinely don't understand the objections people had to your article. You can't write what you wrote and leave it hanging out there, and then bid people peace. That isn't what peace is.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on May 01, 2020, 09:38:32 AM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.

Yes. They should go read. But what they won't find there is the story of Johnny Underbridge. That story and the lawsuit brought by Rev. Craig Stanford (Illinois), which synod lost, is yet to come out. But they will, because those who mob can't make peace.

Again, Peter, I bid you peace. You see how gentle and kind I can be.

Your article tarred many demonstrably innocent people with inflammatory charges of organized, deliberate, coordinated spiritual torture.


Who were those innocent folks?

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on May 01, 2020, 10:03:24 AM
Ask Craig Stanford, who won his case after violation of HIPPA rights, whether the Machine and mobbing exist in the LCMS. He told me the article hit the nail on the head. So it is not just my testimony, Peter. The abuse is recorded in court documents. I referred to this case earlier, asking that mobbing would stop. Doesn't stop, so I'm releasing more info about the case as I warned that I would.

I will not be a punching bag for the mobbers. Nothing they do or say will silence me about this problem UNLESS they choose to leave me alone. Machine leadership could stop this today if the order was issued to the Nag just as he was ordered to stop his blogging. (I also know the reason behind that order but held my tongue in patience with my brethren. They apparently regard my patience and kindness as weakness.) I will not hide under a bridge; I will not serve the Machine.

May the Lord grant peace.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 01, 2020, 10:12:32 AM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.

Yes. They should go read. But what they won't find there is the story of Johnny Underbridge. That story and the lawsuit brought by Rev. Craig Stanford (Illinois), which synod lost, is yet to come out. But they will, because those who mob can't make peace.

Again, Peter, I bid you peace. You see how gentle and kind I can be.

Your article tarred many demonstrably innocent people with inflammatory charges of organized, deliberate, coordinated spiritual torture.


Who were those innocent folks?

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

gan ainm, a former member here, for one.  He was accused by Rev. Engelbrecht of being the mysterious "Main Nag" but several people here have stated they know that is untrue. 

And countless people from CPH and synodical headquarters, who were put under accusation by the very vague wording intentionally chosen by Rev. Engelbrecht.

How about Rev. Engelbrecht's former pastor?  Rev. Engelbrecht wrote of "our pastor" singling him out in a sermon, by words and gestures.  Although Rev. Engelbrecht later said he meant another (unnamed) pastor, he was still tainted by the apparent accusation.

I'm sure others can add to the list....
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 01, 2020, 10:16:49 AM
Ask Craig Stanford, who won his case after violation of HIPPA rights, whether the Machine and mobbing exist in the LCMS. He told me the article hit the nail on the head. So it is not just my testimony, Peter. The abuse is recorded in court documents. I referred to this case earlier, asking that mobbing would stop. Doesn't stop, so I'm releasing more info about the case as I warned that I would.

I will not be a punching bag for the mobbers. Nothing they do or say will silence me about this problem UNLESS they choose to leave me alone. Machine leadership could stop this today if the order was issued to the Nag just as he was ordered to stop his blogging. (I also know the reason behind that order but held my tongue in patience with my brethren. They apparently regard my patience and kindness as weakness.) I will not hide under a bridge; I will not serve the Machine.

May the Lord grant peace.

I know nothing of this matter with Rev. Stanford.  Perhaps he ought to be the one who tells the story, rather than your bread-crumbs.  But that appears to be your method: drop little hints, little innuendoes, always vague but tantalizing, but never with anything solid.  If there is information, then share it.  Or else stay quiet. What you are doing helps no one and hurts others (as Rev. Speckhard has again said).
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 11:02:05 AM
Ask Craig Stanford, who won his case after violation of HIPPA rights, whether the Machine and mobbing exist in the LCMS. He told me the article hit the nail on the head. So it is not just my testimony, Peter. The abuse is recorded in court documents. I referred to this case earlier, asking that mobbing would stop. Doesn't stop, so I'm releasing more info about the case as I warned that I would.

I will not be a punching bag for the mobbers. Nothing they do or say will silence me about this problem UNLESS they choose to leave me alone. Machine leadership could stop this today if the order was issued to the Nag just as he was ordered to stop his blogging. (I also know the reason behind that order but held my tongue in patience with my brethren. They apparently regard my patience and kindness as weakness.) I will not hide under a bridge; I will not serve the Machine.

May the Lord grant peace.
Just so I know, do you consider my reaction to your article to be an example of mobbing? Do you think I'm part of the Machine?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 01, 2020, 11:35:13 AM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 01, 2020, 12:06:30 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
In meant evidence that you are a better person than your “presumption” post.

You said your “presumption” is that Matt Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance is behind the CUP closing. There is no evidence forthcoming, apparently, that such a despicable comment is beneath you. Even if it were to turn out to be true, you should be deeply ashamed to have presumed it based on what you know so far. You have a home in today’s ELCA, which is where you have always belonged and were the last to know it.

Time will tell who will need to be ashamed of their comments in this online forum. May I encourage you to focus on what seems to be stuck in your own eye?

My suspicions about Rev. Harrison are well founded. The Bertelsmann lawsuit against the LCMS is likely to uncover how his actions contributed to Concordia's closing. As I stated upstream, those actions were probably not the principal cause for the closing of that university, but they were a factor.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 12:41:02 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
In meant evidence that you are a better person than your “presumption” post.

You said your “presumption” is that Matt Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance is behind the CUP closing. There is no evidence forthcoming, apparently, that such a despicable comment is beneath you. Even if it were to turn out to be true, you should be deeply ashamed to have presumed it based on what you know so far. You have a home in today’s ELCA, which is where you have always belonged and were the last to know it.

Time will tell who will need to be ashamed of their comments in this online forum. May I encourage you to focus on what seems to be stuck in your own eye?

My suspicions about Rev. Harrison are well founded. The Bertelsmann lawsuit against the LCMS is likely to uncover how his actions contributed to Concordia's closing. As I stated upstream, those actions were probably not the principal cause for the closing of that university, but they were a factor.

Matt Becker
There is a big difference between suspicion and presumption. And Harrison indeed might have taken actions that contributed to the closing of CUP, but that doesn't mean such actions stemmed from incompetence or malfeasance. It might have simply been him making the hard choices that needed to be made to end an untenable situation with good stewardship. Tough to say at this point. But we appear to agree on one thing-- your stated presumption that Harrison acted incompetently or with malfeasance in the matter of CUP is not beneath you.   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on May 01, 2020, 12:55:14 PM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.

Yes. They should go read. But what they won't find there is the story of Johnny Underbridge. That story and the lawsuit brought by Rev. Craig Stanford (Illinois), which synod lost, is yet to come out. But they will, because those who mob can't make peace.

Again, Peter, I bid you peace. You see how gentle and kind I can be.

Your article tarred many demonstrably innocent people with inflammatory charges of organized, deliberate, coordinated spiritual torture.


Who were those innocent folks?

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

gan ainm, a former member here, for one.  He was accused by Rev. Engelbrecht of being the mysterious "Main Nag" but several people here have stated they know that is untrue. 

And countless people from CPH and synodical headquarters, who were put under accusation by the very vague wording intentionally chosen by Rev. Engelbrecht.

How about Rev. Engelbrecht's former pastor?  Rev. Engelbrecht wrote of "our pastor" singling him out in a sermon, by words and gestures.  Although Rev. Engelbrecht later said he meant another (unnamed) pastor, he was still tainted by the apparent accusation.

I'm sure others can add to the list....

Do you have a name? Or names? No one is "tarnished" except "Mr. (Ms.) Anonymous" or Mr. (Ms.) Pseudonymous." I am a Synodical Officer; had I contributed to mobbing Edward I am not tarnished because no one knows what I did.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN (My real name, untarnished)   :)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 01:13:58 PM
Ironically, I stayed cool headed while others raged. Anyone can go back and read the thread.

Peace to you.
Yes they can. And if they do, they’ll see why I thought what I thought.

Yes. They should go read. But what they won't find there is the story of Johnny Underbridge. That story and the lawsuit brought by Rev. Craig Stanford (Illinois), which synod lost, is yet to come out. But they will, because those who mob can't make peace.

Again, Peter, I bid you peace. You see how gentle and kind I can be.

Your article tarred many demonstrably innocent people with inflammatory charges of organized, deliberate, coordinated spiritual torture.


Who were those innocent folks?

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN

gan ainm, a former member here, for one.  He was accused by Rev. Engelbrecht of being the mysterious "Main Nag" but several people here have stated they know that is untrue. 

And countless people from CPH and synodical headquarters, who were put under accusation by the very vague wording intentionally chosen by Rev. Engelbrecht.

How about Rev. Engelbrecht's former pastor?  Rev. Engelbrecht wrote of "our pastor" singling him out in a sermon, by words and gestures.  Although Rev. Engelbrecht later said he meant another (unnamed) pastor, he was still tainted by the apparent accusation.

I'm sure others can add to the list....

Do you have a name? Or names? No one is "tarnished" except "Mr. (Ms.) Anonymous" or Mr. (Ms.) Pseudonymous." I am a Synodical Officer; had I contributed to mobbing Edward I am not tarnished because no one knows what I did.

Alleluia! Christ is risen!  JOHN (My real name, untarnished)   :)
John, please. “The ALPB is run by a mobbing machine that recruits operatives to physically assault people at conferences.” There. According to you I have impugned nobody.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 01, 2020, 02:15:14 PM
There is a big difference between suspicion and presumption. And Harrison indeed might have taken actions that contributed to the closing of CUP, but that doesn't mean such actions stemmed from incompetence or malfeasance. It might have simply been him making the hard choices that needed to be made to end an untenable situation with good stewardship. Tough to say at this point. But we appear to agree on one thing-- your stated presumption that Harrison acted incompetently or with malfeasance in the matter of CUP is not beneath you.   

Peter,
I am merely presuming a thing to be true based on personal knowledge and experience. When I used the word "presumption" in that post, I meant it in the sense of "hypothesis." There's nothing wrong with making such a presumption based on one's prior experience and knowledge. Time will tell if that presumption is incorrect.

M. Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Daniel Lee Gard on May 01, 2020, 02:56:52 PM
I was absent from this forum for a year and have recently returned on a limited basis.

While not wanting to engage any particular person or persons, I remember something that I read:

THE EIGHTH COMMANDMENT

You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.

What does this mean?

We should fear and love God, so that we do not lie about, betray or slander our neighbor, but excuse him, speak well of him, and put the best construction on everything.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 03:02:07 PM
There is a big difference between suspicion and presumption. And Harrison indeed might have taken actions that contributed to the closing of CUP, but that doesn't mean such actions stemmed from incompetence or malfeasance. It might have simply been him making the hard choices that needed to be made to end an untenable situation with good stewardship. Tough to say at this point. But we appear to agree on one thing-- your stated presumption that Harrison acted incompetently or with malfeasance in the matter of CUP is not beneath you.   

Peter,
I am merely presuming a thing to be true based on personal knowledge and experience. When I used the word "presumption" in that post, I meant it in the sense of "hypothesis." There's nothing wrong with making such a presumption based on one's prior experience and knowledge. Time will tell if that presumption is incorrect.

M. Becker
The presumption is already wrong. Even if your suspicions are completely vindicated by an investigation, there is no way to reconcile your post with common decency. Even if that was the best construction you could come up with, there was no need to volunteer your hypothesis into the discussion. Your post served no discernible purpose other than to insult Matt Harrison.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on May 01, 2020, 03:06:29 PM
Ah the 8th Commandment Card...always the trump card for those seeking to gain the moral high ground.  Seems that’s the 8th Commandment only swings one way, wanna see some 8th Commandment doozies from the previous conventions election cycle?  Criticism is not breaking the 8th Commandment. IMHO...any real 8th Commandment adherence is reserved for healthy cultures. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 03:12:45 PM
Ah the 8th Commandment Card...always the trump card for those seeking to gain the moral high ground.  Seems that’s the 8th Commandment only swings one way, wanna see some 8th Commandment doozies from the previous conventions election cycle?  Criticism is not breaking the 8th Commandment. IMHO...any real 8th Commandment adherence is reserved for healthy cultures.
So if you were synodical president all would be well at CUP because Harrison’s incompetence and/or malfeasance wouldn’t have worked? Or, if that is not the case and CUP went under anyway under your leadership, you would view it as perfectly valid for people to “presume” that your incompetence and/or malfeasance contributed to the collapse? I have to say I would call such a presumption beneath a decent person no matter who the SP was.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Daniel Lee Gard on May 01, 2020, 03:23:28 PM
Ah the 8th Commandment Card...always the trump card for those seeking to gain the moral high ground.  Seems that’s the 8th Commandment only swings one way, wanna see some 8th Commandment doozies from the previous conventions election cycle?  Criticism is not breaking the 8th Commandment. IMHO...any real 8th Commandment adherence is reserved for healthy cultures.

God's commandments are not restricted to either healthy or to unhealthy cultures. They are about living in the boundaries of freedom no matter what the culture might be. (Arguably, of course, any culture is unhealthy because it is always composed of broken and fallen human beings.)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on May 01, 2020, 03:25:05 PM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 01, 2020, 03:32:59 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
In meant evidence that you are a better person than your “presumption” post.

You said your “presumption” is that Matt Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance is behind the CUP closing. There is no evidence forthcoming, apparently, that such a despicable comment is beneath you. Even if it were to turn out to be true, you should be deeply ashamed to have presumed it based on what you know so far. You have a home in today’s ELCA, which is where you have always belonged and were the last to know it.

Time will tell who will need to be ashamed of their comments in this online forum. May I encourage you to focus on what seems to be stuck in your own eye?

My suspicions about Rev. Harrison are well founded. The Bertelsmann lawsuit against the LCMS is likely to uncover how his actions contributed to Concordia's closing. As I stated upstream, those actions were probably not the principal cause for the closing of that university, but they were a factor.

Matt Becker

As to your last sentence, Dr. Becker, one could also argue that you and your alleged false teaching (defended by CUP) were also a factor in its closing; not the principal cause, but a factor.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 01, 2020, 03:35:45 PM
My suspicions about Rev. Harrison are well founded. The Bertelsmann lawsuit against the LCMS is likely to uncover how his actions contributed to Concordia's closing. As I stated upstream, those actions were probably not the principal cause for the closing of that university, but they were a factor.

Matt Becker

As to your last sentence, Dr. Becker, one could also argue that you and your alleged false teaching (defended by CUP) were also a factor in its closing; not the principal cause, but a factor.


Did the synod ever stop funding CUP while Dr. Becker was teaching there?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 01, 2020, 03:37:37 PM
Ah the 8th Commandment Card...always the trump card for those seeking to gain the moral high ground.  Seems that’s the 8th Commandment only swings one way, wanna see some 8th Commandment doozies from the previous conventions election cycle?  Criticism is not breaking the 8th Commandment. IMHO...any real 8th Commandment adherence is reserved for healthy cultures.

