MOORHEAD — Members of the Cobber community may have noticed a fresh face among them at the Cobber Corn feed, welcoming students back to campus at the beginning of the year and even appearing in a couple of classes, that would be new Concordia president Colin Irvine.
President Irvine was hired at the end of last year, replacing President William Craft, who retired after twelve years of working for the school.
Irvine previously served as provost and executive vice president at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he was instrumental in implementing several new programs at the school.
One goal of Irvine’s for Concordia is to see the development of innovative, experiential teaching and learning programs.
Experiential teaching and learning are a model for learning which gives students the opportunity to apply their skills outside of the classroom setting.
“Internships, research, study abroad, first year experiences, capstone courses, clinicals. These are all examples of experiential learning. You’ve heard the expression, tell me, show me, let me do it. It’s the ‘let me do it’ when you discover I really like doing this. This is not just what I do well, this is who I want to become. There are ways to do that kind of teaching that are more effective than others,” Irvine said.
Concordia’s PEAK program is one example of experiential learning which is already present on campus. The goal would be to add programs that lean into the PEAK model and engage with the surrounding community, Irvine said.
“We want to add programs in partnership with our community partners who need not just workers, but need Concordia kind of students who think broadly about issues, questions, challenges, and can begin to make a difference while they’re interning or researching,” Irvine said.
Benjamin Iverson, Concordia’s Vice President for Enrollment, formerly worked as the Assistant Vice Provost for Global Engagement at Augustana University and worked alongside Irvine in creating some of their school’s new programs.
“He’s really excited about growth. Colin started quite a number of programs, majors, minors, and a variety of other things at Augustana. So I think we’ll see with Colin’s leadership and that of the deans and division chairs a lot of new and exciting things coming, both on the academic side and the co-curricular side,” Iverson said.
In addition to the programs Irvine hopes to implement on campus, he has also expressed an interest in engaging with Concordia students and the Moorhead community.
Daniel Biebighauser, a professor of mathematics who served on the Presidential Search Committee, was happy to see the enthusiasm Irvine brought to the position.
“I’ve been impressed with how he’s started to get to know people on campus really quickly. He’s really intentional about meeting people and getting to interact with them, students especially. I think there’s a lot of enthusiasm on both sides and I’m really looking forward to watching him go from these first couple months to how these first few years are going to play out,” Biebighauser said.
“I want students to know that they can approach me. That they can share with me what they hope the school will become. That they know their ideas and their hopes and expectations are my priority,” Irvine said.
Sara Kempson, a junior at Concordia, met Irvine when he was completing his ‘day in the life of a student’ and said she was impressed by his efforts to speak with and get to know students.
“Sometimes with authority figures, we put them on a pedestal and forget they are also normal humans. President Irvine walks his dog in the morning, helps build the set for his daughter’s musical, or buys cobber merch in the bookstore like every other person. He seems like a great down to earth person, and I am excited to see what he does at Concordia,” Kempson said.
Irvine will officially be sworn in as president in an inauguration ceremony on Sunday, Oct. 15 which students are welcomed to attend.