05 December, 2012

Life In "Concordia Land"

The University of Wittenberg in the 19th century
Martin Noland notes: "In Germany, Scandinavia, and the Baltics, the Lutherans had–and still have–great universities that produced some of the leading thinkers, scholars, authors, inventors, scientists, engineers, etc. in the 16th to 20th century." What about Lutheran higher education in the States?

If you're dying to find out, read Noland's little essay on life in "Concordia Land." It's on one of our favorite blogs, Steadfast Lutherans. To bookmark it, click the link on the right.

1 comment:

Steve Gehrke said...

Paul McCain in the comments for Noland's post said that the Concordias had been established by the LCMS as 2 year schools, upgraded by fiat to 4 year schools by JAO Preus.

His defense of the CU's mediocre rankings by USNWR is that they were not founded with the intent to be 'great universities" and with little direct support from the LCMS shouldn't be criticized for not being such, or for pursuing non-Lutheran students.

It caught my eye that Noland's piece states that the CU's are lower rated than almost all ELCA, WELS and ELS colleges. What was different in the histories of those colleges that led (at least some) of them to become something more than "A+ Schools for B students" - the tagline given by USNWR to the the highest rated CU's (Mequon and Seward)? I've heard from different sources that Valpo had been the unofficial LCMS university alternative to the historical role of CU teacher colleges. Was that intentional, or by default? Obviously I don't know much about the history of Lutheran higher education in the US. I'm aware of the broad secularizing trends of higher ed for all historically church-supported schools, but how is it that the LCMS wound up with none highly rated? I'm sure that's a book length answer, so I pose these questions mostly as observations, not expecting a blog-post answer.

St. Olaf is the only Lutheran school on my son's radar screen as it is the only one academically strong in his potential majors (considering a double major in math or physics and music), that we're aware of anyway. How did it wind up so much better by academics and reputation than any CU? We went there for a recruiting day last summer and while they did take us through the chapel as part of the standard campus tour which was nice, they also emphasized that they didn't expect students to be Lutheran. So we aren't expecting anything distinctively Lutheran about the education at St. Olaf. Of course the biggest drawback about considering St. Olaf is the fact that it has among the highest tuition rates in the US!