FOREST CITY, IOWA – The Waldorf Lutheran College Foundation is in discussions to assume ownership of Waldorf University and return the institution back to its roots. Both Columbia Southern Education Group and Waldorf Lutheran College Foundation have signed a term sheet and are working through due diligence towards a final definitive agreement.
The Waldorf Lutheran College Foundation has been closely aligned with Waldorf University since its incorporation in 2006. The Foundation provides scholarships to Waldorf students, sponsors campus ministry programs, and takes action that enhances alumni and community relations. Ray Beebe, Waldorf Lutheran College Foundation’s Board Chairman, noted he and other foundation board members were well pleased with the direction of Waldorf University. As the new owner, the Foundation would seek to maintain the historic Waldorf culture with little or no change going forward.
“The Waldorf Foundation and Waldorf University find themselves with an opportunity that I never thought could possibly occur,” said Beebe. “Under the ownership of the Waldorf Foundation, Waldorf University will be able to control its own destiny for generations to come. Waldorf’s proud history from 1903 forward will continue, and we can feel confident students will continue to find the same life-changing experience Waldorf delivers to each and every student.”
The transaction would result in Waldorf Lutheran College Foundation purchasing all of the assets of Waldorf University, including the property on which the University is now located and all of the intellectual property and other educational assets of the University. In exchange, the Foundation will assume the existing $5.2 million in debt the University is currently repaying. The transaction will terminate the relationship between Waldorf University and the current owner, Columbia Southern Education Group. Waldorf will not have any services arrangements or other contracts with Columbia Southern Education Group or its affiliates as a result of this transaction.
Waldorf has submitted its Change of Control application to the Higher Learning Commission (HLC). The hope is that the application will be included on the November 2 \3 agenda of the HLC Board of Trustees for approval. This would allow for the change of ownership on or around December 1, 2022. Waldorf University will also seek approvals from the U.S. Department of Education and the Iowa College Student Aid Commission.
In 2010, Waldorf College changed ownership from the Waldorf Lutheran College Association to Columbia Southern Education Group. Since that time, major progress has been made to the sustainability of Waldorf and its ability to deliver its mission. Waldorf’s residential campus has seen significant growth in enrollment, from 487 full \time students in 2009 to 601 in 2021 and from 341 to 512 students living on campus. Waldorf has experienced several facility upgrades in the last decade, including artificial turf and lights on all fields, restoration of the Ballroom in Salveson Hall, and renovations to residence halls. In 2018, Waldorf, in partnership with Forest City, the School District and the Hanson Family Foundation, opened the Boman Fine Arts Center, featuring a 625 \seat auditorium with state \of \the \art technology.
In 2010, Waldorf launched its first online program. Since then, the online division has grown rapidly to include 31 academic programs at the associate’s, baccalaureate’s and master’s levels. These programs serve over 3,300 Waldorf students worldwide, bringing them the Waldorf experience of a quality, student \centered, faith \based, liberal arts education. In connection with the growth of the master’s programs during the last decade, Waldorf College rebranded to Waldorf University in 2016. “We are proud of what we were able to accomplish with the University,” noted CSEG President, Robert Mayes. “Thanks in part to the changes instituted under out ownership, Waldorf has increased its presence online and dramatically improved its financial situation. Now, the family believes it is time for Waldorf to return to its roots. We look forward to seeing Waldorf grow and prosper in the future under the Foundation’s direction.”
“This is a historic moment for Waldorf University. We are grateful for the Mayes family and the expertise and leadership that has allowed Waldorf to grow over the last twelve years,” added Waldorf University President Bob Alsop. “We now look forward to renewing affiliations from the past, allowing more engagement from alumni and friends of the schools, and building on our success.”