At its March 6 meeting, the executive committee of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago board of directors approved approximately $1 million in cuts to the seminary's 2009-2010 fiscal year budget. Cuts include elimination or indefinite suspension of seven staff positions and one faculty position.
In November, the LSTC board of directors appointed a Special Finance Task Force made up of board members, faculty and administration to identify ways for the seminary to operate and negotiate its way through the national and international economic crisis.
"The Special Financial Task Force asked that the 2009-2010 budget be reduced by $1 million to make LSTC less dependent on earnings from its endowment - earnings it could no longer count on in these times," said Dr. David Wegge, chairperson of the board of directors.
"In order for LSTC to continue its mission of preparing leaders for ministry during these challenging economic times, it, like so many other institutions, faced some extremely difficult decisions," Wegge said.
The three full-time staff people whose positions were eliminated received a severance package and will be able to get assistance with retraining and job search expenses.
One administrative staff person will retire on June 30 and the position will not be filled. Three part-time academic administrative staff contracts will end on June 30 and not be renewed. One part-time staff person will be reassigned to a new position, and one faculty member has agreed to cut back to half-time teaching for the 2009-2010 school year.
In addition to these personnel cuts, pay reductions of 4%, 5%, and 6% will go into effect on July 1 for all non-student employees.
LSTC had already eliminated more than $400,000 from the current year's budget by cutting back in almost every department of the seminary including drastic reductions in travel, suspending searches, and cutting student worker hours.
"I am grateful that my colleagues at LSTC understand how serious the economic downturn is for all seminaries. They are doing all they can to strengthen LSTC as we move into the future," said President James Kenneth Echols. "Therefore, since it is by God's mercy that we are engaged in this ministry, we do not lose heart. LSTC continues to be a place where students who yearn to be servants of the Gospel come to be prepared; where faculty share their insights and learning in ways that make a difference, and where the staff share their talents in support of this ministry of preparation."
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The Lutheran School of Theology (LSTC) is dedicated to bearing witness to the good news of Jesus Christ. Based in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood, it is the leading urban Lutheran seminary training students for purposeful vocations in the global community. Aligned with its Lutheran heritage and built on a foundation of intellectual rigor, LSTC’s innovative, nationally recognized curriculum gives students skills for visionary Christian leadership in the public sphere.