Author Topic: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year  (Read 42774 times)

Steven W Bohler

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #300 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?

Charles Austin

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #301 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.
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Steven W Bohler

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #302 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.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #303 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.   

Mbecker

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #304 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
« Last Edit: May 02, 2020, 06:25:44 PM by Mbecker »

peter_speckhard

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #305 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.

Donald_Kirchner

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #306 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!
Don Kirchner

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #307 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
« Last Edit: May 27, 2020, 10:16:01 PM by The Yak »
Rev. Dr. Scott Yak imow
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peter_speckhard

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #308 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.

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #309 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.
I serve as administrator for www.churchhistoryreview.org.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #310 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.

Charles Austin

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #311 on: May 28, 2020, 08:33:09 AM »
Or naive mismanagement or a crazed grab for power and success through money.
Retired ELCA Pastor: We are not a very inter-Lutheran forum. Posters with more than 1,500 posts: ELCA-6, with 3 of those inactive/rare and 1 moderator; LCMS-25, with 4 inactive/rare and 1 moderator. Non-Lutherans, 3; maybe 4 from other Lutheran bodies. 3 formerly frequent posters have gone quiet.

Dave Benke

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #312 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

Mbecker

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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #313 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


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Re: Concordia Portland is closing at the end of the academic year
« Reply #314 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.