Dear delegates to the 2005 Convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:
Luther College of Regina, Saskatchewan, is once again pleased to make this report to our convention delegates. During the course of the ELCIC convention, delegates will be convened as the Luther College Corporation, empowered to elect Luther's Board of Regents and to approve any constitutional changes for the college.
Luther is a unique institution of the ELCIC, operating two schools: our residential high school in west Regina, which enrolled 440 students last September, and our residential university program on the University of Regina campus where Luther College students can earn degrees in Arts, Fine Arts, and Science, as well as pursue pre-professional studies. We have another 900 students registered at our university campus in addition to students living in residence and many others who take university courses from Luther College.
The past year has been another period of growth and progress at Luther College. We are moving ahead, maintaining a strong focus on our mission of providing an excellent education from within the "Christian context" of our schools. Despite a general demographic decline in young people across Canada, we are pleased that our high school enrolment has increased in each of the last three years with a further increase expected in September 2005. Our university enrolment also is strong but is currently reflecting a declining interest in today's students in the "liberal arts" which is our area of teaching. The number of students taking classes at Luther has increased significantly in recent years but the number of students who register with us as "Luther students" has experienced a modest decline.
A good economy during the past year has been a blessing to us. In our fiscal year 2003–2004 we received over $1 million in donations to support the work of the school, the largest annual amount in our history, much of this reflecting gifts for our major capital campaign now underway at the high school. Our budgets remain balanced and we have been able to set aside reserve funds for future contingencies. We are thankful for the strong foundations laid for the College in the past and the direction they provide us with for the future.
Most of Luther’s students are from Saskatchewan, but we remain very attractive to students from a distance, especially overseas. This year the high school again has students from a dozen countries, with the most frequent “countries of origin” being Korea, Hong Kong, and Germany. The cultural, social, and economic diversity of our students provides a rich context in which a Luther College education is experienced.
Our mission is to provide “Quality Education in a Christian Context". We believe that education is more valuable, and our graduates are more committed to social service, when Christian values are an ongoing part of our program. The Christian context can be seen in terms of formal programs, such as chapel services, chaplaincy programming, and courses in religion and ethics. We hire faculty who personally exemplify these values and who can provide a supportive and caring presence in the context of regular classroom instruction and extracurricular activities with students.
The "Christian context" of the College remains of vital importance to us. In the past year our faculty and staff at both schools held discussions on how to better actualize and express our identity as a Christian and Lutheran school. One result was the decision to call a full-time chaplain to the high school as we have not had such a position there for many decades. We were very pleased when Pastor Larry Fry, formerly vice-principal, accepted this position as a Call through the Saskatchewan Synod, and he was installed in September by Bishop Cindy Halmarson. At the university campus we maintain our longstanding chaplaincy program, and we are grateful for the service of Pastor Cheryl Kristolaitis Toth and support through the Saskatchewan Synod for our Regina university campus chaplaincy program.
At Luther College High School, our September 2004 enrolment of 442 students was our largest enrolment in over ten years. This included full dorms and a general waiting list for admission that started in June. Our new "Grade 9 Scholarship Program," accompanied by offers of financial assistance for students which we are now able to provide, have assisted many qualified and deserving students to attend. We are committed to helping promising students overcome the financial obstacles in attending a private school like Luther.
We received widespread media coverage last February when one of our local alumni, Mr. Gavin Semple, made a donation of $500,000 which makes it possible for us to initiate a project to completely rebuild the high school gymnasium. Our gym is not simply a gym—it is the school's major meeting place, where we gather daily for chapel services, and where the stage is the setting for our Broadway musicals, Christmas concerts, and many other fine arts events. A rebuilt gym will allow us to significantly improve the setting for our worship services as well as the quality of our fine arts productions—not to mention the advantages of now having a full regulation size, high quality gym floor for our basketball and other sports programs. Thanks to other donors we now have $1 million available and we anticipate further donations in the coming year. As this report is written, it is projected that work on a new gym will begin in the summer of 2005.
Some of the year's outstanding program highlights at the high school include the Luther College Choir and other music groups, our expanding program for instrumental music, our popular Film and Video program which is being used as a model for such a program in the International Baccalaureate Curriculum, and a wide array of other programs and activities for our students. Our school is small enough that each student can develop the gifts and talents which God has uniquely given to them, and large enough to offer a well-rounded academic and co-curricular program.
In September 2005 our university campus will begin work on its second five-year planning document. Our first plan called for a significant increase in the size of our faculty, which we have achieved, as well as strengthening and introducing an array of other programs. As we look now to the future, we are concerned that today's students have been opting for narrow professional courses of study as opposed to the breadth of a general liberal Arts and Science program, which is the area of Luther's teaching. We believe that students, and our society, benefit from a general program of studies that develops skills of research and writing that can later be applied to a variety of professional or occupational paths. Studies taken across Canada in recent years confirm that liberal arts graduates earn the highest incomes, have the highest job satisfaction, and make the most contributions to their community; yet it is hard to persuade students of these benefits.
