Concordia University Texas - FAQs


Concordia University Texas: FAQs

Find answers to several questions about the situation at Concordia University Texas


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What is the status of lawsuit between the LCMS and Concordia University Texas?

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  • On December 13, 2023, LCMS and CTX representatives met together in Austin, Texas to attempt to work toward a mediated settlement. While no agreement was reached, the LCMS Board of Directors continues to strive to reach a resolution of the matter that recognizes and honors the historic relationship between CTX and the Synod, its members, districts and congregations.

 

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What is Concordia University Texas’ (CTX) reason for this action?

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  • CTX leaders have indicated a couple of different reasons for attempting to separate from the Synod.

    Documents provided by the CTX Board of Regents (BOR) and CTX leadership allege that the current model of governing universities in the Concordia University System (CUS) as provided under the Synod Bylaws is “no longer viable,” and that the early versions of proposed changes to that model of governance brought by 2019 Convention Resolution 7-03 are not acceptable, in part due to a concern over CTX being disaffiliated with the Synod. It is important to note that few specific examples have been provided by CTX as to why the current model of governance is no longer viable for CTX, despite the LCMS Board of Directors (BOD) repeatedly asking CTX why it has taken the action it has taken. It is also important to note that the proposed changes to the governance model for universities in the CUS being considered through the Resolution 7-03 process, which will not be taken up for formal consideration by the Synod until this summer’s convention and thus have not yet been adopted by the Synod in convention, have been substantially changed through the ongoing conversations with Concordia university presidents and boards of regents, the LCMS BOD, and the CUS Board of Directors, making CTX’s concern over disaffiliation premature.

    With regard to a specific event that led to CTX changing its governance documents in violation of the Synod’s Bylaws in early November 2022, the CTX BOR indicated to LCMS BOD representatives that the CTX BOR took this action due to a belief that the LCMS BOD was considering the closure or merger of CTX at the LCMS BOD’s meeting in November 2022. The LCMS BOD subsequently assured and reassured the CTX BOR on multiple occasions that the LCMS BOD was not considering closing or consolidating CTX. The vote taken by the CTX BOR in April 2023 to reaffirm its attempt to try to separate from the Synod was taken after the CTX BOR and CTX leadership received unequivocal confirmation from the LCMS BOD on multiple occasions that the LCMS BOD was not considering the closure or consolidation of CTX.

 

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Was there silence or a “breakdown of communication” between the LCMS and CTX?

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  • No, there was not silence, and from the LCMS’ perspective there was not a breakdown in communication, as evidenced by the timeline of events published in the Reporter story. After the CTX BOR expressed a desire to explore an alternative model of governance outside of that permitted under the Synod Bylaws in February 2022, the LCMS Board of Directors communicated that the Board of Directors was bound to act within the Bylaws of the Synod. As a result, a potential process for separation was identified within the existing Synod Bylaws, this process being laid out in a communication to the CTX BOR as involving CTX and the CUS at the outset. Through this process, communications and discussions between CTX leadership and the CUS occurred during the summer and fall of 2022.

    As part of this process, CTX provided to the CUS what CTX described as a first draft proposal for separation. However, several documents that were referenced by CTX in that proposal as still being drafted were never provided to the CUS, and the CUS struggled to receive what it considered to be a complete separation proposal from CTX that could be considered by the CUS, despite several requests. The CUS board was evaluating the incomplete materials it had received from CTX and was preparing a response. This process of potential separation was ended abruptly (and prior to completion) by the CTX BOR when it voted to change its governance documents in violation of the Synod’s Bylaws in early November 2022. Following the action taken by the CTX BOR, the LCMS Board of Directors communicated with the CTX BOR on numerous occasions from November 2022 through April 2023, including two in-person meetings, one held in Austin and one held in St. Louis. These communications continued through April 2023, when the CTX BOR decided to reaffirm its action.

