This year's Poehler Lecture featured Dr. Loma Meyer, a highly renowned professor and staff member. With the exception of two years of public schooling, she attended Lutheran schools throughout college and attended both the University of Minnesota and Oklahoma State University. She received her doctorate degrees from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and the University of Minnesota. In 1967 she first came to Concordia Saint Paul and throughout her time here she served in a wide variety of positions, including: Director of instruction, dean of the faculty, vice president for academic affairs, and executive vice president. She served in several of these positions simultaneously and had to "consult with herself to get a consensus of opinion from her four offices." Overall she worked at Concordia Saint Paul for over four decades, serving 26 years as a teacher and administrator, 12 years as a member of the board of regents, and 17 years as a retired faculty member.
Dr. Meyer's lecture was divided into three main categories. First she spoke about her own background, then about the history of Concordia, and finally about the future of Concordia as she sees it. In each of these categories she talked about both the integration of faith and learning and the integration of faith into every aspect of life. As she was talking about her own background, especially the death of her husband, she focused mainly on integrating faith into an entire lifetime. Throughout her husband's struggle with Parkinson's disease they remained strong in their faith, a faith Dr. Meyer describes as "a living, daring confidence in God's grace and mercy." Dr. Meyer then provided the audience with a look at Concordia's past and present presidents. She pointed out major events during the terms of each, especially those that helped the university progress and integrate faith and learning. Examples of this include President Hyatt's work to grant women equal pay, President Harre's expansion of the liberal arts program, and President Holst's many building and expansion projects. Next she focused on the changes and challenges she sees in Concordia's future and how Concordia can work to keep integrating faith and learning in the midst of those challenges. Two of the main struggles she described were the anti-Christian and anti-intellectual tendencies that are prevalent in today's culture, and the increasing use of technology that is diminishing the classroom experience. While the question of integrating faith and learning is one that was just assumed 20 or 30 years ago, it is now one that has to be discussed and taken into account because of these and several other challenges. Dr. Meyer argued that as a Lutheran university it is not enough for Concordia to be just an excellent institution, they must also integrate faith and learning. She concluded her presentation by saying that all learning should be centered on faith and that the past is history and the present may seem somewhat bleak but the future holds promise.
Concordia's honors program really seems to be at the heart of what Dr. Meyer was addressing. She said the integration of faith and learning is priceless and that the saving grace of Jesus is more valuable than any other knowledge. I like to think that the honors program is based on that same thinking. While we strive for knowledge and an excellent education we know that when it comes down to it, what Jesus did for us on the cross is the most important thing. Dr. Meyer pointed out that the honors program is one of the ways Concordia is working to "keep up" with the future and still remain rooted in the faith. I think the connections between Dr. Meyer's lecture and the honors program are really quite clear. Besides the overarching theme of integration of faith and learning, the two are also connected through the technological aspect. Our study of Religion and Cyberspace connects quite well to Dr. Meyer's discussion of challenges technology will present for education in the future. Overall I think the honors program is working to investigate and overcome the challenges Dr. Meyer anticipates in the future of integrating faith and learning.