Weekly Presidential Update: 5/18

Weekly Update • May 18, 2018 • Seventh Friday of Easter, Graduation Day

Dear Friends in Christ, 

As we navigate this time of transition, I’ll be continuing to share my journey, experiences and thoughts with you, the ULS community. This week:

  • I chaired the Faculty meeting. 
  • I met with two faculty members one on one.
  • I met with the LTSP Corporation Board. 
  • I met with the Gettysburg Endowment Foundation Board.
  • I met with the ULS Board of Trustees for two days.
  • I spoke at commencement and participated in the distribution of diplomas.

News and Happenings

This week was a blessing for ULS, as the Board of Trustees elected Dr. Richard Green to serve as Interim President of ULS until a permanent President is named. Dr. Green has a long history of leadership in Colleges and Universities. A member of an ELCA congregation, he and his wife make their home in Tucson, Arizona. He will be an active force as we continue to move ULS forward. Dr. Green will begin his service to ULS on June 1, 2018. With his arrival I will be returning to my role as Bishop of the Lower Susquehanna Synod. I will be doing this transition over the next two weeks as I prepare for our synod assembly. You can read more about Dr. Green here. Thanks go to the committee who worked tirelessly over the last couple of weeks to bring such a strong candidate to the board. The team was: 

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

In conjunction with the Board of Trustees we announced a major gift to the United Lutheran Seminary. An estate gift was given to the seminary of approximately 30 million dollars. This gift more than doubles the endowment of the seminary! The gift is to be used for a faculty chair and scholarships for students in accordance with the wishes of the donor, who asked not to be named. You can read more about the gift in this announcement. This gift will be transformative in allowing us to support more of our students with scholarships. It will ensure the long term viability of ULS. We give thanks to God for the generosity and stewardship of our supporters. We will look to strengthen this gift in the future with additional support that will allow us to make ULS one of premier seminaries in the country. 

The Board in its meeting took a number of key actions: 

  • Elected of the Interim President, Dr. Richard Green
  • Approved full tuition scholarships for all full-time entranced ELCA Distributed Learning students
  • Formed a permanent Board Committee on Diversity, chaired by Bishop Guy Erwin
  • Elected the Rev. Peter Boehringer Chair of the Board of Trustees
  • Elected Karen Arnold Secretary of the Board of Trustees
  • Changed the name of the Gettysburg Endowment Foundation to the United Lutheran Seminary Foundation
  • Maintained the Faculty Permanence committee with current membership 
  • Approved Dr. Mark Oldenburg as Steck-Miller Professor of the Art of Worship, Emeritus 
  • The appointment of Dr. Crystal Hall as Assistant Professor of Biblical Studies starting July 1, 2018
  • Adopted changes to the tuition and housing fees for the next academic year
  • Appointed the Board of Directors for the Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation 
  • Adopted a new policy on gifts, bequests and property sales 
  • Approved the list of students to be awarded degrees on May 18, 2018

The Board of Trustees spent our first day together in Board development. This included a complete review of the way in which we work as a board. Then we worked to develop a mission statement for ULS. That work was completed and the new mission statement is: 

Unifying, Learning, Serving: United Lutheran Seminary is a welcoming and diverse learning community, equipping people to proclaim the living Gospel for a changing church and world. 


I will be working two days in Gettysburg next week, Monday and Friday, and in the synod office in Harrisburg the rest of the week. The following week I will be in the synod office and at the Lower Susquehanna Synod Assembly. June the 4th, I will be in Gettysburg for the day with Dr. Green as I turn over all of my files. 


This will be my last weekly update. We will be in transition over the next couple of weeks as my work winds down at ULS and Dr. Green comes up to speed. He has committed to be in regular communication with the ULS community beginning sometime in June. We both have talked about how regular communication is essential in this time of exciting change. 

The amount of amazing and transformative things that have occurred in just the last couple of weeks has been astounding. The land preservation agreement with the Civil War Trust in Gettysburg, the election of new interim president, and one of the largest gifts ever given to a Lutheran Seminary are going to completely transform the future of ULS. The Holy Spirit is moving and changing the future of this school in ways we could not have imagined. Thanks be to God. 

I feel blessed in so many ways. I could not have imagined this calling several months ago. I have learned so much in a short time about the seminary, even though I had been so deeply involved through my work in the board and the transition process. All learning comes with some errors along the way. I am thankful for the grace and forgiveness shown to me by so many in our community. I will be working in the coming months to help Dr. Green in any way that he finds helpful. Thanks to everyone for your help, support, and prayers in this time of transition for ULS and in the President’s office. 

Good and Gracious God, we cannot know the paths in which you will lead us but we find comfort in each step that you are with us in all things. We ask that your wisdom and blessings be with Dr. Green as he begins his calling to the office of President of ULS. Continue to strengthen our faith community: the students, faculty, staff, alumni, and supporters. We give thanks for the generosity of everyone who stewards resources to raise up leaders for your church. Strengthen us to form a unified, learning and serving community that will equip people to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.  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.