Dr. Thomas Ries

Dr. Thomas Ries, interim president of Concordia University - Portland, announced the closure in a video on the university's website.

Concordia University in Seward is reaching out a helping hand to students affected by the closure of its sister school, Concordia University - Portland in Oregon.

CU - Portland, one of nine Concordias in the university system, announced Feb. 10 it will close its doors at the end of the Spring 2020 semester. The announcement came three days after a Feb. 7 vote and resolution by CU - Portland’s Board of Regents.

“The board’s decision came after years of mounting financial challenges, and a challenging and changing educational landscape,” a statement on the CU - Portland website said.

“After much prayer and consideration of all options to continue Concordia University - Portland’s 115-year legacy, the Board of Regents concluded that the university’s current and projected enrollment and finances make it impossible to continue its educational mission,” Interim President Dr. Thomas Ries said in the statement. “We have come to the decision this is in the best interest of our students, faculty, staff and partners.”

Since the announcement was made, the other presidents in the university system issued their own joint statement, including Concordia Nebraska’s interim President Rev. Russ Sommerfeld of Seward.

“Although the institutions of the Concordia University System operate independently, we walk together in mission. We resolve to help Portland students, who have unexpectedly found themselves in a very difficult situation. We are committed to offering pathways that enable our fellow Concordians to find their way to a new Concordia home. Our primary aim in the wake of this announcement is to care for displaced students and faculty and to smooth their transitions,” the presidents wrote.

“The loss of the Portland campus reflects the seriousness of the challenges facing the nation’s private institutions and strengthens the resolve of our campuses in California, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nebraska, New York, Texas and Wisconsin to collectively provide the highest quality Lutheran educational choice for future generations of post-secondary learners.”

Their statement said the system educates more than 35,000 students and employs more than 4,000 faculty across the nation and world.

Logan Tuttle, marketing communications specialist at Concordia Nebraska, said the Seward campus is sending a team to Portland to talk with displaced students about their options and how their credits will transfer.

“Portland is hosting a college fair on their campus Feb. 18, and we have a team going up there to visit with students and answer any questions they may have about course evaluations, financial aid and academic programs,” Tuttle said.

According to Concordia - Portland Transfer Guarantee information on the Concordia Nebraska website, students who choose to come to Seward will have all their academic credits transferred. Their enrollment fee and the first year of residence hall room costs will be waived.

“In addition, we will do everything in our power to make all reasonable accommodations to help these students graduate on time,” the site said.

CU - Portland will hold its final commencement ceremony on April 25, and its final ceremony for its School of Law on May 2.

“In the board’s best judgment, a thoughtful and orderly closure process offers the best possible outcome for all affected parties,” the university’s statement said. “The University is in active discussions with our accrediting bodies to provide our students the opportunity to continue their educational journey under the guidance of new institutions that fit their needs and can help faculty and staff transition to the next phase of their professional lives.”

The statement said the campus, which has been a part of the community for more than 100 years, will be returned to the LCMS and the Lutheran Church Extension Fund, who will likely seek a buyer for the 24 acres.

More information about the Transfer Guarantee is available at cune.edu/portland.

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