The women who have shaped Concordia’s history

Women have been a large part of Concordia’s history. From past presidents and staff to current students, Concordia’s women have been changemakers on campus. While women should be appreciated every month, Women’s History Month is time set aside to reflect on the women of Concordia’s history and recognize their accomplishments.

Pamela Jolicoeur | Concordia College Archives

Concordia has had only one female president, Dr. Pamela M. Jolicoeur. According to the Concordia College Archives website, Jolicoeur became president in 2004 after leaving the position of provost at California Lutheran University. During her presidency, Jolicoeur was selected to participate in a summit of international education by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Secretary of Education Margaret Spellings. She was instrumental in advancing Concordia’s global education program. She was also active in the surrounding community. Jolicoeur served as the president of Concordia until she passed away in 2010.

Dorothy Olsen was Concordia’s Dean of Women starting in 1953, according to the Concordia College Archives website. She wanted to make it so women were able to enjoy their college experience as much as possible. She also worked to relax the curfew policy. Another of Olsen’s accomplishments as Dean of Women was the institution of resident assistants as opposed to dorm mothers. In 1998 the Boe-Olsen apartments were named in honor of Olsen and her colleague, the Dean of Men, the Rev. Vic Boe.

Concordia College offers a minor in women’s and gender studies. This program is an interdisciplinary approach to analyze gender issues alongside race, ethnicity, class and sexuality. The women’s and gender studies minor helps prepare people for a variety of fields from local activism to global anthropological study. Students in this program gain perspectives of those around them and have ample opportunity to make a difference in their communities. Women’s and gender studies students also work closely with the Sexuality and Gender Alliance student organization and the International Community, helping with events like Safe Space Training.

Concordia is also home to several all-women groups. Some of these include Cantabile, Lambda Delta Sigma and Women in Business. 

Cantabile is a group of singers that is made up of all women. Elise Grabinger, a former Cantabile member, explained that the group has always been a safe and empowering group to learn, sing, and grow with.

Lambda Delta Sigma is the only Greek life on campus. It is a philanthropic sorority that prioritizes female empowerment and helping the surrounding community and campus. 

“Far too many women worth celebrating lie in the shadows. We must celebrate women and their accomplishments,” said Payton Hausauer, president of Lambda Delta Sigma. Lambda Delta Sigma works to celebrate the women surrounding them. 

Women in Business is a group that focuses on professional programming. It has hosted a range of activities, from arts and craft nights to having guest speakers come and talk with the members about making cover letters of adapting to change. Cassie Bergman, a member of Women in Business, said that this club is important as women are disproportionately active in business. Therefore it is important to build a strong community of women who share the same determination and drive. Groups like these offer spaces to recognize the work of women, highlight it and foster community and understanding. 

By no means is this a comprehensive list of all that should be known about the history and of women here at Concordia, but it is a place to start.

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