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Past, present and future leaders: the history of presidents at Concordia

After the end of the 2022-2023 academic year, President William Craft is stepping down from his position as president. With this announcement last year, the Presidential Search Committee has been working hard to find a replacement.  

Nearly a year of searching and interviewing later, the Presidential Search Committee has announced the new president. On January 11, 2023, a special ceremony was held a day before the start of the 2023 Spring semester.  

Colin Irvine will be the 12th president in Concordia College’s 132 year history.  

Colin Irvine is the 12th president of Concordia. | Concordia College

The Presidential Search Committee was searching for a candidate to continue promoting the strong Lutheran tradition that the college was founded upon. According to the Concordia College website, the presidential search committee was looking for, “An accomplished, creative, and charismatic leader to set an ambitious course for the future.” 

Colin Irvine has a similar background to President Craft. They both sought after degrees in English. However, Irving received his B.A. in English from Carroll College, then M.A. in American Studies from the University of Notre Dame, and finally received a Ph.D. in English from Marquette University.  

Mary Ranum, Chair of the Board of Regents, addressed the college during the announcement ceremony.  

 “When the Board of Regents voted on our presidential nominee, I had goosebumps and I have them again, today,” said Ranum.  

With the enrollment numbers as low as they are, the Presidential Search Committee prioritized finding a candidate that has experience bringing in students. Noted in the short Biography on the Irvine, explains that Irvine has gained that experience from his time as the Provst and Vice-President of Augustana College. He was able to create new interdisciplinary programs.  

Augustana College has Norwegian roots and also affiliates with the ELCA. Before that, he also worked at his alma mater, Carroll College.  

Kaia Lill is a junior communications major. She was able to meet with the new President Irvine. 

“He was very open and interested in what I had to say about the school,” said Lill. She looks forward to what he’ll bring to the academics during his time here.  

Irvine will be joining the legacy of presidents at Concordia College, each of which helped to enrich and make the college what it is today.  

Concordia College’s archivist Allison Bundy provided some history books about the forming of the college and how each president paved their own path and legacy. The first president at Concordia was Rasmus Bogstead in 1906. Before, the school was headed by the founders and principals. He was one of the first faculty members at Concordia and was involved in many of the bigger decisions about Concordia College’s future before being named the president. He helped paved the way for Concordia to be a liberal arts institution believing that liberal arts helps to build character. He helped build “New Main” which now gets referred to as Old Main. 

Colin Irvine was announced as the new president on January 11, 2023. | Concordia College

President Aasgaard also contributed much to Concordia College. He was able to strengthen ties with the church and establish a four-year degree program. He also helped sustain Concordia’s financial future. He saw over the expansion of extracurricular activities and served during the Great War.  

For President Brown, he helped secured the College’s endowment and helped Concordia build its reputation. Unfortunately, the Great Depression hit during his presidency.  

Many other presidents would lead and shape Concordia College into what it stands as today. From adjusting to the demands of the enrollment population to overseeing the development of new buildings, they have changed the course of academics at the institution.  

A couple of presidents later, President Craft saw the college through struggles of its own. He was leader during Covid-19 and has worked to bring the Concordia community closer to each other.  

Now, students have time to adjust to the knowledge of the new president. Irving will be starting on July 1, 2023. 

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