Endowments For Lutheran Colleges in U.S.A.

Started by Dave Likeness, August 08, 2023, 02:24:23 PM

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Dave Likeness

Much discussion has been given about the future of some of our
Lutheran colleges and universities.  Does it make much difference
when you look at their endowments?  Here is a look at top five.

St. Olaf College, Northfield, MN, $527 Million Endowment
Gettysburg College, Gettysburg, PA, $320 Million
Muhlenberg College, Allentown, PA, $289 Million
Valparaiso University, Valparaiso, IN, $254 Million
Gustavus Adolphus, St. Peter, MN, $205 Million

All of these are ELCA except Valpo which is independent.

The top 3 LCMS Universities are Concordia, Wisconsin $90 million
Concordia, Nebraska, $54 million
Concordia, St. Paul, MN, $43 million



Dave Benke

I think the size of the institution is related to the endowment to some extent, if for no other reason than the donor base is larger. 
The total of the endowments in the Concordia University System should then relate to the total student enrollment in CUS schools. 

The next determinant would be what the endowments are being used for and some metric as to the endowment vs. the annual institutional budget. 

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

peter_speckhard

Quote from: Dave Benke on August 09, 2023, 08:40:44 AM
I think the size of the institution is related to the endowment to some extent, if for no other reason than the donor base is larger. 
The total of the endowments in the Concordia University System should then relate to the total student enrollment in CUS schools. 

The next determinant would be what the endowments are being used for and some metric as to the endowment vs. the annual institutional budget. 

Dave Benke
The age of the institution plays a big role, too. A small school founded in 1800 is likely to have a much bigger endowment than a small school founded in 1920. Also, years of focusing almost exclusively on the training of Lutheran church-workers is not a route toward creating a wealthy donor base for the endowment. I'm guessing the Concordia donor cash cow over the years has been farmers whose fields became valuable suburban land over time.

Mark Brown

Had a convo on another site that meshes with this one.  That one was about congregations and affording pastors.  The crux of it was that the ELCA is just more upscale or has more professionals with extra money in it. Hence some of their congregations can continue with a pastor long past the point an LCMS congregation couldn't.  Endowments of places are also reflective of the class their students and alumni come from.  The LCMS is just not part of the class that makes a ton of money and gives to the Alma Mater. It has always been of the class that says "let's buy a plot of land off the beaten path outside of town to build our church on to save some money."  I think the phrase is "penny-wise, pound-foolish" but that also is a class expression by people who never had to watch the pennies or miss a meal.

Dave Benke

Quote from: Mark Brown on August 09, 2023, 06:07:10 PM
Had a convo on another site that meshes with this one.  That one was about congregations and affording pastors.  The crux of it was that the ELCA is just more upscale or has more professionals with extra money in it. Hence some of their congregations can continue with a pastor long past the point an LCMS congregation couldn't.  Endowments of places are also reflective of the class their students and alumni come from.  The LCMS is just not part of the class that makes a ton of money and gives to the Alma Mater. It has always been of the class that says "let's buy a plot of land off the beaten path outside of town to build our church on to save some money."  I think the phrase is "penny-wise, pound-foolish" but that also is a class expression by people who never had to watch the pennies or miss a meal.

That sounds relatively accurate.  The natural partner for the LCMS back in the day was always the ALC, which was way more midwestern rural.  The journalist Eric Sevareid, born in NoDak, famously commented on the "matchless pessimism of the midwestern Lutheran farmer."  That's a predecessor of Keillor's "Norwegian bachelor farmers" schtick.  But the LCA contained the earlier and eastern arrivals, and - I think you're right - more middle class and upper class money.

