Established on 12.12.2019 by the Estate of James Parke '68
James Parke came to Concordia from his hometown of Glasgow, Mont. He earned triple majors in history, political science and economics and was the student body president of the College. Following graduation, Jim joined the General Electric (GE) Financial Management Program and built a career in finance with leadership roles within the GE Corporate Audit Staff, serving as Chief Financial Officer for GE Lighting, GE Aircraft Engines and GE Capital. In 2005, after a 37-year career, Jim retired from GE as Vice Chairman and Chief Financial Officer of GE Capital Services and Senior Vice President of General Electric Company. In May 2017, Jim was awarded an honorary degree of Doctor of Humane Letters from Concordia College. While offering his remarks, Jim shared that when he joined the GE Financial Management Program, he didn’t know a debit from a credit and thought that might be a problem. However, he knew that Concordia had equipped him with the ability to ask the right tough questions. Jim did well, holding his own among other Ivy League graduates in the program.
Jim always remembered his alma mater. He was an active C-400 member, served in campaign leadership roles and was a member of the Board of Regents from 1999 – 2009. Jim supported the creation of the Offutt School of Business (OSB) and became the inaugural chairman of the Global Leadership Council, the advisory council to the OSB. In addition to supporting the business school, Jim made gifts in honor of his roommate, Dr. Bruce Houglum ‘68, Concordia’s band director, for the renovation of the Hvidsten Hall of Music. He also supported the renovation of the Knutson Campus Center, including the addition of the Parke Student Leadership Center. Jim was well-aware of the importance of unrestricted and student scholarship contributions so became a loyal giver to the Concordia Annual Fund and the James Parke Legacy Scholarship.
From his own life experiences, Jim understood that practical learning opportunities, such as internships, study abroad programs and undergraduate research opportunities were extremely important to a student’s education. He loved the concept of taking what a student learned in the classroom and applying it to real world challenges.
During the 2017-18 academic year, Concordia began requiring that all students complete at least two Pivotal Experiences in Applied Knowledge, or PEAK, experiences before graduation. PEAK experiences might be a unique independent study course, internship, service project or global learning opportunity.
The primary purpose of the James Parke ’68 Endowed Fund is to provide resources to support the integrative PEAK program and learning opportunities with preference given to students who demonstrate financial need when the funds are used for individual student experiences.