PrTim15,

Obviously you do not have to answer this, but given Rev. Speckhard's comment ("...if you were synodical president..."), I am wondering if you are Tim Klinkenberg, former candidate for synod president?  If so, that would give some context to your comments here.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on May 01, 2020, 04:17:56 PM
Ah the 8th Commandment Card...always the trump card for those seeking to gain the moral high ground.  Seems that’s the 8th Commandment only swings one way, wanna see some 8th Commandment doozies from the previous conventions election cycle?  Criticism is not breaking the 8th Commandment. IMHO...any real 8th Commandment adherence is reserved for healthy cultures.

God's commandments are not restricted to either healthy or to unhealthy cultures. They are about living in the boundaries of freedom no matter what the culture might be. (Arguably, of course, any culture is unhealthy because it is always composed of broken and fallen human beings.)

This comment shouldn't get lost in the shuffle.  I think the word "culture" refers in Tim's post to "church culture."  Since the last time I remember the Missouri Synod "church culture" being healthy was somewhere in the early 1960s, we've apparently had a long stretch of non-adherence!  Having been at skatey-eight national conventions of die beliebte Synode, there's a resolution on upholding the 8th commandment somewhere in every one I ever attended.  So Dan's parenthetical statement applies - any (church) culture is unhealthy because it is always composed of broken and fallen human beings.  This of course references the Epistle of James and the in-church gossip/badmouth factories that existed in first century Christianity and somehow made it through the centuries until today. 

I don't think the internet has made things better either.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 01, 2020, 04:26:52 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
In meant evidence that you are a better person than your “presumption” post.

You said your “presumption” is that Matt Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance is behind the CUP closing. There is no evidence forthcoming, apparently, that such a despicable comment is beneath you. Even if it were to turn out to be true, you should be deeply ashamed to have presumed it based on what you know so far. You have a home in today’s ELCA, which is where you have always belonged and were the last to know it.

Time will tell who will need to be ashamed of their comments in this online forum. May I encourage you to focus on what seems to be stuck in your own eye?

My suspicions about Rev. Harrison are well founded. The Bertelsmann lawsuit against the LCMS is likely to uncover how his actions contributed to Concordia's closing. As I stated upstream, those actions were probably not the principal cause for the closing of that university, but they were a factor.

Matt Becker

As to your last sentence, Dr. Becker, one could also argue that you and your alleged false teaching (defended by CUP) were also a factor in its closing; not the principal cause, but a factor.

Really? I left the school in 2004. What year are we in now?

M. Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 04:28:54 PM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.
You identified him by his screen name this forum. In addition, you narrowed the list of possibilities according to when and where you worked. That isn't how anonymity works. You can't leave clues; all that means is that instead of accusing one person by name, you accuse multiple people by implication or innuendo. That is simply ill will with a smirk and a shrug working.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Daniel Lee Gard on May 01, 2020, 04:56:04 PM
Ah the 8th Commandment Card...always the trump card for those seeking to gain the moral high ground.  Seems that’s the 8th Commandment only swings one way, wanna see some 8th Commandment doozies from the previous conventions election cycle?  Criticism is not breaking the 8th Commandment. IMHO...any real 8th Commandment adherence is reserved for healthy cultures.

God's commandments are not restricted to either healthy or to unhealthy cultures. They are about living in the boundaries of freedom no matter what the culture might be. (Arguably, of course, any culture is unhealthy because it is always composed of broken and fallen human beings.)

This comment shouldn't get lost in the shuffle.  I think the word "culture" refers in Tim's post to "church culture."  Since the last time I remember the Missouri Synod "church culture" being healthy was somewhere in the early 1960s, we've apparently had a long stretch of non-adherence!  Having been at skatey-eight national conventions of die beliebte Synode, there's a resolution on upholding the 8th commandment somewhere in every one I ever attended.  So Dan's parenthetical statement applies - any (church) culture is unhealthy because it is always composed of broken and fallen human beings.  This of course references the Epistle of James and the in-church gossip/badmouth factories that existed in first century Christianity and somehow made it through the centuries until today. 

I don't think the internet has made things better either.

Dave Benke

I confess that I have been as guilty as any person ever has been when it comes to the Decalogue, including #8. As I read the history of the Church (especially those many centuries before I was born), I find no golden age. That is still the case even in the Synod that I love so dearly and have been privileged to serve.

All I can do is what anyone can do. Repent. Forgive others. Pray for the wisdom to always speak kindly of others and put the best construction on everything. Simple, right? Not.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 01, 2020, 05:07:52 PM
You're saying someone from the HKS had property, sold it, banked it temporarily and that money was what ended up in the hands of the LCMS.  That's a cash raid, not a property raid.  I guess property is just cash in waiting, but that feels different and is a different story.  Huh.
Dave Benke

Yes. I think that narrative will stand up to the actual facts on the ground in Hong Kong, not on what the politburo hears from the chairman of the Party and his attorneys in St. Louis.

It is a different story. And it strikes me as one that describes an action that is fundamentally unethical.

Matt Becker (no longer a member of the Party)
Cute. Still looking for that evidence...

The evidence is there, if you want to look for it. You could start with the Hong Kong property manager's family members and their recollections of what their family member told them about these financial transactions. You could talk to leaders in the HK Synod. Their knowledge of what happened is evidence. You could examine the minutes of their meetings, especially those sections of the minutes that deal with relevant financial data relating to the sale of that property. You could find the property-sale records for the 4-bedroom Hong Kong apartment. You could examine the records of the financial transfer from HK to the Missouri-Synod account. And so on.

Put your journalist hat on, Peter.

Matt Becker
In meant evidence that you are a better person than your “presumption” post.

You said your “presumption” is that Matt Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance is behind the CUP closing. There is no evidence forthcoming, apparently, that such a despicable comment is beneath you. Even if it were to turn out to be true, you should be deeply ashamed to have presumed it based on what you know so far. You have a home in today’s ELCA, which is where you have always belonged and were the last to know it.

Time will tell who will need to be ashamed of their comments in this online forum. May I encourage you to focus on what seems to be stuck in your own eye?

My suspicions about Rev. Harrison are well founded. The Bertelsmann lawsuit against the LCMS is likely to uncover how his actions contributed to Concordia's closing. As I stated upstream, those actions were probably not the principal cause for the closing of that university, but they were a factor.

Matt Becker

As to your last sentence, Dr. Becker, one could also argue that you and your alleged false teaching (defended by CUP) were also a factor in its closing; not the principal cause, but a factor.

Really? I left the school in 2004. What year are we in now?

M. Becker

2020.  CUP never found fault with your teaching.  That was true in 2004, in 2010, and 2020.  It’s a factor in why quite a few in the LCMS, including President Harrison apparently, lost faith in the school’s ability to reflect our church body’s teaching and so it’s ability to educate its students as the LCMS intended.  Why should the synod throw more money down the drain, so to speak?  And so, it is a factor in its closing, however how slight.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 01, 2020, 05:37:49 PM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.

Next, he'll be giving us his initials and home address. But he won't give his name because he is "determined to keep [his] word."   :o :o

Good grief!
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 01, 2020, 06:01:53 PM
2020.  CUP never found fault with your teaching.  That was true in 2004, in 2010, and 2020.  It’s a factor in why quite a few in the LCMS, including President Harrison apparently, lost faith in the school’s ability to reflect our church body’s teaching and so it’s ability to educate its students as the LCMS intended.  Why should the synod throw more money down the drain, so to speak?  And so, it is a factor in its closing, however how slight.

Your post makes no sense. "CUP" is an abstraction. It could never "find fault" with anyone's teaching since that is not how such an institution functions.

If you mean CUP's Board of Regents, its president, its provost, my dean, my department chair, my fellow colleagues in the theology department, the NW District president, the NW District Board of Directors, my circuit counselor (as that position was called in those days), and official synodical review panels, then, yes, all of the above authorities determined I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine (in all cases prior to and in 2004). The DPs under whom I served, including the one to whom I remained accountable until 2015, also never found fault with my teaching, although the latter individual formally suspended me in 2015. (He has since told me and others that he did not think I was actually guilty of teaching false doctrine.)

I had nothing to do with "CUP" after 2004, and the powers that be at the school had nothing to do with me after that summer. When I served on Concordia's faculty, I reflected LCMS teaching and practice, which can only be the same as the doctrinal content of the Scriptures as that content is summarized and presented in the Lutheran Confessions (cf. Article II of the LCMS Constitution). If I did not reflect that teaching, I would have been found guilty by the various authorities I mention above.

The synod and its convention resolutions, ctcr documents, etc. are subordinate to the Scriptures and the Confessions, not the other way around. If a theologian in the church body is convinced that a synodical position is contrary to the Scriptures and the Confessions (or at least not helpful to its mission and ministry, creating unnecessary obstacles and stumbling-blocks to the mission, etc.), then that person has the responsibility to point out the errors and obstacles. Such pointing/criticizing is an aspect of the theologian's vocation. Cf. Martin Luther. He, too, had charges brought against him. Unlike him, though, I was exonerated in each of the cases that were brought against me. I remain grateful that those who actually investigated my teaching--at great length, in some cases--determined in the end that I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine.

But that was sixteen years ago! Over the past decade and half, CUP's theology faculty has put its focus elsewhere from where Bob Schmidt, Norm Metzler, and I put it. As far as I can tell, the theo faculty there has kept its nose to the grindstone.

M. Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 01, 2020, 06:39:05 PM
2020.  CUP never found fault with your teaching.  That was true in 2004, in 2010, and 2020.  It’s a factor in why quite a few in the LCMS, including President Harrison apparently, lost faith in the school’s ability to reflect our church body’s teaching and so it’s ability to educate its students as the LCMS intended.  Why should the synod throw more money down the drain, so to speak?  And so, it is a factor in its closing, however how slight.

Your post makes no sense. "CUP" is an abstraction. It could never "find fault" with anyone's teaching since that is not how such an institution functions.

If you mean CUP's Board of Regents, its president, its provost, my dean, my department chair, my fellow colleagues in the theology department, the NW District president, the NW District Board of Directors, my circuit counselor (as that position was called in those days), and official synodical review panels, then, yes, all of the above authorities determined I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine (in all cases prior to and in 2004). The DPs under whom I served, including the one to whom I remained accountable until 2015, also never found fault with my teaching, although the latter individual formally suspended me in 2015. (He has since told me and others that he did not think I was actually guilty of teaching false doctrine.)

I had nothing to do with "CUP" after 2004, and the powers that be at the school had nothing to do with me after that summer. When I served on Concordia's faculty, I reflected LCMS teaching and practice, which can only be the same as the doctrinal content of the Scriptures as that content is summarized and presented in the Lutheran Confessions (cf. Article II of the LCMS Constitution). If I did not reflect that teaching, I would have been found guilty by the various authorities I mention above.

The synod and its convention resolutions, ctcr documents, etc. are subordinate to the Scriptures and the Confessions, not the other way around. If a theologian in the church body is convinced that a synodical position is contrary to the Scriptures and the Confessions (or at least not helpful to its mission and ministry, creating unnecessary obstacles and stumbling-blocks to the mission, etc.), then that person has the responsibility to point out the errors and obstacles. Such pointing/criticizing is an aspect of the theologian's vocation. Cf. Martin Luther. He, too, had charges brought against him. Unlike him, though, I was exonerated in each of the cases that were brought against me. I remain grateful that those who actually investigated my teaching--at great length, in some cases--determined in the end that I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine.

But that was sixteen years ago! Over the past decade and half, CUP's theology faculty has put its focus elsewhere from where Bob Schmidt, Norm Metzler, and I put it. As far as I can tell, the theo faculty there has kept its nose to the grindstone.

M. Becker

I think you just agreed with my observation.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 01, 2020, 06:51:28 PM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.

Next, he'll be giving us his initials and home address. But he won't give his name because he is "determined to keep [his] word."   :o :o

Good grief!

I think that I have figured out the author of the blog and the institution with which he works.  The hints above reminded me of this person from years past; someone, I believe, who was active on this forum during my years of activity, but has since been banned from it.  He was, admittedly, rather abrasive online with those with whom he disagreed.  What power he had within the overall system, itself, I would not be privy to.  I live and work pretty far down the food chain in Synod.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on May 01, 2020, 06:52:31 PM
I confess that I have been as guilty as any person ever has been when it comes to the Decalogue, including #8. As I read the history of the Church (especially those many centuries before I was born), I find no golden age. That is still the case even in the Synod that I love so dearly and have been privileged to serve.

All I can do is what anyone can do. Repent. Forgive others. Pray for the wisdom to always speak kindly of others and put the best construction on everything. Simple, right? Not.


When Jesus spoke the words of Matthew 18, the church hadn't yet been established, but he knew that believers would sin against other believers and how we should deal with it.


Matthew wrote down these words probably because he had seen believers sinning against other believers. Before Matthew was written, Paul wrote about factions in the congregation at Corinth, and false teachers influencing the churches in Galatia and Philippi.


Acts tells of such a problem that they had to form a committee to deal with it (Acts 6); and a council to deal with another one (Acts 15).


From the beginning, there does not seemed to have been a golden age.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on May 01, 2020, 06:58:21 PM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.

Next, he'll be giving us his initials and home address. But he won't give his name because he is "determined to keep [his] word."   :o :o

Good grief!

I think that I have figured out the author of the blog and the institution with which he works.  The hints above reminded me of this person from years past; someone, I believe, who was active on this forum during my years of activity, but has since been banned from it.  He was, admittedly, rather abrasive online with those with whom he disagreed.  What power he had within the overall system, itself, I would not be privy to.  I live and work pretty far down the food chain in Synod.

Don, our theology says the highest office in the church is pastor. And the pastor is the servant of his congregation. At least that's what I recall from serving as editor of Harrison's edition of Church and Ministry. The IC is to serve the parishes and their church workers, not the other way around. I think their political ambitions have caused them to forget that. Lord, have mercy.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on May 01, 2020, 07:28:29 PM
Yup, I’m Tim Klinkenberg.  I was nominated for Synod President.  Not sure what I would have done.  Could be better, could be worse.  But this I know, that 3 years in, the problems of the organization the leader leads are the leaders.  Great clarifying question for the LCMS, “So how’s it going for us?”
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 01, 2020, 07:41:56 PM
Yup, I’m Tim Klinkenberg.  I was nominated for Synod President.  Not sure what I would have done.  Could be better, could be worse.  But this I know, that 3 years in, the problems of the organization the leader leads are the leaders.  Great clarifying question for the LCMS, “So how’s it going for us?”
Not well. Not for any established, denominational church. It is, as Dave Benke has said, a time of triage when it comes to the old institutions, especially small liberal arts colleges. Which is why I find it amazing that someone would "presume" that the closure of CUP was caused in part by the SP's incompetence and/or malfeasance. Rest assured that if you were SP I would similarly bristle at anyone posting such a presumption. It is simply despicable, and since you might have been in Harrison's shoes right now, I'd think you would see that. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: PrTim15 on May 01, 2020, 07:43:41 PM
Yup, not well. 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 01, 2020, 10:00:52 PM
2020.  CUP never found fault with your teaching.  That was true in 2004, in 2010, and 2020.  It’s a factor in why quite a few in the LCMS, including President Harrison apparently, lost faith in the school’s ability to reflect our church body’s teaching and so it’s ability to educate its students as the LCMS intended.  Why should the synod throw more money down the drain, so to speak?  And so, it is a factor in its closing, however how slight.

