December 18, 2012
President Resigns as ELCA's Largest Seminary Suffers 'Perfect Storm'
(Updated) Rising maintenance costs and declining attendance lead to $4 million loss.
Update (April 2): According to Inside Higher Ed, Luther Theological Seminary, the largest Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ECLA) seminary, will lay off "18 of its 125 staff members, many effective within a few weeks," in order to cut $3 million of operating expenses from its budget.
A press release from the school states that the changes include "eight retirements, not filling nine open positions, 18 reductions in staff and three individuals voluntarily pursuing new opportunities."
Luther Seminary president Richard Bliese has resigned from the St. Paul, Minnesota, school after its annual financial report revealed a $4 million loss in revenue over the past year.
Board chairman Jim Lindus described the situation at Luther as a "perfect storm ... of financial challenges."
"We had a lower investment performance than we were expecting, and education costs in general are going up," he said. "And we're trying to figure out how do we adjust to that in a church that ... has become smaller."
Luther Seminary is the largest seminary in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), and located in the state with the largest number of ELCA members in the country. Yet, enrollment is down to 764 students this year, a drop from the school's 822 students five years ago.
CT previously reported that Bliese had been elected to his position as president of Luther Seminary in 2005.