 

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What is the status of graduating church work students?

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  • Graduates of CTX after April 4, 2023, are no longer eligible to be certified for placement.

 

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What is the status of called workers at CTX?

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  • After the April 4, 2023, vote of the CTX BOR to affirm its November 8, 2022, amending of its governance documents in violation of the Synod’s Bylaws, and as a result CTX claiming to be the sole governing body of the university, the president of the Texas District informed the called workers at the university that they no longer had valid calls and needed to find another eligible entity to call them, go on candidate status or be removed from the roster.

 

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Does CTX have the authority to separate from the Synod?

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  • The Synod Bylaws do not provide for a Concordia university to unilaterally separate from the Synod. Synod Bylaw 3.6.6.4 (i) does offer a pathway for a university to be separated from the Synod. This bylaw grants the CUS Board of Directors, “after receiving the consent of the Board of Directors of the Synod by its two-thirds vote and also the consent of one of: the appropriate board of regents by its two-thirds vote, the Council of Presidents by its two-thirds vote or the Concordia University System Board of Directors by its two-thirds vote,” authority “to consolidate, relocate, separate, or divest a college or university.” It was this bylaw that the LCMS Board of Directors referenced when communicating a separation process to CTX in response to CTX’s February 2022 request to consider separation.

 

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Why did Selma, Portland and Bronxville close?

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  • While the situations leading to the closure of a university are always unique, there are common pressures that face Concordia universities and other religious institutions of higher education, such as enrollment and funding challenges along with pressures from secular forces such as the government and prevailing cultural changes. Such challenges and pressures and the unique situations of each of these universities led to their respective boards of regents acting to close the universities. Their closures, while heartbreaking, are not the result of deficient Synod oversight or an ineffective model of governance. The Synod’s provision of assistance to these institutions likely allowed them to operate longer than would have been possible if each was operating independently in the marketplace of higher education.

 

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Is CTX’s attempted separation from the Synod about “Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI)”?

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  • While CTX’s public documents have not cited DEI initiatives as a reason for separation, President Harrison and his visitation team were concerned with the uncritical way the university approached DEI, with little theological discernment between a biblical approach to diversity and secular approaches to DEI, which nearly always include diversity of sexuality and “gender identities.” (See the visitation report on Page 173 of the Convention Workbook)

 

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Shouldn’t a university welcome all voices?

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  • Yes. A university should be a place where students can critically examine competing worldviews. But the visitation of CTX found no alternative to secular DEI approaches. No books on race from a biblical perspective were offered alongside popular secular books.

    A Christian university should be faithful to its confession. A Lutheran university should teach the worldview of the Lutheran Confessions as true. And a university that is an agent of the Synod is bound to teach in accordance with our common confession (see Article II of the Synod Constitution).

 

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Does President Harrison lack the experience necessary to make the judgments he does in the visitation report?

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  • It is unfortunate that certain CTX leaders have publicly stated that because President Harrison did not graduate from a Concordia undergraduate university and does not have experience working within higher education, he was unqualified to draw the kinds of conclusions he did in the visitation report.

    The president of the Synod has the responsibility for ecclesiastical oversight of all the universities of the Concordia University System. The assessment of President Harrison in the visitation report was principally theological. Nevertheless, the depth of higher education expertise of the entire visitation team — which included college professors, attorneys, historians of Lutheran education, a former seminary president, members of boards of regents and more — cannot be disputed. The unambiguous conclusions of all these academics and professionals are presented in the visitation report.

 

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Why was there a delay between the visitation of CTX and the issuance of the visitation report?

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  • Because of the rapidly changing situation and the ongoing communication between CTX and the CUS, LCMS President Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison chose to hold his report back, lest some of the negative parts of that report adversely affect that conversation. After CTX voted to change its governance documents in violation of the Synod’s Bylaws, President Harrison revised his report and sent it to CTX’s leadership and BOR in January 2023.

 

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