Photo by Jordan Elton. Searle Swedlund, former associate director of alumni relations, had his position eliminated from the Advancement Office during staff restructuring. In January, Eric Johnson will become the new director of alumni relations and the Concordia annual fund and Karen Johnson will become the new assistant director.

Concordia’s Advancement Office has begun to restructure its staff with the elimination of a position, and more changes that will take effect Jan. 1.

With the restructure of the department, the alumni office eliminated the position of Searle Swedlund, the former associate director of alumni relations. Swedlund, a Concordia alumnus, served the college for 14 years.

Swedlund served many roles during his time with Concordia, including Family Weekend, Homecoming, and Habitat for Humanity adviser.

In January, Eric Johnson, a gift planner in the advancement office, will become the new director of alumni relations and the Concordia annual fund. Karen Carlson, the current director of alumni relations, will become the new assistant director.

Concordia’s Vice President of Advancement, Teresa Harland-Ostby, said that these changes are a result of a review being done on the advancement office, which includes the alumni relations department, annual fund and general advancement office.

These changes will specifically help refocus the alumni relations office in hopes of broadening the base of alumni that stay involved with the college. This will help put the college in a good place for the upcoming giving campaign, Harland-Ostby said. The campaign will do many things, including raise money for a new science building, she said.

In order to kick off the campaign, the advancement office needed to restructure how the different departments work together.

“We identified that we needed to have a greater partnership between the annual fund office and alumni relations. The two really need to work hand-in-hand to help one another,” Harland-Ostby said.

Harland-Ostby also said that the specific events that go on in the alumni office, such as Family Weekend and Homecoming, could not be done without the student leadership that takes place. Students, who are future alumni, are an integral part of what they do.

“I think it’s a great way for students to get a sense of what it means to be an alum and what alumni relations is all about,” Harland-Ostby said.

Johnson agreed and said the partnership helps students see the tangible relationship between giving back to the college and the impact it makes on students’ time at Concordia.

“What students see most visibly (from the alumni relations and annual fund) are the brand new buildings, … or the new great dining facility that we helped raise money for,” Johnson said. “Students also see scholarships and that sort of thing, that are visible as a result (of the office’s results and changes).”

The alumni relations department will continue to build the Cobber network and make students aware of how they can benefit from it. Johnson said that by maintaining close connections between the college and alumni, one could be connected to a Cobber anywhere around the world.

As for Homecoming planning, Matt Dymoke, the 2013 Homecoming chair, said in an email that although Swedlund may not be at Concordia anymore, “Searle’s personality, dedication, and love for Concordia will never be forgotten.  He made a lasting impression, something that will stay long after he’s gone.”

Swedlund was supposed to be the Homecoming adviser once again, so now Dymoke is waiting to hear who will be his new staff liaison; likely, it will be either Carlson or Johnson.  Dymoke said this specific change impacted him the most and has been difficult as he learns the ropes of his new role as Homecoming chair.

“It is and will continue to be a much different place without him here,” Dymoke wrote. “But from his mentoring and advising, he has equipped us students to take on the tasks ahead, no matter if he’s here over our shoulder or not.”

The Concordia community wished Swedlund farewell on Tuesday at a reception honoring his work.

Jordan Elton

Jordan Elton '14 is majoring in multimedia journalism with a minor in Spanish. She is from Apple Valley, Minn. In addition to writing for the Concordian, Jordan is involved in Student Government Association, Habitat for Humanity and Campus Ministry Commission.

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