Good Courage

President Jenifer K. Ward

Dear Luther Community,

Two hundred years ago, Luther’s Norwegian forebears set sail for America in the first organized immigration from Norway to this country. They could not have known what would lie ahead, either as they crossed the ocean or as they disembarked and made their way toward Decorah. The beloved Lutheran retreat center Holden Village was still just the wild side of a mountain along Copper Creek in the Cascades. But I can imagine the boat passengers intoning the thoughts contained in the “Holden Prayer” under their breath as they sailed: “O God, you have called your servants to ventures of which we cannot see the ending, by paths as yet untrodden, through perils unknown. Give us faith to go out with good courage, not knowing where we go, but only that your hand is leading us and your love supporting us; through Jesus Christ our Lord.”

In many ways, what we often hear referred to as “headwinds” in higher education require us to have similar good courage, as the students seeking a college education are fewer and the American public questions the value of what we offer at places like Luther more and more.

In this issue of the Luther magazine, you will hear from our director of admissions about how Luther is thinking about these demographic shifts. You will also read about one aspect of our response, through the newly configured Office of Student Success (OSS). OSS implements high-impact retention initiatives and targeted faculty and staff development to create opportunities to strengthen students’ academic abilities, cultural competency, and self-advocacy while supporting their personal growth and sense of belonging.

We are sailing faithfully into our future in a spirit of continuous improvement, and with intense focus on equipping our students—through our faculty and staff—with the tools they will need to navigate not just education, but civic life in general. At the same time, we know that our alumni are our best ambassadors for telling the world the ways in which their lives and their communities have benefited from a Luther education.

You contribute to our good courage, and for that we give thanks.

Soli Deo Gloria,

President Jenifer K. Ward