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David Pfrimmer will be stepping down as Waterloo Lutheran Seminary’s principal-dean this summer. He has been the top administrator of the school, an institution of the Eastern Synod of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Canada, since 2005.

“Having looked back at the past 10 years, I think I have done what I came to do,” Pfrimmer said to the Board of Governors when tendering his resignation last Friday. “There is never a good time to leave for someone like me. There is always one more exciting opportunity or project I would love to take on.”

Earlier this year the board approved the seminary’s five-year plan and a proposal to change the school’s name to Martin Luther University (MLU).

“We’ve been really happy with David,” said Rod Kruger, the board’s chairperson. “I’m sad he’s leaving at this time when we are moving ahead in a positive manner.

“David is leaving us in a really good position, and we’ve got a clear path to move ahead,” Kruger added.

In addition to moving forward with the business plan, Kruger said that appointing the seminary’s next principal-dean is expected to go smoothly. Members of the search committee to find Pfrimmer’s replacement have already been appointed.

“David has provided extraordinary leadership to the Seminary while sharing his valuable and much-welcomed counsel with many of us at Laurier over the years,” said Max Blouw, president and vice-chancellor of Wilfrid Laurier University. “He is a true bridge-builder who has strengthened both organizations with his thoughtful and dedicated service. I wish him all the best in this next stage of his career.”

Pfrimmer said the seminary has reached an important crossroads for its future educational mission with the new business plan and proposal to change the name to Martin Luther University. Discussions are underway with the Eastern Synod and Wilfrid Laurier University about how best to proceed on the proposed name change. The seminary board is also considering a major public fundraising campaign to help deal with $2.2 million in deferred maintenance and the building renovation.

Pfrimmer thanks students, faculty and the board for their support and commitment over the years. He expresses his gratitude for the many “wonderful friendships” that have developed over the years with faculty, colleagues and the wider church and the university.  “I am very grateful for our relationships with the synod and Laurier. These relationships are just excellent,” Pfrimmer noted. 

“WLS is in a good position and is fortunate to have a promising contribution to make in post-secondary education,” he added. “The challenge now is to implement the business plan for the proposed MLU and continue to make improvements to better serve students.” 

Pfrimmer, who has accepted the board’s offer of a one-year sabbatical/administrative leave, said he is not retiring. He said he will use the time to work on some writing projects and to consider what he might do next. “I would like to do some teaching and support the work of the Centre for Public Ethics at the seminary,” he said. “Most importantly, I’m looking forward to having more time to spend with my family and grandchildren.”  

Born in Montreal and raised in Connecticut, Pfrimmer came to what was then known as Waterloo Lutheran University, and later became Wilfrid Laurier University, in 1969 as a student. He completed a BA in Economics, and MDiv and MA in Religion and Culture. He has taught for the seminary and Laurier’s Religion and Culture department. He served as a student senator and, as principal-dean, on Laurier’s Senate and Board of Governors. Pfrimmer has served 10 years as principal-dean and as professor of public ethics. Prior to his appointment in 2005, he served for 25 years at the director of the Lutheran Office for Public Policy, as the executive secretary of the predecessor denomination to the ELCIC, and as a parish pastor in Kingston and New Hamburg.

Waterloo Lutheran Seminary, founded in 1911, is a federated college of Wilfrid Laurier University.


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