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Concordia Seminary, St. Louis Receives Highest Accreditation Renewal Possible

Concordia Seminary, St. Louis has been notified that it will receive the highest level of accreditation renewal possible from its accrediting agencies. The Association of Theological Schools, with the agreement of the accreditation visiting team from the Higher Learning Commission of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), has granted Concordia Seminary a ten-year accreditation extension with no notations. This is the third consecutive time that Concordia Seminary has received this distinguished recognition.

The longer the accreditation period is extended by the ATS and NCA, the more confident they are concerning the quality, strength and well-being of the institution. In addition, these agencies issue notations to identify areas of particular concern which surface during the review process. Notations demand immediate attention by the school being reviewed if it wishes to avoid a deterioration of its accreditation standing.

“We are very pleased to be recognized with such a strong vote of confidence from these two prestigious accrediting agencies, commented Dr. John F. Johnson, president of Concordia Seminary. “It is particularly gratifying that the report did not contain any notations. Yet, we want to assure the church that we will not become complacent as a result of this report, but will continue to work as hard as possible to improve all aspects of our operation.”

A review team from both accrediting agencies visited the Seminary campus on Nov. 9-12, 2003. They met with Concordia Seminary students, faculty, staff and alumni. The visitation team evaluated the Seminary’s ability to meet the NCA’s Criteria for Accreditation and General Institutional Requirements and the General Institutional Standards of the ATS. Prior to the visit, Concordia Seminary undertook a year-long self-study process during which all aspects of the Seminary’s operation were reviewed. The results of the self-study were printed in a 150-page document which was presented to the agencies.

“The self-study is a very helpful aspect of the accreditation review,” commented Johnson. “It encouraged our faculty, staff, and students to ask important questions concerning our day-to-day activity and to identify strengths and weaknesses in that activity. While this process involved an incredible amount of effort, I am convinced it is a very positive exercise and one that coordinates very well with the overall strategic planning process we have been implementing over the past five years.”

Specific quotes from the visitation team report include the following:

“The Concordia Seminary faculty are well credentialed as experienced teachers, scholars and churchmen …Almost all have had significant pastoral experience…Their considerable scholarly accomplishment includes the publication of commentaries, monographs, articles and denominational study books for pastors, missionaries and laity.”

“The internal administrative structure appears to be carefully constructed and to provide adequate direction for the institution to carry out its duties…There is evidence of a a strong commitment to a shared vision, as articulated by the President.”

In reference to the Seminary’s library, “The Lutheran holdings represent a ‘world class’ collection of material relating to the origins and subsequent development of Lutheranism.”

The positive news from the accrediting agencies comes at a time when the Seminary’s enrollment is dramatically increasing. This year, the Seminary had its largest incoming class in 32 years, 178 new students. In the winter, the Seminary’s total enrollment exceeded 800 students for the first time in four decades.

“As a seminary of the church, we are pleased to communicate to the church that an objective, external review has produced such positive conclusions about the way Concordia Seminary is conducting its mission,” commented Johnson. “Particularly gratifying to me personally is the team’s finding that quantity and quality are not mutually exclusive at Concordia Seminary. While the team’s report noted our rapidly-growing enrollment, it also praised the quality of classroom instruction team members observed during their visit. The team encouraged Concordia Seminary to keep this a high priority in our future planning.”

The visitation team agreed with the Seminary’s self-study assessment concerning the fiscal challenge facing Concordia Seminary as it prepares pastors for the church. The report cited “the drastic reduction in financial support directly from the Synod. It has moved from several million dollars annual to less than $200,000.” In light of the Seminary’s dramatic enrollment increase, the team recognized the intense pressure this situation places on the Seminary’s advancement efforts as well as the need for individual donors to be identified and enlisted in the support of the Seminary’s mission.

In summarizing its findings, the team reported, “Concordia Seminary is not a fragile institution. It has a clear mission, visionary leadership, creative administrators, gifted faculty, talented staff, and capable students. It is creating a supportive network among individuals in the Synod, and is seeking to enhance its connections with the St. Louis metropolitan area.”

For further information, contact Seminary Relations, Concordia Seminary, 801 DeMun Ave., St. Louis, MO 63105; (314) 505-7370; semrelations@csl.edu.