Report from the Board of Trustees
On Tuesday, May 11, 2021, the United Lutheran Seminary Board of Trustees met virtually to carry on with its work. Over the months, we have become more efficient in these types of meetings, and much was accomplished. On behalf of the board, I would like to thank all of the staff who worked to make our meeting flow seamlessly. It was a job well done!
-The board received reports from the President and the President’s Cabinet, including the departments of Academics and Student Life, Advancement, Finance, Operations, Communications, Human Resources and Church Relations.
-The Board also received reports from Roger Randolph and Sarah Moore representing the Student Body Government, Rev. Javier Goitia representing the ELCA Churchwide, Rev. Dr. Don Green representing TULSAA, Rev. Dr. John Hoffmeyer representing the Self-Study Steering Committee, Linda Fiore and Chelle Huth representing the strategic planning task force, and Peter Miele representing the Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center.
-The Philadelphia Real Estate Task Force has decided to pause all redevelopment plans. Past campus valuations have been significant overestimates, and development expenses to prepare the land for sale would be cost prohibitive. Combined with a continuing need for stable student housing, these redevelopment plans simply need to be restructured. Potential future sale and redevelopment will be considered as part of the strategic plan formation in the coming months.
-The Resource Development and Financial Management Committee of the board gave a review of the financial position of the seminary. Thought here are budget deficits in the current and coming year, both are covered by one-time sources of funding and those deficits are shrinking as our expenses more closely match our income.
-Two motions were presented out of the ULSEF Board. The Board of Trustees voted unanimously to approve the endowment draw for the 2021-2022Fiscal Year, not to exceed $3,208,011. This represents about a 3.5% draw on the value of all our endowment assets combined. The Board of Trustees also voted to approve the change in asset allocation suggested by the Investment Subcommittee of the ULSEF Board. These changes take advantage of market changes in the last year and a half, and protect us from potential risk in the stock market.
-The LTSP Reconstituted Board reported that they plan to apply the draw of the coming fiscal year to the underwater position in that endowment as they did in the past year – it is their hopeful projection that they will be able to eliminate that underwater position entirely in the next few years.
-The Governance, Infrastructure and Policy Committee presented four new policies for the Board of Trustees, regarding the election of new trustees and term limits, new trustee orientation, expectations for trustees, and a process for evaluating the President, and voted on a ULS Statement of Principles for Shared Governance.
-The Academic Affairs Committee presented several motions, each approved unanimously. The honorific title of The Luther D. Reed Chair and Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology status was given to Rev. Dr. J. Paul Rajashekar. Three-year contract extensions were granted to Rev. Dr. Reed Carlson and Dr. Kyle Schiefelbein-Guerrero, following the guidelines of the Faculty Handbook. The faculty handbook was amended to include definitions of Faculty Cohort Areas and the duties of both the area and the cohort area chair. The faculty handbook was also amended to include a policy on the appointment process for new faculty hires. Sabbaticals were approved for two faculty members: one for Rev. Dr. Maria Erling from January 2022-December 2022, and another for Rev. Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Sr. from July 2021 – December 2021. Also carried was a motion to approve for graduation – degrees, certificates, honors, and awards, for the students in lists presented (subject to completion of requirements).The Board of Trustees also voted to endorse President Erwin’s recommendation that Dr. Teresa Smallwood be appointed as the James Franklin Kelly and Hope Eyster Kelly Associate Professor of Public Theology for a three year term beginning on July 1, 2021. Finally, the Board of Trustees endorsed the Search Committee’s recommendation that a new search process for the Systematic/Constructive Theology position take place during the 2021-22academic year.
-The Enrollment Services and Student Life Committee echoed the gratitude of the student body for the concern the seminary has shown for their recommendations and reiterated the desire for a student services position.
As this academic year ends the Board of Trustees congratulates and celebrates the achievements of our graduates. We know that the virtual graduation may not be what anyone expected, but we are reminded of the journeys of St. Paul, who labored on faithfully in the face of continuing and unexpected challenges. May the Lord bless and keep you as you begin new adventures. Many thanks to all who helped make this past year a success despite the many challenges ULS has faced. Our faculty rose to the challenge as did our students, and our staff provided all the support necessary for success.
Looking ahead it is hoped that we are entering into a period that will be less stressful. Although we still face challenges, none are so daunting as those faced during our early years as a new seminary, and with a talented and energized administration led by President Erwin, and a Board of Trustees that brings vision and vitality, I am looking forward to the time ahead. As always, keep ULS in your prayers. Remember our students, faculty, staff, and all who work to make this seminary a gift to the church and world.
Peter D. Boehringer, Board Chair