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Concordia University Chicago announces Dr. Russell P. Dawn as next president


Dr. Russell P. Dawn, of Irvine, CA, has accepted the call to serve as the 12th president of Concordia University Chicago, after being elected by the Board of Regents following a nationwide search. 

Board of Regents Chairman Dr. Dominic Salvino stated, “We are extremely grateful that the Lord has provided us with Dr. Dawn to lead Concordia-Chicago as we continue to provide a Lutheran education to students both near and far. Dr. Dawn’s experience in higher education as well as his knowledge of Lutheran thought will serve the University well.”

Dawn, 52, who holds a doctor of philosophy degree from Oxford University, has served for the past seven years as a professor of history and political thought at Concordia University Irvine (a sister institution of Concordia University Chicago). He plans to assume the Concordia-Chicago presidency by August 1, with formal installation and inauguration festivities yet to be scheduled.

Dr. Salvino also noted that Dr. Dawn’s election was the culmination of an eight-month search that began with 62 nominees from around the country. The process was facilitated by a search committee that included faculty members elected by the plenary faculty; staff members chosen by the staff; and regents. Each group included at least one Concordia-Chicago alum. Dr. Salvino said, “I would like to express the thanks of the entire Concordia community for the diligent work of many faculty, staff, regents and others who have spent countless hours (all on a volunteer basis) to help us with the search.” 

Before entering higher education, Dr. Dawn worked for the FDIC, then earned both a J.D. and MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He practiced law both with a private firm and as assistant general counsel for a publicly traded company, as well as working in investment banking. Dr. Dawn is the first Concordia University Chicago president not to be an ordained pastor.

Dr. Kurt Krueger, Interim President of Concordia University Irvine, stated, “Dr. Dawn is an intelligent, hard-working professor of history at Concordia-Irvine, who consistently and winsomely shows his commitment to the principles of Lutheran higher education in the classroom and in his conversations with colleagues. His friends and students at Concordia-Irvine will miss him, but we all congratulate him on his call to the presidency of Concordia-Chicago.”

The Rev. Dr. Matthew C. Harrison, President of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod, said, “As an adult confirmand to the Lutheran Church, Dr. Dawn is ideally suited to relate to the mission field that has been brought to the doorstep of Concordia-Chicago from around the nation and the world. He is a strong leader who will build upon the successes at the University, ensure that it remains faithful to our Lord and His Church, and continue its academic excellence.”

Dr. Dawn appreciates Concordia University Chicago’s heritage as well as its focus on the future. He stated, “I am deeply thankful for the opportunity to serve this historic institution. Higher education has been a central part of Lutheranism for 500 years, and Concordia-Chicago is poised to set the standard in Lutheran higher education as we embark on the next 500 years. It’s Concordia-Chicago’s people who are making this possible. I can hardly wait to join this community of talented, dedicated people.”

Dr. Russell Dawn and his wife Sharon are the parents of two daughters.

About Concordia University Chicago

Concordia University Chicago was founded in 1864 as a college for teachers and today is a comprehensive university comprising the College of Arts and Sciences, College of Business, College of Education, College of Graduate Studies and College of Innovation and Professional Programs. Concordia University Chicago is a member of the Concordia University System, a nationwide network of colleges and universities of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.