Changing Culture on ELCA Campus

Source: Living Lutheran

Considered by Presiding Bishop Elizabeth Eaton as “gems of this church,” the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America’s 26 colleges and universities are the bedrock of Lutheran education in the United States. Deeply rooted in Christian tradition, collectively these schools combined enrollment is 50,000 students.

Expanding over the past three decades, six schools have transitioned from colleges to universities offering more advanced degrees and graduate programs. Initially an undergraduate institution, California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks now houses three graduate schools in Management, Education, and Psychology.

Serving a growly diverse populace, a high percentage of undergraduates at Cal Lutheran and at Texas Lutheran University, Seguin, are of Hispanic and more than a third of the students at Newberry (S.C.) College are African American.

Wagner College in New York and Augsburg University in Minneapolis boost the highest diversity among ELCA schools with a student body composition consisting of 40% or more persons of color.

Commenting on the great strides in diversity, Mark Wilhelm, program director for the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, noted faculty and administrative profiles are more diverse, with more women professors and senior administrators. Additionally, most schools also have dropped the expectation that presidents and other key leaders be members of Lutheran communities. Instead they have adopted an approach that higher qualified candidates that honor the schools’ faith-based heritage and mission.

On the education side, classrooms are fitted with the latest learning technologies that enhance student experiences and help make remote learning possible. Professors promote global perspectives that allow students to explore a breath of perspectives on an issue within historical, cultural, and economic contexts.

William Craft, president of Concordia College, Moorhead, Minnesote, said the school has made “a conscious commitment to interreligious dialogue and service,” adding that its curriculum explores other faiths “not in spite of our Lutheran identity but because of it.”

Despite expectations that many faith-based colleges and universities are declining in influence, according to Wilhelm , “Our ELCA colleges and universities are among the leading communities of schools…and here to stay.”

Source: Living Lutheran