The current and past three presidents of Concordia University, St. Paul, Rev. Dr. Tom Ries (2011 – Present), Rev. Dr. Robert Holst (1991 – 2011), Dr. John Johnson (1989 – 1991), and Rev. Alan Harre (1984 – 1989), gathered this evening for a panel to answer questions about their experiences during tenure. Those who attended the panel ranged from former faculty and staff to currents faculty and staff to their family members to alumni to current students. As a students attending the event, I felt a little under dressed, for this was a semi-formal event, which I was unaware of that until I walked into the auditorium. Aside from feeling a bit out of place, it was fascinating to here first hand accounts of how Concordia has grown over the past 29 years from the leaders of this institution of education.
Five questions were asked to the panel, spanning from favorite memory to the legacy they left. After the first few questions asked it was very evident that each of the presidents have different ways of knowing. Rev Harre is strong in observation, Dr. Johnson is strong in revelation, Rev. Dr. Holst is strong in emotion, and Rev. Dr. Ries is strong in reason. Each president brought a knew perspective to CSP during their tenure; they were able to pick up where the last left off and lead Concordia to success and prosperity.
This was a unique opportunity for current students, such as myself, to get a glimpses into the past, so that we may see and understand the great legacy we are a part of. This also is an opportunity for us to appreciate what has been done in the past so that we are where we are today. This evening I learned that Concordia only recently, when Dr. Johnson was president, that Concordia began to expand the the programs offered. The university itself had to expand the ways of knowing that were being taught to the students. Concordia would not be as successful as it is today if it did not expand past church work majors. By doing so Concordia now prepares its students for more than just a job after graduation. Students are being prepared to be contributing members of society by learning how to think beyond how they already know. Students are being exposed to new cutlers and experience that helps shape them and expand their understanding of life.