A strategic approach to the expression of our mission: Unifying, Learning, Serving.
ULS President’s Newsletter | Summer Term 2018-19
Volume I, Issue 7
On May 17, 2018, the United Lutheran Seminary Board of Trustees approved a mission statement reflective of the goals of our emerging, yet historical institution.
The statement of our mission can best be summarized using the key words: Unifying, Learning, and Serving.
As an institution, the next important task, as we conclude of our first year as ULS, is the creation of a strategic plan for the near-and long-range future of the Seminary. There are numerous approaches to the development of a viable strategic plan, with tried and truly effective examples to be found in business, higher education, and non-profit organizations. In addition to these models, we at ULS are blessed to have another source of inspiration—the scriptures and the teachings of Jesus Christ. Moses was a strategic thinker, so were Nehemiah, Joshua, David, and Paul. We also can look to the book of Proverbs for divine guidance:
- “Without counsel, plans go wrong, but with many advisers they succeed.” Proverbs 15:22
- “The human mind plans the way, but the Lord directs the steps.” Proverbs 16:9
- “The simple believe everything, but the clever consider their steps.” Proverbs 14:15
- “Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established.” Proverbs 16:3
- “Plans are established by taking advice; wage war by following wise guidance.” Proverbs 20:18
In my summation, the key to developing an effective strategic plan will be the use of a focused, mission-motivated, inclusive, and timely process representative of the input of all our constituencies and inspired by the love of God and our neighbors. We are not waging war (Proverbs 20:18), but we will be able to pronounce, in a timely manner, and with certainty, W.A.R. (We Are Ready).
The sense of urgency related to the development of our Strategic Plan is reinforced by our ongoing communication with our regional accrediting body, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). After a recent visit, the Commission raised questions and requested a report with answers to the following questions:
- What is the process by which faculty are regularly and equitably reviewed?
- Are there sufficient faculty and other qualified professionals to deliver United Lutheran Seminary’s educational programs on both campuses?
- What opportunities are there for faculty professional development, especially in the area of classroom technologies?
- Is accurate and comprehensive information available about the appropriate curriculum sequence and offerings for all programs?
- Are there sufficient and effective student support services to foster student success?
ULS responded to these questions in June 2018 and was informed that the questions were answered to the satisfaction of the Commission. Moving forward, we will continue to work with our MSCHE contacts as we prepare for the next Self -Study Evaluation Visit scheduled for 2020-2021. To be prepared for that visit, we must initiate a strategic planning process, as well as the creation of a Self-Study Review Committee during the next two months.
In addition to activities associated with MSCHE, we must respond to The Association of Theological Schools (ATS), our National Accrediting Body, in the form of a progress report on the work of consolidation by November 1, 2018. The following questions from ATS will have to be addressed:
- What specific steps have been taken rated to the formation, implementation of an assessable strategic plan?
- Have faculty rights and responsibilities, evaluation, retention, sabbaticals, and other conditions of faculty employment been published in an up-to-date faculty handbook?
- What progress has been made in attending to an institutional environment cultivated and enhanced by promoting effective patterns of leadership and management?
- Have mechanisms been put in place to address conflict, particularly in the context of the value of shared governance that reflects the collegial nature of theological education?
The requests from our accrediting agencies are important, thus, we will proceed to engage first in the strategic planning process and then the self-study review with a sense of urgency. I will provide extensive proposals for both processes next week to ULS senior leadership and the Board Chair with details designed to lead to successful/ desired outcomes.
Just and merciful God, grant us the humility to discern our broken places, and the wisdom to heal ourselves in your grace and glory, to make us stronger servants of your will. Help us to love the broken and vulnerable in our society, recognizing in them our own human frailty. And as Jesus spoke about the need for planning and strategy, may we be so instructed unify, learn and serve. All this we ask in Jesus’ name. Amen.
Significant Events and Updates
- Had lunch with President of Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
- Met with members of the Institutional Advancement Team
- Met with 4 faculty members, 2 staff members, and 2 alumni
- Had a wonderful conversation with Adams County YWCA Executive Director
- Participated in the Seminary Explores podcast
- Attended the faculty retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania