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Nearly $1 million in scholarship support honors Thompson Presidency

by Louisville Seminary | Jun 03, 2010
As The Rev. Dr. Dean K. Thompson nears the conclusion of his tenure as President of Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary, a season of tribute has resulted in nearly $1 million for student scholarships and financial support in Thompson’s honor.

Dr. Thompson, who will retire from the Presidency of Louisville Seminary on August 31, 2010, began his ministry at the Seminary in 2004. Over the past six months, and particularly at events held in April, several of the Seminary’s major constituent groups have recognized the highlights of Thompson’s presidency and how he has helped to renew and strengthen Louisville Seminary for the future.

Some of the more significant markers attributed to Thompson’s leadership include the revitalization of student recruitment, with the largest entering class in nearly a decade arriving in the Fall of 2009; faculty development, in which five new full-time professors – nearly one quarter of the faculty – have been called and are diversifying the racial ethnic heritage of the faculty; trustee development that has welcomed 24 new trustees from across the nation to the Board of Trustees; enhancing the visibility of the Seminary through more than 650 visits to 450 constituents or groups, including 250 congregational visits; and expanding the Seminary’s welcome through gracious hospitality in the President’s Home, a ministry Thompson has shared with his spouse, Rebecca Thompson.

“Perhaps one lasting legacy will be Dr. Thompson’s passion for students and scholarships, which are transforming our achievements in recruiting and in preparing pastoral leaders for the world,” said Seminary Trustee Anna B. James in her remarks to the 2010 graduating class and their friends and family at Commencement exercises, May 23.

Within six years, Louisville Seminary has provided $4.1 million in student aid, including scholarships. “We have been able to raise $2.9 million in Scholarships for Excellence, which has supported 194 scholarships over the past six years,” James reported, adding that six new fully endowed Scholarships for Excellence have been established, along with five partially endowed scholarships.

“This coming fall, a total of 31 Scholarships for Excellence will be awarded in the amount of $519,000,” James said. In comparison, she said that in 2003, Louisville Seminary was able to award only seven scholarships, valued at $102,000.

During an evening of appreciation for Seminary supporters and stewards, held April 16 at historic Gardencourt, a series of gifts in the amount of $950,000 was presented to Louisville Seminary to honor President Thompson and Rebecca Thompson.

Renewal of the Arnold O. Schaap Scholarships for Excellence Program
Three years ago, Trustee Dr. A. Paul Schaap of Grosse Pointe Park, Mich., worked with President Thompson on an idea that would jumpstart the Seminary’s capital campaign for Scholarships. He and his spouse, Carol Schaap, funded a series of three-year scholarships for nine Arnold O. Schaap Scholars for Excellence to honor the life and ministry of Dr. Schaap’s father, a Louisville Seminary alum. Their gift was made on the heels of an endowed Arnold O. Schaap Scholarship a year earlier. The two gifts, when combined, exceeded $1 million in scholarship support.

On April 16, the Schaaps announced their plans to renew the Schaap Scholarship Program with a five-year commitment for an additional nine Schaap Scholars, beginning in 2011. Their gift, valued at $540,000, continues to honor Rev. Arnold O. Schaap and also recognizes the presidency of Dean Thompson.

“The Schaaps’ contributions to the Scholarships for Excellence Program at Louisville Seminary originate from Dr. Schaap’s deep desire to see more pastors like his father in congregational ministry. It is an effort to support President Dean K. Thompson, the Board of Trustees, and the Strategic Vision Plan in building an aggressive endowed scholarship program that will greatly diminish student debt upon graduation,” said Dale Melton, Vice President for Seminary Relations. “The Schaaps hope their commitment will also inspire other supporters of theological education, who seek to place exceptionally prepared leaders in congregations, to participate in the scholarship-building effort.”

Establishment of the Dean K. and Rebecca M. Thompson Scholarship for Excellence Endowment
Melton also announced that Louisville Seminary friends nationwide have fully endowed the Dean K. and Rebecca M. Thompson Scholarship for Excellence. The first scholarship from this $400,000 endowment will be awarded in the fall 2010. At the appreciation event, Melton had the special honor of introducing the first Thompson Scholar, Carter S. Johnson, a recent graduate of DePauw University in Indiana, who will enter Louisville Seminary in September.

The Thompson Scholarship for Excellence is a Promise for Ministry Scholarship, one of two types offered by Louisville Seminary. Promise for Ministry Scholarships recognize individuals who, by the demonstration of their previous experience and performance in roles of church and community leadership, show promise for leadership in ministry. The Thompson Scholarship is a renewable three-year scholarship of up to $20,000 per year.

“This scholarship is distinct from academic merit scholarships that focus almost exclusively upon previous academic achievement as the criterion for selection,” said Melton, adding that the fund will “seek to recruit and provide for those students who demonstrate a pastoral heart and understanding that represent the call and commitment to long-distance pastoral ministry, which Dean and Rebecca have incarnated and advocated throughout their own ministries.”

Establishment of the Dean K. Thompson Prize in Practical Theology Endowment
To recognize the lasting commitment to and passion for the intersection of the classroom with the emergency room, Sunday School room, counseling room, and places where ministry is practiced, the Seminary also established the Dean K. Thompson Prize in Practical Theology. Announced by Dr. Dianne Reistroffer, Professor of Ministry and Interim Director of Field Education, the Thompson Prize will be awarded at each Fall Convocation to the middler student (or rising senior student) who has demonstrated excellence in the study of practical theology and in her or his congregational field education placement.

“This $10,000 endowment marks the Seminary’s rich and historic commitment to the high value of practical theology and ministry,” said Reistroffer. The first Thompson Prize recipient will be honored at Fall Convocation on September 9, 2010, in Caldwell Chapel.

“Rebecca and I have been completely undone by the extraordinary graciousness, sensitivity, and generosity poured out upon our deeply grateful, yet undeserving, lives,” said President Thompson. “I am greatly moved that Paul and Carol Schaap have renewed the Rev. Arnold O. Schaap Scholarship Program over the next five years, in honor of my ministry at Louisville Seminary.

“To be honored with Rebecca with a Promise for Ministry Scholarship for Excellence that will educate future ministers of the Gospel and servants of Christ, in perpetuity, touches and nourishes the very depth of our souls and commitments.

“As if those remarkable actions were not enough, establishing an annual prize in practical theology in my name, leaves me totally insufficient to express our enormous indebtedness and our abiding love and affection for our dear friends of Louisville Seminary,” Thompson said.

Thompson concluded his reflections on these tributes, stating that his presidential successor “will be blessed beyond measure by your own ongoing support, preservation, and vision for Louisville Seminary, under the spiritual guidance of Jesus Christ, our risen Lord and Savior.”

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To learn more or to participate in building Louisville Seminary’s Scholarships for Excellence program, contact the Office for Seminary Relations, dmelton@lpts.edu or 800.264.1839.

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