The 20th century closed with an ambitious construction project, the building in 1998 of the Wiedemann Center, to answer the need for suitable housing for seminarians moving to the campus with families with children. Wiedemann was the first campus housing designed for a student body of men and women, and housed the seminary’s first high technology classroom. For the first time, seminarians could meet with distant synodical candidacy committees through the classroom’s high-tech equipment rather than traveling home. Dr. James Kenneth Echols became the first African American dean of a Lutheran seminary, and went on to become President of The Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago.
The seminary developed a media center in the Hagan Administration Center to house film, video, and photography resources of the seminary, and to produce videotapes of special events, such as sermons from the Preaching with Power initiative, an annual March program of the Urban Theological Institute (UTI). The school added more curriculum concentrations to keep pace with the times. For example, the seminary began a Theological Education for Emerging Ministries program, part of a wider church effort to fast-track students to provide leadership in specialized ministries. Offering insights on this historic period are former Dean James Echols, UTI Director Quintin Robertson, and retired professor Richard Stewart.