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Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary earns 10-year accreditation

The Lutheran Theological Southern Seminary of Lenoir-Rhyne University announces accreditation has been reaffirmed by the Association of Theological Schools.

LTSS received the maximum 10-year term from ATS, which oversees more than 270 graduate schools in theology and ministry in the United States and Canada. The seminary has been accredited by ATS since 1944.

As part of Lenoir-Rhyne, the seminary is also accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges.

“I’ve seen the commitment of our faculty and friends of the seminary,” said the Rev. Dr. Mary Shore, rector and dean of LTSS. “It is very gratifying to have other people witness that, as well.”

The process began in the fall of 2019 when Shore and Dr. Brent Driggers, chair of the committee that oversaw an institutional self-study, attended a conference to ascertain everything required to reaffirm accreditation.

It was chiefly through its 184-page self-study that the seminary faculty and staff gathered information and provided analysis about core institutional areas such as mission, curriculum, student services, governance and finances.

In November 2020, a committee from ATS met — virtually due to COVID-19 — with administrators at the seminary, faculty, staff and students, while poring over the self-study in order to recommend a term to reaffirm accreditation for LTSS.

LTSS received exemplary marks for its commitment to be an inclusive community, for its faculty and staff who demonstrated genuine passion about their faith and care for students, as well as its relationship with Lenoir-Rhyne, which strengthened its resources and ability to provide quality education and experiences for seminarians.

“It’s an affirmation of a lot of work we’ve done strengthening our program and our ongoing program assessment processes,” Driggers said.

The last accreditation cycle for LTSS began shortly after it merged with Lenoir-Rhyne University, which has turned out to be a great partnership for both parties.

“We have a campus that is more useful now than it was when it was populated by just seminary programs,” Shore said. “Lenoir-Rhyne has a presence in Columbia that it didn’t have, and the seminary has access to more resources such as the Center for Teacher Learning, information technology and marketing communications. As part of the university, the seminary has access to all of those resources, and the university has a theological faculty and stature in the church that is greater than it was before.”

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