Lenz advises teachers to be scholars, enjoy students

NEW ULM – For Martin Luther College Professor Mark Lenz, retirement is “bitter-sweet” – he will miss his “sincere, serious, dedicated” students; his colleagues on campus many of whom have become “dear, dear friends;” the serenity of the campus itself; and many other aspects of his career…

Lenz is retiring after more than 30 years of serving the college.

Lenz joined the faculty of then Dr. Martin Luther College (DMLC) in 1981, as professor of religion and social sciences. After DMLC merged with a Wisconsin-based college in 1995 and became Martin Luther College (MLC), Lenz continued in his assignment.

He started his ministry career earlier, in 1969, as a pastor at Trinity Lutheran in Morenci, Mich. In 1972-1977, he served as instructor in grades 9-12, at St. Croix Lutheran High School in West St. Paul. In 1977-1981, he served as pastor at the Star of Bethlehem in Savoy, Ill. He served as campus minister at the University of Illinois, Urbana campus.

Lenz is himself a product of the Lutheran school system. He grew up in Delano, graduating from Lutheran grade and high schools. He received his post-secondary education at DMLC and Northwestern College in Watertown, Wis., completing his graduate work at Wisconsin Lutheran Seminary in Mequon, Wis.

Lenz earned his doctorate at the International Seminary in Florida and has also completed course work at Minnesota State University, Mankato, and the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities.

Specializing in historical theology, Lenz has written many books, magazine articles and commentaries to books, been part of a Lutheran Study Bible project, and served as associate editor of the “Lutheran Educator.”

At MLC, Lenz has taught religion and history courses, focusing on varied subjects such as Lutheran Confession writings, Reformation history, Western history and culture and the history of modern China.

At various points during his tenure, Lenz served on the Academic Affairs Council and the Graduation, Worship, Assessment, Curriculum Oversight, Service and Cross Cultural Learning committees. He also chaired the History/Social Science Division, the Religion Division and the Admissions Committee and served as chapel speaker.

Lenz describes music as an “avocation.” He plays the cello, piano, pipe organ and recorder.

Lenz played in the New Ulm Civic Orchestra, and he has also served on the Wanda Gag House Association Board and in the Lions Club.

From 1998 until 2010, Lenz served as MLC Choir Tour Manager, which provided him with an opportunity to experience a variety of trips with the choir, both in the United States and outside the country, For this, he says, he is “very grateful.”

But mostly, he is grateful for the opportunity to help his students grow stronger in their faith, become “closer to their Savior,” understand their Christian mission better, and become more focused on their purpose.

Lenz says he will miss “the great friends” he and his wife have made on the faculty.

“We’ve experienced so many things together, traveled all over the world…”

With an upcoming assignment as a visiting professor in China for a year, Lenz is transitioning into retirement.

He adds he will miss the community, which is “very friendly” and the “very pleasant” atmosphere of both community and campus.

Asked about suggestions for his successor, Lenz says: “take the time to be a scholar” and “enjoy the students, they are a confident, excellent group.”

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