Dear friends in the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada:
Luther College of Regina 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 enrolls 380 students, 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.
The past year has been another period of growth and progress at Luther College. We are moving ahead, successfully fulfilling our mission, despite economic difficulties close to home and turbulent world events. These are times when 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 of the world. The cultural, social, and economic diversity of our students provides a rich context in which a Luther College education is experienced.
We continue to maintain and strengthen our academic program. The high school is currently working on a curriculum benchmarking project with the assistance of the Canadian Educational Standards Institute. This endeavor will ensure that Luther’s educational standards surpass those set by the Province of Saskatchewan and that our students are well prepared for post-secondary studies. Faculty members at our university campus continue to attract research funds from the major national research funding agencies like NSERC and SSHRC. Last year, our faculty received more of these prestigious grants per capita, than faculty at either provincial university or at the other federated colleges. This is one indication of the academic standards and rigour that we present to our students.
Our mission is to provide "Quality Education in a Christian Context." The Christian context remains very important for us. 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 also place high priority on hiring teachers 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.
Two years ago the Province of Saskatchewan provided a significant increase to our funding. In response, we initiated a five-year planning process to identify our key priorities for the coming years. To date we have: increased the purchase and use of new classroom technologies; increased our teachers’ salaries to the level of the Saskatchewan Teachers’ Federation salary scales; improved cleaning and maintenance programs; and maintained our favourable students to teachers ratio of 15:1 and our smaller class sizes.
Last year we also introduced a major scholarship and financial assistance program to ensure that tuition costs do not prevent students from attending Luther. We set aside a special fund of $50,000 that new students can apply for. Awards made are a combination of scholarship (recognizing the achievements of the student) and also a consideration of financial need. This program is in addition to a number of endowed scholarships that our alumni, churches, and other supporters have established in recent years.
The high school also added a chaplain to its staff. Pastor Helena Houldcroft was hired on a part-time basis to pioneer this work for us. Our high school did not have a designated chaplain in the past because our teachers and staff take very seriously the calling that each of them contribute to our Christian context. Furthermore, in the past, we normally had ordained pastors on staff who could provide some chaplaincy direction for our students. We felt the time had come, however, to create a formal position to ensure that we have someone whose sole concern is to support and enhance the worship and spiritual life of the high school.
In June 2002 we announced the "Luther Spirit Campaign" with a goal of raising $3 million dollars to renovate our high school buildings and to provide an endowed fund for ongoing repairs to the building. Our facilities are beautiful and well constructed, but after many decades of use, we must keep them in good repair if we are to enjoy their services in future decades. In the summer of 2002 we carried out significant renovations to the cafeteria, restored a lounge area in the basement of the girls’ dorm, completely rebuilt the Dean of Men’s suite, and brought in a higher level of fire safety compliance in the dormitories. These projects are just the start of what will be, with donor support, several years of improvements to our physical plant.
Our university campus is in the final year of the three-year phasing-in period of a new provincial funding formula for universities and colleges. An underlying principle is that a private college such as Luther (also Campion and St Thomas Moore Colleges) will be funded by the province at the same level that the public universities are funded for providing classes to students. The establishment of this principle is very significant and the Province of Saskatchewan has proven itself a leader in this area. The net result has been a very substantial increase in our government grant and tuition income over the past three years.
In anticipating this new funding basis, our university campus concluded a long-range planning process in 2001 and we are now in the second year of implementing that program. One key area is hiring additional full-time faculty. Luther has also become a leader in providing new learning technologies in its classrooms. We have also provided increased support for our faculty research programs, international study, and our interdisciplinary program for first year students.
In the summer of 2001 we carried out extensive renovations on the main floor of our old administrative and academic wing. We created a new complex of offices that provide students with "one stop service" for their entrance, financial, and residence needs. In addition, we completely renovated one floor in our residence, completing the second stage of a four-year plan. We have identified some further building repairs and improvements, and are hopeful that the province will provide funding assistance for some of our larger needs. Special thanks is given to those who support Luther with financial donations. These gifts play an important role in our ability to improve our facilities.
Slightly over one year ago our university campus observed an important milestone. We made the final payment to retire our debt of $1 million dollars that was incurred from our operations in the early 1990’s. In addition, we took advantage of very favourable mortgage rates in the current market and converted our 50-year CMHC mortgage on our dormitory into a mortgage costing less than 6 percent interest per year. In the process we reduced the retirement schedule by about 12 years.
We were pleased last summer when Pastor Cheryl Kristolaitis accepted the call to serve as our chaplain at the university. She was the first Anglican called by a Lutheran organization since The Waterloo Declaration. Her call was the occasion for the "groundbreaking" procedural work being thought through.
We also have new staff members in our university admissions and student recruitment offices. Ms Line Luryet began working last March as our Coordinator of Student Admissions and Retention, overseeing our relations with churches, schools, and the wider community, with respect to student recruitment. Ms Alison Knoblauch began at the same time as our Entrance Counsellor and is on the front lines of going out to meet and assist prospective university students.
Last spring, two long-serving teachers retired, Dr Paul Antrobus at the university and Mr Richard Nostbakken at the high school. Combined, they provided over fifty years of dedicated service to Luther College. In December 2002 we observed the retirement of Mrs Linda Howell from our university academic office after 20 years of faithful, friendly, and reliable service to the college.
I express my personal thanks 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 Larry Fry; our university’s Academic Dean, Dr Bryan Hillis; and our Director of Finance for both schools, Mr Mark Duke.
I also express thanks to the members of our Board of Regents who have assisted and guided Luther’s ongoing development in recent years.
Luther is served by a group of eleven elected individuals who give generously of their time to serve as the college’s Board of Regents. 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.
Our Board Chair is Mr. Peter Whitmore, and the Vice-Chair is Mr Floyd Manz. Ms Carole Bryant chairs the Academic and Administrative Committee and Mr Morley Wagner chairs the Finance Committee. Mr Ed Tiefenbach is currently past-chair. Other board members are Dr Reid Robinson, Mrs Peggy Benko, Mrs Shirley Blythe, Mr Michael Fix, Pastor Carla Blakely, and Mr Ralph Ulmer.
At this convention, two of our Board members will be leaving the Board. Mr Ed Tiefenbach is now completing twelve years of service to the Board and is not eligible for another term. Ed has served in many capacities over the years, including vice-chair and then chair of the Board. Pastor Carla Blakely is completing a six-year term and has decided not to seek an additional term.
When our corporation meeting occurs, delegates will elect two people to replace these two Board members. In addition, the Board would like to increase its size, and appropriate nominees and resolutions will be presented to that effect.
In 2003–2004 Luther College will be observing its 90th anniversary. The college first opened its doors in Melville in 1913. Among post-secondary institutions in Saskatchewan, only the University of Saskatchewan is older than Luther College. We are proud of our heritage and invite all of you to join us in celebrating 90 years of excellent education and the Christian nurturing of young people.
Pastor Richard Hordern, Ph.D.