Concordia St. Paul News

April 30, 2013

Concordia University Celebrates Class of 2013

Concordia University, St. Paul will host baccalaureate service and three commencement ceremonies for the Class of 2013, May 9-11, on the Concordia campus. Over 900 students will be awarded degrees, including some 200 traditional undergraduate, 182 adult undergraduates and 527 graduate students.

The commencement celebration kicks off Thursday, May 9 at 7:30 p.m., with baccalaureate worship service in Graebner Memorial Chapel, followed by the commencement ceremony for all traditional undergratuate programs on Friday, May 10 at 7:30 p.m. Commencement for adult undergraduate cohort programs and graduate programs are Saturday, May 11 at 10 a.m. and 2 p.m., respectively.

All 2013 commencement ceremonies take place in the Gangelhoff Center. (235 Hamline Avenue North)


Ceremony Schedule



Speakers and honorees will participate in the ceremonies as follows:

Undergraduate Programs Commencement

Commencement Speaker: Dave Winfield was born in St. Paul, Minn., and graduated from Central High School. Not only is he one of the finest athletes to come out of the state of Minnesota, he was also one of the first professional athletes to create a charitable foundation. Inducted into the National Baseball Hall of Fame in 2001 after a 22-year career in Major League Baseball, Winfield has spent more than 20 years giving back to his community, including the Winfield Foundation, which works to provide community outreach programs, social services to families in need, and scholarships and computer literacy programs to deserving high school students.

Student Welcome Address: Kyle Sorkness of Fergus Falls, Minn., is a Theology major and Biblical Language minor who is graduating summa cum laude as a member of the Delta class of the University Honors Program in litteris fideque. Active in most of Concordia’s theology and ministry clubs, Sorkness served as the Student Senate President during 2012-13.

Student Farewell Address: Kelsey Koch of Savage, Minn., is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mathematics with a 5-12 Math Teaching license and a minor Environmental Science. Koch has been an active member of Concordia’s student body, participating in Christus Chorus, Tri Pi Math Club, CSP Ministry, and the Student Alumni Council.

Honorary Doctorate Recipients: David Winfield and Rev. Karl Lutze. Winfield is the honorary recipient of a Doctor of Humane Letters for his 20 years of giving back to the community through charitable work. Rev. Lutze is receiving an honorary Doctor of Letters for his personal and professional dedication serving students, congregations and communities across the United States. He began his career in 1945 and spent 15 years as an ordained pastor to Southern parishes. He then served 21 years with Lutheran Human Relations Association of America. Lutze taught in Valparaiso University’s Department of Theology from 1959 to 1991, also serving full-time as Valpo’s Director for Church Relations for the final 10 years of his tenure. Lutze became the first executive director of the Association of Lutheran Older Adults in 1992.

Aeterna Moliri Awards: Ken and Alix Behm exemplify the ideals of the Aeterna Moliri Award, which recognizes “builders for eternity,” individuals who further the work of the church and its people through their vocation or service. The Behm’s idealize the tenets of this award, supporting Concordia and the Lutheran church with their time and talents for decades. Ken has devoted over 35 years to fundraising efforts for Concordia, has been a member of Concordia’s President’s Advisory Council for eight years, and has served on the Board of Regents for six years. Both Ken and Alix spent time as members of the Advancement Committee and co-chaired the Sharing Knowledge and Faith Campaign, reaching out to potential donors alongside the Development staff.


Undergraduate Cohort Programs Commencement

Commencement Speaker: Rev. John R. Schmidtke has served the Lord as Pastor of Bethlehem Lutheran Church in St. Louis, Mo. since 1989 where he has been instrumental in leading the church in two unique urban ministry directions. In 2000, Bethlehem gave birth to a new non-profit housing ministry called Better Living Communities, which has already built 56 new homes and is presently in construction on 40 additional homes. A second projects consists of coupling a public charter school to educate children during the formal school day with a “Christian after school academy” that teaches the Good News of Jesus.

Student Welcome: Connie Erickson of Lino Lakes is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Organizational Management and Leadership. Married with one child, Erickson has served full-time with the Minnesota Air National Guard for more than 30 years.

Student Farewell: Summer Groth is graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Exercise Science. She is an ACE, ASCM, and NETA-certified personal trainer, health fitness specialist, cancer exercise trainer, kettlebell, and group fitness instructor.


Graduate Programs Commencement

Commencement Speaker: Dr. Cheryl T. Chatman is the Executive Vice President and Dean of Diversity at Concordia University, St. Paul. Dr. Chatman is active in the community, serving as a member of the Minnesota Chapter of the Association of Black Women in Higher Education and the Governor’s Commission of the Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration. She also serves on the board of ARTS US and the Lutheran Education Foundation of Minnesota.

Student Welcome: Annette Witte-Nyberg is graduating with a Masters of Arts degree in Literacy Education. Married with four children, Witte-Nyberg is currently a 5th-grade teacher at Westwood Elementary (St. Cloud) where she has been part of the Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIC) team for 10 years.

Student Farewell: Cary Cunningham is graduating with a Master’s of Arts degree in Human Resource Management. Employed by Hennepin county as an HR Business Parter, Cunningham remains active by fostering dogs for adoption, serving on the board of directors for local non-profits, and organizing local sports leagues.