Photo Courtesy of CUNE Marketing Department
By Daniel Heitshusen
Assistant Professor of Theology Russell Sommerfeld will serve as the interim president of Concordia after President Brian Friedrich leaves.
Sommerfeld worked as a pastor for 23 years in three different types of ministry. Immediately before working at Concordia, Sommerfeld was the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod Nebraska District president for 12 years. As the president of the district, he worked closely with Concordia.
“One of the things that’s true of being a district president is that you become an ex-officio member of the board of regents and also the foundation board of the university,” Sommerfeld said. “[Being on these boards] gave me an opportunity to become familiar with the governance of the university, its mission, its vision, what it all does.”
He then took a call to be a faculty member here at Concordia, where he now teaches two general education courses, history and literature of the Old Testament and faith and life. When the university heard that Friedrich would be leaving, the board of regents asked Sommerfeld to serve as the interim president. This was a part of the board’s contingency plan should Friedrich leave.
As the interim president, Sommerfeld will be working with the cabinet, maintaining the university’s operations, and will keep the university going in the direction it is headed until the university calls another president. Sommerfeld describes his role as being “the in between man, kind of like John the Baptist.”
“I feel very honored and humbled to have this opportunity to serve the University,” Sommerfeld said. “I recognize that I have a lot to learn and I’ll do everything I can to learn it quickly.”
According to Friedrich, the interim president position can only be held for a maximum of 18 months. If the university needs more time to find a permanent president, LCMS President Matthew Harrison will have to give his approval.
As Friedrich leaves for the call at Concordia University, St. Paul, he wishes the best for Concordia, Seward.
“[I hope Concordia will] continue to fulfill its mission and achieve its vision,” Friedrich said. “Its mission is to equip students to learn, serve, and lead in church and world. We’ve been at that for 125 plus years, by God’s grace, with His blessing. It’s my prayer we continue to do that.”