Interim Thoughts                                                                                                        September 6, 2017


Integration Process Update 

Almost everyone at Trinity is managing dual responsibilities this fall. We are at work to get the new school year well started, welcoming new students and those who are returning. And, we are at work to help achieve a successful integration of Trinity and Capital. Forming leaders for the church at work in the world is the mission that guides us in paying attention to matters large and small. The days are full.

Elements of the process:

  • Trinity faculty and staff are working with Capital counterparts in every arena for planning and problem solving. There are large coordination groups including one that attends to all aspects of the student experience—academics, enrollment, housing, identification, security, and much more.  We’re working at IT systems integration. There are pairs and small teams working in specific areas relating to faculty, finance, endowment, student records and more. We continue our own work on curriculum and degree requirements, in consultation with Capital counterparts.

  • Under memoranda of agreement between the two schools, Capital is now managing Trinity facilities and property, our housing and parking, and working very closely with us in the areas of admissions, contextual education and advancement.  

  • With good intent, the two schools continue to make careful plans, but inevitably some things are missed and problems result. From what I have seen, these are usually being addressed well from both sides, and then plans and arrangements are revised. For example, the Trinity apartments and other residences are now housing both our students and others students and their families. Capital’s existing policies were designed primarily for undergraduates and don’t all fit for seminary students and their children. Adjustments are being made with grace in both communities. We’ll keep at it.

  • Inter-school communication is sometimes challenging. On the Trinity side, we’re accustomed to a small school where one quickly learns which office can handle a question, and we’re adept at knowing who needs to be kept in the loop. Many things are determined and communicated informally. Because Capital is much larger, there is necessarily a more complex staffing structure and more formality in decision making and communication. We’re sometimes unsure where to find answers and we’re occasionally blind-sided. Our Capital colleagues know their familiar processes and naturally use them. We are helping them develop some new habits of asking questions about who should be consulted and informed. We at Trinity are learning to understand new ways of operating and are making suggestions for things that need to change to serve the seminary’s mission. Again, I see lots of good will, some missteps, and mutual problem solving.
  • The search for a new Dean of the Seminary continues, led by Capital President Beth Paul. After the dean is appointed, appointments will also be made for an Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Director of Programs. In the latter positions, time will be divided between ongoing teaching and the administrative work.

  • The Trinity and Capital boards both meet the first weekend of November. Each school intends to be ready for its board to take the final legal steps for the integration as Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University. That action will then be on the November agenda of the ELCA Church Council for approval. January 1, 2018 is the target date for the beginning of the new institution.

  • The good and challenging work of integrating mission and operation will, of course, continue on into the future.

Though we rightly spend much of our time and energy on policy, process, structure and legal documents, we seek always to keep vision and mission at the forefront. For example, we are working on ways to tell the Trinity story to our new colleagues who may not have had any reason to know much about our work. We’re thinking of means to help Capital personnel understand more about seminaries in general and Trinity in particular. 

Communicating with you and hearing from you—alumni and friends—is a priority. You help us keep on track with the deep Christian mission of Trinity, strong and evolving over the decades. You help us seize new opportunities. Thanks to all of you who have responded to me by various means, sharing your insights and questions. Please continue.

Through all these days and in the midst of many important tasks, the Trinity community is also deeply engaged in thinking, praying and talking about the seminary we hope to be, drawing on Trinity’s accumulated wisdom and skill and our shared readiness to explore the rich possibilities of integration with Capital. In the next two editions of Interim Thoughts, I plan to share something of the evolving vision.


Stan Olson

Interim President

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Trinity Days: September 28 - 29, 2017
From Dialogue to Commemoration & Beyond: Catholic-Lutheran Relations after 500 years.
Featured presenters: Dr. Kathryn L. Johnson, director of ecumenical and inter-religious relations for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America & Dr. Susan K. Wood, a Sister of Charity of Leavenworth, Kansas & a professor of systematic theology at Marquette University. More details at
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