President Pamela Jolicoeur, Concordia’s 10th president, suffered a stroke in her home on June 9, 2010. She was sent to the Sanford Palliative Care Unit in Fargo, N.D, where she died. She was 65 years-old.
Jolicoeur served Concordia as its president since 2004. During this time she not only defined herself as someone more than capable for the job, but she also redefined the college by bringing it up to a new standard of distinction. She completed a $100 million capital campaign, which aided in the construction of the Knutson Campus Center as well as established initiatives in the sciences and the Concordia College School of Business. In addition, she raised Concordia’s leadership in global education.
But more importantly, Jolicoeur made an impact on Concordia’s students and faculty individually.
Ashley Koester, a senior, remembered how Jolicoeur took time to thank the Orientation volunteers last year.
“It was nice to have someone notice the hard work we were doing and to feel appreciated,” Koester said. “That was really cool.”
Sophomore Alyssa Haglin’s single face-to-face experience with Jolicoeur was her Orientation visit to the president’s house. Still, simply shaking Jolicoeur’s hand left an a positive impression on Haglin.
“She made the effort to look every new student in the eye and say hello and make them feel welcome,” Haglin said.
Reverend Thomas Schlotterback, director of vocation and church leadership at Concordia, remembers the late President as someone who led the college with “imagination, mission, and extraordinary possibility.”
“Pam had an air of humility and playfulness, and sense of joy about life and in seeing life as an absolute gift of God,” Schlotterback said. “No matter the context I was in with her, that shined through.”
However, what Schlotterback most remembered about Jolicoeur were the simple, but meaningful, conversations they would have.
“We would sip wine and talk and talk and talk. And I miss that,” he said, smiling to himself.
Paulette Dixon, manager of the campus post office, remarked on the devastating effect the news of Jolicoeur’s death had on Concordia.
“When we heard it we were in such shock,” Dixon said. “You could hear the ripple of the news across campus.”
The Office of Alumni Relations has been collecting student memories and photos taken with President Jolicoeur to compile into a book for her husband and daughter as a gift from Concordia students. Additionally, there is a memory share Web page on the Concordia Web site, where memories and condolences have also been submitted.
On June 14, 2010, a memorial service for President Jolicoeur was held at Trinity Lutheran Church in Moorhead. A time for fellowship in Anderson Commons followed the service. Later, on June 26, 2010, at Samuelson Chapel at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks, a second memorial service was held.
Jolicoeur had been a sociology professor and provost and dean at California Lutheran University, Thousand Oaks for 32 years before arriving at Concordia.
On Monday, Sept. 6, a memorial chapel service was held in the Knutson Center Centrum entitled “Remembering the Gift of Pamela Jolicoeur.”
Interim President Paul Dovre gave the homily, explaining how Jolicoeur’s commitment to vocation, excellence, leadership, and faith made her such a remarkable woman and president.
“Pam gave this college the best six years of her life,” Dovre said during the service. “[Jolicoeur’s mother] told me they were the happiest six.”
Kate Campbell, class of ’13, is the copy editor of The Concordian and is majoring in English education. She is from Sauk Rapids, Minn. At Concordia, Kate is involved in choir and band and works at the Writing Center. After graduation, Kate would like to teach English in a middle or high school.