100 Years of Service – The LDA & Valparaiso University: Celebrating Partnership

Through the years, there have been many questions regarding the relationship between the LDA and Valparaiso University (VU). This week’s article contains excerpts from a 1980 statement written to address some of those questions. 2018 marked the 75th anniversary of the partnership between the LDA and VU. More information regarding how this partnership is lived out today will be shared in a future article.

“In 1943, the LDA was informed that the land on which the deaconess house was located would be needed by the owner – the Lutheran Hospital Association of Ft. Wayne. In response to the need for a new home, Pr. O.P. Kretzmann made the proposal that the LDA transfer its educational program to the campus of Valparaiso University. The LDA accepted the offer on a ‘definitely experimental’ basis.

The agreement between VU and the LDA was that deaconess training should ‘remain a separate entity and not become another department of VU but retain its unique identity’. VU would retain its autonomy in accepting deaconess applicants as students. The LDA would have the authority to accept students in the deaconess program and to determine their continuance in that program.

Other aspects of the original agreement were that VU charged the LDA students ½ tuition, the LDA Superintendent was given faculty status, and the LDA would make an annual contribution toward the budget of the VU Department of Theology.

Currently (1980), the LDA and VU are still independent of each other. Both are not-for-profit organizations, each of which has its own Board of Directors. The LDA has no formal representation on VU’s Board of Directors. VU has two representatives on the LDA’s Board of Directors (in an advisory capacity), a representative from the President’s Office and the chairman of the Theology Department.

VU must accept all applicants to the deaconess program as students at the University. VU provides all academic coursework for deaconess students, including the granting of credit for specific deaconess courses. VU gives faculty status (part-time instructor) to the person who teaches the Deaconess Work class. Members of the Theology Department serve as academic advisors to deaconess students. All deaconess students complete VU’s Theology major (receiving a B.A. degree), in addition to specific deaconess program requirements. Deaconess students receive a $325 grant each semester (1/5 of the tuition cost of $1625/semester).

The LDA provides persons to teach or supervise three of VU’s courses. The LDA serves as a provider of housing for non-deaconess students (in Deaconess Hall). Recruiting by the LDA for the deaconess program also serves as recruiting for the University.

Both VU (as a Lutheran University) and the LDA began as organizations founded by laymen affiliated with the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod (LCMS). Neither organization has ever been owned or operated by the LCMS. Presently both organizations (VU & LDA) advertise themselves as inter-Lutheran. Both organizations do have a formal relationship with the LCMS. The LDA through its Board for Higher Education and VU through the Division for Parish Services.

Presently (1980), Concordia College, River Forest, IL has established a deaconess program which also serves the needs of the LCMS. The LDA has no formal relationship with this program, which is under the direct supervision of the LCMS. The LDA has no formal relationships with any other educational institutions.”

In 1986, Valparaiso University purchased Deaconess Hall and renamed it Huegli Hall. At that time, the LDA acquired the Center for Diaconal Ministry, previously the Dean of the Chapel’s home, located just north of campus on LaPorte Avenue.

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