There’s something “uncommon” that inspires thousands of individuals to enroll at Concordia University each year. For some, that same uncommon quality compels them to remain at the university, in some instances, for decades.

You could call them “lifers”. These individuals have spent more than their fair share of time around the university, first as students and then as employees. And, according to these lifers, they wouldn’t have it any other way.

These individuals serve in a variety of roles to help the university function best and further its mission. Here, six of them share their experiences and what kept them at Concordia after graduation.

Tammy Rose

Admissions Office Manager
42 years as a Concordian

Q: As a former CUW student, what did you study?

A: I was a court reporting student.

Q: What influenced you to stick around after graduation to work here?

A: The transition was easy because the job was something I was familiar with—since I worked in the department as a student.  I never thought I would be here this long.  I discovered I really liked working with high school and college age students.

I was a student for two and a half years. I was working in the admission office as a student worker when the job I currently have was open.  I was asked to consider the position, and I said yes.

Q: What drew you as a student to CUW?

A: Court Reporting could only be studied in two different schools in Wisconsin, I believe.  Since I was from out of town, Concordia was the only one with resident halls.  Since I was Lutheran, I was familiar with Concordia and it turned out to be a great fit. I played basketball and was involved in drama. Enrollment was much smaller then, so we really got to know each other.

Q: What has it been like to work within the school over time?

A: The technology changes since I started have been incredible.  We started with a typewriter and a mainframe computer that the campus shared.  I never would have guessed we would be where we are with computers now.

The best part is seeing the students start as freshmen and successfully finish college and move on to their careers.  I am so proud of the success of all my student workers over the years, as well as other students I got to know.  I met my husband at Concordia (Milwaukee).  He graduated as a teacher. Our children graduated from CUW and have careers in their field. I am very grateful for the blessings in my life that Concordia has provided.

I still love the students.

Dr. Michael Uden (’89, ’96)

Vice Provost of Student Enrollment and Engagement
27 years as a Concordian

Q: As a former CUW student, what did you study?

A: My major was Lutheran Elementary Education. I pursued my BA from 1986-1989.  I later returned for my MS in Education with an emphasis on Literacy from 1992-1996.

Q: What drew you as a student to CUW?

A: CUW enabled me to pursue a full-time church work vocation, which was a calling for me. As a small school at the time, Concordia also enabled me to pursue a lot of interests (theatre, student government, campus ministry) and offered a very competitive financial aid package.

Q: What influenced you to stick around after graduation to work here?

A: I taught in the K-12 school system for about a decade following my initial graduation, but the idea of working in teacher education was always a “future” goal I held, even at that time. Having a role in the development of thousands of educators through undergraduate and graduate programs at Concordia is one of the professional opportunities with which I have been blessed of which I am most proud.

Q: What has it been like to work within the school over time?

A: When I first joined the faculty in 1998, many of my own professors suddenly were colleagues.  That was a bit surreal and took me some time to adjust. At this point, I have hired several of my former students so things have come full circle. I do not often consider myself a “lifer,” but for example, when I can trace the five previous occupants of an office on campus, I reconcile the fact that my tenure at Concordia has grown long and blessed.  Concordia has always provided me chances to learn and grow within my role and to invest myself and my talents deeply. I have experienced the gift of vocation fully in my work at CUW.  It has been a privilege to have new opportunities for service over the past 21 years, and that is something I have never taken for granted.

Andrea Michel (’16)

Social Media Manager
4 1/2 years as a Concordian

Q: As a former CUW student, what did you study?

A: I was a Graphic design major, and minored in marketing.

Q: What drew you as a student to CUW?

A: A few things, the partnership program with MIAD, Christian atmosphere, my brother already went here so I was used to the campus!

Q: What influenced you to stick around after graduation to work here?

A: While I was a student, I worked in the Marketing Department as a Social Media and Design student worker. After graduation, I took another job that wasn’t the right fit. I came back to CUW because they had an opening for my former boss’s position, and I had such a great experience as a student worker!

Q: What has it been like to work within the school over time?

A: It lets me see how the school runs from a different perspective. But I’m also able to give insight from a student’s perspective. I can now see things both ways!

James Lokken, Pharm D., MS, M. Ed (’14)

Assistant Professor of Pharmacy Practice
4 years as a Concordian

Q: As a former CUW student, what did you study?

