In times of change, members of the Concordia community–from students to the Board of Regents–stick together in support of the college.
This has been true in the past, as when former President Pamela Jolicoeur passed away, and remains true today, like when the recent “sin-is-sin” T-shirt debate canvassed campus.
Increasing costs and political tensions result in differing opinions on how the college should react, but when issues arise, donors to the college, as well as some of the major decision makers, take time to listen to differing opinions and offer their support.
Recent economic problems have caused increased costs across the country and Concordia College is no exception.
However, according to Teresa Harland, vice president of advancement, the college has actually seen an increase in funding over the past few years. The 2010-2011 fiscal year produced a record high in donations to the college. Donations totaled $19.8 million which was up from $10.8 million the previous year.
“I think that speaks to the loyalty and support of Concordia alums or friends in good or bad economic times,” Harland said.
Linda Brown, vice president of finance, explained that a large reason for this increase was due to gifts given specifically to fund the Offutt School of Business.
She also explained that gifts to the college are only a part of the funding needed to offset the operating budget of the college each year. Of the $75.4 million budgeted cost for 2011-2012, donations made up 4.5 percent of the funding. Net tuition, which doesn’t include scholarships given by the college, covered approximately 50 percent of this cost.
Brown explained that increasing donations just can’t keep up with increasing costs.
“There’s still a gap,” she said.
However, donations to the college help cover a large portion of tuition costs for students. And as Larry Papenfuss, director of the Concordia annual fund and external relations, explained, about 90 percent of students attending Concordia receive a portion of these funds.
Donors to the college, which include companies, alumni, church organizations and friends of the college, get involved in other ways than just providing financial support.
Papenfuss, who works closely with donors, said that he sometimes gets calls from certain donors who are concerned about events or guests on campus.
“Whenever there’s an issue that pits viewpoints against one another… there are always donors that are going to stand up and raise their hands for whatever their particular view is,” Papenfuss said.
He explained that sometimes his office reminds donors that Concordia works to bring in a variety of viewpoints and that speakers are here to share their thoughts, not convert students to any specific way of thinking.
Papenfuss also pointed out that Concordia, as an ELCA associated college, wants to encourage faith-based learning and that that means being open to different viewpoints.
“It’s precisely because of our faith that we are open to that kind of education,” Papenfuss said.
Donors are involved in other ways on campus as well. These include commenting on articles posted on The Concordian’s website, responding to groups’ Facebook pages and opening up discussion in a variety of other formats.
The Board of Regents
The board of regents is an important part of the governing body of the college and is responsible for making decisions like the recent installment of William Craft as the President of Concordia.
However, this doesn’t mean that they are only concerned with those decisions. Rev. Tom Schlotterback, director of vocation and church leadership, was a member of the board from 2007 to 2010. He explained that the board interacts with students.
“The regents… listens to student voices, values those voices and always invites those voices,” Schlotterback said.
Schlotterback went on to explain that the regents, during their required meetings on campus, try to interact with students as much as possible. In addition, the Student Government Association president acts as an ambassador to the board and sits in on all their meetings.
This means that when important events happen on campus, students voices will be heard during the decision making process.
Gary Haugo, director of development in the advancement office, explained that this involvement was a reflection of Concordia’s mission in liberal arts.
“That’s part of BREW,” Haugo said.