Capital and Trinity officially agree to merge, new seminary dean announced


Capital University and Trinity Lutheran Seminary boards have approved an agreement to unify the institutions on Monday, Nov. 6, 2017. This will establish Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University, and will be effective Jan. 1, 2018.

The idea to unite the institutions was originally announced on Nov. 7, 2016, in order to have a greater positive impact on our community and world, which would only be lessened if they continued separately. Capital’s board approved the legal agreement on Thursday, Nov. 2, 2017, and Trinity’s board approved the agreement at their meeting on Friday, Nov. 3, 2017.

Additionally, the union has also been approved by the Association of Theological Schools, while approval from the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, Ohio Department of High Education and Higher Learning Commission is anticipated later this month.

The signing of this agreement ensures Trinity’s long-term future, which was previously uncertain. The partnership of the institutions ensures Trinity’s future but also enriches and allows the two institutions to help better the lives of their students in education, work, and ministries.

Trinity Lutheran Seminary at Capital University will begin operations at the start of the year under the administration of the newly appointed dean, Rev. Kathryn A. “Kit” Kleinhans, Ph.D.

Kleinhans served 24 years on the faculty of Wartburg College in Waverly, Iowa. She was the first woman hired to teach religion full time at Wartburg, and was named the Mike and Marge McCoy Family Distinguished Chair in Lutheran Heritage and Mission in 2013.

Kleinhans earned a bachelor’s degree in Theology from Valparaiso University, a Master of Divinity from Christ Seminary—Seminex and the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago and a doctorate in Theological Studies from Emory University. Kleinhans chaired Wartburg’s Religion and Philosophy Department from 1999 to 2010 and primarily taught classes in Christian theology and church history with an emphasis on Martin Luther and the theology and history of the Reformation, which Capital just celebrated.

Kleinhans is an ordained pastor of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, with which Capital is affiliated, and is looked highly upon by those she has worked with, including the interim president of Trinity Lutheran Seminary, Rev. Dr. Stanley Olson, who worked with Kleinhans during his time as president of Wartburg Theological Seminary.

“Kit is intrigued with a God who engages the world – and with the world that God engages,” Olson said. “She has a heart for students, and will provide visionary and collaborative leadership for Trinity and Capital as they discover continuities and newness in their linked missions.”


Remarks were made by Capital’s president, Elizabeth Paul; Trinity’s interim president, the Rev. Dr. Stanley Olson; and Bishop Suzanne Darcy Dillahunt at Gloria Dei Chapel at Trinity Lutheran Seminary, at 10:45 a.m. on Nov. 6, regarding the move to combine the two institutions.

“There has been conversation about this for years, and various efforts for years, and I think my coming in was an opportunity,” said President Paul. “… to come in with a fresh vision and fresh energy, to come in to try to bring the parties together and forge a new collaboration in moving forward.”

“This will be a time of discovery, a time of exploration, a time of some ventures that will exceed our expectations,” said Olson.

President Beth Paul talked not only about the need for this partnership and the excitement that this move brings, but also the apprehension it brings because of the changes being made.

One of these changes will be the financial model that Trinity is functioning under.

“The whole project has been with the goal that the seminary will be sustainable,” said Paul. “There has been a lot of work to define a financial model that will help the seminary to sustain without infusion by Capital, what is does require, is integration to Capital in terms of operation. There isn’t financial investment going out.”

Upcoming explorations with new programs and majors is something Paul is excited for, and there’s likelihood for opportunities more at the graduate level like dual degrees, but she is ready to work with staff to create undergraduate programs.

President Paul is looking forward to the partnership with new and existing administration at Trinity and the ways that it will benefit both Trinity and Capital students, as well as the whole community.

“I hope that this will spur all sorts of creative ideas of ways we can be a whole community together, including inter-religious explorations.”

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