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President of St. Olaf College to lead Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary
Bethlehem, Pa., March 14, 2006 — Dr. Christopher M. Thomforde, president of St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minnesota, has been named the 15th president of Moravian College and Moravian Theological Seminary.
The announcement was made by Priscilla Payne Hurd, chair of the Board of Trustees. Thomforde will assume the Moravian presidency on August 1, 2006. He succeeds Dr. Ervin J. Rokke, who will depart Moravian this summer after nine years as president of the College and Seminary.
“Dr. Thomforde brings to Moravian an impressive record of seasoned and successful leadership in higher education, at colleges and universities that share our clear emphasis on academic quality, our rich and enduring heritage, and our current spirit of progress and renewal,” Mrs. Hurd noted. “Since 2001, he has served as president of St. Olaf College, one of our nation’s most distinguished liberal arts colleges. Under his stewardship, St. Olaf has enjoyed ever-greater academic quality, robust enrollments, a significant boost in annual and capital fund-raising, dramatic endowment growth, and a dynamic internal and external community life.”
“As the very successful administration of Erv Rokke concludes,” Mrs. Hurd added, “Moravian is perfectly positioned for even greater success. We believe that Dr. Thomforde will provide the experience, energy, and character needed to sustain our current momentum and lift Moravian to a new level of institutional excellence and distinction.”
Thomforde echoed Mrs. Hurd’s comments. “Moravian is in an admirable position to advance its mission,” he said. “The structure of Moravian College is very, very strong; Dr. Rokke has done an outstanding job. The important question for me to ask and answer is, ‘What is the next step for Moravian?’ I believe that I could be of service to the College by bringing my experience in higher education to help the Moravian community successfully address such matters as enhancing the academic program, increasing diversity, fund-raising, nurturing collaborative relations, and strategic planning.”
Thomforde’s presidency at St. Olaf was marked by a successful capital campaign that generated $147 million, exceeding its goal by $20 million. In addition during his presidency, annual giving increased significantly in both dollars and participation, while St. Olaf’s endowment increased from $160 million to $235 million, placing it among the highest-performing endowments nationwide.
Thomforde also directed the development and implementation of an ambitious five-year strategic plan, as well as that institution’s first comprehensive marketing plan. He is especially proud of leading an initiative that reaffirmed St. Olaf’s commitment to diversity and inclusiveness, resulting in a significant increase in the percentage of students of color on campus.
During Thomforde’s tenure at the Minnesota college, St. Olaf improved its already-prominent institutional position in the U.S. News and World Report rankings in such key categories as academic quality, graduation and retention rates, student selectivity, annual giving, graduation rate, and overall ranking.
A native of Cleveland, Ohio, Thomforde earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in medieval and Russian history from Princeton University in 1969. A member of Princeton’s basketball team, Thomforde was named AP/UPI Honorable Mention All-American in 1969. He received the Franklin Bunn Award for contributions to Princeton University in 1969.
Following intensive course work in Mandarin Chinese at Middlebury College, Thomforde taught Western languages and medieval European history at Tunghai University, Taichung, Taiwan, until 1971. He subsequently enrolled at Yale University Divinity School, where he received a Master of Divinity degree in 1974, with concentrations in biblical studies, church history, and philosophy.
From 1974 to 1978, Thomforde was an assistant chaplain and instructor in philosophy and religion at Colgate University. From 1978 to 1986, he served as pastor at St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Dansville, New York, where he provided pastoral care and leadership for his congregation, held leadership roles in regional and synod church affairs, and was very active in community organizations. He also did extensive work at nearby Attica prison. From 1986 to 1996, Thomforde served as chaplain at Susquehanna University and taught in the Department of Philosophy and Religion. (Susquehanna University awarded him an honorary Doctor of Divinity degree in 2001.)
Thomforde served as president of Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, from 1996 to 2000, where he led efforts to reshape academic programs, revise the college’s constitution and by-laws, develop a comprehensive master facilities plan, establish policies for successful endowment management, and restore fiscal responsibility. During his tenure as Bethany president, Thomforde completed requirements for a Doctor of Ministry degree from Princeton Theological Seminary; he was awarded that degree in 2000.
Thomforde is married to Kathy Gardner Chadwick, professor of economics and director of management studies at St. Olaf. A member of the faculty since 1985, she teaches marketing and arts management, and management policy and strategy. Her book, Improving Schools Through Community Engagement: A Practical Guide for Educators, was published by Corwin Press in 2003. Their children are Rebecca, 32; Sarah, 31; Jonathan, 28; Claire, 19; and James, 17.
America’s sixth oldest college, Moravian delivers a values-based liberal arts education in a caring environment, through which it nurtures in students the capacities for leadership, lifelong learning, and positive societal contributions.
The College traces its founding to 1742 by followers of Jon Amos Comenius, the 17th-century Moravian bishop whose humanistic ideals helped to shape modern education. Those ideals—that learning should be available to all, that teaching should be in accord with human nature, and that education should be applied to practical uses—are much in evidence at Moravian. Today, the college enrolls students from a great variety of socioeconomic, religious, racial, and ethnic backgrounds; provides for highly personalized learning experiences; and offers many opportunities for students to direct their education toward individual and professional goals.
The college expresses its Moravian heritage in musical and artistic programs of great distinction, which are shared with the Bethlehem community. Together with its cultural offerings, Moravian’s handsome historic campuses, the community service of its undergraduates, and its programs of graduate and professional education for adults make it a valued part of the fabric of Bethlehem. Moravian Theological Seminary, an ecumenical learning community preparing men and women for Christian leadership, is a global resource. Visit the web site at http://www.moravian.edu.
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See also: St. Olaf's Press Release