Your post makes no sense. "CUP" is an abstraction. It could never "find fault" with anyone's teaching since that is not how such an institution functions.

If you mean CUP's Board of Regents, its president, its provost, my dean, my department chair, my fellow colleagues in the theology department, the NW District president, the NW District Board of Directors, my circuit counselor (as that position was called in those days), and official synodical review panels, then, yes, all of the above authorities determined I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine (in all cases prior to and in 2004). The DPs under whom I served, including the one to whom I remained accountable until 2015, also never found fault with my teaching, although the latter individual formally suspended me in 2015. (He has since told me and others that he did not think I was actually guilty of teaching false doctrine.)

I had nothing to do with "CUP" after 2004, and the powers that be at the school had nothing to do with me after that summer. When I served on Concordia's faculty, I reflected LCMS teaching and practice, which can only be the same as the doctrinal content of the Scriptures as that content is summarized and presented in the Lutheran Confessions (cf. Article II of the LCMS Constitution). If I did not reflect that teaching, I would have been found guilty by the various authorities I mention above.

The synod and its convention resolutions, ctcr documents, etc. are subordinate to the Scriptures and the Confessions, not the other way around. If a theologian in the church body is convinced that a synodical position is contrary to the Scriptures and the Confessions (or at least not helpful to its mission and ministry, creating unnecessary obstacles and stumbling-blocks to the mission, etc.), then that person has the responsibility to point out the errors and obstacles. Such pointing/criticizing is an aspect of the theologian's vocation. Cf. Martin Luther. He, too, had charges brought against him. Unlike him, though, I was exonerated in each of the cases that were brought against me. I remain grateful that those who actually investigated my teaching--at great length, in some cases--determined in the end that I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine.

But that was sixteen years ago! Over the past decade and half, CUP's theology faculty has put its focus elsewhere from where Bob Schmidt, Norm Metzler, and I put it. As far as I can tell, the theo faculty there has kept its nose to the grindstone.

M. Becker

I think you just agreed with my observation.  Thanks.

Pr. Bohler,
I haven't taught at Concordia since 2004. I've had absolutely no impact on what has happened at Concordia during the past 16 years.

Repeat: Sixteen. Years.

My wife thinks I should be flattered that you think I've had any role to play in Concordia's closing. Her other comment was, "How bizarre can it get? What kind of pull does he think you have?"

Beats me.

Easter joy be with you!
MB
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on May 01, 2020, 11:20:50 PM
Yup, I’m Tim Klinkenberg.  I was nominated for Synod President.  Not sure what I would have done.  Could be better, could be worse.  But this I know, that 3 years in, the problems of the organization the leader leads are the leaders.  Great clarifying question for the LCMS, “So how’s it going for us?”
Not well. Not for any established, denominational church. It is, as Dave Benke has said, a time of triage when it comes to the old institutions, especially small liberal arts colleges. Which is why I find it amazing that someone would "presume" that the closure of CUP was caused in part by the SP's incompetence and/or malfeasance. Rest assured that if you were SP I would similarly bristle at anyone posting such a presumption. It is simply despicable, and since you might have been in Harrison's shoes right now, I'd think you would see that.

Triage we must; triage we will.  With regard to second guessing of leadership decisions, or questioning what happened when, that goes with the territory.  There's a strand in the Missouri Synod that makes these fourth commandment discussions - "parents and those in authority."  The Roman Catholic system inhabits that space better, because it is specifically hierarchical and they do call the leaders "Father" and the top leader "Holy Father."  Luther kind of wrecked that back when, and it's not faring all that well these days.  In a decision process in God's realm of the left - and the closing of Portland was a practical/business decision - there are a variety of deciders, voters and influencers.  I think malfeasance is related to incompetence.  If I'm incompetent, I will most likely do the wrong thing - malfeasance.  There are times when there really is no good decision as well, just an assortment of "least bad" ones.  So give it your best shot - show me a better way, expose my bad way, and if necessary un-elect me.  We don't have life tenure positions in church leadership. 

I was relating a very bad day I had in ecclesiastical supervision in Manhattan one evening, when while there was literally a guy with a gun on me on a rooftop, by the end of the night someone on the other side of that conflict told me they were going to kill me.  OK then - good thing the election wasn't held that night.

All that being said, the best thing in a bad situation is to say "Mistakes have been made.  I'm sorry for mine."  When there's a lawsuit, that's not something that can be said. 

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 02, 2020, 01:11:12 AM
Yup, I’m Tim Klinkenberg.  I was nominated for Synod President.  Not sure what I would have done.  Could be better, could be worse.  But this I know, that 3 years in, the problems of the organization the leader leads are the leaders.  Great clarifying question for the LCMS, “So how’s it going for us?”
Not well. Not for any established, denominational church. It is, as Dave Benke has said, a time of triage when it comes to the old institutions, especially small liberal arts colleges. Which is why I find it amazing that someone would "presume" that the closure of CUP was caused in part by the SP's incompetence and/or malfeasance. Rest assured that if you were SP I would similarly bristle at anyone posting such a presumption. It is simply despicable, and since you might have been in Harrison's shoes right now, I'd think you would see that.

Triage we must; triage we will.  With regard to second guessing of leadership decisions, or questioning what happened when, that goes with the territory.  There's a strand in the Missouri Synod that makes these fourth commandment discussions - "parents and those in authority."  The Roman Catholic system inhabits that space better, because it is specifically hierarchical and they do call the leaders "Father" and the top leader "Holy Father."  Luther kind of wrecked that back when, and it's not faring all that well these days.  In a decision process in God's realm of the left - and the closing of Portland was a practical/business decision - there are a variety of deciders, voters and influencers.  I think malfeasance is related to incompetence.  If I'm incompetent, I will most likely do the wrong thing - malfeasance.  There are times when there really is no good decision as well, just an assortment of "least bad" ones.  So give it your best shot - show me a better way, expose my bad way, and if necessary un-elect me.  We don't have life tenure positions in church leadership. 

I was relating a very bad day I had in ecclesiastical supervision in Manhattan one evening, when while there was literally a guy with a gun on me on a rooftop, by the end of the night someone on the other side of that conflict told me they were going to kill me.  OK then - good thing the election wasn't held that night.

All that being said, the best thing in a bad situation is to say "Mistakes have been made.  I'm sorry for mine."  When there's a lawsuit, that's not something that can be said. 

Dave Benke

Thank you, Dave, for these wise, pastoral words. You have been through the synodical wringer more than I. Because of your suffering, you have become a wounded healer (H. Nouwen).

To Peter and others who have bristled at what I have written here about Pres. Harrison: Mistakes have been made regarding Concordia-Portland. Those mistakes have really, really hurt a lot of people. Those of us whose families have a long, long history with that school, whose family members have been students at the school, those of us who have invested in the school and its mission, and who have even taught on its faculty, are hurt and angry. Our alma mater died yesterday. That's a big deal. The "presumption" (hypothesis) about which you are so upset grows out of that anger, which is only intensified by earlier instances of synodical malfeasance.

Rev. Harrison shares some of the blame for what has happened here. He's at the top of the parent institution. He has weighed in on specific funding decisions about the school. In an crucial way, the bucks stopped with him. He's going to have to face the heat that is being expressed now by affected individuals. He and others will have to face the heat that will be experienced through the left-hand legal system.

Mistakes have been made.

Praying Psalm 51 tonight, as I do every night,
M. Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on May 02, 2020, 08:04:03 AM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.
You identified him by his screen name this forum. In addition, you narrowed the list of possibilities according to when and where you worked. That isn't how anonymity works. You can't leave clues; all that means is that instead of accusing one person by name, you accuse multiple people by implication or innuendo. That is simply ill will with a smirk and a shrug working.

My agreement was not with the Nag. I owe him no anonymity. Those who troll and mob do not deserve anonymity. The use of anonymity in the article was never about protecting the abuser but about protecting the abused and exploited.

As I have said, I think the name you have demanded will come out, as well as the story of Johnny Underbridge and the reasons the blog went down.

I also continue to pray, Peter, that you never go through this mobbing experience.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on May 02, 2020, 09:00:08 AM
Since Pastor Stanford's name has been mentioned here in public, is there a reason other names can't be mentioned as well, so we all know who we are talking about? Especially since one of the anonymous ones has a blog, which is a public online venue. Can that site be linked here so we can view it since it is public?

Hi, Don. Praying all is well for you. I don't name the main nag due to an agreement I made before I left St Louis. So I'm not afraid to name people but I am determined to keep my word and not bring harm to persons manipulated into serving the Machine.

The blog I mentioned is no longer public. It was pulled down by the author some years ago at the request of synod leadership. At the time, it was probably the most widely read blog by someone in the LCMS. But it was notorious for belligerence and a writing issue, which led to its demise. The author now expresses that belligerence through trolling and mobbing.

Next, he'll be giving us his initials and home address. But he won't give his name because he is "determined to keep [his] word."   :o :o

Good grief!

I think that I have figured out the author of the blog and the institution with which he works.  The hints above reminded me of this person from years past; someone, I believe, who was active on this forum during my years of activity, but has since been banned from it.  He was, admittedly, rather abrasive online with those with whom he disagreed.  What power he had within the overall system, itself, I would not be privy to.  I live and work pretty far down the food chain in Synod.

Don, our theology says the highest office in the church is pastor. And the pastor is the servant of his congregation. At least that's what I recall from serving as editor of Harrison's edition of Church and Ministry. The IC is to serve the parishes and their church workers, not the other way around. I think their political ambitions have caused them to forget that. Lord, have mercy.

I understand what you are saying, but perhaps another way to phrase it is that the pastoral office is 'foundational' for all other offices.  Since we are a non-hierarchical church body (in the way that the RC church is) "high" and "low" have a different connotation.  I serve in an elected position within my district and thus serve on the board of directors and the presidium.  It is true that I serve my district and thus the pastors and people of that district, not the other way around.  At the same time I am privy to issues and challenges at a different 'level' than the local parish level and the people I serve.  I am also not privy to the intimate details of the issues and challenges at the national level where I do not serve.  I pray that decision they make at that national 'level' best serve folks like me and the parish I serve in this local, rural context. I am sure some do it better than others. 

In the specific case of this thread - Concordia, Portland - I can only imagine the many 'levels' and 'layers' of folks that take part in such decisions. DPs have some input, as does the SP, but there are also many others such as members of the Board of Regents.  In the midst of all this I can well imagine how easy it could be to lose sight of the level where the regular parish exists.  While foundational for the entire 'system,' we don't play an immediate role in the decision making at the level where they are having to decide on budgets and institutional directions that seem so far removed from the average church worker or church member.  And yet, they do impact us all.  My daughter is a freshman at one of our Concordias.  She is studying for a church work position.  I pray that the decisions made across the board in Synod (both national and regionally) remember young women like her as they chart the difficult course of institutional survival.  Originally this is why our Concordias existed  - to provide the church-at-large with the workers it needed to do the work to which we have been called. With changes made over the years that impact funding some of this direction may be getting a bit murky.  Are these schools primarily serving the greater church, or are they institutions left out there to simply find a way to survive in a highly competitive environment, but who continue to at least provide some programing so that our young men and women can get some training for work in the church? It's a tension that will have to be resolved at some point if any of the Concordias are to survive and thus serve our original purpose.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 09:38:41 AM
2020.  CUP never found fault with your teaching.  That was true in 2004, in 2010, and 2020.  It’s a factor in why quite a few in the LCMS, including President Harrison apparently, lost faith in the school’s ability to reflect our church body’s teaching and so it’s ability to educate its students as the LCMS intended.  Why should the synod throw more money down the drain, so to speak?  And so, it is a factor in its closing, however how slight.

Your post makes no sense. "CUP" is an abstraction. It could never "find fault" with anyone's teaching since that is not how such an institution functions.

If you mean CUP's Board of Regents, its president, its provost, my dean, my department chair, my fellow colleagues in the theology department, the NW District president, the NW District Board of Directors, my circuit counselor (as that position was called in those days), and official synodical review panels, then, yes, all of the above authorities determined I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine (in all cases prior to and in 2004). The DPs under whom I served, including the one to whom I remained accountable until 2015, also never found fault with my teaching, although the latter individual formally suspended me in 2015. (He has since told me and others that he did not think I was actually guilty of teaching false doctrine.)

I had nothing to do with "CUP" after 2004, and the powers that be at the school had nothing to do with me after that summer. When I served on Concordia's faculty, I reflected LCMS teaching and practice, which can only be the same as the doctrinal content of the Scriptures as that content is summarized and presented in the Lutheran Confessions (cf. Article II of the LCMS Constitution). If I did not reflect that teaching, I would have been found guilty by the various authorities I mention above.

The synod and its convention resolutions, ctcr documents, etc. are subordinate to the Scriptures and the Confessions, not the other way around. If a theologian in the church body is convinced that a synodical position is contrary to the Scriptures and the Confessions (or at least not helpful to its mission and ministry, creating unnecessary obstacles and stumbling-blocks to the mission, etc.), then that person has the responsibility to point out the errors and obstacles. Such pointing/criticizing is an aspect of the theologian's vocation. Cf. Martin Luther. He, too, had charges brought against him. Unlike him, though, I was exonerated in each of the cases that were brought against me. I remain grateful that those who actually investigated my teaching--at great length, in some cases--determined in the end that I was not guilty of teaching false doctrine.

But that was sixteen years ago! Over the past decade and half, CUP's theology faculty has put its focus elsewhere from where Bob Schmidt, Norm Metzler, and I put it. As far as I can tell, the theo faculty there has kept its nose to the grindstone.

M. Becker

I think you just agreed with my observation.  Thanks.

Pr. Bohler,
I haven't taught at Concordia since 2004. I've had absolutely no impact on what has happened at Concordia during the past 16 years.

Repeat: Sixteen. Years.

My wife thinks I should be flattered that you think I've had any role to play in Concordia's closing. Her other comment was, "How bizarre can it get? What kind of pull does he think you have?"

Beats me.

Easter joy be with you!
MB

I did not say that you had any pull at CUP, now or in the past 16 years.  I said that your teaching -- contrary to the LCMS in several areas, such as women's ordination and evolution -- and CUP's refusal to take any action against it, are also factors in its closing.  It has been nearly 30 since David Anderson was pastor of the congregations I currently serve; he has been dead for 3 years.  Yet he and his ministry here are still a factor in congregational life.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on May 02, 2020, 10:05:43 AM
And of course everyone knows that mere discussion of women pastors and/or evolution will destroy a college.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RandyBosch on May 02, 2020, 10:09:20 AM
I learned a "new" word (new for me) yesterday that lives in this discussion:  "Dietrologia".
Italian "dietrologia", literally "behindology", the art of deciphering the hidden meaning of things, including the most transparent of them.  The critical analysis of events in an effort to detect, beyond the apparent causes, true and hidden designs" (Dictionary of New Words).
Or, per the Italian "La Stampa", dietrologia is "The science of the imagination, the culture of suspicion, the philosophy of mistrust, the technique of the double, triple, quadruple hypothesis."
Try it on.

