What is the CUS?

The Concordia University System is a consortium of colleges and universities overseen by the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod. The CUS was founded in 1992 and originally included ten member institutions, many of which started decades earlier as academies to train pastors and parochial school instructors for the LCMS.

There has been a wave of closures and consolidations within the CUS in the last decade. Concordia University Ann Arbor merged with Concordia University Wisconsin in 2013. In 2018, Concordia College Alabama closed and the campus was sold. Then Concordia University Portland closed in 2020, and Concordia College New York announced its closure in January 2021. Both campuses are now on the market. The member universities still operating are Concordia University Irvine, Concordia University Nebraska, Concordia University Texas, Concordia University Chicago, Concordia University Wisconsin, and Concordia University Saint Paul.

The CUS is a registered nonprofit corporation and ostensibly governed by a board of directors independent from any outside entity. However, according to the CUS Articles of Incorporation, it is “a component part of the denomination The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod and as such is subject to the Constitution of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod”.[1] Its board of directors is elected by “communicant members of member congregations of the Lutheran Church Missouri Synod”.[2] If the CUS is ever shut down, “all [remaining] assets shall be transferred, conveyed, and distributed” to the LCMS.[3]

In March of 2021, the LCMS announced a plan to disband the Concordia University System and replace it with a new “kingdom of the right”, a proposed Commission on University Education.[4]

Footnotes

1] Concordia University System. “Exhibit B: Articles of Incorporation.” 1992. State of Missouri Office of Secretary of State. Article 7. p. 5
2] CUS. “Exhibit B: Articles of Incorporation.” Article 8. p. 5
3] CUS. “Exhibit B: Articles of Incorporation.” Article 6. p. 5
4] Reporter. “BOD advances new CUS governance model.” David Strand. March 8, 2021.