Board votes to move Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary to Hickory

The board of trustees of Lenoir-Rhyne University voted on March 22 to approve the move of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary from Columbia, South Carolina, to the campus in Hickory, North Carolina. The vote was unanimous.

Seminary students writing at table in classroom

Seminary programs will relocate to Hickory effective Jan. 1, 2025, pending approval by SACSCOC (LR’s accrediting body). The move will save about $2.1 million per year in LTSS operating costs and eliminate significant deferred maintenance costs on the Columbia off-campus instructional site (OCIS), which is far larger than LTSS’s current program requires.

“We understand the deep connection many of us have with the seminary campus, and the sense of nostalgia and perhaps even sadness that comes with change,” said Madeleine Dassow, chair of the board of trustees. “But let me assure you, this is not an ending, but a new beginning. The move to Hickory represents an investment in the seminary’s future. We carry the spirit of our time in Columbia with us, the memories we've made, and the lessons learned."

LR’s Columbia location is also home to an occupational therapy master’s degree program. There are currently no plans to relocate the OT program, which is housed in a stand-alone building across the street from the seminary.  

“The seminary’s Columbia home holds a cherished place in the rich history of our institution, and the legacy built there will forever be a part of who we are,” said Dr. Fred Whitt, president of Lenoir-Rhyne. “However, I’m also incredibly optimistic about this new chapter. By consolidating our resources in Hickory, we can ensure the seminary’s long-term sustainability and invest even more in our students’ education and spiritual development. This move allows us to not only preserve our heritage but also build a bright future for our seminary community.”

More information about Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary’s planned move to the Lenoir-Rhyne University campus in Hickory, including answers to frequently asked questions, is available on The Future of Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary website.  

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Seminary students in a classroom talking amongst themselves

LTSS, one of the ELCA’s seven seminaries, will move from Columbia, South Carolina, to the main campus of Lenoir-Rhyne University in Hickory, North Carolina.

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