Interim President Paul Dovre will make way for William Craft, who was recently elected as the new president of the college, at the beginning of July.
Paul Dovre said that over this past year, he was most proud of the way the community came together in a time of tragedy and anxiety over the future.
“The measure of the health of a community is how it responds to a crisis or tragedy, and judged by that standard, this community is a very healthy one,” he said. “What could have been a year of uncertainty and anxiety became instead a year of movement and progress.”
Bruce Vieweg, associate provost, chief information officer and interim dean of students, said Dovre is inspirational, deep and honest.
“I’m in major like with Paul Dovre,” Vieweg said. “He loves Concordia like I don’t think anything else. He’s an absolute joy to work with. He more than lives his faith, if there is such a thing. Mardy Dovre is just equally as warm and caring and involved in this community…I have no exaggeration–just come to be an absolute, total admirer. I will miss him in many ways. He’s just a fine person.”
Vieweg said Dovre has a perspective he values as a person.
“He imagines the very best of who we can be as human beings and he articulates it,” Vieweg said. “Not everybody can do that, but he does it.”
Mark Krejci, provost and dean of the college, said at the press conference that announced Dovre as interim president that he remembered Dovre talking about how God is most important to him, followed by his family, and then Concordia.
“Part of his life’s vocation has been to be a part of this place and support the mission,” Krejci said, “so when I think of Paul Dovre, I think of someone who exemplifies the Lutheran understanding of vocation.”
When he took over after the tragic death of President Pamela Jolicoeur, Krejci said he believed Dovre helped with the mourning and direction of the college by embracing what Jolicoeur had been doing and planning.
“He saw his role as to keep the process going and get out of the way,” Krejci said. “He believed so much in what was happening.”
Senior Whitney Myhra first met Dovre this summer when he was announced as the interim president. She and her fellow workers in the Alumni office invited Dovre out for Dairy Queen one day, and they all got better acquainted. Myhra also got to know Dovre better during the school year when she was a part of the Orientation Committee. She even played him in the Welcome Show during Orientation week.
“It was nerve-wracking,” she said, “but it was really fun.”
She said Dovre is great and Concordia is lucky to have him.
“He came out of retirement twice for us,” she said. “He was just what we needed for this transition.”
Regarding the transition from mourning the loss of President Jolicoeur to moving forward as a college, Myhra said it was relatively easy for the college.
“It’s really commendable,” she said. “The transition from Jolicoeur to Dovre was hard but we all pushed through it and it was a great year.”
Looking back to the previous president, Dovre said Jolicoeur did marvelously in her job.
“She inspired the campus to think of itself in a new way and to become more strikingly conscious of our strengths and a bit more assertive and affirming of our strength and the capacity of the college,” he said. “While she certainly was sanguine about the real challenges that we face in our environment, her point of view was that we’re going to build our future by our gifts, not have the future be shaped by the external environment.”
Dovre said this past year has been a great experience for his wife Mardy and himself.
“We’ve had such a great time getting reconnected with the students and faculty and issues that make up daily life of a place like this,” he said.
Since the transition from Jolicoeur to Dovre was pretty simple, Myhra has faith the same thing will happen now with Craft. Myhra hopes to stay in contact with Dovre after she graduates this month.
“He’s a personable guy,” she said. “Right off the bat he remembered my name and he remembers when I tell him things. He’s really great for giving advice. It’s been a blessing to have him here. I love him and I love his wife; she’s fabulous.”
Vieweg said he is very taken with Craft.
“Okay, he’s a Mac user, but he also is an engaging fellow,” he said. “He’s very gracious and I think it’s gonna be a winner relationship. I can’t wait, except I don’t want to lose Paul. We need to celebrate the gift of Paul Dovre. He’s not going anywhere but he’s done gosh darn more than we have expected of him, three times.”
Based on how Concordia has handled various transitions in the past, Vieweg believes this transition to another new president will be handled with ease as well.
“I think it’s gonna be… a relatively easy transition,” he said. “We’ve already had two transitions: we lost Pamela Jolicoeur and we gained Paul Dovre, and now we’re gaining Bill Craft…We’re all looking forward to him joining us in July. We’ll hit the ground running.”
Krejci said he commends Dovre for work most students and faculty members don’t know about or see much: the fundraising function as president.
“With Paul, he was able to talk about the mission because it’s in his fiber and it’s in his identity,” Krejci said. “Boy, it’s really impressive to see what Paul has done on the fundraising front…It’s been one of the best fundraising years in the history of the college, in terms of cash coming in.”
Krejci said he also commends Dovre for what he was able to do this past year.
“What he was able to do was keep our momentum moving forward, keep us grounded in the mission of the college and do it in a time of sudden and unexpected tragedy,” he said. “He’s given so much to this place for him to come back at this point in his life. Mardy Dovre…jumped back into this life and came out of retirement too.”
Dovre and his wife represent the college off-campus at various events, but he also makes an impact on campus. Each week he eats in Anderson Commons for at least one meal, and he sits with a different group of students each time so he can get a feel for the student experience. He and his wife also frequently attend the various games, plays and lectures on campus.
Dovre said what he will miss most after Craft takes over will be the people.
“I’ll miss the students and student life and vitality and promise they bring,” he said. “This is a time of society when people are quite pessimistic. Some people say a lot of things just aren’t working well, and I’d agree with that assessment. I’ll say, well, you know, I certainly am sympathetic to that point of view, but if you want to find reason for hope, spend a day with me on our campus, meet the students and hear the buzz in the classrooms.”
Dovre said he won’t really miss keeping track of all the budgets or keeping up with a rigorous schedule. Dovre looks forward to a more relaxed schedule when he can set his own agenda and return to retirement. He plans to do some writing, consulting for leadership development for Lutheran colleges, volunteering, traveling, and more, not to mention his grandchildren.
“We’re just very appreciative of the character and hospitality of the community,” he said. “It’s such a great place to work and to live. It’s full of gratitude…It’s where people are so friendly and supportive and basically on the same page: trying to do good.”
I’m a senior at Concordia graduating in May with a Bachelor’s Degree in Journalism. Journalism is my life and my passion, and I wouldn’t want it any other way.