LRU News

Lenoir-Rhyne University and Southern Seminary Joining Forces

Tue Mar 29 2011

Following a feasibility study, the boards of Lenoir-Rhyne University and Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary (LTSS), have recommended that the institutions enter into a formal collaborative partnership leading to a merger of the institutions. The plan calls for the seminary to become the university’s school of theology and remain a seminary located in Columbia, South Carolina.   Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary will maintain its name and own identity while integrating with the larger university system. The study leading up to this recommendation was coordinated and fully supported by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), which supports and partners with both institutions.

The proposed merger will be the first such combination of a Lutheran seminary with a university.  The new model was developed by LTSS and LRU in order to combine the strengths of both institutions and to leverage their respective reputations in a manner that LTSS can become the premier Lutheran seminary in the country.

The boards of trustees of each institution authorized the intent to pursue a full merger at their spring 2011 meetings after hearing the report of the partnership feasibility study authorized in the fall of 2010. The committee to study the feasibility of stronger partnerships consisted of senior leadership at the two institutions, including President Wayne Powell of LRU and President Marcus Miller of LTSS.

Preliminary discussions began when it became clear that the two institutions had similar goals and strong reputations.  LRU offers numerous professional programs and nine master’s degree programs while LTSS offers three theological master’s degrees and a variety of contextual learning experiences that teach, form, and nurture women and men for ministry in the church.  By working together as one institution an opportunity exists to strengthen the existing programs and develop new offerings.

“By joining with LTSS, Lenoir-Rhyne has an excellent opportunity to provide greater service to various constituents, especially those within our church,” said Wayne Powell, LRU president. “We are fortunate that both of these institutions are excelling in their respective areas and because of this we are able to enter into this agreement to provide theological education to a broader range of people in the south.”

Powell went on to say that LRU envisioned being able to expand the offerings at the LTSS campus in Columbia by placing relevant graduate programs there.

The trustees also approved a preliminary timeline for completion of the merger.  Beginning in the summer of 2011, the two institutions will identify areas where they can combine operations to become more efficient and effective. As part of this process, LRU and LTSS will initially begin to combine their administrative responsibilities and operations in enrollment management, financial aid, and advancement through management contracts or enhanced partnerships.  LRU is already managing the financial component of the seminary.  In March of 2012, the trustees of each school will receive a final recommendation for an agreement and plan to merge LTSS into LRU as its school of theology, with the earliest possible effective date for a completed merger being in the summer of 2012.

The trustees of both institutions will be regularly briefed and the applicable accrediting bodies (the Association of Theological Schools and the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools), as well as the ELCA and Synods comprising Region 9 of the ELCA will continue to be engaged and consulted throughout the process.

“The seminary appreciates the high quality of the Lenoir-Rhyne program and the seminary welcomes the affirmation we have received from LR, said Marcus Miller, LTSS. “We believe a merger can only strengthen the mission of both schools.”

Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary is located in Columbia, S.C. LTSS was founded in 1830 and is one of eight seminaries of the ELCA. The seminary offers graduate and post-graduate degrees to men and women from many Christian denominations and traditions.   Sacred theology, religion, divinity and ministry are some of the areas of study offered at the seminary. LTSS also offers programs on military chaplaincy.

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