Building a Poorer Concordia

At Concordia University Chicago, Dr. Jodie Dewey is in the process of being tenured. This process is in its final stage, the Board of Regents having given notice in the August Lutheran Witness of its intent to grant her tenure. Having reviewed her curriculum vitae, some of what she’s written, her professional associations, and what others have reported about her, I don’t believe she should be tenured.

According to her curriculum vitae, Dr. Dewey teaches Social Research Methods, Juvenile Delinquency, Sociology of Gender and Sexualities, Sociology of Corrections, Sociology of Health Care, Criminology, Social Deviance and Directed Study courses. Among her areas of research are medical sociology, gender and sexualities.

A portion of what she has written and spoken about involves transgendered people. Dr. Dewey seems to advocate a position of normalizing and affirming these types of behavior, a position that is contrary to that of Scripture and God’s created order. She refers to God’s creation of male and female as “our strict binary gender system” and refers to “the dichotomous gender structure,” and “gender policing” (ref. here and here).

While I am loathe to develop a “guilt by association” mentality, at the same time, the organizations one joins, especially those that are listed on a curriculum vitae, do reflect to some degree what one affirms. If you join an organization with whom you disagree, it calls into question your judgment. Dr. Dewey is a member of the American Civil Liberties Union, as well as the World Professional Association of Transgender Health, both of which promote the LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender) agenda, a position which is contrary to Holy Scripture.

While Stand Firm has never taken any political stand, the comment of one of her students at would cause most anybody to raise an eyebrow: “She approaches everything from a cynical, neo-Marxist perspective, which was fine with me.” click here.

It shouldn’t be necessary to quote Synod bylaws to understand that the faculty of all of our schools, whether they’re teaching theology or some other subject, must teach and write what is in keeping with Scripture. Presenting positions to students contrary to Scripture is one thing, to advocate them, quite another. One of the key principles of the Concordia University System is to “work to maintain and enhance the Christ-centered Lutheran character of its institutions” (Bylaw Granting tenure to Dr. Dewey would not be in keeping with this God-pleasing principle. I must therefore regretfully oppose the Board of Regents plan to grant tenure to Dr. Jodie Dewey.

I hope you will do your own research, and if you agree, send a letter stating your beliefs to the following people. Do so expeditiously. The Concordia Chicago Board of Regents will be making their final decision in the near future.

Dr. John F. Johnson
President Concordia University – Chicago
[email protected]
7400 Augusta Street
River Forest, IL 60305-1499

Rev. Dan P. Gilbert
Chairman, Board of Regents
Northern Illinois District – LCMS [email protected]
2301 S. Wolf Rd.
Hillside, IL 60162



Download a DOC version of Building a Poorer Concordia

About Scott Diekmann

Scott is a lifelong LCMS layman. Some of his vocations include husband, dad, jet driver, runner, and collector of more books than he can read. Oh, and also chocolate lover. He’s been involved in apologetics for over a decade, is on the Board of Regents at Concordia Portland, and is a column writer for the sometimes operational Around the Word Journal. He’s also written for Higher Things Magazine, The Lutheran Clarion, and has been a guest on Issues Etc. as well as the KFUO program Concord Matters.


Building a Poorer Concordia — 105 Comments

  1. Many of late have been rethinking the idea of tenure and the way it is applied/used. I had an idea it protected scholars so that they could teach their ideas, even if the administration/government/church, whatever, that operates the school cannot fire the teacher for teaching or demonstrating contrary ideas.

    So, after reading above religious limitations put upon the teachers at the Concordias, and in light of the popular and current rethinking of the idea of tenure, why do the Concordias have a tenure system? The more I think about it, the less sense it makes.

    I suspect it’s a practical reason such as good teachers won’t take jobs at upper-level schools that don’t have tenure programs.

    I am wondering what is tenure protecting the teacher from at a Concordia? It is of the very nature of a church school to limit and guide what its teachers teach, at any level, and to dismiss them if corrective actions don’t work. The LC-MS is known for it.

  2. @Joanne #1

    Dear Joanne,

    Tenure in the CUS is explained in present bylaw You can go to synod’s website to get an electronic copy of the 2010 Handbook for all the details at:

    “Initial level,’ is normally four to six years as a faculty member at a CUS school, including two years at the present location. Then the person becomes eligible for “continuing level,” which is a type of tenure. The term “tenure” is not used, because people will assume things legally that are not the case; in other words, not using the term “tenure” avoids unnecessary lawsuits. In spite of what “Paul” has said about the CUS schools on this post, they are “church schools” and they must abide by the LCMS constitution and bylaws, which define what our idea of tenure is and how it works.

    The difference between the two levels is that “initial level” faculty can be terminated for any reason, no “formal show of cause” given. “Continuing level faculty” can only be terminated after “formal show of cause” has been given to them in writing and to their face. “Continuing level” faculty have the right of appeal if they are terminated for cause (bylaw, but they may not want to appeal their termination, if making the causes public would be embarrassing to them. “Initial-level” faculty have no right to appeal–its simply a done deal.

    Bylaw “No member of the faculty on a continuing level appointment or on an initial-level appointment except at the expiration of the term of appointment shall be removed from the faculty either by ecclesiastical authority or by the board of regents except for cause.” I understand from the post above that Ms. Dewey is at the end of the initial-level, and so her case comes up for review. This is a normal process–and it is the one place in the process where the church can actually make its wishes known.

