First Woman to Serve as Luther Seminary President
(March 26, 2014) The Luther Seminary Board of Directors has elected the Rev. Dr. Robin J. Steinke to be the St. Paul, Minn., Seminary’s next president. Steinke, who has served as the Dean of Gettysburg Seminary since 2003, and as its Professor of Ethics and Public Life since 1999, is the first woman in the 145-year history of the seminary to be named president.
The announcement was made in St. Paul, Minn., by Pastor Jim Lindus, Chair of the Luther Seminary Board of Directors. Steinke will succeed the Rev. Rick Foss, who has been the interim president since December 2012. Steinke will take office on June 1, 2014. Established in 1869, Luther Seminary is the largest of the eight Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA) seminaries, the result of six separate institutions consolidating through a series of mergers, the first in 1917, into a single seminary.
Speaking for the Gettysburg Seminary community, President Michael Cooper-White said, “For 15 years, Dr. Robin Steinke has been an extraordinary member of the Gettysburg Seminary faculty, serving the past dozen years as Dean of the Seminary. Her leadership has been outstanding as we have undergone institutional transformation in many ways, and as she has embodied the Gettysburg tradition in broad circles nationally and internationally.”
During Steinke’s tenure as dean, the Seminary initiated innovative curricular changes, including a Certificate of Theological Studies and concentration in Religion and Media. She has led the faculty in exploring a “competency-based” approach to education and formation, whereby future seminarians may gain credit for prior education and vocationally gained skills and knowledge. Her encouragement of and support for faculty has enabled many professors to enhance their teaching and complete an impressive array of widely acclaimed scholarly publications. Assessing her many contributions, Cooper-White stated, “Dr. Steinke’s leadership as dean has positioned Gettysburg Seminary on the leading edge of theological education as we face all the challenges before us. She has been a model of a flexible, adaptable leader, exemplifying the kind of person we seek to send forth as a graduate.”
Following the announcement of her election, Gus Blanchard, Board of Director and Chair of the Presidential Search Committee said, “Her forward-looking leadership skills, ability to build strong, productive relationships, financial acumen and commitment to academic quality, ministry and mission make her a marvelous fit for Luther Seminary. We are thrilled to have her join us as our next President.”
President-elect Steinke extended her thoughts about the Gettysburg Seminary community: “I am deeply grateful to the Gettysburg community, faculty, administration, staff, students, board and alumni for their trust, patience, and encouragement as I learned how to be a contributing member of this lively community of learning. I shall miss the close working relationship with students in class, faculty colleagues, staff, and dedicated board members. I am especially grateful for the leadership of President Cooper-White and the Board of Directors who have been instrumental in creating the institutional space for me to flourish. I look forward to this new call where we can continue to collaborate as we all live into new ways of serving the mission of the Gospel through theological education with many audiences, through innovative modalities, and in long term sustainable ways.”
As an indication of Steinke’s extensive experience in academic leadership, Steinke is now in her last year serving on the Association of Theological Schools Board of Commissioners (ATS) which is responsible for accreditation of the 260 plus member schools in North America. She also regularly serves as chair of accreditation visits for both ATS and the regional accreditor, Middle States Commission on Higher Education (MSCHE). And currently, she serves as an ELCA representative to the Lutheran World Federation Council and as chair of the LWF Endowment Fund.
Cooper-White described the depth of appreciation across the Gettysburg Seminary community for Steinke, “As she concludes her service here on Seminary Ridge, we express our deepest gratitude for all that she has shared with us. While her loss to this community of faith and learning is great, we salute the wisdom of our colleagues at Luther Seminary in calling her as their next president, and we look forward to expanded partnership with another great school of the church."
Gettysburg Seminary is expected to name an interim Dean of the Seminary at its next meeting of the Board of Directors, April 22-23, 2014.
The Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg, the oldest of the eight seminaries of the 4 million-member Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, prepares women and men to be outreach oriented public theologians and mission leaders. It provides programs in continuing studies, advanced theological education, and specialized educational programs for informed lay persons, ordained and other rostered leaders, and high school youth.
for more information, see the Luther Seminary website: http://www.luthersem.edu/news/default.aspx?news_item_id=369