Weekly Presidential Update: 5/11

Weekly Presidential Update • May 11, 2018 • Sixth Friday of Easter

Dear Friends in Christ,

As we look forward to graduation and the continued growth of our community, I’ll continue to share my recent experiences and thoughts.

  • I connected with two alumni members in individual meetings.
  • I sat down with the Faculty Executive Committee.
  • I met with the LTSP Endowment Committee.
  • I went to Chapel in Philadelphia on Wednesday and in Gettysburg on Thursday.
  • I spent time with a candidate for the interim president position to share information on the current state of the seminary.
  • I participated in a ULS board of trustees meeting.

News and Happenings

The search for an interim president has been proceeding. We had the opportunity to meet with a candidate for interim president. The candidate met with Bishop Burkat and myself for an overview of the position. The candidate had a chance to meet with the interim president search committee for dinner on Tuesday evening. On Wednesday, they met with the president’s council, the faculty who were available and the committee for a more extended conversation. The committee is continuing to look at additional candidates and will bring a report to the board next week. The search committee includes:

  • Board members Bishop Claire Burkat, Rev. Dr. Mark Kelly Tyler and Dr. James Lakso;
  • Faculty member Dr. Quintin Robertson;
  • Vice President of Advancement Rev. Dr. Angela Zimmann; and
  • Students Carla Cristopher-Waid; and Danny Phelps.

Also, this week, Dr. Christine Kennedy began hosting small group dialogues on both campuses related to the traumas affecting students relating to problems identified by various stakeholders. One problem identified by student leaders is racism and systemic racism. As a result of her preliminary analyses, she, along with her colleague Warren Young, met with students on both campuses to seek additional input from students regarding this issue, discuss the consulting process to date, and address questions and/or concerns. Additional groups for other stakeholders of the seminary on both campuses will be convened in the near future. This continues our ongoing commitment to our students to hear their concerns.

During its meeting, the board approved new members of the LTSP property holding corporation, which manages the assets of the Philadelphia campus. The members of that board are Bishop Tracie Bartholomew, Bishop Claire Burkat, Peter Knudsen, Bryan Penman, Fred Risser, David Russell and Cheryl Williams. They will be meeting next week to discuss the issues involved with the Philadelphia campus assets.

The board of trustees, with the recommendation of the faculty, named Dr. Kiran Sebastian as dean of the Seminary. Dean Sebastian has been in this role after the departure of Co-Dean Kristin Largen in December. There had been a search for a vice president of academic affairs, but it stopped with the presidential change. Dr. Sebastian has been graciously filling in during this time. The board has committed to have him continue as dean for both campuses until after a new permanent president has been named. We are thankful for Dr. Sebastian’s service to the seminary in this time of transition.


I will be in Philadelphia all next week as we prepare for the board of trustees meeting, which will be Wednesday and Thursday in Philadelphia. I will be in Lancaster on Friday for the graduation.

Additionally, if you would like to schedule some time to connect with me one-on-one in a more formal setting, please reach out to Joe Carlucci (jcarlucci@uls.edu), who will happily schedule some time with me.


I continue to be grateful for this opportunity to serve in this call. I will be returning to my role as bishop in the coming weeks. There are many issues that we have faced in this time of transition both in the consolidation of these two historic seminaries and the leadership changes. There are days in which I wish it had been smoother. There are certainly things that I have learned about my own weaknesses and sinfulness. Yet, through it all, I continue to be impressed by the number of people who are committed to the mission, vision and success of United Lutheran Seminary. The staff, faculty, students, alumni and the church at large have spoken to me with passion and care for the future of this endeavor. I know that God is in this place and that everyone is working toward fulfilling its mission. There are times when we have not been in agreement on which things need attention first or the right solutions to our issues. Through it all, the joy has been to work with so many people striving to make it better.

Good and Gracious God, we give thanks for your presence among us. The presence of your spirit leading us, your word reaching our hearts in worship and your graciousness in those siblings around us. Allow us to repent of our brokenness and find forgiveness and grace in this community. Give us hopeful hearts for the renewing that comes through you. The renewing that we have seen in this Easter season, chiefly in the death and resurrection of your Son, our Lord, Jesus Christ, for it is in his name that we pray. Amen.


Bishop Jim Dunlop
Acting President
United Lutheran Seminary

If you have questions or concerns that remain unanswered you can always submit them on the ULS Community Concerns page.