By Paula Schlueter Ross
A new school year equals a new enrollment record for the Synod’s Concordia University System (CUS) schools. All 10 of the institutions reported increases in enrollment, bringing this fall’s CUS total to a record high of 17,500 students — 1,067 more than last year at this time.
Also increasing is the number of LCMS students attending CUS schools: 5,189 this fall, compared with 4,907 a year ago — an increase of 282 students.
But tempering that is the fact that the number of students studying for church careers is down — from 2,805 to 2,729, a drop of 76 students since fall 2003. That figure has fallen each year since fall 2002.
Dr. Alan Borcherding, director of university education with the Synod’s Board for University Education, said there is a need for more intensive efforts throughout the Synod to encourage young people to consider church vocations.
Church-work students are “created,” he said, in churches, homes and schools by adults — primarily pastors, parents and teachers — who encourage the young people to consider church careers.
Borcherding attributed the rise in CUS enrollments to “significant growth” in graduate programs, particularly those for teachers. Graduate-student enrollment — 3,940 for this fall — has grown 30 percent in the past year, and almost 93 percent since 2000, he said.
That sentiment is echoed by Dr. Manfred Boos, senior vice president of academics and acting president of Concordia University, River Forest, Ill., who credits a “major initiative in graduate-student recruitment” for the school’s enrollment turn-around.
Last year, Concordia, River Forest, saw a loss of nearly 100 students from the previous year. This fall the school reported the most dramatic increase among the 10 CUS schools — an increase of 350 students, or 20 percent.
Boos credits the university’s decision to “take graduate education to the schools where the students are.” Concordia, River Forest, offers graduate-level education courses for teachers at public elementary and middle schools — nearly two dozen at this writing. The courses are offered from 4 to 8 p.m., which “makes it convenient for the teachers” who work at those schools to attend, he said.
Add to that Concordia’s “great reputation” in the Chicago area, and you’ve got a formula for success, he said. Some 400 teachers are now enrolled in graduate programs through Concordia, River Forest.
Boos calls the program “a godsend because it’s right in line with our mission to provide leaders for our schools, both public and Lutheran, and it’s also a testament to the quality of the programs we’ve always offered.”
Enrollment statistics for the CUS schools and the two LCMS seminaries were compiled and released last month by the Synod’s Boards for University Education and Pastoral Education.
Besides Concordia, River Forest, other CUS schools reporting double-digit percentage increases for this year are Concordia, Ann Arbor, Mich., with 17 percent, and Concordia, Portland, Ore., 10 percent.
This fall’s enrollments (both undergraduate and graduate) at the CUS schools are as follows:
- Concordia University, Ann Arbor, Mich., 557 (an increase of 80 students, or 17 percent from fall 2003);
- Concordia University at Austin, Texas, 1,162 (up 7, or 1 percent);
- Concordia College, Bronxville, N.Y., 723 (up 13, or 2 percent);
- Concordia University, Irvine, Calif., 1,749 (up 8, or .5 percent);
- Concordia University Wisconsin, Mequon, 5,395 (up 243, or 5 percent);
- Concordia University, Portland, Ore., 1,404 (up 130, or 10 percent);
- Concordia University, River Forest, Ill., 2,056 (up 350, or 20 percent);
- Concordia University, St. Paul, Minn., 2,217 (up 166, or 8 percent);
- Concordia College, Selma, Ala., 905 (up 55, or 6.5 percent);
- Concordia University Nebraska, Seward, 1,332 (up 15, or 1 percent).
Tuition and room-and-board costs vary widely among the schools — from a low of $9,564 at Concordia, Selma, Ala., to a high of $24,200 at Concordia, Bronxville, N.Y.
The total enrollment at both LCMS seminaries combined this fall is 1,216 — an increase of 81 students over last year, with the student body up significantly at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, and down slightly at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne.
The St. Louis seminary reported an enrollment of 827 (up 98, or 13 percent); in Fort Wayne, students total 389 (down 17, or 4 percent).
Rev. Glen Thomas, vice president for seminary relations at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, said this year’s class of 154 new students is second in size only to last year’s — a record 178.
“It really is encouraging and a real testament to the fact that God is raising up workers for His harvest field, as we have been praying,” he said.
Combined tuition and room-and-board costs at the seminaries are $18,939 in Fort Wayne and $23,115 in St. Louis. Both provide financial aid to support student tuition costs, and most students receive additional aid from other sources, including districts, congregations and seminary donors.
Posted Oct. 28, 2004