ELCA College to End Affiliation with Denomination with Sale

A college of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America will no longer be affiliated with the denomination after its sale this summer to a for-profit company.

The Board of Regents at Dana College in Blair, Neb., announced this week that it had entered into an agreement with Dana Education Corporation (DEC) that will "resolve long-standing financial resource issues."

"The Dana College Board of Regents investigated a number of viable options, and selected DEC based on the plan presented to ensure continuity, and its desire to keep the mission, heritage and character of the college intact," reported Dennis Gethmann, president of the Board of Regents.

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Under the agreement, DEC will have stewardship over Dana College and DEC President Raj Kaji will become the president of the school, replacing Dr. Janet Philipp, who will become the Dana College's senior vice president of Student Engagement. The school's mission, accreditation, programs, faculty, campus and facilities, meanwhile, will be unchanged.

"We are pleased to have found a partner that believes in Dana and its place in the community," commented Philipp in a statement. "Dana will now have new financial resources needed to thrive and highly experienced higher education administrators to complement the current staff. We believe DEC will help Dana maintain and strengthen the college's mission and continue to serve well the diverse populations that have been the hallmark of Dana College's institutional culture."

Adding to that, Kaji said DEC looks forward to helping the school "realize its full potential."

A short-term goal of DEC is to restore Dana's student population to its previous level of approximately 1,000 students at its residential campus. Presently, around 550 students from 35 states are enrolled at Dana College, giving the school a 14:1 student-to-faculty ratio.

Another area of focus will be increasing study abroad opportunities, an area in which Dana has distinguished itself in the past.

"It is our dream that in five years, one-third of the student body will exercise its opportunity to study abroad," Kaji commented.

Once the sale of Dana College is finalized, ELCA will have 26 colleges and universities across the country. On Jan. 8, Waldorf College, Forest City, Iowa, was sold to a for-profit company, ending the college's affiliation with the ELCA.

Dana, which means "from Denmark," is a liberal arts institution founded more than 125 years ago by Danish pioneers. The college's Danish Lutheran heritage will be lived through the school's Dana Education Foundation.

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