Welcoming Dr. Craft to the Family
Mar 30, 2011A warm welcome greeted Dr. William Craft, president-elect, as he and his wife, Anne Craft, visited campus for the first time since he was named to the leadership position.
"It's a great day for Concordia College, a great day to be a Cobber," said David Solberg '65, chair of the Board of Regents and a member of the search committee. "We have found a leader with a depth of experience that this institution needs. His great passion for our mission has made him stand out."
The formal welcome took place during chapel where The Chapel Choir sang and a brass ensemble and organ accompanied the hymns. The crowd stood and applauded as the Crafts walked to the front of the Centrum.
"Concordia is a family. A tight-knit and passionate community..." said Rachel Brady '12, Robbinsdale, Minn., who offered words of welcome. "You are the perfect person to lead the Concordia community forward, as a place where future students will continue to discover passions that shape their lives and that have the potential to shape our world."
Dr. Heidi Manning, chair of the Division of Sciences and Mathematics, delivered another welcome. "You will take us to new places yet unimagined, on paths untraveled," she said and then referenced Shakespeare's, "As You Like It," a favorite of Craft, who is a Shakespearean scholar.
"Congratulations on the new role for which you have been cast," Manning said. "Together we'll deliver our greatest performance."
The service included moments of humor. Brady provided a list of Cobberville Traditions 101 that included an explanation of why students don't walk under the bell tower. An urban myth suggests that if someone walks under the bell tower with someone else, they will marry.
As he got up to speak, Craft mentioned that he and his wife did walk under the bell tower on the way to chapel. The crowd laughed.
"We are blessed to be among you," Craft said later. "Thank you for calling us to this wonderful work."
At a news conference earlier in the morning, Craft said he was honored to follow such gifted and devoted leaders as Dr. Paul Dovre and Dr. Pamela Jolicoeur. He was drawn to the college because of its wholeness of mission, which nourishes body, mind and spirit.
He wishes to accomplish a number of things by working with the campus community.
"I want to secure for Concordia College its rightful place as a college of national distinction and global reach," he said. "Personal humility is a good thing. Institutional humility is not."
Securing resources and challenging faculty and staff to the highest levels of creativity in shaping undergraduate research for students are also priorities.
"As a residential liberal arts college of the church, we have so many gifts to share," he said.
At a reception following chapel, students, staff and faculty were thrilled to be welcoming the college's 11th president. After losing a president less than a year ago, it felt good to look forward.
"The atmosphere is like Christmas, everyone is so excited," said Rachel Meier '13, Shoreview, Minn. "It's really great to just see the smiles on everyone's faces."
Dr. Peter Hovde thought Jolicoeur, who died in June, would be pleased.
"She's smiling down. She's happy," he said. "I miss her terribly but I think this is what she would have wanted."
As for himself, he's excited for the new chapter at Concordia. Even though he's near retirement age, Hovde says he wants to be part of it.
"I've seen a lot of presidents come and go and it's kind of remarkable that the person we choose at the time is the right person for the job at the time," he said. "I know we couldn't have done better (than Craft). I'm so pleased."