The Surprise Closure of Concordia University
by Daniel Bloomfield
In February, Interim President at Concordia University Dr. Thomas Ries announced that the institution will be closing its doors for good after the Spring term of 2020, and in a press release explained that the “Board of Regents concluded that the university’s current and projected enrollment and nances make it impossible to continue its educational mission.”
Tucked away in a quiet neighborhood in Northeast Portland, Concordia University opened in 1905 as a preparatory school for Lutheran pastors and teachers, eventually offering college courses in 1950. The University has offered Master’s programs and respected avenues to continuing education.
A Concordia graduate student impacted by the closure agreed to speak with us anonymously, saying that they began the enrollment process there only six months ago and were not given any indication or warning that they would be shutting their doors almost immediately.
The student said that the staff went above and beyond to onboard new entrants: “one of the things I liked about Concordia […] was that you get paired with a specialist and it is pretty business-oriented,” while other schools were more focused on academia and less focused on assisting enrolling students.
Concordia’s curriculum was set up so that students could begin attending every month, a streamlined process to ensure that as many new students were enrolled as they can, which brings up many ethical questions about how private educational institutions are run. The student with whom we spoke said that they were skeptical about where they should pursue their Master’s degree and that they did their research before choosing Concordia: “it checked out, that’s the bottom line.”
Leading up to the announcement, students and faculty were kept in the dark about the talks of closure. “The decision was made pretty abruptly […] or it was kept from the staff.” While stating in its press release that a “thoughtful and orderly closure process offers the best possible outcome for all,” this student, in particular, says that they were only given an email telling them to await further instructions.
PCC is acting as one potential landing site for displaced Concordia students, emphasizing its low cost, free admission, and many accredited programs. Further information including links and forms can be found at: https://www.pcc.edu/concordia/