History and Lutheran HeritageHistory
Concordia College was dedicated Oct. 31, 1891, only 10 years after the first Norwegian settlers had made their home in the Red River Valley. These settlers valued education and their religious heritage, and one of their first priorities was to establish a quality school.
Concordia opened with 12 students, three instructors and courses in English literature, natural sciences, mathematics, and piano. Enrollment steadily increased, reaching 60 students by the end of the first semester and 200 one year later. Academic programs were quickly added as well, including religion, business, Norwegian, voice, geography and history. Twenty-one students graduated June 7, 1893, during the college's first Commencement.
As the country and the Norwegian settlement matured, so did the college. The necessity for adding regular liberal arts courses on the college level to those offered on the academy level was soon apparent. A complete college department was organized in 1913.
Concordia College is one of 28 U.S. colleges and universities associated with the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), an ethnically and racially diverse protestant church of nearly 5 million members in 11,000 congregations. More than half of Concordia undergraduates are Lutherans, which speaks to the importance of Concordia as a center for Lutheran education.
The college has always maintained a strong relationship with Lutheran congregations in the Upper Plains area. As a college of the ELCA, Concordia has maintained close relationships with the denomination's congregations in northern Minnesota, North Dakota and Montana. The ELCA Division for Education supervises the college and grants a yearly appropriation toward its support.
Concordia serves the life of the church by studying, transmitting and contributing to Christian conviction and practice. Students engage and examine this tradition for personal growth and for strengthening the Christian community. The college helps students find authentic religious lives in conversation with a multiplicity of world views and faiths.
At Concordia, our mission is to give our students a college education where faith and intellect are active partners. We’ve created a safe and open learning environment in which personal religious beliefs are examined and nurtured, religious differences are embraced and explored, and the highest priority is placed on engagement with the world and service to others.