It’s homecoming at Concordia. This week, the college welcomes alumni, parents, and friends to campus to celebrate our past. As a college best known for the Cobber ring—a staple on every third-year and above student and alum—we take Homecoming pretty seriously. From having a “real” Coronation ceremony to the bonfire, our strong traditions are, in a large part, what set us apart from homecoming celebrations elsewhere.
This weekend, we celebrate some seriously impressive graduates of the college, major benefactors for–on campus improvements, and do our best to “Remember our Roots.” While our roots are deeply cherished, providing a “firm foundation,” we must remember that we will succeed best as a college deeply committed to further advancement—requiring shameless commitment to influencing the affairs of this world.
And while we are proud of our alumni, all too often current students of Concordia—when seeking some major on-campus changes—mistakenly feel pressured to conform to old ideas, ideas they believe will go over well with major donors.
This is nonsense.
We, the current students of the college, ought to feel empowered to make meaningful change on this campus without fear of offending those who write the checks. Because—at the end of the day—our collective checks are much greater.
We have an embarrassingly low endowment compared to other colleges of similar size. Our enrollment is down (not just by a few students, either), so college leaders are getting nervous. Multiple budgets have to be created (a dream budget, an ideal budget, and our last resort budget) based on the number of current students. Unfortunately, we’re somewhere between the bottom two budgets this year.
This money—at least the majority of it—does not come from alumni. It comes from us. We keep this place running, not just by attending class and participating in on campus events, but by further advancing our mission, pushing the limits and encouraging bold learners to join this community well-known for engagement. Without fear of the donors, we act courageously in doing things like standing against the Minnesota marriage amendment, recognizing a secular club, and scrapping the archaic rules of intervisitation in our residence halls.
Alumni may read this and get nervous. In fact, many have reacted with negative comments, especially on this paper’s website. But this nervousness or dismay is unfounded. Unlike many of our sister institutions, our college, thanks to the late Dr. Carl Bailey, has a very clear mission. And while the campus may look a little different (both with new buildings and new faces), our goals are rock-solid—literally.
Sure, a donor may get frustrated with a decision made on campus and threaten not to continue supporting the college. While this is certainly unfortunate, it should not demotivate students.
This homecoming week, we must remember that in order to BREW, we have to be bold.