A: I attended Concordia’s School of Pharmacy  as part of the inaugural Genesis Class to obtain my Doctor of Pharmacy degree and then upon graduation in 2014, I received additional postgraduate residency training at Concordia as part of the 24-Month Postgraduate Year-1 (PGY-1) in Pharmacy Practice and Academic Leadership. As a component of that program I also earned a Master’s in Education with an emphasis in Teaching and Learning working in conjunction with CUW’s School of Education.

Q: What drew you as a student to CUW?

A: After interviewing at other Schools of Pharmacy I felt that Concordia’s program was simultaneously the most inviting, professional, and caring in terms of first impressions.  I felt like I belonged as soon as I stepped foot on campus.  In addition, it provided the tremendous opportunity to learn in a faith-based environment to develop pharmacy skills with a servant leader mindset.

Q: What influenced you to stick around after graduation to work here?

A: I felt that upon graduation from residency I wanted to continue to learn and grow at CUW and I wanted to pay forward the valuable lessons I learned here to others studying to become ethically-minded pharmacists.

Q: What has it been like to work within the school over time?

A: It has only reaffirmed my passion to teach and practice pharmacy at CUWSOP surrounded by talented faculty and staff as part of the CUW community. I am continually inspired by those around me and it encourages me to be better each day.

Cindy Witte, DNP, RN, FNP, CNE (’90, ’02)

Associate Professor of Nursing
24 years as a Concordian

Q: As a former CUW student, what did you study? 

A: I attended Concordia University Wisconsin (CUW) from 1986-1990 as an undergraduate student and completed a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) degree.

I attended CUW as a graduate student from 1999-2002 and completed my Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) degree in Family Nurse Practitioner and Nursing Education.

From January 2010 through December 2011, I completed my Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree in Leadership and the Business of Health Care through Rush University College of Nursing in Chicago, IL. What drew you as a student to CUW?

The quality of the nursing program drew me to CUW. I appreciated the small class sizes, clinical opportunities, and the Christian aspect of the University. In addition to being awarded an academic scholarship, I was offered an athletic scholarship to play basketball at the collegiate level. This was also very important to me as it allowed me to continue my basketball playing career.

Q: What influenced you to stick around after graduation to work here?

A: After graduating in May of 1990 I was employed full-time at Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee as a Registered Nurse. I started in medical-surgical nursing and floated between the cardiac and orthopedic units. In December 1995 I was contacted by the CUW Athletic Director and Head Women’s Basketball Coach regarding my interest in helping out with the women’s basketball program. They were willing to be flexible with my full-time nursing work schedule so in January 1996 I became the Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach at CUW. This was a wonderful opportunity to work with players and give back to the women’s basketball program that I thoroughly enjoyed being a part of during my playing career.

In regards to being a Nurse Educator, I thank Dr. Grace Peterson for her influence and persistence. At the time, Dr. Peterson was the Chairperson of the Undergraduate Nursing Program at CUW. One day, while I was working at Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee, Dr. Peterson called me and inquired if I ever thought about teaching. I responded that I love my job, was not looking for a different job, and had not considered teaching at that time. Well, after Dr. Peterson’s third phone call to discuss a teaching position in the nursing program I started to think that maybe this was God’s way of telling me to think about the position. Honestly, it was one of the hardest decisions that I made but in August of 1999 I accepted a full-time position as the Nursing Skills Lab Coordinator at CUW.

In addition, I started the MSN Family Nurse Practitioner and Nurse Educator program at CUW and continued as Assistant Women’s Basketball Coach and maintained a part-time float pool position at Columbia St. Mary’s Ozaukee. I discovered that I loved teaching in the Nursing Skills Lab and working with the students. I continued in my assistant coaching position through the 2000-2001 season and resigned in March 2001.

At that time, I was expecting my first child in July 2001 and needed to devote my time and energy to family, work, and school. After completing my MSN degree in May 2002, I accepted a full-time faculty teaching position in the Undergraduate Nursing Program at CUW. This was a way that I could give back to the nursing program that I highly valued and respected.

Q: What has it been like to work within the school over time?

A: I have had various responsibilities within the School of Nursing from teaching skills, theory, and clinical to coordination and leadership roles. Over the past 20 years I have seen and experienced many changes. However, the characteristics that originally drew me to this nursing program still exist in the quality education provided, small class sizes, varied clinical opportunities, and being able to integrate faith and learning. I have enjoyed every opportunity to work with students, my colleagues, and our community partners. I am thankful to God for leading me down this path to be able to give back to the nursing program in serving our nursing students in mind, body, and spirit.

