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Pres. Dovre returns

Interim president Dr. Paul Dovre is no stranger to Concordia College. Dovre was president of Concordia for 24 years, and has served as interim president once before. While the circumstances of his return are tragic, he said, the campus has been welcoming and encouraging.

“The strength of the community is so apparent in so many different ways,” Dovre said. “The sense of momentum on campus is really exciting.”

Dovre has known life at Concordia in various forms. He graduated from Concordia in 1958 and returned to campus as faculty in 1963 after earning his master’s and doctorate from Northwestern University. Dovre was the eighth president of Concordia and served in that position for 24 years, retiring in 1999. He returned to campus as an interim president during the 2003-04 academic year.
The college again called Dovre to serve as interim president after President Pamela Jolicoeur died on June 9. A nationwide search for the next president is in progress.

Dr. Mark Krejci, provost and dean of the college, came to Concordia as a professor of psychology in 1987 when Dovre was president. Although he did not have much personal interaction with Dovre at the time, Krejci said his perception of Dovre came from hearing him speak about the college.

Krejci got the sense early in his time at Concordia that Dovre was a believer in the campus’s mission statement, he said, and would lead according to it.

“He helped me take time to think about what it meant to be a leader,” Krejci said. “When it was announced that Dr. Dovre would be the interim, it was a big relief.”

Dovre is a good choice for the interim president, Krejci said, because Dovre knows Concordia. He can step into the duties of president without facing a learning curve, Krejci said.

An interim president should not have a self-motivated agenda, Krejci said. Before Dovre returned to Concordia, a strategic plan was put in place as a vision for the college’s future. His role as interim president is to work toward that plan, said Krejci, and to let the process happen.

This will not be a standstill year for Concordia, Dovre said. He would like his legacy of this time as interim president to be that he maintained the vision and momentum that was established during the Jolicoeur years, he said.

Among priorities for this year are the updates to the science facilities, environmental sustainability and defining logistics for the School of Business, Dovre said.

“This year, in particular, we will be putting some flesh on those goals,” Dovre said.

Beyond the strategic plan goals for this year, Dovre aims to get to know students through daily interactions on campus.

Anna Haugo, a senior and chair of the homecoming committee, said Dovre has been a recognizable figure on campus for generations.

Haugo’s dad, a 1975 Concordia graduate, had Dovre as a speech professor. Her mom, a 1980 graduate, knew him as President Dovre. Haugo said multiple generations of Cobbers have the common bond of knowing Dovre as an administrator, and now current Cobbers are included in that bond.

“Who would have thought that the president when my mom was here would be the president when I am here?” Haugo said.

Haugo and Dovre got to know each other through Haugo’s position as homecoming chair and her work with the Alumni Office this summer, when Haugo and her student coworkers made a trip to Dairy Queen with Dovre. It was very informal, she said, and while there, they spoke with Dovre about his time at Concordia as a student, his experiences in the choir and his family.

He has a genuine interest in every student, she said, and he makes the effort to call people by name and know who they are. Haugo said Dovre is active in being involved in campus life. He will be the honorary bonfire lighter at the homecoming bonfire this year, Haugo said.

“He graciously accepted the invite,” Haugo said. “It’s fun for students when faculty and administrators get involved on a student level. It sets the tone for when students become the alumni.”

Dovre has been doing what he can to be a visible interim president, he said, by attending football and volleyball practices, as well as eating in the Maize while it is bustling with students.

“The only thing I know how to do is be around,” Dovre said.

Dovre said he anticipates daily interactions with students, and he enjoys speaking with them about what they want out of their college experience. He has not had ample time to create bonds with students so far this year, he said, but has enjoyed getting to know students in leadership positions over the summer, such as Haugo and her coworkers.

As Krejci’s role at Concordia changed over the years, so did his relationship with Dovre. Krejci saw Dovre’s influence on campus when he returned as interim president for the 2003-04 academic year, and again this past summer.

“[That he keeps coming back] is an amazing witness to what it means to follow a vocation for a lifetime,” Krejci said.

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