By Adriane Dorr
For some, the word “accreditation” brings to mind piles of paper, endless guidelines, and stacks of audits. But for Concordia Theological Seminary (CTS), Fort Wayne, receiving a 10-year accreditation from the Association of Theological Schools (ATS) for the first time in the seminary’s history was cause for celebration.
“This formal affirmation of the visiting team’s recommendation completes the association’s accreditation process,” noted CTS President Dr. Dean Wenthe. “I am very proud of our seminary community and their excellence in theological education.”
The accreditation process provides the seminary with an external look at its successes and challenges. Approval from accrediting agencies also offers a type of quality control for the school’s programs and degrees and is necessary for the seminary to receive government funding in the form of financial aid.
The seminary also is accredited by The Higher Learning Commission (HLC) of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools, whose board will announce its findings on the seminary’s accreditation this fall. Visitors from both ATS and HLC must periodically spend time on campus, offering recommendations, highlighting the seminary’s successes, and reviewing the school’s strategic plan.
The seminary’s current multimillion-dollar renovation and construction of Walther Library, for example, was a result of recommendations made by accreditors during past on-campus visits.
This year, the Board of Commissioners of the ATS listed that library expansion as one of the campus’ strengths. “I’m delighted that the peer reviewers recognized the care CTS has taken to find a library solution that enhances the original Saarinen [the campus architect] plan,” said Prof. Robert Roethemeyer, Iinstitutional self-study coordinator and director of Library Services at CTS.
The Fort Wayne seminary began to prepare for the March 2010 on-site visit from HLC and ATS in 2008. Over the following year, the CTS faculty wrote and compiled a mandatory institutional self-study — a 250-page self-assessment document submitted to the agencies in advance of the visit.
Believing that CTS was well-positioned to move confidently into the future, ” ’10 in 10′ was a goal that became the campus-wide slogan for the two-year institutional self-study process,” said Roethemeyer.
After reading the self-study and verifying its contents during the on-site visit, the ATS Board of Commissioners awarded the seminary the coveted 10-year accreditation. “This 10-year continuance is an institutional first, celebrating a cycle of continuous institutional improvement that has led CTS to a new accreditation height,” noted Roethemeyer. “We pray that this wonderful news will help with the recruitment of new students and will encourage our many faithful donors.”
“This accreditation for 10 years is a marvelous recognition of [the seminary community’s] expertise and dedication,” added Wenthe. “It also provides the basis for a stimulating and rewarding future under God’s grace.”
The Synod’s St. Louis seminary, Concordia Seminary, received its most recent 10-year accreditation in 2003.
Adriane Dorr is managing editor of The Lutheran Witness. Before joining the Synod staff earlier this summer, she held several administratve positions at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne — including helping to coordinate the seminary’s accreditation process.
Posted Aug. 12, 2010