Our own church body has seen the closure of six schools since the 1970s. Concordia Senior College, St. Paul's College, St. John's College, Concordia Selma, Concordia Portland, and, now, Concordia Bronxville have closed or are closing. Concordia Ann Arbor did not close but became a satellite campus of Concordia Mequon. Though the circumstances of eachwas are different, all of them suffered under the weight of increasing costs, difficult competition for students, and financial problems. All of them received investment from the Synod and loans from Synod entities. All of them had energetic administrators who tried just about anything and everything to save the schools from closing. None of them could be justified on the basis of the purpose for which the Synod began those schools -- the training of church workers. They might not be the last of the schools closed.
I spent more than 13 years in the Atlantic District and countless hours on the campus of Concordia Bronxville. I attended meetings, district conventions, convocations, musical events, ate in the dining hall, studied in the library, and so many other things over those years there -- all held on the campus of Concordia. The district office moved there while I was in the district -- occupying a portion of a college building and sharing conference space. I knew faculty and administration over those years and since. They did their best for the sake of the college and for the sake of the Synod over the years. It was not for lack of trying that Bronxville ended up deciding to close at the end of this school year. I particularly believe that John Nunes was perhaps their last and best hope of preventing this end to a history that is larger than life. Many of the players in Missouri's history matriculated from Bronxville -- people on both sides of the theological spectrum! But those days have come and gone. Those there during my years in the district whom I knew best included Dean Green, Edgar
Aufdemberge, Ralph, Dorothy and Timothy Schultz, Gerry Coleman, Tom Sluberski, Dick Heschke, among others. . . (not including a couple of Senior College profs who ended up at Bronxville).
Indeed, that is the problem. The whole system of Synod colleges was designed primarily for one purpose -- to train up church workers for the Synod. Most were two year schools and it was not until the early 1980s that they became four year schools or were closed. Things were already changing then though no one could have foreseen how few Lutherans would be on our campuses, much less the dearth of church work students preparing for church vocations. The transitions were hopeful but barely a generation out it was apparent that not all schools were flourishing and some might not make it. For some, risky decisions were undertaken that, if successful, would have been lauded but when they were not, those who made them were seen to be short-sighted or downright foolish. I wish that it were not the case but the reality is that we are seeing the end of a system of colleges we proudly called our own.