CUWAA President Dr. Erik Ankerberg and Board Chair Rev. John Berg sent the following letter on Feb. 23 to employees, students, alumni, parents, and all who have reached out to university leaders and board members within the past two weeks.

February 23, 2024

Dear members of the Concordia community:

Greetings this Lent as we focus on our Lord Jesus, who offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins.

1/ We first want to thank all of you for taking the time to share your thoughts and concerns about recent events with our Board of Regents and the leaders of the university. We have listened to you and agree with you that, undoubtedly, CUWAA is a special place where our students receive a transformational Christ-centered education. While we certainly provide students with an excellent foundation for all their vocations, at the same time, we are forming them in faith to serve in His Kingdom. All of you share a passion for this mission and work. Please know we desire to ensure Concordia is a university that possesses the resources and strength to serve students for decades to come. We are carrying out difficult tasks now so that future generations might be able to develop in mind, body, and spirit in order to serve Christ, the Church, and the world.

2/ We also want to make you aware that yesterday, Thursday, February 22, a thoughtfully constructed and carefully vetted set of proposals was sent to our Board of Regents for their prayerful consideration. The proposals were developed by an executive committee consisting of members of the university’s Executive Team, the Board of Regents, and the Foundation Board, and representing the interests of both the Wisconsin and Ann Arbor campuses. We want you to know that all of the various plans demonstrate a commitment to some sort of a physical campus in Michigan, as well as a commitment to living out church work programs. Next week, during a special meeting, the Board of Regents will discuss and weigh the wide-ranging options. Ultimately, they will come to a decision that will direct Concordia’s next steps. 

3/ The Board of Regents has entrusted this executive committee to develop proactive measures that both address the university’s financial challenges and secure CUWAA’s financial footing well into the future. These proposals provide various alternatives to solving our operational deficits, but they also all reflect the choices we must confront as we consider how we can best care for our students–who are the future of our Church and the world–and our faculty and staff– who pour their hearts into our students every single day on our campuses. 

4/ While we wait for the Board’s decision, please allow us to share our reflections on the themes that were discussed at the Town Halls hosted on both campuses earlier this week, posted on social media, and communicated in the hundreds of messages that were sent to our university’s leadership team, our Board of Directors, and to us. 

  • Endowment – While universities may pursue varied approaches to managing their endowments, we resolve to direct Concordia’s use of its endowment returns to honor donor intentions, fund student scholarships, and pursue specific strategic initiatives. We will not draw from the endowment core funds to cover operations, because this would erode our long-term financial sustainability. 
  • Fiscal Health – Over time, this university has been blessed with strong leaders, and many of those past leaders have used the university’s audits as a “North Star” to denote the relative fiscal health of our organization. This has occurred, despite the fact that those documents include numbers (such as market returns for our endowment and restricted contributions) that do not necessarily help cover our ongoing and rising operational costs. That practice, along with the “fog” of COVID and a long presidential search, has made the task of understanding the true financial position of the university more difficult over time. The new administration has implemented a modern and more sophisticated financial model that incorporates new financial health metrics, benchmarks, data points, and historical analysis to provide a deeper and more accurate understanding of the university’s financial position. The university has also updated its practices regarding financial operations and the handling of its cash reserves. We intend to move from developing single-year budgets to developing multi-year strategic budgets that align with our strategic plan. We understand that previous administrations have approached finances differently. Candidly, the university was in a remarkably different financial position a decade ago–especially in terms of its cash position–than we are today. We appreciate how a lack of awareness of these changes has contributed to misunderstanding and false speculation. 
  • Speed – Our heightened data analysis concludes that our current financial situation will not improve on its own or by growing enrollment in some of our programs. We now possess a more thorough data-informed understanding of the operational deficit we face. We now know that we cannot overcome the revenue ceiling in Ann Arbor (related to the limited number of beds and ability to generate auxiliary revenue). Our existing portfolio of staffing, services, and programs offered at both campuses is simply not sustainable; it needs to be adjusted–if not reinvented–accordingly. We know that waiting does not change the financial realities we are facing, and we want to act swiftly and proactively so that our students and colleagues have the opportunity to make choices that are in their best interest.
  • Communication – We take full responsibility for the hurt, anger, and anxiety earlier communications caused our community. Dr. Ankerberg’s intentions were to be fully transparent, and the tone and the language did not fully capture the Christian care and comfort that Concordia is known for and our community deserves. It grieves the leaders of any university to bring this difficult news to the university community. If we caused any further harm and confusion, we are truly sorry and commit through God’s mercy to do better in the future. 

5/ As we wait for the Board of Regents to meet and act, we will ask you to join us in these actions:

  • Pray – Please join us in praying that the Lord of the Church will grant the Board of Regents wisdom and discernment as they make difficult decisions in the coming days. Please also pray for all members of the university community.
  • Support – Please support one another across campuses and areas of the university. Anything we can do to bring Christ’s peace and love to these situations helps us to live in unity.

We love both campuses deeply. We are grateful for the tremendous work that our Lord carries out among our students in Wisconsin, in Ann Arbor, and around the world. We are striving to find the plan and resources that will allow us to continue the extraordinary work on both campuses. May God grant us the understanding and strength to do the work that lives out His will for our university. Thank you for your grace and commitment to our university community.

Grace and Peace,

Erik Ankerberg, Ph.D.


Rev. John Berg

Chairperson, Board of Regents

Contact us

We know that this news elicits strong reactions, and we fully recognize the anxiety and fear that may come from these conversations. Many have expressed a desire to contact leaders and Concordia’s Board of Regents. In order to help our leaders receive your feedback in an efficient manner, we ask that you utilize the form linked below. Thank you for taking the time to share your concerns and questions. Due to the volume of comments our leaders are currently receiving, they may not be able to respond directly to your submission. Please know that all messages are being read and considered. We thank you for your love for Concordia.