Concordia University Texas

Started by Birkholz, November 09, 2022, 03:37:26 PM

Previous topic - Next topic

Dave Benke

Quote from: peter_speckhard on April 22, 2023, 04:30:52 PM
Quote from: Dave Benke on April 22, 2023, 04:18:47 PM
Quote from: George Rahn on April 22, 2023, 12:05:30 PM
"We had hoped for a thorough and transparent assessment of the University, but we found that there was no clear set..."

This is one example of how the university saw the visit.  No set standards or clear methods were offered by the St. Louis team.  Nor, per document, had there been any suggestions made by the team as to how to make improvements. The document goes on:  "Unfortunately, we were made aware of their concerns only after we had begun exploring a new governance
model and almost 9 months after the visitation."

Lots of mismanagement coming from St. Louis, seemingly.

When the visitation team came to my alma mater, CUW, the word I heard from various and sundry was that the visitation had the same flaw in that standards and methods were missing.  Having served as chair of a Concordia board of regents, something typical in accreditation visits is the setting of the standards and methods right up front.  That can/could/should be done in an ecclesiastical visitation as well.  That would involve an open-ended advance notice of who was doing the visitation and why/how they were selected in terms of determining what seemed to me in both cases a central issue - what is Lutheran identity and how is it taught and caught on this campus.

Dave Benke
Lutheran School Accreditation has fairly objective standards. How is the Bible/catechism taught. Is there visible Christian symbolism throughout the decor. What is the role of chapel and the pastor in the school. Are the teachers called or hired. That sort of thing. Somewhat subjective, but fairly easy to score on a scale of 1-5. That doesn't work very well with a university. What were you and your visitation teams looking for? How did you encourage a college to be "more Lutheran"?   

I wasn't on a visitation team.  The college received accreditation teams, and the board, which I was chairing, was involved in the process.  Questions were asked about our mission inside our LCMS tradition, and how it was carried out in chapels, in dorms, in faculty-student relationships, in coures offered, etc.  The answers and interactions became part of the accreditation team's report and was standardized to the way in which the accrediting agency would report out to us and give a response about how they perceived we were performing the mission we stated.  As you indicate, it's a pretty objective process.  And the same thing happened during my tenure with visits from the Concordia University System leadership or its entire board.  They examined materials, our mission, our curriculum, our religious offerings and reported to us how they perceived we were performing the mission we had stated.

What were these visitations about?  Who was on those teams in Wisconsin and Texas?  What was their mission and what were their standards and procedures?  I'm sure they had them.  What were they?

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Fcdwyn

Quote from: D. Engebretson on April 22, 2023, 05:22:36 PM
The report highlights the visitation team's disappointment in how we handle social issues. However, we want to emphasize that we have never received clear guidance from the LCMS or the CUS on how they would expect our colleges to serve people from diverse racial backgrounds or sexual identities. Despite this lack of direction, we have
remained true to our Lutheran identity while serving our Central Texas community. We believe that our commitment
to DEI reflects our values and mission, and we are committed to continuing to address these issues in a way
consistent with our Christian and Lutheran identity.


It would be helpful to specifically know how they serve people from "diverse...sexual identities," especially in light of the usual accepted principles of DEI.  To what degree do they accommodate people from "diverse..sexual identities"?

Yes, and how does CTX minister to people from "diverse...sexual identities...," in a way that also maintains CTX's Lutheran identity and CTX's commitment to the teachings of the Scriptures? One would assume that all the clear guidance sought by any Lutheran institution would be found in the Scriptures to which LCMS, CUS, and, yes, CTX are committed.

K S Hahn, CSL '72   


Dan Fienen

We have clearly seen even on this Forum how people, all of whom have professed commitments to upholding Scriptural and Lutheran teachings, can reach opposing conclusions on all sorts of issues including, and especially,  issues of sexual and gender identity. As a now independent Lutheran educational institution, a stated commitment to upholding Lutheran teaching would be no assurance that CTX's Lutheran commitment would insure their policies on issues sexual identity would coincide with LCMS Lutheran understandings. Any more than the ELCA's Lutheran commitment have resulted in them coming to similar conclusions as rhetoric LCMS.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

PrTim15

I like Dave's comments about accreditation. Our accrediting agency has a very defined process including the report out back to our team the last day of the visitation. That way there are no bombs in the later to come written report. We wouldn't want them on the one hand to say, "Hey, we are not accrediting you but not saying what the deal is." It would also be short sighted to say, "All is well, nothing to improve on here." The lack of communication and the lack of any objective process would leave room open for a lot of things. Did the team just put their finger in the air when they got to CTX and hope to hear A Mighty Fortress playing in the Texas breeze?