Much of that casts light (or shadow) with statements of what would have happened if things had been different.  Frank Ramsey (look him up) called these "Unfulfilled Conditionals" - they express an attitude, but do not conform to any reality.

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 10:11:37 AM
And of course everyone knows that mere discussion of women pastors and/or evolution will destroy a college.

Yeah, because that's what I said.  No, wait, it's NOT!  But maybe you are only intentionally playing stupid (isn't that the phrase?)...
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on May 02, 2020, 11:32:13 AM
Sarcasm, Pastor Bohler, actual, real sarcasm. Shall I send you a dictionary of rhetorical and literary terms?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 12:19:39 PM
Sarcasm, Pastor Bohler, actual, real sarcasm. Shall I send you a dictionary of rhetorical and literary terms?

Sure.  My mailing address is: Steve Bohler, 800 Washington Ave, Crookston MN  56716.  I prefer hard covers.  Thanks.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on May 02, 2020, 12:24:51 PM
BTW. Did you know that your revered predecessor, Dave Anderson, was pastor in Dubuque at the same time that I was Pastor there?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 12:30:56 PM
BTW. Did you know that your revered predecessor, Dave Anderson, was pastor in Dubuque at the same time that I was Pastor there?

Yes.  Did you ever get a chance to visit with him?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on May 02, 2020, 03:07:35 PM
Yes. We talked. Pastor Anderson and I were not on the same wavelength.
In Dubuque there were four ALC churches two Missouri churches and one LCA, me. At the time the ALC and Missouri were in fellowship. Pastor Anderson Made it clear that if I took part in the joint Reformation service, he and the other Missouri congregation would not take part. I was asked to withdraw. So I did. My people were not happy. They didn’t go either.
Two years later, when I teamed with the Episcopal priest in town and the Presbyterian pastor To offer draft counseling services to young men pondering the morality of the Vietnam war, your predecessor went on the radio and to the newspaper to explain that what I was doing was “not Lutheran” because Lutherans respected the government.
I heard that I was the subject of one of his sermons, as an example of how some Lutherans of the day were going bad. (Meaning “liberal”)
I also heard he was considered a good pastor.
Those were interesting times.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on May 02, 2020, 04:18:10 PM
Yes. We talked. Pastor Anderson and I were not on the same wavelength.
In Dubuque there were four ALC churches two Missouri churches and one LCA, me. At the time the ALC and Missouri were in fellowship. Pastor Anderson Made it clear that if I took part in the joint Reformation service, he and the other Missouri congregation would not take part. I was asked to withdraw. So I did. My people were not happy. They didn’t go either.
Two years later, when I teamed with the Episcopal priest in town and the Presbyterian pastor To offer draft counseling services to young men pondering the morality of the Vietnam war, your predecessor went on the radio and to the newspaper to explain that what I was doing was “not Lutheran” because Lutherans respected the government.
I heard that I was the subject of one of his sermons, as an example of how some Lutherans of the day were going bad. (Meaning “liberal”)
I also heard he was considered a good pastor.
Those were interesting times.

Yes, he was considered a good pastor here too.  And I heartily concur with that assessment.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 02, 2020, 04:45:16 PM


To Peter and others who have bristled at what I have written here about Pres. Harrison: Mistakes have been made regarding Concordia-Portland. Those mistakes have really, really hurt a lot of people. Those of us whose families have a long, long history with that school, whose family members have been students at the school, those of us who have invested in the school and its mission, and who have even taught on its faculty, are hurt and angry. Our alma mater died yesterday. That's a big deal. The "presumption" (hypothesis) about which you are so upset grows out of that anger, which is only intensified by earlier instances of synodical malfeasance.

Rev. Harrison shares some of the blame for what has happened here. He's at the top of the parent institution. He has weighed in on specific funding decisions about the school. In an crucial way, the bucks stopped with him. He's going to have to face the heat that is being expressed now by affected individuals. He and others will have to face the heat that will be experienced through the left-hand legal system.

Mistakes have been made.

Praying Psalm 51 tonight, as I do every night,
M. Becker
In some ways I feel about Valpo the way you feel about Portland, though I grew up there and attended there, as did my father (who spent the bulk of his career as a professor there), all of my siblings, one of my children (so far), and at least 30 of my other relatives, probably more. Watching it morph into an ELCA-oriented school has been a bitter pill. So I get that might have have said what you said in anger. We've all been there.

But words spoken in anger are rarely worth defending later. Your attempts to explain why your presumption is that Harrison's incompetence and/or malfeasance played a role in the closing of Portland simply don't work. At all. It was a vile thing to say, albeit stemming from anger, and nothing at all like "mistakes were made." It is quite possible and even probable that CUP would have closed no matter who the SP was. Possibly the greatest businessman and administrator in the world could not have rendered CUP viable in any recognizable way. Unless you know what a competent and honest SP would have done that Harrison failed to do and that would have saved CUP, you had no business even bringing the SP into it.   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on May 02, 2020, 06:24:05 PM


To Peter and others who have bristled at what I have written here about Pres. Harrison: Mistakes have been made regarding Concordia-Portland. Those mistakes have really, really hurt a lot of people. Those of us whose families have a long, long history with that school, whose family members have been students at the school, those of us who have invested in the school and its mission, and who have even taught on its faculty, are hurt and angry. Our alma mater died yesterday. That's a big deal. The "presumption" (hypothesis) about which you are so upset grows out of that anger, which is only intensified by earlier instances of synodical malfeasance.

Rev. Harrison shares some of the blame for what has happened here. He's at the top of the parent institution. He has weighed in on specific funding decisions about the school. In an crucial way, the bucks stopped with him. He's going to have to face the heat that is being expressed now by affected individuals. He and others will have to face the heat that will be experienced through the left-hand legal system.

Mistakes have been made.

Praying Psalm 51 tonight, as I do every night,
M. Becker
In some ways I feel about Valpo the way you feel about Portland, though I grew up there and attended there, as did my father (who spent the bulk of his career as a professor there), all of my siblings, one of my children (so far), and at least 30 of my other relatives, probably more. Watching it morph into an ELCA-oriented school has been a bitter pill. So I get that might have have said what you said in anger. We've all been there.

But words spoken in anger are rarely worth defending later. Your attempts to explain why your presumption is that Harrison's incompetence and/or malfeasance played a role in the closing of Portland simply don't work. At all. It was a vile thing to say, albeit stemming from anger, and nothing at all like "mistakes were made." It is quite possible and even probable that CUP would have closed no matter who the SP was. Possibly the greatest businessman and administrator in the world could not have rendered CUP viable in any recognizable way. Unless you know what a competent and honest SP would have done that Harrison failed to do and that would have saved CUP, you had no business even bringing the SP into it.

Peter,
I have made my point and am sticking with it. Time will tell if my hypothesis is correct. You have made your point, and I have taken note of it.

On another note: I spent most of this afternoon helping my son to move his belongings out of Guild-Memorial. We were given a few hours to do so, and we needed them, given the state of his room.... We had to use a sledgehammer to knock off the legs of an oversize sofa that he and a buddy had jammed into the room one night last fall. How they got it in there without taking off the legs is beyond me. It is now on the way to the dump. (All of us involved in that process at G-M wore masks and tried to keep our distance from each other.)

Valpo will be Jacob's alma mater. He doesn't care about who the next president will be or how the place should be run, especially in this time of economic crisis. He's focused most immediately on his final exams in his electrical-engineering degree program. He just wants to stay on track to graduate in two years. He hopes the institution will remain viable. He'll be living at home next year.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 02, 2020, 07:18:38 PM


To Peter and others who have bristled at what I have written here about Pres. Harrison: Mistakes have been made regarding Concordia-Portland. Those mistakes have really, really hurt a lot of people. Those of us whose families have a long, long history with that school, whose family members have been students at the school, those of us who have invested in the school and its mission, and who have even taught on its faculty, are hurt and angry. Our alma mater died yesterday. That's a big deal. The "presumption" (hypothesis) about which you are so upset grows out of that anger, which is only intensified by earlier instances of synodical malfeasance.

Rev. Harrison shares some of the blame for what has happened here. He's at the top of the parent institution. He has weighed in on specific funding decisions about the school. In an crucial way, the bucks stopped with him. He's going to have to face the heat that is being expressed now by affected individuals. He and others will have to face the heat that will be experienced through the left-hand legal system.

Mistakes have been made.

Praying Psalm 51 tonight, as I do every night,
M. Becker
In some ways I feel about Valpo the way you feel about Portland, though I grew up there and attended there, as did my father (who spent the bulk of his career as a professor there), all of my siblings, one of my children (so far), and at least 30 of my other relatives, probably more. Watching it morph into an ELCA-oriented school has been a bitter pill. So I get that might have have said what you said in anger. We've all been there.

But words spoken in anger are rarely worth defending later. Your attempts to explain why your presumption is that Harrison's incompetence and/or malfeasance played a role in the closing of Portland simply don't work. At all. It was a vile thing to say, albeit stemming from anger, and nothing at all like "mistakes were made." It is quite possible and even probable that CUP would have closed no matter who the SP was. Possibly the greatest businessman and administrator in the world could not have rendered CUP viable in any recognizable way. Unless you know what a competent and honest SP would have done that Harrison failed to do and that would have saved CUP, you had no business even bringing the SP into it.

Peter,
I have made my point and am sticking with it. Time will tell if my hypothesis is correct. You have made your point, and I have taken note of it.

On another note: I spent most of this afternoon helping my son to move his belongings out of Guild-Memorial. We were given a few hours to do so, and we needed them, given the state of his room.... We had to use a sledgehammer to knock off the legs of an oversize sofa that he and a buddy had jammed into the room one night last fall. How they got it in there without taking off the legs is beyond me. It is now on the way to the dump. (All of us involved in that process at G-M wore masks and tried to keep our distance from each other.)

Valpo will be Jacob's alma mater. He doesn't care about who the next president will be or how the place should be run, especially in this time of economic crisis. He's focused most immediately on his final exams in his electrical-engineering degree program. He just wants to stay on track to graduate in two years. He hopes the institution will remain viable. He'll be living at home next year.

Matt Becker
Time will tell if Harrison’s incompetence or malfeasance played a role. Okay, that sort of cop out is true of any accusation. I could presume you to be guilty of anything and fall back on “time will tell if I’m right.” My issue isn’t with Harrison’s alleged misbehavior, it is with your presumption of it. And in that issue time has already told.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Donald_Kirchner on May 02, 2020, 07:24:14 PM
BTW. Did you know that your revered predecessor, Dave Anderson, was pastor in Dubuque at the same time that I was Pastor there?

Did he kick your a--? I had a run in with him at Steve's installation, so I know he was nobody to mess with. ;)  But, man, he could proclaim the Gospel!
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on May 27, 2020, 10:04:16 PM
New article from the Oregonian asserting that Oregon's Department of Justice is now looking into HotChalk's dealings with CUP: https://trib.al/uFJlUwb
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 27, 2020, 10:58:59 PM
New article from the Oregonian asserting that Oregon's Department of Justice is now looking into HotChalk's dealings with CUP: https://trib.al/uFJlUwb
Certainly doesn't look promising. But since nobody on any side agreed to talk for the article, tough to say much.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Rev. Edward Engelbrecht on May 28, 2020, 07:18:57 AM
The article makes it sound like Hotchalk was virtually running the school. And then Concordia signed on to a 20 year contract with them. What a strange dependency.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on May 28, 2020, 08:29:25 AM
The article makes it sound like Hotchalk was virtually running the school. And then Concordia signed on to a 20 year contract with them. What a strange dependency.
Plus, it makes vague, dark hints without any evidence but the circumstances that someone making decisions may have been on the take. That would be a disaster. But so far it is all just investigation.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on May 28, 2020, 08:33:09 AM
Or naive mismanagement or a crazed grab for power and success through money.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on May 28, 2020, 09:16:09 AM
The article makes it sound like Hotchalk was virtually running the school. And then Concordia signed on to a 20 year contract with them. What a strange dependency.
Plus, it makes vague, dark hints without any evidence but the circumstances that someone making decisions may have been on the take. That would be a disaster. But so far it is all just investigation.

The article is a huge heap of conjectures.  At the same time, what is significant is the fact that a serious investigation is taking place.  That's news to me.  My experience locally in NY, the bureaucratic headquarters of the free world, is that as soon as the inspector enters the building, something will be found lacking in the building.  A report must be filed.  Failure to find something lacking means an inadequate inspection took place.  Because there's always something wrong somewhere.  That valve is not secured with a gizmo.  That light fixture seems weakly supported. 

Now - this inspection is no doubt warranted, in an institution that sank like a rock that quickly with that big an annual budget.  So in this case there is likely something wrong.  OK.  It's not good news.  But it may not be entirely bad news for LCMS Inc and LCEF.  Too soon to tell.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on February 27, 2021, 08:33:07 AM
The following is an article that was published in yesterday’s (2/26/21) Oregonian. It was forwarded to me by a friend of mine who is a former faculty member at Concordia-Portland. (He taught American literature at CU-P for nearly forty years. He had been my teacher when I was an undergrad. Later, when I joined the faculty, he invited me to team-teach courses with him in the humanities, e.g., a course on war films.)

The article, written by a local reporter who has previously unearthed details about the closing of CU-P, sheds light on LCMS factors that likely contributed to that event.

Concordia: How years of internal strife over gay rights helped turn it into a ‘$400 million crater’

By Jeff Manning | The Oregonian/OregonLive

   Concordia University Portland staged a gala dinner in April 2018 for President Charles Schlimpert, who was retiring after 35 years. The Concordia board of regents announced it intended to rename the business school in his honor. Behind the genial bonhomie of that night, Concordia was in disarray. Concordia’s conservative Lutheran owners were fed up with Schlimpert and wanted him out. The denomination’s leadership in Missouri demanded Schlimpert’s resignation, citing his support of a gay pride club on campus.

   In a January 2018 letter, the church’s top brass accused Schlimpert of “publicly endorsing teaching and behavior that endangers human souls.” They told him he needed to step down “to allow another to shepherd your institution properly as one of the church.” Schlimpert was gone within six months. In April 2020, Concordia itself vanished from the scene. The Northeast Portland college shut down leaving more than 5,000 students in the lurch and about 1,500 employees without jobs.

   The Lutheran Church--Missouri Synod, as the denomination is formally known, has always insisted that the school’s collapse was a matter of money. Concordia Portland ran short of cash and, this time, the mother church declined to loan Concordia more money. It’s no secret that differences over LGBTQ issues were a factor in that decision.

   New documents offer fresh detail on just how divisive the issue was. Shaken loose in the course of ongoing legal fights launched by former students and creditors, the documents chronicle five years of ecclesiastical infighting that in the end may have been as debilitating as Concordia’s financial weakness. The Lutheran bosses repeatedly issued stern memos that homosexuality was a dire sin. When it became clear that Portland wasn’t toeing the line, church leadership sent fact-finding delegations to Portland to learn more. They responded with wide-eyed accounts, professing shock at a culture that openly embraced LGBTQ rights. Church leaders never backed off their hard line even after recognizing that it could cost them their entire Portland operation.

