Message from the President
The President’s message for the annual report always presents a problem for me. My task is to cover the highlights of the 2018-2019 academic year while the excellent management staff of Luther College writes about most of the events of the College; Michelle Clark, our Manager of Alumni Relations, Development & Communications, ensures it all gets put together in a pretty format. So here are some highlights; I could have picked a dozen more!
After many months of work by our Board of Regents and particularly its Governing Committee, our new Act of Luther College, Regina Incorporated, received Royal Assent in the Saskatchewan Legislature on December 5, 2018. The reasons for the development of this new Act were covered in the last Annual Report but David Solheim, Chair of the Board of Regents, put it best when he said “we are bringing the Luther Act home”. The most significant development under the new Act is that Luther College will now hold its own Annual General meeting every year, rather than having our meeting occur at the same time as the national convention of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada. The new Act is not just a new beginning but an indication that our Board of Regents has come of age realizing its responsibility for best governance practices and the need to keep our legislation and by-laws concerning governance current. We are also very grateful to the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Advanced Education for their part in facilitating this process as well as the political parties of the Saskatchewan legislature for making us feel so welcome and recognizing the need to make this happen. Within a few weeks of Royal Assent, the Board of Regents set about planning the first AGM to be held in October of 2019.
The other major work begun by our Board of Regents in this academic year was the search for a new president. In September of 2018, I officially notified the Board that I would be retiring at the end of June 2020. As much as I love this College and my job, I am also coming to that age where I would like a bit more flexibility in my schedule; I am also convinced that new leadership after ten years will help this College progress even further in many ways. After hearing of my decision, the Board began assembling a search committee, considered what the main attributes of a new President should be and set about hiring a consultant to aid the process. By the end of June, a search committee and consultant were named and an ad prepared for international distribution.
Our High School (LCHS) campus passed another milestone completing its $13.5M A Time to Build campaign in the spring of 2019. Our already leading donors, Merlis Belsher and Gavin Semple, offered matching dollar-for-dollar donations that comprised the final $2M of the campaign. Maureen Harrison, our Chief Development Officer, is to be commended for her unflinching determination to complete the campaign and help ensure the stable financial future of our LCHS campus.
The three year strategic plan of the LCHS campus was finished at the end of June 2019 with great strides forward in many key areas. Physical and mental wellness had received great emphasis with new programs now in place. The diversity of the school population had increased with students from many countries and those from Saskatchewan representing a greater breadth of socio-economic strata. Academic and social supports had been put into place for these students who would need that help. A new student information system (MySchoolSask) is in the midst of being implemented and co-curricular and athletic activities had been strengthened in many ways including the addition of an Assistant Athletic Director.
In good governance practice, the Board of Regents, in close consultation with management and staff of the LCHS campus, began work on the next strategic plan which would bridge from my term as president to the new President, giving the new president a year or two with a plan before starting their own plan. In June 2019, the Board determined five strategic directions for the bridging strategic plan including academics, students, human resources, financial viability/risk management and community building. By March, 2020, the College’s management, faculty, and staff are to have fleshed out the strategic plan that will support these strategic directions.
On a slightly different timetable, the Board had determined the strategic directions for the University (LCUR) campus earlier and in June, 2019, the LCUR campus management, faculty, and staff presented a strategic plan that, like the LCHS campus, will bridge to the new President. Prominent strategic initiatives of the new plan for 2019-2021 include: renewing the faculty complement which has decreased due to recent retirements; alumni mentorship for our students; certification for our Non-Profit & Volunteer Sector Studies Network and its academic programs; enhancing our Writing Across the Disciplines program; increasing our efforts to respond to the Truth and Reconciliation Calls to Action; increasing our efforts at Indigenization; establishing a pre-professional society for our students; enhancing mental wellness among our students, faculty and staff; development of our multi-faith peer chaplaincy; focusing on human resource needs within the campus; continuing to establish our financial sustainability and managing our risks; prioritizing and accomplishing various renovations to our physical plant and beginning plans for the 50th anniversary of the LCUR campus. The plan got off to a great start with the Board approving the permanent position of Scott J. Wilson as our Writing Across the Disciplines Coordinator; Scott’s work with faculty and students to ensure that students graduating from LCUR courses are good writers is already recognized as a campus standard.
Close relations with the University of Regina continued as Dr. Vianne Timmons, UofR President, renewed her term; Dr. Timmons has been a strong advocate of the federated college system. Other important staff developments at our LCUR campus include the planned return to the professorial ranks of former Dean Dr. Volker Greifenhagen. His good work continues in the training he provided to his successor, Dr. Yvonne Petry, who became the new Dean in July of 2018 and did a great job in her first year.
Our recruiting for the LCUR campus received new energy with a new communications message directed to the Generation Z students whose concern with community, sustainability, and global citizenship speak directly to the continuing emphasis of the LCUR campus over the past twenty plus years. This emphasis was complemented by a renaming of our residence as “The Student Village”, a concept that indicates our residence as a place where community, support and all the services of home are there to serve our students. The ‘sustainability’ message was reinforced by the International Association of Universities when it named Luther College, and the University of Regina, as the institutional lead on United Nations Sustainable Development Goal #12 “Responsible Consumption and Production”. Dr. Roger Petry, Associate Professor of Philosophy, was the key person in bringing this honour and responsibility to Luther College and ultimately the University of Regina.
At the Board level, long-serving Regent Bruce McDowell resigned from the Board citing the desire for more flexibility in his schedule, testifying again to the tremendous hours of volunteer work that our Board does for our College. Daryl Nelson has stepped up to fill Bruce’s position as Treasurer. New Regents filling vacancies until their election at the October 2019 AGM were Pastor Victoria Mwamasika, Dwight Nelson, and Andrea Wagner. David Solheim, who did an admirable job as Chair of the Board and whose term on the Board expires at the next AGM, stepped down as Board Chair at the end of June, 2019 though he has agreed to continue to serve as the Chair of the President’s Search Committee beyond that time.
Our year ended very sadly with the untimely passing of Mark Leupold, much loved teacher of history at the LCHS campus. Mark had served the College for over thirty years, and had retired but had returned to teaching at the LCHS campus in maternity leave positions. He was invigilating the College’s final exam of June when he passed from this world. Mr. Leupold will be remembered for his tremendous devotion to his students, love of history and embodiment of “Quality Education in a Christian context”. We will miss him greatly.
But the good work of Luther College continues, thanks to the dedication of its staff, faculty, alumni, and friends who support it. I thank them all for their hard work, gifts, and prayers of support.
Blessings to all who read this,
President Bryan Hillis, Ph.D.
Luther College, Regina, Saskatchewan