Donald_Kirchner

Quote from: Charles Austin on April 22, 2023, 12:37:44 PM
Peter:
But the second half of the sentence sends it off the rails. "...and actively seek ways to ensure that every population receives care, concern, and resources according to their unique needs." The completely changes the organizing principle from one community of individuals with various needs to a collection of communities. We move from the unique needs of individuals to collective needs of identity groups, which assumes that the needs of members in those groups are not unique individual needs but are determined according to membership in those subgroups.

Me:
What is your problem with "identity"? I am an elderly white male. My needs are quite different from those of a young Hispanic female. Beloved Spouse is visually impaired. Her needs are affected by that. A friend is middle age and gay and Jewish from an Orthodox family. His needs are different from those of another friend who is gay, Christian, clergy and affirmed by his family. African-American women who earn low hourly salaries have different needs than white women lawyers. Do you not think that the educational, religious, civic and social needs are affected by "identifying" as elderly, male, young, female, Hispanic, African-American, Jewish, Christian, gay, heterosexual, poor or rich?
Do you think such things don't matter (or should not matter) as we deal with our interacting lives? How could that be?

You miss Peter's point entirely.
Don Kirchner

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

Dave Benke

Quote from: PrTim15 on April 23, 2023, 08:29:05 PM
I like Dave's comments about accreditation. Our accrediting agency has a very defined process including the report out back to our team the last day of the visitation. That way there are no bombs in the later to come written report. We wouldn't want them on the one hand to say, "Hey, we are not accrediting you but not saying what the deal is." It would also be short sighted to say, "All is well, nothing to improve on here." The lack of communication and the lack of any objective process would leave room open for a lot of things. Did the team just put their finger in the air when they got to CTX and hope to hear A Mighty Fortress playing in the Texas breeze?

The other question I have on the visitations (including CUWAA) is why the visit was not simply undertaken by the CUS Board.  That's the way visitations were carried out before there was a CUS, when it was called the Board for Higher Education, and after there was a CUS, throughout the Concordias including Bronxville, where I was chairing the Board of Regents.  There was a distinct template and reporting mechanism, and results were discussed with staff and board before the end of the visitation. 

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Steven W Bohler

Quote from: Dave Benke on April 24, 2023, 08:25:12 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on April 23, 2023, 08:29:05 PM
I like Dave's comments about accreditation. Our accrediting agency has a very defined process including the report out back to our team the last day of the visitation. That way there are no bombs in the later to come written report. We wouldn't want them on the one hand to say, "Hey, we are not accrediting you but not saying what the deal is." It would also be short sighted to say, "All is well, nothing to improve on here." The lack of communication and the lack of any objective process would leave room open for a lot of things. Did the team just put their finger in the air when they got to CTX and hope to hear A Mighty Fortress playing in the Texas breeze?

The other question I have on the visitations (including CUWAA) is why the visit was not simply undertaken by the CUS Board.  That's the way visitations were carried out before there was a CUS, when it was called the Board for Higher Education, and after there was a CUS, throughout the Concordias including Bronxville, where I was chairing the Board of Regents.  There was a distinct template and reporting mechanism, and results were discussed with staff and board before the end of the visitation. 

Dave Benke

Perhaps I am misremembering, but didn't President Bohlmann conduct a visitation at Concordia Theological Seminary prior to the BOR "honorably" retiring its president against his wishes?

Pastor Bob Pase

CUT has been brewing for some time. The move to add regents by appointing because of an expertise in a particular way began the turn to doing things their own way away from LCMS stated and agreed upon polity. President Harrison, IMO, made the visit personally because he has the ecclesiastical responsibility. CUT clearly started this with their desire to move away from stated polity. They want to do it their way and not by "Synod". 

D. Engebretson

Quote from: Steven W Bohler on April 24, 2023, 09:26:15 AM
Quote from: Dave Benke on April 24, 2023, 08:25:12 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on April 23, 2023, 08:29:05 PM
I like Dave's comments about accreditation. Our accrediting agency has a very defined process including the report out back to our team the last day of the visitation. That way there are no bombs in the later to come written report. We wouldn't want them on the one hand to say, "Hey, we are not accrediting you but not saying what the deal is." It would also be short sighted to say, "All is well, nothing to improve on here." The lack of communication and the lack of any objective process would leave room open for a lot of things. Did the team just put their finger in the air when they got to CTX and hope to hear A Mighty Fortress playing in the Texas breeze?

The other question I have on the visitations (including CUWAA) is why the visit was not simply undertaken by the CUS Board.  That's the way visitations were carried out before there was a CUS, when it was called the Board for Higher Education, and after there was a CUS, throughout the Concordias including Bronxville, where I was chairing the Board of Regents.  There was a distinct template and reporting mechanism, and results were discussed with staff and board before the end of the visitation. 

Dave Benke

Perhaps I am misremembering, but didn't President Bohlmann conduct a visitation at Concordia Theological Seminary prior to the BOR "honorably" retiring its president against his wishes?

Yes, I believe you are remembering correctly.  I was a student at that time at CTSFW.  He was removed after I graduated. 
Pastor Don Engebretson
St. Peter Lutheran Church of Polar (Antigo) WI

Dave Benke

Quote from: Steven W Bohler on April 24, 2023, 09:26:15 AM
Quote from: Dave Benke on April 24, 2023, 08:25:12 AM
Quote from: PrTim15 on April 23, 2023, 08:29:05 PM
I like Dave's comments about accreditation. Our accrediting agency has a very defined process including the report out back to our team the last day of the visitation. That way there are no bombs in the later to come written report. We wouldn't want them on the one hand to say, "Hey, we are not accrediting you but not saying what the deal is." It would also be short sighted to say, "All is well, nothing to improve on here." The lack of communication and the lack of any objective process would leave room open for a lot of things. Did the team just put their finger in the air when they got to CTX and hope to hear A Mighty Fortress playing in the Texas breeze?

The other question I have on the visitations (including CUWAA) is why the visit was not simply undertaken by the CUS Board.  That's the way visitations were carried out before there was a CUS, when it was called the Board for Higher Education, and after there was a CUS, throughout the Concordias including Bronxville, where I was chairing the Board of Regents.  There was a distinct template and reporting mechanism, and results were discussed with staff and board before the end of the visitation. 

Dave Benke

Perhaps I am misremembering, but didn't President Bohlmann conduct a visitation at Concordia Theological Seminary prior to the BOR "honorably" retiring its president against his wishes?


The seminaries were not, in my estimation, under the Board for Higher Education (back then).  The CUS (now) is the agency for higher education.  It does not interact with the seminaries. 

To me the area of "ecclesiastical supervision" of the colleges/universities connects to what I think is coming through from the current Concordia University System in changing bylaws too have the universities connected to the national denomination through "theological accreditation" and not normal governance.  However, since (we don't have the final version of the bylaw changes) the CUS/Synod will retain the property through a reversionary clause and since the national denomination will continue to elect members of the Boards of Regents, and since there will be a prior approval panel including national leadership for presidential succession, the Synod is still in any realistic view the "owner" of the colleges/universities and has authority that transcends "theological accreditation."  If and as "theological accreditation" means that a national group - CUS or the President's office or both - is determining who gets chosen for educational and leadershipi positions including those including but also beyond the theological department, then how has anything really changed?  The only thing that will have changed is the desire of the national denomination not to be on the line in case of financial difficulties, lawsuits and downside financials.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Dan Fienen

A fundamental change took place with the LCMS colleges and universities when Synod ceased to be a primary funding source. He who pays the piper calls the tune. But when you stop paying the piper, your ability to call the tune diminishes. The effects of this transition, from Synod funded institutions to self-funding have been a long time playing out, but with the increasing financial pressures being felt by all private colleges and universities, these realities must be faced. The move away from our colleges and universities being primarily church worker factories has been but one facet of this transition. We need to face the realities of the situation and make this transition mutually beneficial. The reality is that we are not going back to the Synod being a major source of college funding and their primary function producing church workers. As much as we would like to do that, the resources just are not there. We need to find a way to help maintain their LCMS Lutheran identity while recognizing that we can no longer expect to simply control them.
Pr. Daniel Fienen
LCMS

Dave Benke

Quote from: Dan Fienen on April 24, 2023, 10:36:08 AM
A fundamental change took place with the LCMS colleges and universities when Synod ceased to be a primary funding source. He who pays the piper calls the tune. But when you stop paying the piper, your ability to call the tune diminishes. The effects of this transition, from Synod funded institutions to self-funding have been a long time playing out, but with the increasing financial pressures being felt by all private colleges and universities, these realities must be faced. The move away from our colleges and universities being primarily church worker factories has been but one facet of this transition. We need to face the realities of the situation and make this transition mutually beneficial. The reality is that we are not going back to the Synod being a major source of college funding and their primary function producing church workers. As much as we would like to do that, the resources just are not there. We need to find a way to help maintain their LCMS Lutheran identity while recognizing that we can no longer expect to simply control them.