   In the end, was it the gay club or was it Concordia Portland’s increasing financial weakness that caused its demise? Missouri Synod officials are not talking. Even Schlimpert said he’s unsure. “You know what, I’m asking the same question,” Schlimpert said from his home in Scottsdale, Arizona. “It’s probably cultural concerning the gay club. It was probably financial. It was most likely both.” Asked whether he was treated fairly by church leadership, Schlimpert said he didn’t want to get into that. “It would be like throwing rocks at a dead skunk,” he added. “I’m trying not to think about it. I’m trying to think about improving my golf game.”

The center of the country

   Concordia allowed its first gay student club on campus about a decade ago. It always was a terrible idea in the minds of some senior officials in the St. Louis hierarchy. In a Jan. 15, 2015 letter, Dean Wenthe, president of the Concordia University System, offered leaders of the Concordia schools some unequivocal advice: “Do not establish or permit a club that espouses sinful behavior as OK.” “At least in the center of the country, most expressions of the ‘Pride’ movement are unqualifiedly supportive of behaviors that Sacred Scripture condemns,” he wrote. “None of us, I’m sure, would permit a ‘Hook-up’ club dedicated to promiscuity among heterosexuals.”

   The gay issue escalated in 2017 and 2018 as Concordia officials tried to reconcile the hard-right approach of the LCMS with the enthusiastically open-minded approach in Portland. The issue reached a fevered pitch when Ernesto Dominguez arrived on campus. An aspiring social worker and openly gay man who grew up Salt Lake City, Dominguez was a natural leader and organizer. He was at the forefront of an effort to recast the existing gay student club into a bigger, more visible operation. The new club – now called the Gay-Straight Alliance – scheduled a new event: Drag queen bingo night. “The LCMS didn’t even want to teach evolution, that’s how backwards they are,” Dominguez said. “No women on the pulpit. No openly gay professors.”

In the club

   Concordia Portland’s position on the gay club seemed to change with the seasons. First, it was tolerated, then it was banned, then all clubs were banned. In 2017, Missouri Synod sent two senior officials to Portland on a fact-finding mission. They met with Schlimpert, Dominguez, who by then had been elected student body president, and Reed Mueller, a Concordia professor and advisor to the Gay-Straight Alliance, among others. Mueller wanted to clear up what he thought were faulty assumptions about LGBTQ students. “We wanted to present the view of the students, they were dear to us,” Mueller said. “I don’t think it’s fair to assume that students of faith are not also people who identify as LGBTQ…They expected Concordia would be a place where they would feel welcomed. And for some it wasn’t.” It was all very earnest and civil. One of the church’s investigators remarked to Dominguez that he had played a role in integrating Blacks in his church in an apparent attempt to find common ground, Dominguez recalled. “It just felt like these were people who were living not just in another place, but in a different time,” he said.

After-action report

     The investigators did not hold back when they wrote up their findings. Of Schlimpert, they found he was not appropriately adhering to LCMS policy. Schlimpert admitted to them that Concordia Portland had never adopted the church’s 2016 Lutheran Identity Statement, which set theological standards. Of Mueller, they said his analysis of gender identity from a psychological view “was without any theological substance and exhibited vocabulary that opened the door for LGBT legitimacy.” Of Dominguez and other students whom they met, the investigators were taken aback by their candor that they were LGBTQ. “The leader of the Pride club and next year’s student body president (Dominguez) indicated that he was a practicing gay man,” they recounted in the report. “He also indicated that he had not gone to George Fox or another Christian university because they required a statement/agreement to not engage in certain sexual behaviors. “He immediately asked us to go around the room and indicate what pronouns we preferred to be addressed by in our conversation. One of the girls indicated she preferred the pronouns ‘they and them.’” The investigators were alarmed to hear the students talk about their legal rights and protection under federal law. “The perception arose that from his perspective the church and Concordia University were hostage to the law and to the local culture,” they wrote.

A separation

   Less than two months later, the Synod made a stunning pronouncement: It requested that Concordia Portland consider leaving the Concordia family of colleges. In response, the local board of regents voted unanimously to begin exploring the possibility of spinning off from St. Louis. Schlimpert had hoped to retire in 2017. Church leadership convinced him to stay at least another year to make the separation happen. But he just couldn’t escape the controversy over gay rights. Things came to a head when the press got wind of the flap. Willamette Week reported in January 2018 students’ concerns that the university had shut down the gay club. Schlimpert almost immediately reversed course and declared he would approve all existing club charters. Schlimpert dashed off a letter to St. Louis claiming that he had to make the decision to allow the gay club “to avoid catastrophe.” After the story broke a “firestorm erupted in social and mainstream media,” Schlimpert wrote. If he hadn’t acted to douse the flame, it “could have caused irreparable financial harm to the institution, even perhaps to the point of having to close the university.”

   Matt Harrison, the Missouri Synod’s forceful president, was having none of it. He issued his Feb. 2 demand that Schlimpert leave Concordia Portland. Harrison said part of Schlimpert’s job was to watch over “the spiritual welfare” of your students. “Your recent public statement is irreconcilable with this principal charge of your office. You have caused great offense to the church…” Schlimpert left Concordia for good in July.

A ‘$400 million crater’

   In a presentation later that year to church officials in Fort Wayne, Indiana, Harrison seemed to agree with Schlimpert: Being singled out as intolerant in Portland of all places could be very bad for business. Concordia’s activists “went public in Portland, which is very pro-gay,” Harrison said at the Fort Wayne conference. That got the attention of the local teachers’ union and Portland Public Schools, which routinely offered 550 internships to Concordia education students each year. If Concordia lost that internship program, a cascading series of calamitous events would follow. “That would have collapsed the school of education, which would have collapsed the entire university,” Harrison said. That’s because Concordia had a contract with online education company Bertelsmann to supply new graduate students to study online through an affiliate called HotChalk. That was an essential source of revenue to the small Portland university. “We had the potential, and we do have the potential for a $400 million crater. So it has to be treated very gently,” Harrison told church officials. “But it may finally be the case that we simply cannot run a Christian Lutheran university in that context.”

   Johnnie Dreissner replaced Schlimpert as president. In a Jan. 14, 2019 letter, Wenthe, president of the university system, warned Dreissner that the LGBTQ issue would continue to be a problem. He suggested that Dreissner reach out to local leaders to explain the church’s side of the LGBTQ debate. This proactive damage control “would lessen, to some degree, the publicity that will undoubtedly come,” Wenthe wrote. “Your engaging and winsome manner may be the Lord’s tools for a satisfying solution.”    But it was a bit late for a charm offensive. On Feb. 10, 2020, stunned students learned Concordia Portland was shutting down. The announcement came the day after the deadline for students to seek tuition refunds. Concordia Portland officials hoped for another loan from the church’s financial arm. But after years of hostility, they couldn’t reach a deal. The Oregonian/OregonLive was the first to report Concordia Board of Regents meeting minutes that indicated the church’s Missouri leadership was dangling a $4 million line of credit, but only on the condition that Concordia Portland come into compliance with LCMS policy on homosexuality.

   In some of his first public comments since Concordia’s collapse, Schlimpert said his departure had nothing to do with Harrison’s demand that he resign. He says he can’t even remember reading the stern reprimand from his boss. The retirement was his idea on his terms, he said. As for Concordia’s closure, Schlimpert said it still mystifies him. “It came out of the blue, I don’t know that it had to happen,” he said. “It makes me sad. After investing 35 years of my life there, yeah, that makes me sad.”



Matt Becker

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 27, 2021, 08:58:29 AM
Dr. Becker,

Wasn't President Schlimpert responsible for the HotChalk deal?  Didn't that arrangement make CUP basically unable to continue?  Isn't that arrangement responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuit against the synod?  Sounds like money WAS at the problem.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on February 27, 2021, 09:44:28 AM
Dr. Becker,

Wasn't President Schlimpert responsible for the HotChalk deal?  Didn't that arrangement make CUP basically unable to continue?  Isn't that arrangement responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuit against the synod?  Sounds like money WAS at the problem.

There's no question that money/greed is near the heart of this ongoing story. But there are additional factors that seem to have contributed also to the decision to close CU-P. I'm sure the lawsuits will bring even more sordid details to light.

M. Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on February 27, 2021, 09:49:30 AM
Here is a related story that also appeared in yesterday's (2/26/21) Oregonian.

Concordia creditors do battle as campus slated for June foreclosure auction

By Jeff Manning | The Oregonian/OregonLive

Along with the usual selection of mcmansions and meth houses, a Multnomah County foreclosure sale in June could offer something entirely different: a college campus, complete with library, dorms and athletic complex. Concordia University-Portland is tentatively scheduled to auction off its campus to the highest bidder in late June. The property includes most of the Concordia buildings. Developers are already circling attracted by the rare opportunity of building out about two-dozen acres in the heart of residential Northeast Portland.

Would-be buyers should be forewarned: Bidding could start as high as $36 million. And whoever gets the property will almost certainly be sucked into an ongoing legal fight among Concordia’s major creditors.   

After 115 years in operation, Concordia announced a year ago that it was closing its doors. Students were not the only ones left holding the bag.

The Lutheran Church Extension Fund, the financial arm of the Concordia’s owner, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod, claims it is owed more than $40 million.

Hotchalk Inc., which worked with Concordia for years developing online education programs, claims it is owed more than $300 million.

The extension fund is now foreclosing claiming Concordia has defaulted on the enormous debt it owes, at least $36 million. HotChalk argues that the planned auction is part of a sweetheart deal to benefit the extension fund. Onlookers expect the extension fund will submit what’s known as a credit bid for the parcel. That’s a non-cash bid equal to what the fund says it is owed, a sum exceeding $36 million in this case. The typical bargain hunters and home flippers who frequent foreclosure sales are not likely to beat that.

HotChalk will almost certainly try to derail the auction. Earlier this month, it succeeded in blocking Concordia’s attempts to sell another property. On Feb. 3, a judge in Boise granted HotChalk’s request for a temporary restraining order prohibiting Concordia’s plan to sell the building that housed Concordia’s law school in Idaho.

Concordia wanted to sell the downtown Boise office building for $7.5 million to a sister institution, Concordia University St. Paul. The Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod owns and operates a network of small colleges around the country.

Furious church officials claimed that by blocking the sale, HotChalk effectively killed the law school. More than 100 law students were forced to transfer after the planned sale to Concordia St. Paul was scuttled.

The Lutheran Church Extension Fund declined to comment. But in documents filed in court, it had harsh words for HotChalk. The simple truth is, it argues, is that the extension fund is a secured creditor and HotChalk is unsecured, which means the extension fund is first in line to get paid and HotChalk has very little to say about it. “HotChalk’s efforts are merely an attempt to shakedown the parties so that HotChalk can gain a tactical advantage in collection of its own debt,” extension fund lawyers argued in a January filing.

HotChalk, in turn, claims that three days before Concordia announced it was closing it secretly agreed to a deal that put the extension fund in a stronger position to collect the debt. The parties filed amended and restated trust deeds with Multnomah County and Ada County, Idaho that gave the extension fund additional value in land in Northeast Portland and Boise as security for its debt and tried to convert some $30 million in unsecured debt into secured.

These changes, which HotChalk labeled “11th-hour giveaways,” amounted to fraudulent transfers, the company claims. “For over a year, Concordia has hidden its finances from public view while diverting its remaining assets away from HotChalk, which is owed over $300 million,” said Jim McDermott, HotChalk’s lead counsel.

HotChalk has already taken the first steps toward stopping the foreclosure sale of the Portland campus. It has filed what’s known as a lis pendens document with Multnomah County, which is essentially a notice that the property for sale is tangled in an ongoing lawsuit. A lis pendens is basically a red flag to potential buyers, said Jack Levy, of the Gilbert, Levy, Bennett law firm in Lake Oswego. “Buying something in a fight is generally speaking not a smart move,” said Levy, who is not involved in the Concordia matter.

While the court fight intensifies, others are anxious about the fate of the campus. Developers almost certainly would jump at the chance to build homes on the site, apartments or houses. The property consists of several parcels bounded by Northeast Dekum Street on the north, Northeast Holman Street on the south, Northeast 27th Avenue on the west, and Northeast 29th Avenue to the east. Existing buildings on the campus include a large library and classrooms, an athletic facility and a chapel. The campus is surrounded by residential development, most of it middle-class single-family homes. It offers an easy commute and a diverse, artsy setting. “It’s perfect for a big multi-family project,” said Marty Kehoe, a Portland developer. “We took a look at it and so have all of the big apartment guys.”

But it’s not zoned for housing. Rather, the city classified the property an educational and institutional zone. That’s fine as far as the Concordia Neighborhood Association is concerned.   “The neighbors have expressed a lot of interest in seeing a similar educational institution move in as well as a number of other creative ideas,” said Peter Keller, the association’s chairman.

Homer Williams, the prominent Portland developer turned homelessness activist, said the property offers an ideal possibility for a homeless transition center. Williams said he hasn’t done any serious study of the Concordia property. “It’s a campus, it’s got dormitories, it would be really easy to turn it into some sort of recovery center,” he said.


Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 27, 2021, 10:13:45 AM
Dr. Becker,

Wasn't President Schlimpert responsible for the HotChalk deal?  Didn't that arrangement make CUP basically unable to continue?  Isn't that arrangement responsible for the hundreds of millions of dollars lawsuit against the synod?  Sounds like money WAS at the problem.

There's no question that money/greed is near the heart of this ongoing story. But there are additional factors that seem to have contributed also to the decision to close CU-P. I'm sure the lawsuits will bring even more sordid details to light.

M. Becker

From that same newspaper you have been quoting, President Schlimpert's salary went up by more than 50% due to the HotChalk scheme/contract.  Greed, indeed.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 27, 2021, 11:22:11 AM
What role do you think, Pastor Bohler, did the school's openness to a gay-is-good organization on campus play in its closing?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Jeremy_Loesch on February 27, 2021, 11:59:42 AM
Not Pastor Bohler, but I think the answer is: a lot. The article gave a timeline of sorts on how CUP was not in line with church teaching. That would put the school at odds with Portlandia and with the Lutheran church. That would be a tough spot to be in. Lose-lose.

I was glad to see that Schlimpert at least spoke on record with someone. He's got some 'splaining to do. None of his comments were enlightening. It was weasel words. Retired to Scottsdale AZ in order to work on his golf game. That's a nice parachute, maybe not golden, but nice.

When this story broke last year, I always thought the reasons were twofold- the terrible financial deal with HotChalk and being knowingly out of step and unwilling to change on the sexuality issue.

Jeremy
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on February 27, 2021, 12:10:19 PM
Not Pastor Bohler, but I think the answer is: a lot. The article gave a timeline of sorts on how CUP was not in line with church teaching. That would put the school at odds with Portlandia and with the Lutheran church. That would be a tough spot to be in. Lose-lose.

