ULS Board Letter – March 14th

Dear United Lutheran Seminary Family and Supporters:

On March 6, the United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) Board of Trustees underwent a daylong series of listening sessions. These meetings had a profound effect on the Board of Trustees. We wish to once again thank all of those who took the time, effort and courage to share with us during these events, as well as those who have called or written. You have made a significant difference in this process.

After last week’s sessions, the Board made a number of commitments that are integral to moving forward. First, we vowed to take a stronger leadership role while making the necessary changes to secure the long-term interests of our Seminary. That commitment to leadership played an important role during our discussions this week. In addition, as an initial first step, we would like to report on the following updates:

  1. In 2018, we have received resignations from several Board members. Robert King and Nancy Dering Mock stepped down earlier this year due to personal reasons. Lisa Leber, Audrey Moody, Phillip Harrington and Elise Brown tendered their resignations in advance of today’s board meeting. Cheryl Meinschein, Charles Miller, Emma Porter and Janet Montelaro resigned immediately following the meeting. The Board will begin work immediately with the ELCA and relevant Synods to identify new members, with an eye toward finding those with skill sets that can best assist us going forward.
  2. The Board has hired La Torre Communications to guide and assist in improving our long-term communication processes. We must do a better job of communicating to our Seminary family and supporters.
  3. The Board has approved the Administration’s requests for the funding of:
      1. An increase in access to Pastoral and Behavioral Health services.
      2. The hiring of a specialist in communal trauma to assist with healing, justice and reconciliation.
      3. A full outside audit focused on diversity, equity and inclusion audit within the ULS.

Understanding that there is much more to be done, we hope these initial steps will help, in some small way, to exemplify our resolve in meeting our responsibilities and commitments to the ULS.  The primary obligation of the Board is to our Seminary and the perpetuation of its critical mission in training leaders for the church.

The United Lutheran Seminary (ULS) Board of Trustees held a formal Board meeting on Wednesday, March 14, to address Seminary and Board leadership issues. Guided by our wish to act decisively and seeking God’s blessed guidance, the Board voted to end Dr. Theresa F. Latini’s position as President of the United Lutheran Seminary. This decision was made based on the Board’s concern that the ongoing controversy surrounding her naming as President made it extremely difficult to overcome the issues related to trust as the President of this institution. With the understanding that there is much work to be done in healing, and recognizing her significant value and gifts, the Board recognized that her ongoing tenure would present a significant obstacle to moving forward.

We recognize that this decision will not satisfy many of our constituencies, but our responsibility as a Board is to make decisions that we believe will best strengthen and sustain ULS. Through prayer, thoughtful discussion and active listening, we have reached the conclusion that ending our relationship with Dr. Latini will be the most positive approach to our process of healing and to the health and well-being of ULS.

The Board’s struggle during this voting process was reflective of the ULS community’s struggle. The Board is a diverse group in ways, much like the Seminary community. As leaders with fiduciary responsibilities, this result accurately reflects the will of the Board and, as such, we are moving forward as a united body.

Bishop James Dunlop has been named as Acting President. His responsibilities as the Bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod will be adjusted and shared with staff in order for him to take on this role. We pray for his strength to lead us during this difficult time. A search for an Interim President will begin in earnest, and we commit to as transparent as process as is possible while still meeting legal requirements for privacy.

These were very tough decisions to make, and we can assure you, they were not made lightly.  We are aware that many of you will applaud our choices, while many others will be bitterly disappointed. We ask you all to be mindful that these issues are complicated and multi-faceted and, as such, there can be no “one right or true answer.” We affirm that all points of view are valid and meaningful, and we ask that you recognize on good faith that we did our best to take all into full account as we endeavored to find the best answer for ULS. We humbly ask our Lord to guide us in resolving these differences of opinion and direction so that we may all move forward united in our shared calling.

We thank you for your ongoing commitment and ask for your continued prayers for our church, the world, and the United Lutheran Seminary.

In the Unity of Christ, we are your

United Lutheran Seminary Board of Trustees