Bernard Bull, the newly appointed vice provost, balances mission with innovation in an uncommon academic position.

Dr. Bernard Bull (’93) is an enigma within the hallowed halls of a typically deliberate and careful industry. Which is fortuitous, because his new title is as well.


As the vice provost for curriculum and academic innovation at Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, Michigan, Bull is commissioned to champion mission-minded innovation and a curriculum that is rooted in our deeply held values. Concordia is one of only a handful of universities that offer the duality of curriculum and innovation under one academic leader.

This newly created title is added to an already crowded business card for Bull. His current curriculum vitae also includes: associate professor of education at Concordia University, author of five books, consultant, keynote speaker, and blogger. His schedule is so tight, even he has trouble keeping track of it some days. Whenever all of his responsibilities get to be too much, Bull retreats to the campus bluff overlooking Lake Michigan where he can think deeply and quietly about what he has been called to accomplish.

He notes wistfully the similarities between the majestic lake and Concordia’s mission. “The lake is just water changing and adapting to the conditions,” he says. “It looks different every single day, but at its core, it remains the same element.” He considers Concordia’s mission to be as elementally sound as the lake, and finds his purpose in creating the best conditions and the most adaptive programs for the students to thrive.

Bernard Bull overlooks Lake Michigan and contemplates Concordia's mission.

As a member of a leadership team committed to innovation, Bull has helped the Concordia community embrace a culture that shares ideas, pursues innovations, and engages in dialogues to ensure a superior educational experience for all of Concordia’s learners, whatever stage of life they might find themselves in or wherever they are geographically.

“I’m passionate about empowering people to achieve their highest callings,” says Bull. “At Concordia, we recognize that each person has been lovingly created with meaning and purpose, and it is our moral responsibility to help them reach their potential.”

Of the roughly 10,000 students enrolled at Concordia University Wisconsin and Ann Arbor, the distribution of learners is evenly split among traditional undergraduate, adult, and online populations. In his vice provost position, Bull is driven to ensure that, regardless of the modality, every student can expect the opportunity to grow in their faith and become better prepared for a more meaningful life.

Bull’s work will soon be palpable to students and faculty alike, as new programs in areas like virtual reality and game-based programming become offerings. Bull’s early plans include creating cross-unit teams to help research and implement innovative programs, and deepening Concordia’s commitment to a mission over compliance-based curriculum.

He considers Concordia’s mission to be as elementally sound as the lake, and finds his purpose in creating the best conditions and the most adaptive programs for the students to thrive.

“Our democracy depends upon people who believe that their voice matters,” says Bull. “We are privileged to work for a mission-minded university that helps students gain the confidence and knowledge they need to make better decisions and develop their personal agency for the future.”

To learn more about Bernard Bull, visit his blog at www.etale.org, or follow him on Twitter @BernardBull.