President Carlson gives Luther College State of the College Address

Board of Regents Chair Wendy Davidson outlines plan for presidential search

Luther College President Paula Carlson gave her final State of the College Address Thursday, Aug. 23, in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall on Luther's campus.

After welcoming faculty and staff to the Service of Dedication, President Carlson spoke on the completion of the current strategic plan and the launching of the new strategic plan, Inspired. Empowered. Engaged.

Carlson outlined the basics of the new plan including increasing enrollment, improving persistence of Luther students, increasing gifts and grants, and generating new sources of revenue.

"Through the work outlined in the new strategic plan, we are increasing our value proposition, improving affordability, increasing brand strength and awareness, and creating opportunities for new transfer pathways and degree programs," Carlson said.

She spoke on the enrollment plan and building an integrated four-year retention model to support student persistence, including working within the TRIO program, the Student Academic Support Center and the Next Steps for Sophomores Initiative, and introducing the college's new partnership with College Possible and Catalyze.

President Carlson touched on the path laid out for securing a robust endowment, strengthening annual giving and encouraging grant opportunities.

She described options for developing new ways to generate revenue including increased summer programming, new academic programs aligned with market demand and potential new degree and certificate programs.

Highlighting specific accomplishments of the Luther College Priorities plan, Carlson reminded the community of the new major and minor in visual communications and minor in musical theatre; exceeding annual fundraising goals; the advances Lisa Scott has developed in the campus community through the office of Institutional Equity and Inclusion; and the re-visioning of the Student Engagement and Success Committee.

President Carlson thanked the campus community for their assistance in working with Admissions to welcome 575 new students to campus for the 2018-19 academic year, a six percent increase from last year. In her budget recap, she examined the deficit—more than half a million dollars lower than it was projected to be—and reaffirmed the college's commitment to balance the budget in three to five years.

She concluded with thanks and gratitude to the Luther community, and introduced Wendy Davidson, chair of the Luther College Board of Regents.

Davidson's began with a thank you to President Carlson and discussion on the value of and significance of transition.

"For Luther this means we take time to reflect… to remember our mission and purpose, to honor our history and legacy, while also acknowledging where we are in the present, facing internal and external realities. To use these as inputs to inform a path to our future," said Davidson.

Davidson also stressed the importance of prioritizing work that is most critical to enable growth in enrollment, retention and revenue, before announcing the "Regents' Promise."

"In recognition of this and to demonstrate our strong commitment to Luther's future, the board is excited to announce the "Regents' Promise," a $1 million outright commitment from current regents and regent emeriti with a goal of funding a $10 million endowment. The focus of this fund is to close the affordability gap for up to 40 students who are strong candidates for Luther and whose ability to attend is only limited by the financial aid gap," announced Davidson.

According to Davidson, among the board's most important work this year is executing the search for the 11th president of Luther. The board has selected Storbeck/Pimentel & Associates, a national higher education search firm, to partner with throughout the process. She committed to regular and transparent communication and encouraged the community to continue to engage and give input.

Davidson concluded with an invitation to collaborate and a thank you to President Carlson, saying "I want to thank Dr. Carlson again, on behalf of the board of regents, for her leadership and passion over the past four years. We are fortunate to have her partnership over this coming year and in welcoming the next president of Luther, who she will work with to create a smooth transition. I want to thank you, Paula, and the cabinet, staff and faculty, again, for setting a strong foundation for Luther's future."

President Paula Carlson giving the 2018 State of the College address at the Luther College Service of Dedication.
Wendy Davidson, chair of Luther College's Board of Regents, gave remarks on behalf of the Board at the 2018 Service of Dedication.