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Dovre heads Concordia again

Former Concordia College President Paul Dovre, who just last month said he didn't want the job as the school's interim president, couldn't help but laugh when asked what changed his mind.

Former Concordia College President Paul Dovre, who just last month said he didn't want the job as the school's interim president, couldn't help but laugh when asked what changed his mind.

"I guess you'd call it friendly persuasion," he said, looking over at a chuckling Ron Offutt, chairman of Concordia's Board of Regents.

The 28-member board Monday appointed Dovre to fill in as president while the college searches for a permanent replacement for President Thomas Thomsen, who resigned unexpectedly April 28.

Dovre, who was Concordia's president for 24 years before retiring in July 1999, officially begins his duties as interim president today.

In a Forum interview in late May, Dovre expressed no interest in the interim job, saying "it's not something that I would seek."


Dovre declined the board's first offer, but later agreed to meet with board members, faculty, staff and students, he said.

"And I think the conversation ... led my wife (Mardeth) and I to conclude that this is something that we would accept," he said.

Dovre, 68, called it a privilege to be able to serve his alma mater again.

He graduated from Concordia in 1958, joined the faculty in 1963 and was named president in 1975 at age 39. He retired in July 1999 after 24 years as president.

"There's a real loyalty, a real tie to an institution that's been such an important part of your lives, and that certainly has a bearing on why we agreed to come (back) to the college," he said.

Indeed, Offutt said it was Dovre's intimate knowledge of the college and its constituents that made him rise above the rest.

"We will have effective leadership tomorrow, and normally it would take anybody new coming into the college a period of time to understand the lay of the land," Offutt said.

Members of the board's search committee spent the past six weeks reviewing candidates with input from faculty, administrators, student leaders, search firms and former college presidents, said Roger Gilbertson, who led the committee.


"I don't think that Paul is the only person in the world that could do this job," Gilbertson said. "But I think he clearly is the best person."

Dovre's activities during the past four years also scored points with the search committee, Offutt said.

After his retirement, Dovre was a visiting scholar at Harvard University and interim dean of students at Luther Seminary in St. Paul. Most recently, he served as interim president at Capital University in Columbus, Ohio, from May 2001 to March 2002.

"So I've got a little bit of a feel for the unique role of an interim president," he said.

At Concordia, that role will primarily be paving the way for a new president and executing the college's 2002-07 strategic plan, Offutt said.

As Concordia's eighth president, Dovre led the college through a period of architectural and fiscal growth.

The college continues to grow, as work is under way on a $3.8 million housing project to attract more upperclassmen to live on campus. Fund-raising also continues for a $30 million campus center.

Dovre's experience will be valuable as Concordia undergoes its 10-year re-accreditation review this fall, said Morrie Lanning, vice president for student affairs and dean of students.


Lanning took the first course taught by Dovre at Concordia in 1963 and worked with him throughout his tenure at the college.

"In this critical transition period, it's reassuring to have someone at the helm who has his experience and competency," he said.

The national search for a permanent president will begin in October or November, Offutt said. The Board of Regents will meet in September to create a search committee made up of regents, students, faculty and vice president, he said.

A permanent president should be named in 10 to 12 months, Offutt said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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