Both the dean’s office and the communication studies and theatre art departments ushered in the 2017 academic year with administrative changes. Dr. Stephanie Ahlfeldt assumed her new role as associate dean of the college, while Dr. Cindy Larson-Casselton stepped into Ahlfeldt’s former position as department chair.
Despite her new responsibilities, Ahlfeldt is approaching the school year with vigor. This semester, she will begin to manage matters related to Core Curriculum, the First-Year Experience, interdisciplinary programs, advising, and faculty development. Ahlfeldt has already had several students visit her new office, something that “the extrovert in [her] really enjoys,” she said.
Earlier this year, Ahlfeldt responded to Dean Eric Eliason’s call to all faculty who were interested in the associate dean position. She explained that after experiencing administrative work as CSTA department chair, she felt personally called to the job’s potential for helping students and faculty.
“I really enjoyed thinking about how we could offer an amazing curriculum in our major and the more I thought about how much that energized me, the more interested I became in this position,” Ahlfeldt said.
On April 5, after two months of consideration, Eliason announced Ahlfeldt’s selection. Of all the positive opportunities associated with her new position, Ahlfeldt is most excited to continue serving the Concordia community.
“I feel so grateful and have felt so grateful every step of the way because Concordia really is a special place,” Ahlfeldt said.
Ahlfeldt has been part of Fargo-Moorhead’s academic community for nearly 20 years. Before accepting a teaching position in Concordia’s Communications department, she attended North Dakota State University for her bachelor’s and doctorate degrees. As a professor at Concordia, Ahlfeldt taught a range of courses, including Computer-Mediated Communication, Interviewing, and Relating in a Global Society. In addition to her departmental experience, Ahlfeldt served as chair for the 2014 Symposium on Sustainability and Local Action/Global Impact. Ahlfeldt has also worked to bring her work at Concordia to the broader community by facilitating curriculum that connects students’ sustainability efforts in Fargo-Moorhead. This past weekend, Ahlfeldt presented on women’s leadership and potential at the West Fargo Chamber of Commerce women’s event. This will be Ahlfeldt’s 14th year at Concordia.
Fellow communications professor Larson-Casselton has taught alongside Ahlfeldt for all of those 14 years. Larson-Casselton fondly recalled their offices being next door to one another when Ahlfeldt first began teaching at Concordia. Since then, the two have developed a strong working relationship, even leading student trips to the United Kingdom, Norway, and Sweden together.
“I will miss her as my travel partner. Those trips were some real prize moments for me,” Larson-Casselton said.
The friendship and collaboration between the two professors has made for a smooth administrative transition. As CSTA chair, Ahlfeldt was responsible for scheduling classes, considering the needs of faculty as well as CSTA students, and serving as a liaison to the district chair. Larson-Casselton officially began her duties as chair on July 1. Former chairs Dr. Aileen Buslig, Dr. Don Rice, and Dr. Cindy Carver have all provided advice and support to Larson-Casselton in this handover, and Ahlfeldt is confident in Larson-Casselton’s capabilities to take over the position. Larson-Casselton is excited to see Ahlfeldt in her new position as well.
“I expect to see her carrying her ability to lead into this position,” Larson-Casselton said. “[Ahlfeldt] will allow the strength of a teacher to shine through.”
Third-year communication studies student Anita Ukpokolo agreed that Ahlfeldt would do well at transferring her strengths as a professor to the dean’s office. During her first year at Concordia, Ukpokolo was a student in Ahlfeldt’s Introduction to Communication course. She applauded Ahlfeldt’s ability to break down difficult concepts and keep an open mind to new ideas.
“If [Ahlfeldt] hears something she’s never heard before, she’ll definitely take it into consideration at the very least, and maybe even add that to her repertoire of beliefs,” Ukpokolo said. For this reason in particular, she feels that Ahlfeldt will prove to be trustworthy administrator.
Though Ahlfeldt said that she will miss interacting with students in a classroom setting, she enjoys viewing Concordia through a broader lens. Her responsibilities have already brought her into greater contact with students and faculty from all departments. She thinks that the big projects in the future are addressing ongoing needs that Concordia has.
“Those are always about considering where we are as a college, as a community, as a society,” Ahlfeldt said. “I love Concordia, I love our students, and I want to use my energy, my time, and whatever I can offer for the benefit of this place and the people that are in it.”
Karissa is a junior double-majoring in Communications and English Writing. She enjoys participating in performance arts and exploring national parks. This is her first year on the Concordian team!