Report from the Board of Trustees
On Monday, September 27, 2021, the United Lutheran Seminary Board of Trustees met both virtually and in person on the Gettysburg campus. Those individuals who submitted reports were able to attend in person if they so choose, but also had the option of attending via Zoom. Offering a hybrid option for board meetings has become second nature to ULS and allows for a more efficient and productive day of meetings and reports. My heartfelt thanks to the dedicated ULS staff who worked to ensure our meetings flow seamlessly. It was a job well done!
The 1:00 and 3:00 open gallery sessions were open to ULS faculty, students and staff on Zoom. Reports had previously been submitted to the Board and as is standard practice, were not read at the meeting. Those who submitted reports were able to briefly summarize their report and take any questions from the Board.
The Board received reports from the President and the President’s Cabinet, including the departments of Academics and Student Life, Institutional Advancement, Finance, Operations, Strategic Marketing and Communications, and Church Relations.
The Board also received reports from Rev. Javier Goitia representing the ELCA Churchwide, Diane Lewis and Robin Hinton representing the Student Body Government, Rev. Dr. Don Green representing TULSAA, and Peter Miele representing the Seminary Ridge Museum and Education Center. The ULS board ratified suggested changes to the Seminary Ridge Historic Preservation Foundation Bylaws as recommended by the SRHPF Board and as approved by the Governance, Infrastructure and Policy Committee of the ULS Board.
The Academic Affairs Committee presented a sabbatical request for Rev. Dr. Quintin Robertson from April 1, 2022 thru June 30, 2022 and October 1, 2022 thru December 31, 2022.This request was approved unanimously.
The Philadelphia Real Estate Task Force has not had a meeting and this committee is currently inactive, as the strategic plan must be more fully developed before any further development plans can be considered..
The Resource Development and Financial Management Committee of the board is responsible for monitoring finances and development for United Lutheran Seminary, the LTSP Reconstituted Foundation, and by extension, the Seminary Ridge Museum. The RDFM committee presented motions to use funds from the Ottilie Smith Trust to offset compensation expenses for the ULS Director of Graduate Studies, and to accept the results of the 2019-2020 FY Audit. Both were accepted unanimously.
The United Lutheran Seminary Endowment Foundation reported that endowment returns for the past year have exceeded 26%, and a three-year average of about 9%. When accounting for all assets (including those not listed in the Fiducient reports), overall valuation of the endowment is now approaching $90 Million. ULSEF also presented re-nominations of board membership for Roland Hobbs, Leslie Hobbs, and Fred Risser which were approved.
The LTSP Reconstituted Board reported the LTSP endowment fund stands around $16 million dollars, and the underwater position is estimated to be under $1 million dollars (this figure has been substantially reduced from its peak of over $7M a few years ago). An independent CPA will be assisting with determining a more specific amount in the coming months.
The Governance, Infrastructure and Policy Committee presented a series of motions regarding adjustments to the Trustee Handbook, including to the table of contents, expectations of trustees for inclusion, and a draft policy for election of trustees. In addition, they presented a motion to accept the Statement of Commitment to Shared Governance as a provisional statement of the Board pending amendment based on feedback from Academic Affairs and Enrollment Services and Student Life committees. Further, amendments may be brought to the Board at its January meeting at which time the board may either adopt the amendments or, if there are none, ratify the Statement of Commitment. All GIP proposals were accepted by the board.
The Enrollment Services and Student Life Committee thanked the students for raising concerns in regard to campus living—concerns that the committee says the seminary is taking important steps towards addressing.
The Diversity Committee presented an update on progress in addressing the issues raised by the students in their Open Letter written in 2019.
With the long-delayed(due to the pandemic) inauguration of our President, the Rev. Dr. R. Guy Erwin behind us, we collectively look forward to a year that will bring forth a new and revitalized strategic plan, more in-person classes and events after an 18-month hiatus, and a sense of optimism, as we evaluate the place and value of a seminary education in today’s church and world.
Rev. Dr. Peter D. Boehringer