When Beth Menneke started working at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, she began, as she puts it, as “an assistant to an assistant.”
Now serving as the Seminary’s registrar, Menneke feels blessed that God led her to work at the Seminary even though it was not the career she had planned.
She grew up the youngest of five children in a Lutheran family in Jackson, Mo. Interested in a career in workplace health, she served as a nanny to support herself while she pursued and, eventually earned, a bachelor’s degree in health science from Truman State University in 1999.
“Fitness and nutrition have always been a big part of my life,” she said. “When it came time to focus on what type of career I would like to have, I liked the idea of pursuing something I was passionate about. A health science degree was a natural fit for a path toward a health promotion career and the worksite health concentration was especially appealing to me.”
Menneke’s first job after college was with Chrysler, overseeing its wellness program. When she decided to go back to school to get a master’s degree in education, she thought that her nanny work would allow her the flexibility she needed. So she interviewed at Childcare Solutions, a nanny placement agency, but was instead offered a job working for the agency, placing nannies with families.
“I felt like it would be something new and exciting and I was up for the challenge,” she said. “I was still able to help families with their child care needs, but it was just in a different way than I had originally planned. It was definitely an unexpected blessing.”
Menneke set aside her plans for earning a master’s degree. After working at the nanny placement agency for six years, she felt that it was time to move on.
She applied for a job in the Seminary’s placement office, believing that her experience would be a good fit. However, when she was asked to interview, she had no idea that the person temporarily holding the job wanted to stay. So, she interviewed to be an assistant in the president’s office.
In March 2007, Menneke — engaged and planning a wedding — was hired as the administrative assistant to Rev. Glen Thomas, the former special assistant to Seminary President Dr. Dale A. Meyer. She admits it was a hectic time. “I was hired in March, married in July and gave birth to our son, Noah, a year and a half later!” she said.
In 2008, the institutional knowledge Menneke gained and her ability to multitask placed her in good stead as she prepared for another transition. Menneke transferred to work as an assistant in the registrar’s office. Two years later, she was appointed registrar.
As registrar, Menneke is responsible for student records — from a student’s acceptance to the Seminary to his or her graduation during Commencement. Her scope of duties include keeping record of classes and curriculum prerequisites, determining a student’s graduation eligibility, planning and implementing the class registration process, coordinating times and locations for classes with professors and administrators, resolving scheduling conflicts, maintaining academic records and transcripts, and planning Commencement activities.
When the Seminary switched from a quarter schedule to a semester schedule in the fall 2017, Menneke took measures to ensure a smooth transition for concluding students just returning from their vicarages and internships.
“In June, I held an online session with the students. We went over the major components of both the curriculum and the new calendar. I then set up phone meetings with our concluding students to go over their specific schedule for the 2017-18 school year, and get them registered for the fall semester,” she said.
The students said they appreciated the extra time and attention. “She clearly communicated to me the expectations on my end,” said William “Chris” Heaton, a fourth-year Master of Divinity student. “I never once felt like she was put out or overwhelmed, even though I’m sure she was!”
“I see that God definitely had his Hand in guiding me to work at the Seminary.”
— Beth Menneke
In preparing for the revised curriculum and schedule transition, it was equally important to Menneke to make sure all students received as much assistance as possible.
“One way we could ease the transition was to conduct the registrations for all the students,” Menneke said. “This allowed us to make sure the students were taking the courses they needed to take, when they needed to take them. The students really seemed to appreciate the time dedicated to making sure they hadn’t overlooked something and that their schedules were all set.”
For second-year Master of Divinity (M.Div.) student and Wisconsin Army National Guard member Ryan Schnake, how Menneke helped him reintegrate to the Seminary after serving in the military was especially helpful.
“In the middle of my second year, I was in active military service for 20 months,” he said. “Beth fully committed to my unique set of challenges and set me up for academic success.”
Menneke is well-regarded among the Seminary students. Hands-on, thorough and communicative are words used to describe her.
“The role of the registrar is invaluable, not only in terms of the work she does in keeping records and understanding everything about the new and old curriculum, but also in the way that she works with us to help us understand what’s going on and what we need to do in order to complete the courses we need for graduation,” said fourth-year M.Div. student Joel Newton.
“Beth has her eyes on classes that I would like to take and as a result she is always prepared for our discussions. Beth also follows up very quickly with anything that is needed, whether that be an email response or something she has said she would do for me. She’s very professional and personable,” Heaton said.
Registrar Beth Menneke works on student registrations. Photo: Courtney Koll
“She finds out exactly what we need so that she can help as well as she can. I’m thankful to God for her service to the Seminary community as the registrar. Her work is second to none,” added Newton.
When she isn’t working tirelessly for Seminary students, she runs with her 5-year-old pure bred female boxer named Tackle, or attends her son’s sporting events or one of the many games her husband, Nick, a middle school teacher, coaches.
Menneke recently celebrated her 11-year anniversary at the Seminary.
“Looking back, I see that God definitely had His hand in guiding me to work at the Seminary,” she said. “In the 11 years I have worked here, I have had different responsibilities, but at the heart of it they all involved serving others for the larger good. I find that work to be extremely rewarding. I feel blessed that God led me to work here.”