Personally my wife and I are from very working class families brought up in the era of big factories and a unionized workforce, but carried over from the Great Depression a sense of want rather than abundance.  When the Atlantic District was in its infancy back at the turn of the 20th century in the great migration of folks from Germany, there was a mission plan to have a church built every mile from the East River to Nassau County (through Brooklyn and Queens) on a line going down a major thoroughfare, Atlantic Avenue.  Only a handful of those many churches were built on a corner and on a big plot of land.  They were built in the middle of the block, where the property was cheaper, and the parishioners could be neighborhood residents who walked to church, thinking no one would leave or move.  Until Robert Moses came along and all roads led to Long Island.  There in the suburbs a more middle class approach was taken.  But it's not our original urban heritage.  No showing off.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Donald_Kirchner

Quote from: Mark Brown on August 09, 2023, 06:07:10 PM
The LCMS is just not part of the class that makes a ton of money and gives to the Alma Mater. It has always been of the class that says "let's buy a plot of land off the beaten path outside of town to build our church on to save some money."  I think the phrase is "penny-wise, pound-foolish" but that also is a class expression by people who never had to watch the pennies or miss a meal.

Oh, please!

Quote from: Mark Brown on August 10, 2023, 07:43:09 PM
Just another interesting little passage about the biblical church and gender roles.)

Gender roles? Is Dylan Mulvaney going to join the ELCA pastoral roster?
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Charles Austin

How many of us here have given significant donations to the colleges we attended? Beloved Spouse and I did once, years back, when our school decided - finally - it needed a Theater/fine arts building.
Later we concluded that Midland had numerous wealthy alumni with deep pockets. Other places and organizations we cared about did not. So our larger gifts went to those places; and our major concern in giving has always been our local parish.
We do not give to our college.
ELCA PASTOR. Iowa born and raised. And look at this. Here's the old 1960s protestor and critic of our government as virtually the only "love this country" patriot in this forum.

Mark Brown

Quote from: Donald_Kirchner on August 10, 2023, 10:11:58 PM
Quote from: Mark Brown on August 09, 2023, 06:07:10 PM
The LCMS is just not part of the class that makes a ton of money and gives to the Alma Mater. It has always been of the class that says "let's buy a plot of land off the beaten path outside of town to build our church on to save some money."  I think the phrase is "penny-wise, pound-foolish" but that also is a class expression by people who never had to watch the pennies or miss a meal.

Oh, please!

Quote from: Mark Brown on August 10, 2023, 07:43:09 PM
Just another interesting little passage about the biblical church and gender roles.)

Gender roles? Is Dylan Mulvaney going to join the ELCA pastoral roster?

Startlingly erudite observations Mr. Kirchner.  Approaching Austin level. Did you have an argument, or was it just last night's microwave burrito?

Brian Stoffregen

Quote from: Dave Benke on August 10, 2023, 09:33:37 PM
That sounds relatively accurate.  The natural partner for the LCMS back in the day was always the ALC, which was way more midwestern rural. 


Some of the ALC roots, namely the Iowa Synod and Joint Synod of Ohio trace their beginnings back to Loehe. (Although Loehe separated himself from the Ohio group over doctrinal differences.) Wartburg Seminary's chapel is named after Loehe. As I understand it, he was also instrumental in the formation of the LCMS.
I flunked retirement. Serving as a part-time interim in Ferndale, WA.

Donald_Kirchner

#9
Quote from: Mark Brown on August 11, 2023, 11:49:17 AM
Quote from: Donald_Kirchner on August 10, 2023, 10:11:58 PM
Quote from: Mark Brown on August 09, 2023, 06:07:10 PM
The LCMS is just not part of the class that makes a ton of money and gives to the Alma Mater. It has always been of the class that says "let's buy a plot of land off the beaten path outside of town to build our church on to save some money."  I think the phrase is "penny-wise, pound-foolish" but that also is a class expression by people who never had to watch the pennies or miss a meal.

Oh, please!

Quote from: Mark Brown on August 10, 2023, 07:43:09 PM
Just another interesting little passage about the biblical church and gender roles.)

Gender roles? Is Dylan Mulvaney going to join the ELCA pastoral roster?

