Concordia College celebrated the legacy of President William Craft and Anne Craft Thursday evening as they approach retirement at the end of the year.
The Crafts were recognized in a ceremony in the Centrum that saw faculty, students, and the surrounding community fill seats in order to thank the pair and commemorate their years of service to the school. Craft is the eleventh president to serve at Concordia, having held the position for over a decade. The ceremony consisted of several speeches by close friends of the Crafts, as well as a video reflecting on their legacy to the school, and a performance by the Concordia choir.
A standout moment from the ceremony came when Anne and Craft took to the stage. Both used their speeches to express their appreciation for Concordia and their love for the campus and its students.
Anne, who has served as an academic counselor in the Center for Student Success, spoke first, and discussed what a privilege it was to be a part of the Concordia community.
“This is a beloved community,” said Anne, “and it was such a wonderful thing to be in the midst of this place. It’s a deep privilege to be an adopted Cobber.”
Anne’s speech was met by a round of applause, and was followed by words from Craft, who reiterated how important their work was to them, and their joy at seeing students grow each year.
“We love to see the lives of our students unfold,” said Craft, “we have loved doing this together.”
Dedicated to the growth of Concordia and its student body, Craft ended his speech with a parting gift from him and Anne. Craft announced, starting in the coming fall semester, new students “with significant need” would be eligible for the Abbot Krugler Moorhead Rogers Endowed Scholarship, named for the Crafts’ colleagues who worked in the President’s Office.
A reception was also hosted in Knutson for the Crafts preceding the ceremony. Attendees had the chance to speak to and take photos with the Crafts, as well as enjoy a catered meal by Concordia Dining Services.
Karl Stumo, Concordia’s vice president for enrollment and marketing, helped plan and set up the event and reiterated that it was a way for Concordia to express its gratitude.
“Bill and Anne have had such a long-lasting and positive impact at Concordia that the community wanted to have an event to thank them,” said Stumo.
Attendees also had high praise for the event, with many turning out to thank President Craft and Anne Craft for their service.
Tennyson Kelm, a junior at Concordia, said, “I think it’s great to see so many people here and wanting to thank the Crafts. It’s a pretty bittersweet moment. They did a lot for Concordia and its students, and it can be hard to see them go, though it’s great we get this chance to recognize them and show how grateful we are for everything they’ve done.”
This sentiment was reiterated throughout the evening, with many people stating how glad they were to celebrate the Crafts.
“I thought it was really nice to see all the students, staff, and faculty come out and support. Just the turnout in and of itself speaks to who President Craft was and his impact on people,” said student body president Hannah Paysse.
In addition to the ceremony honoring the Craft’s work at Concordia, President Craft is also being recognized for his service to the Moorhead community. Mayor Shelly Carlson signed an official proclamation Monday establishing May 7, 2023, as Dr. William Craft Day.
President Craft will be succeeded by Dr. Colin Irvine, outgoing provost and executive vice president at Augustana University in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. Irvine will take over the position on July 1, 2023.