Concordia University System

by Adriane Dorr

Q. What is the Concordia University System (CUS)?

The CUS consists of:

  • Ten colleges and universities
  • 27,000 students
  • Over 2,000 full- and part-time faculty
  • Over 200 programs of study
  • One solid foundation, God’s Word, for a Christ-centered educational environment

Q. What is the current number of students enrolled in a church vocation, and how does that compare to past years?

2010 — 1,954

2009 — 1,900

2008 — 2,034

2007 — 2,237

2006 — 2,406

Five church-work professional programs saw increased enrollment in the 2010–2011 academic year: pre-seminary, teacher, director of Christian outreach, deaconess, and director of parish music.


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Q. What do the 2010–2011 CUS enrollment numbers look like?

This has been a record-breaking year for many of the Concordias. Selma posted one of its highest student enrollments—a 10 percent increase over last year—and Seward’s total enrollment for fall 2010 was the largest in its 117-year history.

Mequon, WI  — 7,485

River Forest, IL — 5,223

Irvine, CA  — 2,969

St. Paul, MN  — 2,842

Austin, TX  — 2,573

Seward, NE  — 2,146

Portland, OR  — 2,114

Bronxville, NY  — 777

Ann Arbor, MI  — 668

Selma, AL — 657

Q. Is there financial aid available to church-work students?

A. Each of the ten campuses, in addition to the national office of CUS, raises funds to provide financial aid to students. In the 2009–10 academic year, the CUS offered more than $88 million in financial aid to students. While individual awards will vary, the average financial aid package for church-work students was $10,615 in that same year.

Q. Are the Concordias recognized outside of the LCMS for the quality of the education they provide?

A. For the 11th consecutive year, all 10 of the Concordia colleges/universities were included in the annual rankings of “America’s Best Colleges” by U.S. News & World Report.

Q. Hw do individuals prepare to serve as church-work professionals?

A. God prepares future workers for the church through a process that usually starts in the home, continues in the local congregation and culminates in centers of higher education, the church’s colleges/universities or the seminaries. Serving as church professionals, the workers model the joy of sharing the love of Jesus Christ though uplifting words and actions. CUS programming options prepare pastors, teachers, deaconesses, directors of Christian education, Christian outreach, family life ministry, parish music, and lay ministers.

A CUS Q & A with Dr. David Maier

Q. What makes the Concordia University System(CUS) unique?

A. The Concordias are distinct because they provide a Christ-centered, Lutheran, foundational education.

Q. Why is the CUS so important in the training of church workers?

A. I believe these colleges are capable of influencing the world. Not only are there numerous pastors and other church workers who have gone through one of the Concordias, but also many who now serve as lay leaders—engineers, doctors, lawyers, architects, communication and art directors and small business owners. And now they are using the gifts that God has given them to serve Him.

Q. What challenges does the CUS face?

A. Some of our schools have struggled both in terms of finances and leadership. But we mustn’t lose sight of the fact that we’re also in a battle. We’re fighting Satan. By the grace of God, however, things are turning around. Capable leaders are now heading these institutions and more people are recognizing the value of our Concordias. They are gems we just can’t let go.

Q. What does the CUS do for the church?

A. Eternity is important. Kids vary in terms of their spiritual maturity. But when they get their foundational religion and doctrine classes at a Concordia, they’re enlightened and inspired. They’re strengthened. They’re equipped to go into so many fields, enabled to see what’s wrong and right, to stand for truth and live in respectful awe of the grand design of an awesome God.

Q. How can LCMS members encourage students to consider a Concordia?

A. It takes parishioners and professional church workers praying that we take these particular gifts of God—students and our colleges—seriously. God will answer, for He is far more willing to give than we are to receive. Everyone can do something. We should be continually talking about our Concordias, taking our youth on trips to a Concordia. Ask, “Have you ever considered . . . ?” Highlight the eternal difference young people can make with the Jesus who is for them, in them and works through them. If it’s in church work, great. If not, that’s great too. No matter what, God is ready to use and bless all His children.

How can I encourage a young person to consider church work?

  • Pray regularly for the Lord to send workers into His harvest, as well as for those who serve in congregations, schools, missions and other ministries.
  • Keep professional church-work professions, Synod schools, and the need for more workers constantly before the eyes of the congregation.
  • Offer opportunities for both youth and potential second-career church-work students to participate actively in the life of the church.
  • Help students attending non-Lutheran colleges make contact with campus pastors and nearby Lutheran churches. Provide an intentional effort to stay in touch with them.
  • Invite former members who have entered full-time church work to return to your congregation to speak or meet with interested youth and adults.
  • Visit or blog for more information on church-work programs.

> Concordia College, Selma, recently began a 35-acre expansion, doubling the campus’s current size.

> The inaugural class of 71 students began at the Pharmacy School at Concordia University Wisconsin in September 2010.

> Concordia University, Portland, projects fall 2011 for the completion of the new Law School building in Boise, ID.

> For additional information, please visit us at or email

> For 18 consecutive years, enrollment has increased at a pace of five to seven percent. The church vocation student count for 2010 is up 54 students from 2009.

> For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 3:11).

About the Author: Adriane Dorr is the managing editor of The Lutheran Witness.

May 2011

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