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February 3, 2014
Bredehoft: Looking Back
After 37 years, Dr. David Bredehoft retired in 2013 from a memorable career teaching psychology and family studies at Concordia University, St. Paul. We recently visited with Dr. Bredehoft and several CSP graduates about his career, the impact he had on students, and the growth and change seen at Concordia in the past four decades.
Bredehoft came to Concordia in 1976, just 25 years old and fresh out of graduate school. “I didn’t know much of what I was doing back then, but even with my very first group of advisees, I always enjoyed meeting with students, mentoring them as they discovered their way,” Bredehoft said.
“Dr. Bredehoft’s ‘student-first’ demeanor made him approachable and trustworthy. His lessons and guidance reached beyond the classroom doors and provided me with an education that will truly last a lifetime.”Chelsae (Armao, ‘08) Siebenaler
Jim Gimbel (‘81) was a freshman in Bredehoft’s first group of advisees. “He (Bredehoft) was young, hip, funny, and always had an open door when I needed it,” Gimbel remembered.
Bredehoft helped guide uncertain Gimbel toward an Educational Psychology degree, which eventually led to Gimbel himself becoming a long-time professor at Concordia.
Bredehoft’s influence spanned the decades. One of his final student advisees was Mary Slinger (‘10). A biology major, Bredehoft recognized Slinger’s intellect and work ethic and brought her on as a secondary researcher on his childhood indulgence project. Slinger graduated from Concordia as a published researcher, sharing the title on a newly patented scale.
“The opportunity to conduct research with Dr. Bredehoft enabled me to create a very unique educational experience,” said Slinger. “I learned about professional relationships and had my eyes opened to many further career options upon graduation.”
“Everyone quickly saw how important it was that students gain real expertise outside of the classroom in sites that match their interests. It’s a win for everyone – not only do the sites help CSP students develop real skills, they get the talent of our students and everyone forges new relationships.” Dr. Bredehoft
Bredehoft recognized early on that offering more majors and minors would make Concordia more responsive to students’ strengths and better prepare them for a career. He helped create the psychology major and minors first, followed by other liberal arts majors like criminal justice and family life education. Concordia now offers more than 50 majors and minors.
In building up CSP’s social and behavioral science programs, Dr. Bredehoft caused another shift in academics throughout campus – the introduction of internships. Internships at CSP began as a necessity for the psychology and humanity programs that had just been launched. Now a requirement for many programs, Concordia students gain the experience and professional networking that employers are looking for.
Bredehoft’s 37 years at Concordia spanned the biggest stretch of change for the institution. He saw the student body become much more diverse, expanding from its early days when most students were teacher education or pre-seminary majors, most were Lutheran and white.
“I think CSP’s diversity such a blessing. When everyone is similar, you get a ‘group think’ phenomenon,” he explained. “Diversity gets students and faculty to think differently. It’s important to teach how to think, not what to think.”
Technology has also changed the face of higher education. When Bredehoft started teaching, there weren’t even overhead projectors. Now, every student at Concordia has at least one mobile device with them in class, if not two or three.
“That was a particular challenge for me, I needed to change how I teach in order to respond to how students learn today,” he said.
As student attention spans changed, Bredehoft learned to integrate the wide array of resources, moving from a traditional lecture to a YouTube clip to online research to small group discussions.
Bredehoft also remembers the university’s transition to Division II athletics in 1999, which allowed for scholarships and more active recruitment. Originally thinking it would be a big mistake, Bredehoft soon saw he was wrong. He believes there has been an upgrade in the quality of student-athletes on campus, and coaches who are supportive of academics, as well.
A new edition of Dr. David Bredehoft’s book “How Much Is Too Much” has just been published and released. He will continue researching the topic of childhood overindulgence in his retirement, when traveling and birdwatching affords him the extra time.