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Concordia College Inaugurates Dr. Colin Irvine as 12th President

Dr. Colin Irvine smiles during his inauguration ceremony on Oct. 15, 2023.

In the highly competitive world of higher education, Concordia College may seem like an underdog  but the race isn’t over and, by gathering momentum, a determined underdog can achieve great things.

That’s what Dr. Colin Irvine, a runner and a first-generation college student himself, said during his inauguration ceremony on Oct. 15 in Memorial Auditorium.

His address brought the college’s mission, history, and call to service together as he emphasized the power of narrative when combined with a sense of momentum.

“Anything is possible with prayers and extraordinary effort, with collective effort the kind that creates its own set of possibilities, its own momentum, and maybe its own luck,” Irvine said.

He pointed out that, though it seems inevitable now, Concordia’s founders were really inventing the college as they went, with no guidebook to the future. 

“We believe as a college in the veritable fact that we are called to pursue our vocations in service to God’s work in this world and for this world,” he said, noting that calling can be a countermovement in the world, a “way forward that is full of hope and concern for others.”

He finished with a request for prayers, a quote from Shakespeare, a cheer with the college’s coaches, and finally, “Let’s Go, Concordia! God Bless! Soli Deo Gloria. Roll Cobbs!”

The inauguration doubled as a worship service, complete with a call to worship, hymns, readings from the Bible, and an installation.

That was followed by a litany of commitment, in which President Emeritus Dr. Paul Dovre reiterated the college’s commitment to serve young people and the world, and thanked God for the many Concordia students, faculty, staff, and alumni who went before, as well as those yet to come, and for Irvine himself.

During the litany, Jesus Gonzalez Ruiz, president of Concordia’s Student Government Association, represented students, with Dr. Susan Larson, provost and dean of the college, representing faculty, and Katherine Halvorson, director of annual giving and engagement, representing staff.

The Rev. Lamont Wells, executive director of the Network of ELCA Colleges and Universities, the Rev. John Quello, and the Rev. Gary Henderson represented higher education, alumni and the Concordia Board of Regents, respectively, with President Emeritus Dr. William Craft completing the litany.

Following Irvine’s inaugural address, students Tairiq Booker, Genesia Weekes, and Greta Almlie presented the new president with gifts symbolizing three facets of Concordia: athletics, music and the arts, and academics.

The Concordia Choir sang “Here I Am, Lord,” a hymn focusing on volunteering to serve that was originally published in 1981. Attendees joined together in prayer along with the Rev. Dave Adams, campus pastor, and received a blessing from the Rev. Henderson of the Board of Regents.

The inauguration ended with the strains of a playful arrangement of J.S. Bach’s “Chorale Prelude: A Mighty Fortress Is Our God,” Martin Luther’s best-known hymn, as played by The Concordia Band.

The Concordia College community had prepared to celebrate the inauguration by hosting three panels open to alumni and the public, focusing on the past, present, and future of the college. The first, “Stories of Significance: Rediscovering Our Past,” included past students sharing their experiences, with alumni in the crowd speaking about college history from World War II into the present day. The second panel, “Horizons of Today: Voices of Innovation” trained its lens on the present, asking what innovation meant and how creativity could be brought to positively influence the affairs of the world. Finally, “Voyage to Tomorrow: Embracing the Future” sought to generate visions of the college’s future as a forward-looking force for positive change.

Irvine offered a welcome to attendees at each of the three panels.

“I wanted to hear about Concordia, as people experienced it — through stories,” he said.

Anything is possible with prayers and extraordinary effort, with collective effort  the kind that creates its own set of possibilities, its own momentum, and maybe its own luck.”

Dr. Colin Irvine

President of Concordia College


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