CASPER — A second classical college is headed to the state of Wyoming to provide in-state, out-of-state and international students of the Lutheran faith a place to dig into the primary documents and “great thinkers” of Western culture.
Luther Classical College Academic Dean Ryan MacPherson said plans are moving to build a facility on 11 acres at Hickory and 24th streets in Casper. Final action to rezone the property is being considered by the Casper City Council.
“We’re hoping to break ground this spring,” he said.
Initially, two buildings for student housing and a third academic facility will make up the campus. The college hopes to open with an initial 60 students in fall 2025 and grow those numbers to 300 in the following few years.
MacPherson said the college already has 160 interested applicants who have completed pre-admission forms. Many are in high school and others are in “gap” years wanting to pursue a classical education.
“There is growing interest in classical education in general, especially in the Lutheran Church body,” MacPherson said. “Students are looking at where they can continue their studies.”
Once completed, the college will join Wyoming Catholic College in Lander as the only classical colleges in the state.
A Classical Model
The college launch is sponsored by Mount Hope Lutheran Church in Casper, which is affiliated with the Lutheran Church — Missouri Synod. The initial faculty and the dozen or so who will be recruited at the college’s maximum enrollment will also all be from the conservative synod as will most of the students. All students will be members of the Lutheran Church.
While earning degrees are the desired end result of students’ education, MacPherson said the goals of the college are to produce students who are “responsible, ethical and can learn on the job. People who can be flexible in their skill set” and upright in the way they approach work and life.
The college is to be built adjacent to Mount Hope Lutheran Church in Casper. The church already has a school that uses a classical education curriculum and is a center for classical education in the synod.
MacPherson said the classical model of education gives students a foundation in primary sources, Plato, Aristotle, the Bible, the writings of the nation’s founders and presidents and more.
Appealing For Homeschooled Students
“We can learn from their example and imitate excellence and be better prepared for the future,” he said. “Classical education is backward looking but we believe it is the best preparation for moving forward as well.”
MacPherson gives the example of how a classical education would tackle social justice. Plato, Aristotle, Cicero and Abraham Lincoln all dealt with the issue of social justice in their times, he said.
“Let’s look back at all of that and look at the very best arguments … let’s take that broad long-term perspective,” he said. “The same is the true for any other big question in life.”
The prospective students who have filled out pre-admission forms for the school come from 32 states as well as Canada and Uganda. Contacts from potential students continue to come in.
MacPherson said one in three prospects have been homeschooled, one in four from a public school and the rest from private Christian schools.
What About Accreditation?
The four-year degree students also may choose electives that lead to pastoral, music leadership or a teaching focus.
Student housing is designed to create a more “family” environment with pods and shared kitchens and living rooms.
Plans for accreditation through the U.S. Department of Education and Council for Higher Education are in place.
“We first need to have students and professors on campus,” MacPherson said. “In the first year we will submit an application so in the second year, students will be able to receive an accredited associate of arts degree.”
Dale Killingbeck can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.