We have done major studies in refashioning our student recruitment program. Another factor this past year was the opening of new dormitories by the University of Regina which had the effect of significantly decreasing the occupancy in Luther's dorms. Many empty dorm rooms have now been converted to much needed office space for our growing staff, but we hope that in a few years the residence will again be full. Despite the decline in the number of students living in residence, and our lack of growth in the number of students who register as Luther students, the classes we offer are open to any student registered anywhere on the University of Regina campus and we have had signficant growth in this area for several years. Because this is the most important factor in our annual funding, we continue to do well financially.
We have largely completed renovations at our university buildings. We have state-of-the-art classroom teaching technology in very attractive settings as well as a redesigned cafeteria and residence. A year ago we developed plans for a new building that will join us to Campion College (Roman Catholic) next door. We have completed preliminary work and are now in need of funding approval from the province in order to advance to the next planning stages. In the meantime we have developed many ways to share faculty and students resources with Campion. While we have differences, we also share a strong common interest in providing "quality education in a Christian context" to students. We believe our students and faculty will benefit from greater cooperation between the two colleges. We hope that government funding will be available in a few years.
In May 2005 we observed the retirement of Luther's longest serving staff member, Dr. Arthur Krentz, who has been at Luther for 34 years. He was one of the original staff members at our university campus when it opened in 1971. Over the years he has served as professor of philosophy and academic dean. We are grateful for his longstanding service to Luther College and its students.
This report to the Corporation Meeting was largely written by Dr. Richard Hordern who has served Luther College since 1978, and since 1994 has served as president. As of June 30, 2005, Pastor Hordern is stepping down from his administrative duties and will return to the classroom as professor of religious studies at Luther's university campus.
At the same time, Dr. Bryan Hillis, who has served as academic dean since 1995, will also be stepping down from administrative service, and will likewise return to the classroom as professor of religious studies. Dr. Hillis' service to the college for many years has been sincerely appreciated. Dr. Mary Vetter, professor of biology, will be Luther's academic dean as of July 1, 2005.
Last winter, Luther's Board of Regents announced the election of Dr. Bruce Perlson as president of Luther College, effective July 1, 2005. Dr. Perlson is a graduate of Luther College who spent many of his growing years in Regina. Much of his career, in Chemistry and the chemical industry, has been in the United States, and he is looking forward to returning to Canada. He is an active member of the Episcopalian (Anglican) Church and we look forward to the commitment and dedication he will bring to serving Luther and its mission with young people in the years ahead. Dr. Perlson will be presenting the College's report at the Corporation Meeting.
Special thanks are expressed to all of our staff members who do so very much to make Luther the excellent and caring community that it is. Special mention needs be made of our high school Principal, Mrs. Berbel Knoll, and our Vice-Principal, Mr. Mark Anderson; Dean Bryan Hillis at the university campus; and our Director of Finance for both schools, Mr. Mark Duke.
Special thanks is also due to Luther's Board of Regents. Luther is served by a group of individuals who volunteer generously of their time to serve the college in this capacity. The entire board normally meets once every two or three months. In addition there are four board committees which normally meet every second month, sometimes more frequently. The board is especially responsible to supervise the total financial condition of the college and to ensure that our future plans are in accordance with our mission as a school of the church.
Our Board Chair, Mr. Peter Whitmore has provided excellent service and direction for several years. Other board members are Ms. Peggy Benko, Ms. Shirley Blythe, Ms. Carole Bryant (chair of the Academic and Administrative Committee), Pastor Trent Felstrom, Mr. Michael Fix (chair of Governance Committee), Ms. Helga Hein, Mr. Floyd Manz (vice-chair), Dr. Reid Robinson (secretary), Mr. Karl Tiefenbach, Mr. Ralph Ulmer, Ms. Dianna Waffle, and Mr. Morley Wagner (chair of the Finance and Audit Committee). In addition to the elected members, certain staff members also attend meetings of the board and its committees.
At this convention, two of our board members will be leaving the board, having completed the maximum of two terms on the board: Peggy Benko and Ralph Ulmer. Peggy has served since 1995 and Ralph since 1993. Michael Fix is now completing his first term of service on the board.
By the time of the corporation meeting you will be informed of the board's nominations for new members to serve on the board. The board has a standing committee that devotes significant time to identifying persons with the best credentials and abilities to contribute to the board and its work. The final report of this committee will be available in June and will be conveyed to the corporation meeting. In addition to electing board members, the corporation meeting also determines the size of the board.
Bruce Perlson, PhD