I was glad to see that Schlimpert at least spoke on record with someone. He's got some 'splaining to do. None of his comments were enlightening. It was weasel words. Retired to Scottsdale AZ in order to work on his golf game. That's a nice parachute, maybe not golden, but nice.

When this story broke last year, I always thought the reasons were twofold- the terrible financial deal with HotChalk and being knowingly out of step and unwilling to change on the sexuality issue.

Jeremy


If CUP had been on better financial ground, it sounds like they could have separated from the LCMS and continued as they were. Perhaps a relationship with Lutheranism like Valparaiso U.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Steven W Bohler on February 27, 2021, 12:38:29 PM
What role do you think, Pastor Bohler, did the school's openness to a gay-is-good organization on campus play in its closing?

I have no idea, but I would hope it had some affect.  However, I think we need to remember that CUP had that attitude for some time and movement towards closure only came in the wake of the financial troubles (especially the disastrous HotChalk contract).  So, I would think we need to give credence to the official words that it was the finances that were ultimately responsible.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on February 27, 2021, 12:41:50 PM
Colleges draw students and support heavily from the local community. If a college is not in tune with or aligned somehow with the local community, I doubt that it will survive.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on February 27, 2021, 01:28:38 PM
These articles demonstrate an active and ongoing situation with regards to the closure of Concordia Portland at the legal and real estate level, including division of assets and who gets them.  From comments made, I would guesstimate that ex-President Schlimpert is doing the appropriate thing by dodging any questions from reporters.  What troubled me in reading the article were the on-record comments by President Harrison about the $400 million dollar crater.  Those are the kinds of statements out in the world that might be able to be used against the Synod and its dealings with creditors in litigation.   

The one thing I'm missing in the articles is what was going on as to leadership succession in the late days of Schlimpert and the transition.  Was there a search process, and what happened to that along the way?    Of course, it's a Humpty-Dumpty experience, but those doing the reporting seem to be putting various Humpty pieces together ahead of the next potential chapters in the saga.  For locals, what's of interest is chunk of real estate in Portland and what happens to it for the sake of the neighborhood it's in and for Portland itself.

Concordia Bronxville's saga has an "advantage" in that regard, because whatever the money exchange and end-game is, the result is that there will continue to be a Christian institution of higher learning on that site.  As big a hole as it is in the heart of Lutherans in this part of the world, and it is enormous, at the local level there is continuity and, with the concept of walking the students from one institution to the other on the same campus, a sense of non-abandonment of purpose.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on February 27, 2021, 02:17:20 PM
On the Concordia closures front Synod is currently vulnerable on not just one front but two.  Portland and Bronxville both having pending lawsuits that could prove to be very serious for Synod Inc.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on June 30, 2021, 06:30:16 PM
The latest on the property of Concordia, Portland.


https://www.opb.org/article/2021/06/29/concordia-university-parent-organization-buys-foreclosed-portland-property/?fbclid=IwAR0IFBVNzEJhs7hWCJ5cr-QVgYOQbHgCc8Ic2Mo9IOmg1Y14urA-BTjSi9w
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 01, 2021, 12:52:41 PM
And here on the Concordia Bronxville front, please find the opportunity of a lifetime - FINAL SALE!  EVERYTHING MUST GO! https://www.grafeauction.com/event/concordia-college-new-york-part-i

Seriously, I want the popcorn popper and the hot dog roller.  You know - liturgical items.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: therevev on July 01, 2021, 02:10:59 PM
Seeing all the things for auction at Bronxville makes me wonder how Iona will use the property. Do they still plan to expand their health sciences program or do they have other ideas? Any wisdom?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 02, 2021, 08:31:07 AM
The Concordia Bronxville auction is a textbook example of how sad and messy the end-game becomes for an institution.  While the final graduation and services held at that time brought people together, and the zoomed alumni gatherings provided essential contact, the online auction is at the other end of that spectrum.  Just tons and tons of photos of stuff from the ridiculous to the sublime, all hustled off into the ether for a dime on the dollar, or just for a dime, for the purpose of paying off/paying down/final payment.  Gold and blue vinyl chair sets next to chafing dishes and dorm beds and buffalo choppers and benches from the class of '93.  Both typical and unsettling. 

I think Iona's plans will be made clearer by Iona through the summer.  I noticed nothing from the tennis center was included in the auction.  Maybe that's an indicator in terms of its continuation as it was; it has been kind of a quasi-independent zone, and maybe will remain so.  As to health sciences, my initial information was that this was something that Iona would do on the former Concordia campus.  Either that changed, or they will do it a different way.  Lots of plastic body parts and full-body patient-mannequins in the sale lot.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on July 02, 2021, 09:51:26 AM
I was just reflecting on how hard it is to see an institution close its doors and bring their history to an end, especially when we have personal stake in it.  This year my vicarage church closed.  Because of the pandemic and other issues, they didn't even get a closing service.  It felt sad.  This was the place I began the intensive phase of my pastoral education, and the place I met my wife.  When I go back to Denver, whenever that might be, I will never go back to attend worship and meet old friends.  It will either be repurposed, or another denomination will use it.

My alma maters are still in existence, but there are no guarantees. Many over the years talked of combining the seminaries and possibly closing the one in Fort Wayne.  I don't know if that will ever happen in my lifetime, but it could.  CTS-FW has been a huge part of my ministry formation, my daughter's early inspiration toward deaconess studies (Phoebe Academy), and my part-time employer as I teach in the SMP program. I have friends and colleagues and coworkers there.  It would be a sad day if it closed, and I would grieve it's departure.  But I know such things happen.

For those who are alumni, friends and supporters of Concordia Portland or Concordia Bronxville, I am sorry for your loss. I'm sure it was a significant part of your life.  May the memories, however, be kept alive in new and different ways, and thankfulness for the work they did continue.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dan Fienen on July 02, 2021, 09:58:42 AM
Swift to its close ebbs out life's little day;
Earth's joys grow dim, its glories pass away;
Change and decay in all around I see;
O Thou who changest not, abide with me.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 02, 2021, 10:34:54 AM
Thanks for sharing thoughts on institutional closings, Don.

This year.  This year of all times:
a) My grade school, Christ Memorial Lutheran, closed.  What about us winning the first Lutheran grade school flag football championship in 1959?  Where are our championship rings?
b) The congregation of my childhood and young adulthood, Christ Memorial Lutheran, closed - confirmation/first communion, Walther League where my brother and I met our wives, Walther League softball champs back to back to back in a 32 team LCMS Lutheran league - where are those rings?  I do have several rings, our wedding rings, because we were married at that altar.  Also I was ordained at that altar.  Where is that certificate of ordination - oh, it's on the wall next to me.  Does it still count?
c) Concordia Bronxville closed.  My offices as District President for 24 years belong to Iona.  My LLD granted in the same year one of my confirmands graduated - on the wall next to me.  Does it still count?
d) Congregations I served in the Atlantic District closing - two to four, pending final determination. 

On the wall is also my college diploma - Concordia Senior College.  Gone.
My high school diploma - Concordia Prep.  Gone.

I received and brought home the portrait of Rev. Dr. Arthur Brunn, which hung in Brunn-Maier Hall at Concordia.  "Brought home" in the sense that he was stuck up there in Bronxville, having served the college on its board, the synod as its First VP, and the District as its president, even though he lived for the whole time at 44 Hale Avenue in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.  So he is next to me in the office - very quiet guy, bald with glasses.  Handsome in that sense. 

It's a process of letting go.  So who's to say that 20 years from now the sainted Dr. Arthur Brunn portrait is not on the move again, warehoused and numbered as an item from somebody's dim past?  Dan's verse is appropriate.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 02, 2021, 10:57:49 AM
Seeing all the things for auction at Bronxville makes me wonder how Iona will use the property. Do they still plan to expand their health sciences program or do they have other ideas? Any wisdom?

Hi Evan,

I am pastor across the street from Concordia. In fact, I live right across from the tennis center that Dave speaks which is in the Meyer Athletic Center.  A dumpster currently sits outside of it which is filled more and more each day.  This past Saturday we just had the Last Band Bash in the Quad which was attended by over 180 alumni from the 90s and 00’s and it really was a wonderful day.  Bittersweet, of course, but really great. On Sunday I said goodbye to a ton of good friends knowing that we probably won’t all be together again in the same place.

Regarding Iona I have a close friend who is a Christian Brother and faculty member there and they are playing it very close to the chest, which is wise. Technically, the deal still needs to be approved by the NY Attorney General which, as I understand it, is due to happen in September.  Iona is still planning on using the campus for their health sciences program which is really a no brainer. As I understand it they are also looking to expand their performing arts program there, too, in light of the facilities.  Regarding health sciences bear in mind that in the last couple of years two solid nursing programs closed in the area: the College of New Rochelle and Concordia-NY.  Iona just started a nursing program so growing it will not be a problem because they need is clearly there now.  Also, they are very excited about the athletic fields that they are acquiring because they were desperately in need of such space in New Rochelle.  Still lots of unknowns, but Iona is definitely in a good position to make it all work.  Their new President, Seamus Carey, is incredibly impressive, too.  Give him a google and you’ll see.  We come from the same neighborhood, actually.  He is a true academic, but also had a ton of administrative experience before becoming Iona’s president a year or so ago.  In fact, he was heavily influential in hiring Rick Pitino as basketball coach.  Iona is in a good place and I am excited to see what they are able to do in the coming years.

Regarding the tennis center that Dave mentions, they may have brokered a rental deal with Iona to stay.  This is what the Concordia Conservatory was able to do. The challenge, though, is that there were a lot of perks like IT, Duplicating, and HR support that were givens with Concordia that no longer are with Iona.  Those are costs that will build up so navigating that will be a challenge.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 02, 2021, 11:03:15 AM

I received and brought home the portrait of Rev. Dr. Arthur Brunn, which hung in Brunn-Maier Hall at Concordia.  "Brought home" in the sense that he was stuck up there in Bronxville, having served the college on its board, the synod as its First VP, and the District as its president, even though he lived for the whole time at 44 Hale Avenue in Cypress Hills, Brooklyn.  So he is next to me in the office - very quiet guy, bald with glasses.  Handsome in that sense. 

Dave Benke

I was wondering who was gonna get that, I thought it might go to St.Peter's. I got a little choked up last month when I taught my last class in BISH and walked through that hallway past Arthur Brunn and Walter Maier for the last time. Glad it's with you guys.

Any idea who got Walter Maier?

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 02, 2021, 11:17:10 AM
Seeing all the things for auction at Bronxville makes me wonder how Iona will use the property. Do they still plan to expand their health sciences program or do they have other ideas? Any wisdom?

Hi Evan,

I am pastor across the street from Concordia. In fact, I live right across from the tennis center that Dave speaks which is in the Meyer Athletic Center.  A dumpster currently sits outside of it which is filled more and more each day.  This past Saturday we just had the Last Band Bash in the Quad which was attended by over 180 alumni from the 90s and 00’s and it really was a wonderful day.  Bittersweet, of course, but really great. On Sunday I said goodbye to a ton of good friends knowing that we probably won’t all be together again in the same place.

Regarding Iona I have a close friend who is a Christian Brother and faculty member there and they are playing it very close to the chest, which is wise. Technically, the deal still needs to be approved by the NY Attorney General which, as I understand it, is due to happen in September.  Iona is still planning on using the campus for their health sciences program which is really a no brainer. As I understand it they are also looking to expand their performing arts program there, too, in light of the facilities.  Regarding health sciences bear in mind that in the last couple of years two solid nursing programs closed in the area: the College of New Rochelle and Concordia-NY.  Iona just started a nursing program so growing it will not be a problem because they need is clearly there now.  Also, they are very excited about the athletic fields that they are acquiring because they were desperately in need of such space in New Rochelle.  Still lots of unknowns, but Iona is definitely in a good position to make it all work.  Their new President, Seamus Carey, is incredibly impressive, too.  Give him a google and you’ll see.  We come from the same neighborhood, actually.  He is a true academic, but also had a ton of administrative experience before becoming Iona’s president a year or so ago.  In fact, he was heavily influential in hiring Rick Pitino as basketball coach.  Iona is in a good place and I am excited to see what they are able to do in the coming years.

Regarding the tennis center that Dave mentions, they may have brokered a rental deal with Iona to stay.  This is what the Concordia Conservatory was able to do. The challenge, though, is that there were a lot of perks like IT, Duplicating, and HR support that were givens with Concordia that no longer are with Iona.  Those are costs that will build up so navigating that will be a challenge.

Peace,
Scott+

Seamus Carey is from Yonkers?  Why not just have a bunch of us meet him at Rory Dolan's?  (http://www.rorydolans.com/)

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on July 02, 2021, 11:30:26 AM
Seeing all the things for auction at Bronxville makes me wonder how Iona will use the property. Do they still plan to expand their health sciences program or do they have other ideas? Any wisdom?

Hi Evan,

I am pastor across the street from Concordia. In fact, I live right across from the tennis center that Dave speaks which is in the Meyer Athletic Center.  A dumpster currently sits outside of it which is filled more and more each day.  This past Saturday we just had the Last Band Bash in the Quad which was attended by over 180 alumni from the 90s and 00’s and it really was a wonderful day.  Bittersweet, of course, but really great. On Sunday I said goodbye to a ton of good friends knowing that we probably won’t all be together again in the same place.

Regarding Iona I have a close friend who is a Christian Brother and faculty member there and they are playing it very close to the chest, which is wise. Technically, the deal still needs to be approved by the NY Attorney General which, as I understand it, is due to happen in September.  Iona is still planning on using the campus for their health sciences program which is really a no brainer. As I understand it they are also looking to expand their performing arts program there, too, in light of the facilities.  Regarding health sciences bear in mind that in the last couple of years two solid nursing programs closed in the area: the College of New Rochelle and Concordia-NY.  Iona just started a nursing program so growing it will not be a problem because they need is clearly there now.  Also, they are very excited about the athletic fields that they are acquiring because they were desperately in need of such space in New Rochelle.  Still lots of unknowns, but Iona is definitely in a good position to make it all work.  Their new President, Seamus Carey, is incredibly impressive, too.  Give him a google and you’ll see.  We come from the same neighborhood, actually.  He is a true academic, but also had a ton of administrative experience before becoming Iona’s president a year or so ago.  In fact, he was heavily influential in hiring Rick Pitino as basketball coach.  Iona is in a good place and I am excited to see what they are able to do in the coming years.

Regarding the tennis center that Dave mentions, they may have brokered a rental deal with Iona to stay.  This is what the Concordia Conservatory was able to do. The challenge, though, is that there were a lot of perks like IT, Duplicating, and HR support that were givens with Concordia that no longer are with Iona.  Those are costs that will build up so navigating that will be a challenge.

Peace,
Scott+

Seamus Carey is from Yonkers?  Why not just have a bunch of us meet him at Rory Dolan's?  (http://www.rorydolans.com/)

Dave Benke

I'd like to join you all there.

