This past weekend, the Luther Seminary board of directors met and made an important decision: to move forward in our process to create the campus of the future by authorizing the sale of the lower campus and Bockman Hall–the latter of which will be remodeled and leased back to us for student housing through a master lease agreement–and renovating Olson Campus Center and Gullixson Hall as the center of our academic and community life together.
The magnitude of this meeting was not lost on anyone. There were honest and heartfelt conversations among board members, faculty, staff, and students. Prayers for the Holy Spirit’s guidance were offered continually. In the video below, I recap the meeting, along with the key takeaways. Please view it in its entirety.
Some key points from the video are summarized below:
Specifics of the Transaction
- We will vacate the lower campus, which will become a mix of affordable, senior, and market-rate housing.
- Master Properties will purchase, and then invest significantly, in renovating Bockman Hall into one-bedroom microapartments and studios–around 50 of which will be leased back to Luther Seminary for student housing on a master lease.
- Gullixson and Olson Campus Center will be remodeled to provide fantastic spaces for teaching, learning, and community formation.
- We will retain the Branston Street houses.
The board reaffirmed how important the integration of housing is with our curricular commitments and continued to direct us to ensure that our housing strategy aligns with our commitment to vocational formation in community.
The agreement with Master Properties will include a long-term master lease for around 50 spots for students in the remodeled units. The Branston Street houses have 30-40 additional spots. This will give us a total of 80-90 housing slots under our direct control for residential and short-term housing.
Due to innovations such as adding intensive periods during the academic year and the launch of MDivX, there are still things we don’t know about the housing needs of our community, including options for international students, residential students, commuter students, distributed learners, and families. Therefore, we will take the following actions:
- Establish a centralized student housing office.
- Hire a director of student housing.
- Use the next two years as a period of experimentation and study, in which a task force of faculty, staff, and students, managed out of the office of student affairs, will a) determine the best possible use of the housing units under our control; and b) explore other creative solutions, such as need-based stipends and partnerships.
We are entering a season of disruption and transition. The faculty and board had a heartfelt dialogue about how physical space affects learning–and we all felt keenly that our highest priority is ensuring the quality of our students’ learning experience both during and after the transition period.
To ensure all the right stakeholders are involved in the process, the board and I agree that implementation of the project must include ongoing consultation with faculty, staff, and students. Therefore, Dean Lange and I will work on formalizing a consultative process in the coming days.
In the meantime, we already know we need help on a number of committees related to the transition in our physical spaces. If you would like to be involved, please use this form to let us know that you would be open to volunteering, and in which capacities you’d be most interested in serving.
Robin J. Steinke, President