Duane Larson DUANE LARSON ’75 had no intention of serving as the president of Wartburg Theological Seminary – he was installed as its 12th president in 1999 – until he got a call from a search committee. “The position was totally off my radar,” he recalled, “I had an off-campus interview, and it was very clear that this was a call.” A call, in pastoral terms, refers to a call by God. As a Lutheran minister at several California churches for many years and a professor of systematic theology at Lutheran Theological Seminary at Gettysburg since 1993, he had accepted many of them. This, he says, was the biggest surprise of them all. When he came to PLU he says he took to the campus “like a fish takes to
> President Wartburg Theological Seminary
water,” an apt metaphor for his move from San Diego to the soggy Pacific Northwest. He came to campus knowing he wanted to go into the ministry, or perhaps be an academic. He ultimately majored in philosophy. Larson quickly got involved with the Mooring Mast. By his second year, he was the editor, became embroiled in heated campus politics and took positions on controversies of the time, one involving the president. Despite the turmoil, he looks back at that time fondly – “the tension was healthy,” he recalled – and thinks about how it shaped his career as a pastor and educator. “That experience at PLU aided me immensely. I delight in the irony – simply put, back then I was ‘anti-
establishment.’ Now I am the establishment.” Anti-establishment or not, his time at PLU underscored how the important relationships he made would affect the way he has led the Debuque, Iowa, seminary, part of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America. “PLU gave me my sense of what higher ed should be about, particularly how students and faculty should interact,” Larson said. “My time at PLU informed my understanding about how faith and reason should and could always work together for the growth of the human being.”
Interaction “PLU gave me my sense of what higher ed should be about, particularly how students and faculty should interact.”
FEATURE > PLU SCENE SUMMER 2008 11
Scene Magazine is a quarterly publication of Pacific Lutheran University.