Peace, JOHN (St. Paul's College +, Concordia MO; Concordia Senior College + -both closed)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Likeness on July 02, 2021, 11:32:50 AM
I am in the same boat as Bishop Benke,  my Concordia High School, Milwaukee is closed.
My Concordia Junior College, Milwaukee is closed.  My Concordia Senior College, Ft. Wayne
is closed.  LCMS President Matthew Harrison has assured  our church body that my Concordia
Seminary, St. Louis will NOT be closed.  So one out of the four institutions that gave me a
diploma remains open.  The one thing that is not gone.....my memories of those 8 years.





Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 02, 2021, 11:37:59 AM
Seeing all the things for auction at Bronxville makes me wonder how Iona will use the property. Do they still plan to expand their health sciences program or do they have other ideas? Any wisdom?

Hi Evan,

I am pastor across the street from Concordia. In fact, I live right across from the tennis center that Dave speaks which is in the Meyer Athletic Center.  A dumpster currently sits outside of it which is filled more and more each day.  This past Saturday we just had the Last Band Bash in the Quad which was attended by over 180 alumni from the 90s and 00’s and it really was a wonderful day.  Bittersweet, of course, but really great. On Sunday I said goodbye to a ton of good friends knowing that we probably won’t all be together again in the same place.

Regarding Iona I have a close friend who is a Christian Brother and faculty member there and they are playing it very close to the chest, which is wise. Technically, the deal still needs to be approved by the NY Attorney General which, as I understand it, is due to happen in September.  Iona is still planning on using the campus for their health sciences program which is really a no brainer. As I understand it they are also looking to expand their performing arts program there, too, in light of the facilities.  Regarding health sciences bear in mind that in the last couple of years two solid nursing programs closed in the area: the College of New Rochelle and Concordia-NY.  Iona just started a nursing program so growing it will not be a problem because they need is clearly there now.  Also, they are very excited about the athletic fields that they are acquiring because they were desperately in need of such space in New Rochelle.  Still lots of unknowns, but Iona is definitely in a good position to make it all work.  Their new President, Seamus Carey, is incredibly impressive, too.  Give him a google and you’ll see.  We come from the same neighborhood, actually.  He is a true academic, but also had a ton of administrative experience before becoming Iona’s president a year or so ago.  In fact, he was heavily influential in hiring Rick Pitino as basketball coach.  Iona is in a good place and I am excited to see what they are able to do in the coming years.

Regarding the tennis center that Dave mentions, they may have brokered a rental deal with Iona to stay.  This is what the Concordia Conservatory was able to do. The challenge, though, is that there were a lot of perks like IT, Duplicating, and HR support that were givens with Concordia that no longer are with Iona.  Those are costs that will build up so navigating that will be a challenge.

Peace,
Scott+

Seamus Carey is from Yonkers?  Why not just have a bunch of us meet him at Rory Dolan's?  (http://www.rorydolans.com/)

Dave Benke

Woodlawn, so technically the Bronx.  It's all muddied down there. Though, if I ever claimed I was from the Bronx those guys would have a problem with that. It's amazing what a few feet can do to people.  I believe Seamus went to St. Barnabas then Mt. St.Michael.  His wife went to St. Barnabas HS.   
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 02, 2021, 11:57:16 AM
Seeing all the things for auction at Bronxville makes me wonder how Iona will use the property. Do they still plan to expand their health sciences program or do they have other ideas? Any wisdom?

Hi Evan,

I am pastor across the street from Concordia. In fact, I live right across from the tennis center that Dave speaks which is in the Meyer Athletic Center.  A dumpster currently sits outside of it which is filled more and more each day.  This past Saturday we just had the Last Band Bash in the Quad which was attended by over 180 alumni from the 90s and 00’s and it really was a wonderful day.  Bittersweet, of course, but really great. On Sunday I said goodbye to a ton of good friends knowing that we probably won’t all be together again in the same place.

Regarding Iona I have a close friend who is a Christian Brother and faculty member there and they are playing it very close to the chest, which is wise. Technically, the deal still needs to be approved by the NY Attorney General which, as I understand it, is due to happen in September.  Iona is still planning on using the campus for their health sciences program which is really a no brainer. As I understand it they are also looking to expand their performing arts program there, too, in light of the facilities.  Regarding health sciences bear in mind that in the last couple of years two solid nursing programs closed in the area: the College of New Rochelle and Concordia-NY.  Iona just started a nursing program so growing it will not be a problem because they need is clearly there now.  Also, they are very excited about the athletic fields that they are acquiring because they were desperately in need of such space in New Rochelle.  Still lots of unknowns, but Iona is definitely in a good position to make it all work.  Their new President, Seamus Carey, is incredibly impressive, too.  Give him a google and you’ll see.  We come from the same neighborhood, actually.  He is a true academic, but also had a ton of administrative experience before becoming Iona’s president a year or so ago.  In fact, he was heavily influential in hiring Rick Pitino as basketball coach.  Iona is in a good place and I am excited to see what they are able to do in the coming years.

Regarding the tennis center that Dave mentions, they may have brokered a rental deal with Iona to stay.  This is what the Concordia Conservatory was able to do. The challenge, though, is that there were a lot of perks like IT, Duplicating, and HR support that were givens with Concordia that no longer are with Iona.  Those are costs that will build up so navigating that will be a challenge.

Peace,
Scott+

Seamus Carey is from Yonkers?  Why not just have a bunch of us meet him at Rory Dolan's?  (http://www.rorydolans.com/)

Dave Benke

I'd like to join you all there.

Peace, JOHN (St. Paul's College +, Concordia MO; Concordia Senior College + -both closed)

Ha!  You know, Dolan's used to be some sort of contractor's warehouse.  I have distinct memories as a little boy of walking by there and looking in and seeing and hearing the saws. I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all the Irish pubs, I think it comes from growing up there and then being a busboy many years ago.  The smell of dried beer and pee brings me to my early morning walks to the bus stop.  Such was life.  In the Missouri Synod, they call it a cross-cultural experience.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 03, 2021, 09:12:22 AM
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all the Irish pubs, I think it comes from growing up there and then being a busboy many years ago.  The smell of dried beer and pee brings me to my early morning walks to the bus stop.  Such was life.  In the Missouri Synod, they call it a cross-cultural experience.

As in "The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."  Here's "Feeling Good" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edwsf-8F3sI 

Olfactory sense often carries the deeper level in memory. 

In terms of cross-cultural, it was also inter-religious, because all those Dolan patrons were Catholic.   By birth.   And now they own Concordia and one of them runs it.

Iona has an excellent religious experience component; one of our neighborhood kids (Roman Catholic) just graduated, and was involved in the on-campus spiritual life group, went to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, did a number of service projects, and served in liturgical function as well.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on July 03, 2021, 09:20:51 AM
One of Trinity, Bronx' former elementary teachers now teaches religion at Iona. She was top drawer as a teacher and exemplary as a devoted Christian. (She was Lutheran then; since has changed to Roman Catholic.)

Peace, JOHN

PS: Do let me know when you're going to Rory Dolan's.   ;D
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 03, 2021, 12:05:58 PM
I have a sort of love/hate relationship with all the Irish pubs, I think it comes from growing up there and then being a busboy many years ago.  The smell of dried beer and pee brings me to my early morning walks to the bus stop.  Such was life.  In the Missouri Synod, they call it a cross-cultural experience.

As in "The roar of the greasepaint, the smell of the crowd."  Here's "Feeling Good" - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Edwsf-8F3sI 

Olfactory sense often carries the deeper level in memory. 

In terms of cross-cultural, it was also inter-religious, because all those Dolan patrons were Catholic.   By birth.   And now they own Concordia and one of them runs it.

Iona has an excellent religious experience component; one of our neighborhood kids (Roman Catholic) just graduated, and was involved in the on-campus spiritual life group, went to Puerto Rico after the hurricane, did a number of service projects, and served in liturgical function as well.

Dave Benke

Yes, the director of Iona’s Mission and Ministry program is a former adjunct professor of mine at Fordham and PhD alumni. We roll deep.

Peace,
Scott+
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on July 16, 2021, 12:27:08 PM
An investigative journalist, Max Horten, has developed a website about the recent closings of three Concordias: cusfacts.com

He's also welcoming any further details that individuals could share with him.

He can be reached at Max.Horten[at]gmail.com

Matt Becker

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Michael Slusser on July 16, 2021, 01:50:08 PM
An investigative journalist, Max Horten, has developed a website about the recent closings of three Concordias: cusfacts.com

He's also welcoming any further details that individuals could share with him.

He can be reached at Max.Horten[at]gmail.com

Matt Becker
cusfacts.com has an "Introduction" page that ends with this sentence:

Most recently, the LCMS announced plans to dissolve the CUS entirely and replace it with a new Commission on University Education.

I wonder what that will look like.

Peace,
Michael
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on July 16, 2021, 05:51:21 PM
An investigative journalist, Max Horten, has developed a website about the recent closings of three Concordias: cusfacts.com

He's also welcoming any further details that individuals could share with him.

He can be reached at Max.Horten[at]gmail.com

Matt Becker
cusfacts.com has an "Introduction" page that ends with this sentence:

Most recently, the LCMS announced plans to dissolve the CUS entirely and replace it with a new Commission on University Education.

I wonder what that will look like.

Peace,
Michael

As I understand it, the Universities will be spun off from the Synod proper. Since the Synod doesn't give any money to these schools, that makes sense.

What the Synod will do is "accredit" them, especially their theology department.

More details: https://files.lcms.org/wl/?id=27Hs9niRSnV7flL5Xj5RaQqPeBq3dziJ
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 16, 2021, 10:27:20 PM
An investigative journalist, Max Horten, has developed a website about the recent closings of three Concordias: cusfacts.com

He's also welcoming any further details that individuals could share with him.

He can be reached at Max.Horten[at]gmail.com

Matt Becker
cusfacts.com has an "Introduction" page that ends with this sentence:

Most recently, the LCMS announced plans to dissolve the CUS entirely and replace it with a new Commission on University Education.

I wonder what that will look like.

Peace,
Michael

The ship has sprung four significant leaks.  Re-christen the ship. 

I am not in the inner loop on this situation.  At the same time, I used to be.

So - this looks like a patent attempt for the national denomination and its election/selection mechanisms to stay in place while moving all fiscal responsibility to the local boards of regents.

Question 1 is always leadership succession.  Does the national system of leadership succession remain in place, complete with the "prior approval panel" headed by the Synodical President having the authority to remove names from the list of candidates?  If so, the local Board of Regents is NOT the actual board of regents, but one piece of a nationally-determined process.

Question 2 is about closure and assets.  Does the property reversion clause remain in place whereby the national denomination receives those assets if unencumbered upon closure?  If so, the local board of regents is fending off closure with an end-game not its own.

Question 3 is about closure and liabilities.  Does the local board of regents then have to take care of all liabilities upon closure, except finally owing the national denomination the property assets if unencumbered?  Then the local board of regents is in a lose-lose mode.

Question 4 is about board election/selection.  Does the national denomination continue to elect and in some cases select (office of the president) members of the local board of regents?  If so, how is the national denomination NOT connected to the liabilities upon closure?

The questions about selection of faculty members in many departments, not just theology, are also pertinent in terms of what this new arrangement is attempting to provide.  But when in doubt, follow the money, and follow the process of leadership succession.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 17, 2021, 12:25:48 PM
I do declaha (spits tobacco) you should apply the worldly financial cynicism that you bring to bear in discussions of university boards of regents to secular governments and I think you’d start to get it.

Secular governments have to do with the common good on a good day, and with power and control on most days, because of the way the common good is determined.  A denominational system of oversight for colleges/universities and also seminaries has to do with the common good on a good day, and with power and control on other days, because that's the way the common good is determined.

If a quarter of state universities closed, the state's university system would and should be examined in great detail.  The same applies to the Concordia system, which is reeling.  The open secret is that there is yet another school in dire straits now.  Also, there's a major important succession of leadership decision upcoming at another, and very few of the schools are resting easily financially. 

Concordia, Portland, back ten years, asked to become an organization differently connected to the LCMS - a Recognized Service Organization.  An RSO has far more self-determinative processes, including succession of leadership freedom, selection of board freedom, and financial independence from the denomination.  The RSO status for Portland didn't happen.

I think in this mix the independence of colleges/universities related to the ELCA could be used as a comparison.  They are independent, do function as organizations like RSOs.  They do therefore have, in my opinion, way more theological diversity across the academic departments.  That could be seen as good, but could also readily be seen as abandonment of Lutheran heritage. 

In the main, the loss and diminishment of this many and this high a percentage of a denomination's colleges is a highly serious matter.  The devil's in the details, and the two things at the top of my list are leadership succession and the flow of assets.  Not to ask a lot of questions, not to be granular in examination, would lack integrity for those rostered workers/leaders and congregations who are the real "owners" of our schools.

Dave Benke

Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: D. Engebretson on July 17, 2021, 02:35:56 PM
If a quarter of state universities closed, the state's university system would and should be examined in great detail.  The same applies to the Concordia system, which is reeling.  The open secret is that there is yet another school in dire straits now.  Also, there's a major important succession of leadership decision upcoming at another, and very few of the schools are resting easily financially.... 

I think we have to recognize that the Concordia System is not alone in their financial struggles in this country when it comes to private colleges and universities, especially the smaller ones. The economic and demographic landscape has changed considerably in the last several years, and many of these smaller schools, as opposed to their Ivy League competitors, do not have the endowment funds brimming with millions or billions of dollars.  Many of these smaller school systems rely on tuition and operate on razor-thin margins in their budgets. There is also the shift in learning to remote delivery that has challenged higher education to adapt with bigger and better technology that also requires significant investment. 

I also think that we need to be careful in comparing these smaller private college and university systems with the larger state systems that are underwritten with state dollars.  the Concordias do not have that advantage.

I think that some shrinkage in our system was inevitable.  Not that I rejoice in seeing this or want to see additional closures.  My youngest is preparing to be a deaconess at CUC, so I'm really cheering for their future. Like many I, too, have a stake in all this.  But by the time I'm well into retirement there is no guarantee that even her university may still be on the map.  I hope it is.  I think CUC is a good place to learn.  But there are larger realities outside our control. 

https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-so-many-small-private-colleges-are-in-danger-of-closing-2017-06-13 (https://www.marketwatch.com/story/why-so-many-small-private-colleges-are-in-danger-of-closing-2017-06-13)

https://www.csmonitor.com/EqualEd/2019/0213/Can-small-liberal-arts-colleges-survive-the-next-decade (https://www.csmonitor.com/EqualEd/2019/0213/Can-small-liberal-arts-colleges-survive-the-next-decade)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 22, 2021, 12:50:59 PM
Some significant news from Iona regarding Concordia’s campus:  https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school (https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school)
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mark Brown on July 22, 2021, 04:07:33 PM
Some significant news from Iona regarding Concordia’s campus:  https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school (https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school)

Ha! a fellow minister and I always joke that the LCMS should outsource the administration of all its educational institutions to Presbyterians.  Whether it is the left over dust of J. Howard Pew and Andrew Carnegie or the image of Scrooge McDuck, the Presbyterians seem to have no problem keeping such institutions running.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on July 22, 2021, 04:16:09 PM
Some significant news from Iona regarding Concordia’s campus:  https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school (https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school)

Ha! a fellow minister and I always joke that the LCMS should outsource the administration of all its educational institutions to Presbyterians.  Whether it is the left over dust of J. Howard Pew and Andrew Carnegie or the image of Scrooge McDuck, the Presbyterians seem to have no problem keeping such institutions running.

