Board approves sale, refinancing for Austin move

By Joe Isenhower Jr.

The Synod’s Board of Directors has approved a number of items leading to the eventual move of Concordia University, Austin, Texas, from its current land-locked location.

At its Aug. 25-26 meeting in St. Louis, the Board approved purchase of a 385-acre site in Austin, sale of the university’s current 22-plus-acre property, and refinancing for the acquisition and development of the new property.

When this Reporter went to press, the parties involved in the transactions were in “due diligence.”  A rationale statement prepared for the Board’s consideration notes that “occupancy of the new site would occur during the summer of 2008.”

The buyer of the current campus has an agreement with the university that it will lease the land back to the school until its relocation.

Concordia, Austin, is moving ahead with development of a campus design for the new location, which currently has six buildings with about 195,000 square feet.  That property includes a 250-acre nature preserve.

Financing for the project will be provided by the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, with loans to the university of up to $25 million.  Concordia, Austin, also is considering tax-exempt financing.

In May, the Board of Directors and the Synod’s Board for University Education (BUE) endorsed the Austin school’s request to sell its current campus and to buy and develop new property.  That action was contingent on the final approval last month from the Board of Directors and the BUE, which gave its final OK Aug. 23.

In another unrelated action, the Board endorsed a memorial to next year’s Synod convention which the BUE adopted in May that would change the make-up of the boards of regents for the Synod’s 10 colleges and universities.

Titled “To Strengthen College and University Board of Regents,” the memorial proposes that Synod Bylaw 3.8.3.6.2 be changed. 

Essentially, the number of regent members on each board would change from 13 to “no more than 17 voting members,” with no more than eight laypersons on a 17-member board, and adjustments would be made to how many regents are elected by the Synod and district conventions and appointed by the boards of regents.

Whereases of the action point out that:

  • effective higher-education boards “include members with a specific set of skills”;

  • Synod colleges and universities “find that new challenges and opportunities are facing them as they seek to sustain their service to the Synod in an increasingly complex educational environment”;

  • “there must be sufficient boards of regents members with commitment to the mission and purpose of the respective institution, knowledge regarding the region in which [the] institution is located, commitment to allocating time, talent, and treasure to the institution and assisting with the identification and encouragement of donors”; and

  • the BUE “encourages adoption of [the proposed changes] so that the governance structure of the [Synod’s] colleges/universities can serve the Synod’s mission and ministry more effectively.”

Also during last month’s Board of Directors meeting, four of its members agreed to withdraw their motion to intervene in the Anderson Lawsuit, clearing the way for the suit’s final dismissal Aug. 29 by the Court. The dismissal by the Anderson plaintiffs will dismiss all claims against President Gerald B. Kieschnick, First Vice President William Diekelman, and the Synod.

The Anderson suit was filed in August 2005 by a number of individuals and congregations who are members of the Synod against the Synod and its president and first vice president.  This past May, the parties to the Anderson Lawsuit reached agreement, calling for dismissal of the suit.

Before the dismissal was filed in court, four Board members filed a motion to intervene in the case. The Synod and officers filed documents in court opposing the motion.

The four Board members’ agreement to withdraw their motion to intervene came after they met separately with a sub-committee of the Board during the meeting last month.

The Board placed the following announcement on the Synod Web site Aug. 26:
“In a spirit of Christian love, mutual repentance, and forgiveness and with concern for peace and unity in the Synod, the Board of Directors rejoices that the four members of the Board who filed the Motion to Intervene in the Anderson Lawsuit have agreed to withdraw their motion.

“The Board will instruct its legal counsel to take all necessary steps to conclude this matter and to move forward with the Agreement to terminate the lawsuit approved by the Board at its meeting May 24.

“We thank God for this action and pray for His blessings on these decisions.”

In other actions at its Aug. 25-26 meeting, the Board filled a vacancy on the LCMS Board for Communication Services (BCS) and elected three members at-large for the Lutheran Church Extension Fund (LCEF).

Elected to the BCS was Dr. David Kluth of Austin, Texas.

The Board elected the following to three-year terms as LCEF members at-large: Dr. Arleigh Lutz, Wausau, Wis.; Ronald L. Van Voast, Cheyenne, Wyo.; and Alan Geuder, Albuquerque, N.M.  Named as alternates were Duane Helm, Bloomington, Minn.; Richard Peters, Amery, Wis.; and Michael Grosse of Gunnison, Colo.

The  Board of Directors designated May for the annual observance of “Pastoral Education Month” in the Synod.

Posted Aug. 31, 2006

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