Author Topic: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year  (Read 39000 times)

Mark Brown

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #30 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.

mj4

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #31 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.

The Yak

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #32 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/
Rev. Dr. Scott Yakimow
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The Yak

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #33 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.
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Dave Benke

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #34 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

mj4

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #35 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.

Dave Benke

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #36 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

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #37 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.
Rev. Dr. Scott Yakimow
Professor of Theology
Concordia University - Ann Arbor

Charles Austin

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #38 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.
Retired ELCA pastor. Iowa born. Now in Minnesota. Article coming up in Lutheran Forum journal. Now would be a good time to subscribe.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #39 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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #40 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.

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #41 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.
"The church … had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

D. Engebretson

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #42 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. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Richard Johnson

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #43 on: February 11, 2020, 08:25:31 PM »
Either ELCA Clergy or ELCA Clergy, Uncensored. I think the former, but I'm not sure.
The Rev. Richard O. Johnson, STS

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #44 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?