Startlingly erudite observations Mr. Kirchner.  Approaching Austin level. Did you have an argument, or was it just last night's microwave burrito?

Mr. Brown,

Thanks for your cute response.
Don Kirchner

"Heaven's OK, but it's not the end of the world." Jeff Gibbs

Dave Benke

Not entirely off topic from recent posts, some of us had a reasonably long discussion after church on comedy clubs.  I am not a devotee, but others are.  The topic turned to heckling, which it turns out is relatively endemic.  And the question was who should heckle the hecklers, a takeoff on "quis custodiet ipsos custodies."  If the one being heckled heckles, it not only gets personal quickly, but tends to reveal the hecklee as being thin-skinned.  After all, if the joke falls flat, heckling should be expected to ensue.  At the same time, some people are basically serial hecklers, heckling just for the sake of heckling.  Then it's up to others in the audience to become hecklers of the heckler. 

And that's why our colleges need more donors and bigger endowments.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Pr. Luke Zimmerman

Quote from: Dave Benke on August 09, 2023, 08:40:44 AM
I think the size of the institution is related to the endowment to some extent, if for no other reason than the donor base is larger. 
The total of the endowments in the Concordia University System should then relate to the total student enrollment in CUS schools. 

The next determinant would be what the endowments are being used for and some metric as to the endowment vs. the annual institutional budget. 

Dave Benke

Size and age of institution usually affect endowments: the older and larger the college is, the more alumni they should have. But another factor is the type of graduate the schools produce. Of the Lutheran colleges mentioned in the "Top 5" list, how many were training high percentages of students to take up "secular" vocations? That would seem to have a great bearing on the incomes that those graduates would expect to earn, then later donate to their alma mater.

Since the LCMS Concordias were primarily church worker training institutes for decades, the number of laity graduates taking up vocations in law, medicine, sciences, etc. would be lower than colleges that were created to educate the faithful for such vocations or that more quickly adjusted to that purpose. That would explain the difference between the endowment for Valparaiso--which had many LCMS attendees--compared to the Concordia endowments.

The likelihood that LCMS students in the 1940s--1970s anticipating a vocation other than pastor or parochial school teacher would have gone to a Concordia was low. More likely they attended Valparaiso or a non-Lutheran college/state college. So the pool of potential Concordia alumni donors with means would be small. This isn't to say that LCMS congregations don't have individuals with financial resources to make larger donations to the Concordias. But that would be more a donation to a cause they support--training church workers or assisting the denomination's schools--rather than ensuring that alma mater is funded. And that cause--training church workers--is also split between the colleges and the seminaries. So a potential donor who hasn't encountered church workers other than pastors, which is case in plenty of our congregations, may be more apt to write the check out to one of the seminaries instead of the colleges.

The shift toward more "secular" vocation students in the Concordias can be seen from the 1980s onward. But we're just at the cusp of those graduates being large endowment givers via estates and planned giving. (For example, a 1980 Concordia undergraduate alum is only now beginning to hit the magic 65 years old mark.) Perhaps there will be an influx of gifts, but those may still likely pale in comparison to schools where the vast bulk of their graduates were "secular" vocation students.
Pr. Luke Zimmerman
Calvary Evangelical Lutheran Church -- Mechanicsburg, PA

MEKoch

I assume Concordia Seminary in St. Louis has a endowment.  It has a long history, but the graduates work for modest wages. 

Dave Likeness

#13
The goal of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is to have a total of
$200 million in endowments by 2025. 

They currently have 34 faculty members and 13 of them are
endowed professorships.  Another use of endowments are the
the Student Financial Aid Endowment Fund.

Steven W Bohler

Quote from: Dave Likeness on August 17, 2023, 09:03:03 PM
The goal of Concordia Seminary, St. Louis is to have at total of
$200 million in endowments by 2025. 

They currently have 34 faculty members and 13 of them are
endowed professorships.  Another use of endowments are the
the Student Financial Aid Endowment Fund.

34 faculty members.  And less than 600 students.

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