Great insight, Dan.  He who pays the piper calls the tune..  The Synod hasn't been paying the piper for decades in terms of what used to be called "regular subsidy."  At the same time, there was a lot of attention paid at the national level to the "accumulated debt" of the colleges/universities, which had probably a thirty year shelf life of accumulation.  The last word on that was that due to some source or sources of income, that accumulated CUS debt had been paid off.  And yet three schools closed after the national bookkeeping department had paid off that debt.   Why/how did that happen?  I think the national Synod is not interested in paying the piper through debt service or litigation. 

At the same time, the colleges/universities developed programs designed to meet the needs of students locally and regionally that would assist them in their more independent fjnancial status to balance the books.  The retro model, which is Luther Classical College, will go back in many ways to the model available when I was a kid.  The other colleges/universities are far more diverse in terms of curricula and degree programs, because they have to be.  Concordia Texas wants in its way to be in the situation that Luther Classical College will enter.  Luther Classical is I think a Recognized Service Organization.  Concordia Texas wants in its way something like that.  By uncoupling with the University System, which isn't giving it any incentives to remain, it wants to set its course including leadership succession and course offerings inside the LCMS but not inside either the system as it has been or as it is going to be.  It's worth stating that if anyone knows what's in store in the many bylaw changes that are going to be offered at the national convention as pertains to "theological accreditation" and the CUS system, it's the college presidents. 

How they all thread the needle will be interesting to watch.  Concordia Texas took a pro-active approach when it comes to its property and state charter.  Others may/are behaving differently so far.

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

Buckeye Deaconess

Quote from: Dan Fienen on April 24, 2023, 10:36:08 AM
The reality is that we are not going back to the Synod being a major source of college funding and their primary function producing church workers. As much as we would like to do that, the resources just are not there.

I happen to love the ripe mission field in front of me every day when I step into the classroom at Concordia Ann Arbor.  There simply aren't as many people interested in pursuing church work vocations these days (for a multitude of reasons). The demand would be there for our Concordias if they were.  Perhaps we should simply consider that the mission has shifted through the years as a result of numerous factors.  Also, I'm privileged to be unapologetically Lutheran every day.  Lutheran identity is alive and well.

Michael Slusser

I think Dave Benke made reference just now to a paragraph from the letter Pr. Engebretson posted above:
QuoteThe CTX BOR's actions come as the BOD's 7-03 Task Force has been working with our universities on a proposal to strengthen them in governance and in ties to the Synod and to its life-giving doctrine and practice. The task force is expected to propose Bylaw revisions to this summer's convention. We are grateful for the commitment of the leadership and boards of our other Concordia universities to our Synod and its Constitution and Bylaws, for the faithful confession of God's truth in our doctrine and practice.
Those proposed Bylaw revisions will be of great interest.
But I'm still perplexed by the phrase "ties to the Synod and to its life-giving doctrine and practice." Is the life-giving doctrine exclusively for people and institutions bound to the Synod through Bylaws? Is the Synod's life-giving doctrine like a special sauce to which only fully owned franchises have the recipe? There may be other advantages to be had through controlling links to Synod, but I presumed that its life-giving doctrine was to be shared without restriction.

Peace,
Michael
Fr. Michael Slusser
Retired Roman Catholic priest and theologian

Dave Benke

Quote from: Buckeye Deaconess on April 24, 2023, 11:47:23 AM
Quote from: Dan Fienen on April 24, 2023, 10:36:08 AM
The reality is that we are not going back to the Synod being a major source of college funding and their primary function producing church workers. As much as we would like to do that, the resources just are not there.

I happen to love the ripe mission field in front of me every day when I step into the classroom at Concordia Ann Arbor.  There simply aren't as many people interested in pursuing church work vocations these days (for a multitude of reasons). The demand would be there for our Concordias if they were.  Perhaps we should simply consider that the mission has shifted through the years as a result of numerous factors.  Also, I'm privileged to be unapologetically Lutheran every day.  Lutheran identity is alive and well.

Thanks for this, Kim.  Mission and unapologetic Lutheranism - two things can be true at the same time!

Dave Benke
It's OK to Pray

SMF spam blocked by CleanTalk