Concordia St. Paul News

August 3, 2018

CSP President Dr. Tom Ries to Retire at Conclusion of 2018-19 Academic Year

Concordia University, St. Paul President Dr. Tom Ries has announced he will retire at the conclusion of the 2018-19 academic year. Only the ninth president in Concordia’s 125-year history, Dr. Ries has served in this role since June 1, 2011.

“I count my years of service as president of Concordia University, St. Paul as some of the most fulfilling of my professional life. I am very pleased with what we have accomplished together during the last seven years,” Dr. Ries said. “From the perspectives of strategic direction, academic program offerings, number and professional strength of the faculty, development of key leaders, size and diversity of enrollment, condition of property and facilities, financial position and, most importantly, student achievements, the university has never been in a better position. My admiration for and appreciation of our students knows no bounds and being associated with them has been the best part of my job.”

CSP has experienced incredible growth under Ries, highlighted by soaring enrollment, academic program expansion, as well as a twofold increase of the University’s net assets. Dr. Ries also oversaw the highly successful tuition reset, which lowered CSP’s traditional undergraduate tuition by $10,000 in the fall of 2013, making Concordia the most affordable private school among the 17-member Minnesota Private College Council.

The positive enrollment gains Concordia has experienced the past seven years have been remarkable given current challenges in higher education market. Overall enrollment has grown by nearly 2,000 students since Fall 2011, with the overall headcount jumping from 2,800 students to a record-breaking 4,792 at the last student census in Fall 2017. Enrollment totals have surpassed 4,000 students for the past four years and are on track to top 5,000 this fall.

Here’s a look at other prominent University successes under President Ries’ leadership:

  • Gained national recognition and positive media response due to successful tuition reset
  • Added a number of emerging and high-demand programs, most notably Doctorate of Education, Computer Science, Nursing, and Doctor of Physical Therapy
  • Major renovations of the Winget Student Life Center, Buetow Music Center Auditorium and Thompson Hall to better student experience
  • Completion of the 13,000-square-foot Athletic Performance Center
  • Expansion of campus footprint to the Central Midway Building (Alumni Relations/Advancement, DPT program, Nursing program, graduate offices)
  • Overall net assets have doubled from $56.5 million to $108 million
  • Awarded HLC full accreditation
  • Wage increases for faculty/staff for seven consecutive years
  • Guided completion of CSP’s Vision 2024 (strategic plan for fiscal years 2019-2024)

In a letter to the CSP Community, President Ries made mention of the recent Higher Learning Commission process affirming the University’s accreditation, which confirmed Concordia is on sound footing by virtually every possible measure.

“The visitation team also took admiring notice of such less easily measured qualities as spirit of community, unified commitment to common goals, and capacity to partner with other institutions.  I was not surprised to hear these comments, since I have experienced them in abundance during my various tenures with the university.” Dr. Ries noted.

Prior to being elected Concordia’s president Dr. Ries served seven years as president of the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod Foundation and Vice President for Finance and Operations at CSP. Dr. Ries also served as a Pastor for 12 years, in an auditing company for four years, and as Assistant to the President and Vice President for College Relations at Concordia University, St. Paul for three years.

President Ries has communicated his plans to the Board of Regents, which will commence a search for a new president with its first meeting of the new academic year. The advanced notice will give the Board a bigger window to conduct a thorough search.

As for his plans moving forward, President Ries said he plans to turn his attention to some business matters which have been increasingly demanding, as well as focusing time shared with his wife and family, which has grown to include five grandchildren.

“I look forward to our celebration of 125 years as a university under the theme Leading in Legacy,” President Ries said. “Certainly, the Lord has been our dwelling place throughout all the generations of this institution and has established the work of our hands (cf. Ps. 90:1, 17). I have every confidence in him as we move ahead. Grace and peace to each of you.”