Of course, Presbyterian Hospital is still a hospital (a very good one) but I doubt that there's any "Presbyterian" left.   ;D

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on July 24, 2021, 08:00:27 AM
Some significant news from Iona regarding Concordia’s campus:  https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school (https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school)

This connects with one of the primary areas of service that Concordia offered in the last several decades, the school of nursing.  Iona's partnership with Columbia Presbyterian is pretty much the perfect match, since it's straight down the Hudson River from Bronxville to Washington Heights, the main C/P campus, with many sub-stations of C/P neighborhood-based care centers along the way.  These partnerships are not put together overnight, and most likely were a major aspect of Iona's interest in and financial ability to carry out the purchase of Concordia.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: RevG on July 25, 2021, 10:22:41 AM
Some significant news from Iona regarding Concordia’s campus:  https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school (https://www.iona.edu/news/iona-college-and-newyork-presbyterian-announce-creation-newyork-presbyterian-iona-school)

This connects with one of the primary areas of service that Concordia offered in the last several decades, the school of nursing.  Iona's partnership with Columbia Presbyterian is pretty much the perfect match, since it's straight down the Hudson River from Bronxville to Washington Heights, the main C/P campus, with many sub-stations of C/P neighborhood-based care centers along the way.  These partnerships are not put together overnight, and most likely were a major aspect of Iona's interest in and financial ability to carry out the purchase of Concordia.

Dave Benke

Just a small correction for those reading along. The nursing program was around 15 years old as it was begun under Viji George's tenure.
 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on December 12, 2021, 01:43:25 PM
A recent court ruling on the Concordia-Portland situation may be of interest.

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/12/11/former-concordia-portland-campus-sits-in-limbo-as-300-million-lawsuit-advances/

The line that caught my attention was the one from an LCEF attorney about $1.8 billion in the LCEF. That person indicated that if there is to be a financial settlement with Hotchalk, that fund could be used to pay it.

Matt Becker
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on December 12, 2021, 01:58:47 PM
The trial may not be until two years from now? What’s up with that?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 12, 2021, 02:36:15 PM
A recent court ruling on the Concordia-Portland situation may be of interest.

https://www.opb.org/article/2021/12/11/former-concordia-portland-campus-sits-in-limbo-as-300-million-lawsuit-advances/

The line that caught my attention was the one from an LCEF attorney about $1.8 billion in the LCEF. That person indicated that if there is to be a financial settlement with Hotchalk, that fund could be used to pay it.

Matt Becker
I read him to mean that if LCEF and/or the LCMS were found liable, they would have funds, not that if CUP were found in breach of contract to HotChalk. Hotchalk’s suit relies on the synod’s traditional teachings on sexuality being a major contributor to the school’s closure, thus implicating synod. But that could cut both ways. We can teach whatever we want and are not legally bound to teach whatever will maximize enrollment.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: John_Hannah on December 12, 2021, 03:47:08 PM
The trial may not be until two years from now? What’s up with that?

Huge backlog of cases?

Peace, JOHN
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: jebutler on December 12, 2021, 05:00:04 PM
The trial may not be until two years from now? What’s up with that?

That strikes me as fairly quick.

First, COVID made for a huge backlog in cases.

Second, cases like this one are very complex and discovery takes a lot of time.

Recently, I read an article in which the author argued that most masters degrees are a waste of time and money for the person getting the degree and a cash cow for the institution granting them. While focusing on Columbia's MFA in film, the writer mentioned HotChalk and Concordia, Portland as an example of an online degree that was fairly easy to get and made a lot of money for the school and for HotChalk.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: peter_speckhard on December 12, 2021, 05:11:05 PM
I’m still mystified at how they arrive at 300 mil. That seems like it would be substantially more than CUP’s gross operating budget over a decade or more.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on December 12, 2021, 06:52:13 PM
I’m still mystified at how they arrive at 300 mil. That seems like it would be substantially more than CUP’s gross operating budget over a decade or more.

Check out the contracts that were signed.  Come to your own conclusion as to whether or not those contracts were beneficial to CUP or to those who ran CUP at the time.

For my part, I deeply mourn the closing of CUP. The opportunities to reach out with the Gospel in Portland were immense and ongoing at the time of its closure.  Many, many people were hearing the Gospel for the first time in an incredibly hostile environment.  With its closure, those opportunities have gone away.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on December 12, 2021, 07:45:36 PM
I’m still mystified at how they arrive at 300 mil. That seems like it would be substantially more than CUP’s gross operating budget over a decade or more.

Check out the contracts that were signed.  Come to your own conclusion as to whether or not those contracts were beneficial to CUP or to those who ran CUP at the time.

For my part, I deeply mourn the closing of CUP. The opportunities to reach out with the Gospel in Portland were immense and ongoing at the time of its closure.  Many, many people were hearing the Gospel for the first time in an incredibly hostile environment.  With its closure, those opportunities have gone away.

Your statement on the lost opportunities is exactly on target.  Engagement with the Gospel has, for the Church, invariably involved going into terra incognita.  The loss of Concordias on the coasts and in the southern Black Belt by the LCMS are not merely or mostly about money, but about lost opportunity.

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dan Fienen on December 12, 2021, 07:55:29 PM
Would it have been better to have closed St. Louis or Chicago and used the money from that sale to keep those costal Concordias open?
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on December 12, 2021, 08:06:48 PM
Would it have been better to have closed St. Louis or Chicago and used the money from that sale to keep those costal Concordias open?

The concept of closing one of the seminaries has been put on the shelf for at least the last decade.  I don't see that changing. 

I don't know about the financial health of Concordia Chicago, so I'm not sure it needs to close for financial reasons (meaning its closure wouldn't have helped any coastal Concordias) or is in the pink/black.  Concordia Wisconsin is an hour and half away, and Ann Arbor maybe 3 hours (?) away, so there are handy LCMS haciendas in the vicinity.  All of that is above the pay grade of us on this board.

What I can see in all of this is the national body, LCMS Inc, moving at the speed of light away from financial entanglements with its colleges; that will be on the docket for the next national convention, without - as far as I can tell - giving up the national election of trustees to the localized Concordias.  No national bail-outs, and yet necessity of Theological Accreditation for continuation in the system with trustees/regents chosen from around the country to guard the doctrine.

Dave Benke

 
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: The Yak on December 12, 2021, 09:27:41 PM
Would it have been better to have closed St. Louis or Chicago and used the money from that sale to keep those costal Concordias open?

No.  This assumes a great deal about how the Concordias operate that simply doesn't reflect reality.

Though I appreciate the sentiment (even as I left teaching at a coastal Concordia to teach at CUAA).
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Mbecker on December 13, 2021, 11:30:54 PM
The opportunities to reach out with the Gospel in Portland were immense and ongoing at the time of its closure.  Many, many people were hearing the Gospel for the first time in an incredibly hostile environment.  With its closure, those opportunities have gone away.

Scott,
I couldn't agree more.

The challenges of reaching out with the gospel in that part of the country have always been immense. That is partly why Franz Pieper once told the faithful in the NW: "You must grow your own." My grandfather was among the first "home-grown" LCMS pastors to serve in Oregon. He graduated from SL in 1924. My uncle was among those LCMS Oregonian pastors who were "grown" in the next generation. He graduated from SL in 1954. (Some of his friends were among those removed from the LCMS in the 70s as a result of the "Americanization" that Pieper both encouraged and resisted.) While my grandfather served in the NW throughout his entire adult life (including for a time on CUP's faculty in the 1930s), my uncle served there as well as in the Southern District, another "salt-water district" that has seen its own challenges over the years. (He and Orv Mueller came into that district in the same year. They were close friends.)

A little more than 30 years after my uncle graduated from SL, I graduated from the same place. During the decade that I taught on CUP's faculty, a large number of students in my required theology course had had limited exposure to the Christian gospel, since they came from non-religious, non-Christian homes, or they had given up on the Christian church altogether because of its manifest moral failures (e.g., clergy sex abuse, linkage with colonialism, defense of slavery, enforced patriarchy, etc.) or its intellectual failures (e.g., defending positions that run contrary to basic scientific knowledge). The NW USA has merely been a decade or two ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to the rise of the "nones" and the "dones."

The closure of CUP is a very sad episode in the much larger, more disturbing story of the decline of Christianity in the NW part of the USA. For what it's worth, I see evidence of that same decline here in these parts, too.

So the mission opportunities remain.

Matt Becker

P.S. Recently, I've toyed with the idea of writing a novel along the lines of Mann's Buddenbrooks. It would trace the history of a German immigrant family, whose youngest orphan is sent to Oregon to be raised by relatives who make sure that he is confirmed in the evangelical-catholic (i.e., Lutheran) faith (by the longest-serving LCMS pastor in Oregon history, no less). Later, that orphan's son becomes an LCMS pastor in the 1950s. (His other son nearly dies in the Korean War, while his daughter marries a prominent district attorney in central Oregon.) The patriarch's grandson, who attended the same schools as the grandfather and the uncle, also becomes an LCMS pastor in the late 1980s, and serves at the family's alma mater in the 1990s and early 2000s. It would be a story of decline, of course, but also one with glimmers of hope and moments of grace. But before that novel can be written, I need to finish editing the final three volumes of Edmund Schlink's works, and also complete the second edition of a book on fundamental theology. An excerpt from vol. 2 of ESW will be published in the spring issue of Lutheran Quarterly. That second volume, Schlink's dogmatics, should come out sometime next summer, d.v. The book on fundamental theology will come out, d.v., in the late fall. Remember: the ALPB is all about American Lutheran publicity. Hence the public plugs for some upcoming Lutheran offerings in the American setting.
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Dave Benke on December 14, 2021, 10:53:31 AM
The opportunities to reach out with the Gospel in Portland were immense and ongoing at the time of its closure.  Many, many people were hearing the Gospel for the first time in an incredibly hostile environment.  With its closure, those opportunities have gone away.

Scott,
I couldn't agree more.

The challenges of reaching out with the gospel in that part of the country have always been immense. That is partly why Franz Pieper once told the faithful in the NW: "You must grow your own." My grandfather was among the first "home-grown" LCMS pastors to serve in Oregon. He graduated from SL in 1924. My uncle was among those LCMS Oregonian pastors who were "grown" in the next generation. He graduated from SL in 1954. (Some of his friends were among those removed from the LCMS in the 70s as a result of the "Americanization" that Pieper both encouraged and resisted.) While my grandfather served in the NW throughout his entire adult life (including for a time on CUP's faculty in the 1930s), my uncle served there as well as in the Southern District, another "salt-water district" that has seen its own challenges over the years. (He and Orv Mueller came into that district in the same year. They were close friends.)

A little more than 30 years after my uncle graduated from SL, I graduated from the same place. During the decade that I taught on CUP's faculty, a large number of students in my required theology course had had limited exposure to the Christian gospel, since they came from non-religious, non-Christian homes, or they had given up on the Christian church altogether because of its manifest moral failures (e.g., clergy sex abuse, linkage with colonialism, defense of slavery, enforced patriarchy, etc.) or its intellectual failures (e.g., defending positions that run contrary to basic scientific knowledge). The NW USA has merely been a decade or two ahead of the rest of the country when it comes to the rise of the "nones" and the "dones."

The closure of CUP is a very sad episode in the much larger, more disturbing story of the decline of Christianity in the NW part of the USA. For what it's worth, I see evidence of that same decline here in these parts, too.

So the mission opportunities remain.

Matt Becker

P.S. Recently, I've toyed with the idea of writing a novel along the lines of Mann's Buddenbrooks. It would trace the history of a German immigrant family, whose youngest orphan is sent to Oregon to be raised by relatives who make sure that he is confirmed in the evangelical-catholic (i.e., Lutheran) faith (by the longest-serving LCMS pastor in Oregon history, no less). Later, that orphan's son becomes an LCMS pastor in the 1950s. (His other son nearly dies in the Korean War, while his daughter marries a prominent district attorney in central Oregon.) The patriarch's grandson, who attended the same schools as the grandfather and the uncle, also becomes an LCMS pastor in the late 1980s, and serves at the family's alma mater in the 1990s and early 2000s. It would be a story of decline, of course, but also one with glimmers of hope and moments of grace. But before that novel can be written, I need to finish editing the final three volumes of Edmund Schlink's works, and also complete the second edition of a book on fundamental theology. An excerpt from vol. 2 of ESW will be published in the spring issue of Lutheran Quarterly. That second volume, Schlink's dogmatics, should come out sometime next summer, d.v. The book on fundamental theology will come out, d.v., in the late fall. Remember: the ALPB is all about American Lutheran publicity. Hence the public plugs for some upcoming Lutheran offerings in the American setting.

Thanks for the entire post, Matt - my family tree also goes back to those many generations in the Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and Other States.  One of the founding congregations was in, of all places, Ohio, and that's where my grandfather was confirmed.

As to the last paragraph, PUBLICITY 'R US at ALPB, so we're happy especially to join in the promotion of Lutheran theology and its fundamentals for then (Schlink) and now!

Dave Benke
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Charles Austin on December 14, 2021, 11:18:15 AM
I once thought it was the "Evangelical Lutheran Church of Missouri, Ohio and Other States" or ELCMOOS, pronounced "Elk-Moose".
Title: Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
Post by: Brian Stoffregen on December 14, 2021, 12:32:00 PM
The challenges of reaching out with the gospel in that part of the country have always been immense.


I was born in Seattle (as was my mother) and raised in Portland. We always heard that Oregon was the least churched state at about 29% churched and Washington was second with about 31% churched.


One of our problems is that Lutherans grew out of a state church mindset. We aren't really geared towards reaching out to the unchurched folks - going to where they are and learning to speak their language. (We did much better with pagans overseas than with the pagans at home.)


The girl-friend I had in high school was not churched. Our valedictorian and a three-year letterman was not churched. These, like many, many others were good, decent folks who just didn't see any need for the church. (They weren't immoral addicts destroying their lives without Christ.) I'm still not sure that we know how to reach such people with the gospel.


Even when I toured around Oregon with an LBI Gospel Team, and with a folk singing group out of Concordia, Portland, we only performed in Lutheran congregations. Our audiences were all churched people.


In contrast to the very struggling and mostly non-existent Luther League in my home congregation; the Young Life Club at our high school was the largest in the state with over 200 youth attending every week - while we had a dynamic leader. When he left for a time, the club dwindled. After seminary, I can see that there was much lacking in their theology. (Nothing about sacraments,) but they had a way of reaching the youth, even unchurched youth, at that time. (Although I couldn't get my girlfriend to go. Since marriage and children, she has become quite active in a Baptist church, and regrets not getting involved with a church during her high school days.) Baptists have an advantage of never being a State Church. Their membership always came from converting heathens (or folks from the state churches).