Christian Himsel (’87)

Director of Library Services
20 years as a Concordian

Q: As a former CUW student, what did you study?

A: I was a Social Science major with a Business minor.  Additionally, I was in the pre-seminary track (theology, Greek, etc.)

After Concordia, I picked up some courses at Marquette before heading to Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne, IN (CTS-FW) where I earned my M.A. (with a concentrations in Systematic Theology, and some emphasis on “Luther” and church history).

From there, I enrolled in the library science program at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee, completing my M.L.I.S. in 1997.  (I was employed full-time in a library setting while working toward my degree.)

 Q: What drew you as a student to CUW? 

A: What drew me to Concordia College – Milwaukee, as it was known back then was the fact that first and foremost, it was genuinely “Lutheran” in the fuller sense of that term (and not just as an historical footnote).  And, unlike, say, Bethany Lutheran College which is in MN, Concordia was close enough for me to commute to.  Although much smaller back then, the close-knit community and really caring faculty were a tremendous asset.  And, by that time, our visionary president (Rev. Dr. Buuck) had broadened the academic offerings, and Concordia was beginning to experience growth, which generated excitement amongst us students.

And lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the beauty of the campus which remains to this day.  Looking back, I don’t think that I had even considered applying to a different college or university.  My father and I both agreed that the Lutheran theology outweighed whatever alternative benefits some other college might offer.  The way that I think he put it was that a good liberal arts education could prepare one well to live out life in this world (vocation), but that the addition of a sound, biblical “Lutheran” education would prepare me for eternity.  And I still agree with that.  I’ve never regretted the choice.  Not for a moment!  Professors like Wangerin, Jennrich, Maschke and the like… not only prepared me well for Concordia Theo. Seminary, but have proved to be powerful influencers even to this day through the knowledge, worldview and mentoring that they provided (but would humbly take no credit for).  (Rather – they always gave glory to God!)

More broadly, I can also offer thanks to the Missouri Synod for a fine Christian education from K through M.A.  (Emmaus Lutheran Church & School –which was located in the heart of Milwaukee’s north side, Milwaukee Lutheran High School,  Concordia University Wisconsin, and  Concordia Theological Seminary – Ft. Wayne, IN.)

 Q: What influenced you to stick around after graduation to work here?

A: Although I continued on to graduate school after graduation, coming back to Concordia was like coming “home”.

Q: What has it been like to work within the school over time?

A: Upon graduation from UWM’s library science program, I continued to work in a secular environment.  I’d moved from a nice suburban public library in the North Shore of Milwaukee county downtown Milwaukee’s main, regional repository, The Central Library.  It was a wonderful career opportunity in a library setting with rich, special collections.  And, it was an environment within which I was enabled to grow professionally, thrive and steadily advance.  “My plan” focused on a long career at Central. 

Ironically, word reached me that there was an opening for a reference & instruction librarian at CUW, and with that come encouragement to apply.  In all honesty, had it not been Concordia, or, Wisconsin Lutheran, I’d probably not bothered.  But because it was Concordia, I did.  One of my personal goals actually was to be a librarian in a mission-minded, traditional Christian academic setting, and preferably a confessional Lutheran one.  Concordia was just that!  After a successful interview, I discussed the move with my wife.  And although there may have been monetary gains associated with staying put at the Central Library, she plainly suggested that I quit that job and move over to Concordia for the “mission”.  I did just that in August of 2004.  And once again, I’ve never looked back! 

The time at Concordia since then has been fulfilling.  The people have ALL been wonderful.  The place has been filled with growth & excitement, and the location – breathe taking.  And most importantly, the mission of being a distinctly “Lutheran higher education community committed to helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in (His) Church and world” has been at the heart of every day that I come in to work.  For me, to live uncommon is really all about being able to live joyfully in service to Christ, our Savior.  And living out my vocational life at Concordia has provided me with just such opportunities to touch the lives of countess numbers of students from near and far in hopes that they, too, will go out from this place equipped and blessed to be a blessing to others.     

— Kai Goldenstein is a student writer and senior year Social Work major, minoring in German

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