Board hid financial troubles from students, collected tuition, then closed

Rob Manning has the story on OPB here. While falling enrollment was the biggest problem, it appears Concordia’s homophobic financiers at The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod got mad about the university’s support for LGBTQ students, and suddenly cut their bond funding:

Last August, dozens of prospective students and their parents toured the Northeast Portland campus of Concordia University. They saw dorm rooms and a recently dedicated central quad, the glass facade of the administration building and the new turf athletic fields.

Questions about the school’s financial problems, driven by lagging enrollment, were quickly downplayed by university officials.

“We’ve had a residential community of about 500 for the last few years, and we expect that to continue,” Madeline Turnock, a spokesperson for Concordia, told OPB last August. “If anything, our number of traditional ‘on ground’ incoming freshmen is growing.”

Yet within six months, Concordia leaders announced the university was closing.


But the university’s approach to the LGBTQ community — including the mere existence of Concordia’s “Queer Straight Alliance student group — has been an irritation to church leaders in St. Louis.”

“A club advocating homosexuality is not possible, under the Constitution and Bylaws of the Synod, on a Concordia campus,” the Synod’s president, Matthew Carl Harrison, said at a February 2018 meeting, according to board minutes. …

But the Synod also pressed the university on issues of gender and sexual identity.

“Resolved, that the chairman of the board inform the leadership of the Concordia University System and Concordia University, Portland,” read the November 2019 minutes, “that it will not again approve any financial action for the benefit of the university until the university has substantively addressed the issues regarding the Gender and Sexuality Resource Center and brought its articles and bylaws back into conformity with the requirements of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.”

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