Alumnus Profile: Concordia Theological Seminary Dean of Students and Associate Professor Rev. Dr. Ryan Tietz
Rev. Dr. Ryan Tietz '99 currently serves Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne, Indiana as dean of students and associate professor of exegetical theology. He fondly recalls his time at Concordia Nebraska and said he can easily spot the university’s students when they cross paths at the seminary.
“Concordia Nebraska was not my first choice university, it was my backup choice,” he laughed. “For a while I thought I wanted to go to Valparaiso and major in pre-law. But my mom (Joan Petersen Tietz '75) is a graduate of Concordia Nebraska. And my senior year of high school, I decided pre-law was not something I wanted to do, so I decided to explore the university.”
During his first campus visit, he recalls that every person he encountered was friendly and greeted him warmly.
“I still remember that personal touch, that sense of community,” he said. “I fell in love with the place.”
Tietz was initially determined not to attend seminary following his undergraduate studies. But after considering pursuing secondary education, he found himself as a pre-seminary student pursuing a bachelor of arts in history. He said he was absolutely terrified when he first met with associate professor of theology Kenneth Block.
He described many of his pre-seminary classes as “trial by fire,” especially Block’s Greek class, but he said that the classroom experiences and challenging coursework he experienced at the university stayed with him as he continued his education and pursued his vocations.
“I participated in debate my first two years on campus and was also involved in the drama department,” he said. “I became involved in the student worship committee and experienced a variety of other things that helped me explore my skills. And I am using some of those same skills now in pastoral ministry.”
Following his time at the university, Tietz went on to earn a master of divinity and master of sacred theology from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He also has a doctorate of philosophy in theological studies, Old Testament from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Illinois.
He has served the church in a variety of capacities including as an adjust professor at Concordia University, Chicago prior to his current service at Concordia Theological Seminary in Fort Wayne. As the seminary dean of students, he provides crisis care to the students. He primarily teaches Old Testament specializing in the book of Isaiah and also the minor prophets which gives him his greatest joys. One of his goals is to be able to integrate a rich Biblical theology in pastoral contexts. As a result, he has spoken at numerous contexts around the country. He is also coauthoring the Isaiah 28-39 commentary for Concordia Publishing House.
Tietz said it is interesting to observe new students to the seminary, having once been in their shoes.
“It’s odd for me. I have been teaching here for more than eight years and have been the dean of students for two years,” he said. “I can always pick out the Concordia Nebraska students right away. They know their stuff, and there’s just something about them. Concordia Nebraska offers a really good, well-rounded education, and the university does an excellent job preparing church workers to serve.”
Tietz cited Dr. Mark Meehl as one of the biggest influences on him during his time at the university.
“He just loved Biblical languages, and that passion really propelled me forward in my career,” he explained. “But he also had a really down to earth way of dealing with life. He and Dr. Block both really had a profound impact on me. And really, that Christ focus and caring nature was all across campus. In my academic advising, they would ask me how I was doing, and really care about the answers I gave. I learned a lot of basic skills in Seward and experienced a lot of real life learning that greatly impacted my ministry.”
Tietz said that his time at Concordia Nebraska definitely strengthened his faith.
“I was active in chapel, going to compline and regular devotions,” he said. “Worship and faith focus are a way of life on campus. It’s something you’re always surrounded by. Pre-sem students set up communion. There’s always an opportunity to worship and discuss and learn. And the faith focus is consistently integrated in classwork, too.”
After growing up in Indiana, Tietz said he never expected to find himself serving at the seminary just a few hours from where he grew up.
“The Holy Spirit is surprising,” he laughed. “Initially, I was adamantly opposed to becoming a pastor. But here I am.”
Tietz and his wife Jeanine (Hilleman) Tietz ’93 have two children: a son, Isaiah, who is a sophomore at Concordia University, Chicago, and a daughter, Amaya, who is a freshman at Concordia High School in Fort Wayne. Although his wife also attended Concordia Nebraska, they met while teaching English in the People’s Republic of China the summer after he graduated. The family enjoys hiking and camping, and he claims that he sleeps best in a tent.
Are you interested in exploring pre-seminary studies options at Concordia Nebraska? Learn more here.