    If you want to know why its a good idea to have a “formal show of cause,” you are talking to the right guy on that question. 🙂 🙂

    Yours in Christ, Martin R. Noland

  3. @Mark Schulz #45
    Pr. Schulz, I served on the same board, only before you. I served under the previous and current president. I was pressured to give–even to the point of being visited by the Advancement officer in my home. I’m amazed that you got by without the pressure!

  4. I wonder what the harm is in presenting different perspectives on a particular social issue. So for instance, Trans people exist. As do hermaphrodites, Gay people, etc. So, does it “abuse” a Concordia student (as an adult, albeit a young one) to hear views, even from people in authority, that do not agree with their own?

    I don’t quite understand what the problem could be. There’s a professor who teaches courses that address the lived experiences of real populations. That a professor would belong (perhaps, I did not see her CV online, just some selected publications and presentations along with the lists of the courses she’s taught) to an advocacy group that some in the Lutheran Church don’t agree with doesn’t seem like enough of a case to not grant a promotion. It seems to me that even if the teacher was not a full fledged active member of the church, she could make important contributions to her students lives that would enrich not only their secular vocations, but their faith walk.

    It also seems unfair to use evaluations posted on the rate my prof site (and even the claim that she teaches from a “neo-marxist perspective”) as evidence that she’s 1) a bad instructor, 2) promotes “heresy,” 3) ascribes to that position, or 4) that her work with her students is “abusive” (even if some of this was the case)

    Perhaps blocking the promotion is more of an offense than granting it here. There doesn’t seem to be real, evidence based grounds for doing so. Have you sat in on one of her classes? Have you been with her as she graded papers, wrote letters of recommendation, or helped her students think through the complexities of believing in Christ, following the edicts of a church (as complicated as that can be in and of itself), while sorely wanting to address inequalities that do really exist in the world.

    I am a believer. I once taught sociology at a local Evangelical School (not a Lutheran One), My students varied (not racially or ethnically, but certainly in their beliefs and commitments to their faith… but the general lack of racial diversity in Evangelical and Evangelical leaning schools should be telling. People of color are no less religious and no less Evangelical!) in important ways and this diversity was important to the classroom. I taught courses on social change and social inequality. Each included sections on race and racism, gender and gender based oppression, class and income inequality, etc. Some students wanted me to lead them in devotions at the end of each class. Others thought these issue did not exist (despite data) and thought they were inappropriate to discuss. The sections on gender (that there are people who do not strictly identify as male or female) was especially unnerving for many of them. But after we got over the initial difficulty of discussing things they were uncomfortable discussing, we were able to think through complicated areas of inequality, and some would argue oppression. The exploitation of children. The complications of sex work (beyond bad people are sex workers and bad people solicit them). I did not lead my students in devotions. I did not pray with a single one of them. I presented the data. I also presented stories from people in “alternative lifestyles,” along with stories of resistance from what people identified as oppression. I asked students to actively think about how their conscience and their God would want them to respond to people whose experiences vary in important and profound ways from their own. I asked them to think twice about the values they assign to other people’s lives and to bracket these assumptions when trying to understand the perspectives of others. I taught them to think carefully about themselves and their relation to others.

    Many of my students joined mission organizations in their church, some of whom did outreach to assist victims of trafficking. Some went on to graduate school (and seminary). Some hated the course and told me it was inappropriate in my evaluations. Some were angry that a professor would suggests that there is evidence of class, race and gender based oppression. That there are many sides to war (including the loser’s). Students loved and hated the course. Some thought many of the authors they read rejected their world views (and many of them did). But when I see them or hear about them, they all remember it. Many of them say that it caused them to think about things they hadn’t before. Many were introduced to the experiences of people they felt sorry for or held in disdain. I believe this was a valuable experience. I’m not sure much of the curriculum would have been approved by a church. Many of my students, however, are more reflective about their faith as a result. (at least that’s what most of them tell me).

    I don’t think its appropriate to prevent a professor’s promotion simply because they’ve published work you don’t agree with, or teach courses you wouldn’t approve. This, I understand, may not be a popular opinion here, but I hope it provokes additional thought on this matter.

  5. @A Not so Objective Observer #4
    “I don’t quite understand what the problem could be.” The problem could be that the professor doesn’t perform her duties in harmony with the Holy Scriptures as the inspired Word of God, the Lutheran Confessions, and the Synod’s doctrinal statements, which all professors are required to do. Nobody that I know of is saying that differing perspectives on a particular social issue shouldn’t be presented. If her “bottom line” is a position that is contrary to Scripture, then she shouldn’t be granted tenure. No, I haven’t sat in her class, and I didn’t notice anyone in the thread who had. However, hopefully some of the people who will decide whether she is granted tenure will do just that, or have already done so. We aren’t the ones making the decision, so it seems reasonable to alert those who are making the decision to our concerns. If they’re a faithful group of regents, and I have no reason to think otherwise, then they’ll make a good decision based on the actual facts, which they should have at their fingertips. If our concerns are unfounded, then she should be granted tenure and we, and you, have nothing to worry about. It isn’t a matter of what I agree with or what you personally approve, it’s a matter of agreeing with what God’s Word says.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Notify me of followup comments via e-mail. You can also subscribe without commenting.