December 4, 2017

Dec. 4, 2017

Dear Colleagues,

Today, I am pleased to launch President's Update, an e-brief providing updates about priority initiatives, projects and issues. If you have topics you would like addressed in the Update, please send those to  

What’s happening with the Strategic Plan?
Thank you to those who participated in the Community Forums last Thursday and Friday to discuss Draft 3 of the Strategic Plan. We appreciated the engaged discussion around the questions:

  • What parts of the plan resonate with you most?
  • What parts of the plan do you think will make the greatest impact upon Luther College in the next five years?
  • What parts of the plan need to be bolder or amplified?

Feedback from the forums will be incorporated into the final draft of the plan. If you have not had a chance to review the latest draft, I encourage you to do so. Please send your comments and feedback to Brad Chamberlain


Eric Runestad, co-chairs of the Action Plan Task Force.

I am looking forward to the many ways the Strategic Plan will foster academic innovation, a vibrant campus community and institutional sustainability. Creating learning hubs in other cities, launching a student leadership institute, investing in professional development for faculty and staff, strategically growing our academic offerings, infusing inclusive excellence throughout our campus, establishing a Center for Innovation … these are some of the ways we will build on our strengths and create a strong future for the college, attracting students and preparing them to thrive.

If you are wondering about the timeline and process for completing the Strategic Plan: This third draft of the Strategic Plan incorporates feedback from the Board of Regents’ October meeting when they asked that the next draft be more aspirational, focused and specific. At that time, there were 64 activities identified under four goals.

Over the past month, the Strategic Planning Committee, the Action Plan Task Force, Cabinet and a writing team have worked to create Draft 3, which attempts to reduce the activities by about 20 percent, focus the goals under key themes, and ensure that the plan is providing aspirational direction that builds on our strengths while identifying where we need to focus for future success.

Over the next two months, the Action Plan Task Force will work to create a multi-year action plan. They will refine activities, prioritize and stage the actions, and identify resources, responsibilities and evaluation metrics. The final draft of the plan will be ready in early February for review by the campus community and approval by the Board of Regents. 

End of year notes
I am pleased to share a few updates as we approach the end of 2017:

  • We have raised nearly $12 million through Dec. 1. While we have experienced strong fundraising results in recent years, our year to date progress puts us on pace for a record-breaking year in gift support for the college. Thank you to our development team and all of you who are working with them to engage with our alumni and donors.
  • As of Nov. 30, we are running 8 percent ahead in applications for admission to the class of 2022 and 45 percent ahead in deposits in comparison to the same time last year. Thank you to our admissions team and our faculty, staff and students for engaging with prospective students to share the outstanding education and opportunities we offer here at Luther.
  • Last week’s Christmas at Luther Visit event for high school students was a great success with 114 students attending and more than 40 students auditioning for music scholarships. Many thanks to the faculty and staff who met with prospective students and helped to make the visit day so successful.
  • This fall, we launched an Alumni nomination scholarships program through our admissions office. Alumni propose a student’s name and commit to staying in touch with the student. In the first five months of the program Luther alumni made 823 referrals; 672 of those are for students who would start at Luther in fall 2018.  
  • We have renewed our partnership with College Possible, an organization based in St. Paul that works with first generation and underrepresented students to support them as they prepare to enroll in college.  College Possible works with students in five cities across the country. As a member we will have recruitment access to all students enrolled in the College Possible program as well as to their college success coaches. In addition, College Possible recently chose Luther College as one of their Catalyze schools. I look forward to sharing more about this partnership in the new year. 

I wish you all the best as you prepare for finals week at Luther College!

Paula J. Carlson

President, Luther College