Interested in the faculty members behind our programs? Get to know them through our monthly faculty spotlight. Learn about Dr. Jim Pingel’s education and some of his favorites.
Why did you choose to work at Concordia University?
God called me to serve at Concordia University. There were other times during my ministry where there was an opening at Concordia, but I never applied. I loved serving at the two Lutheran high schools I was called to serve at. I truly believed if God wanted me at Concordia, He would let me know on His timeline. Back in 2013, Dr. Michael Uden reached out to me and offered me a wonderful opportunity. I felt God working through him and through the process, and now I’m here.
There are plenty of colleges and universities to work at, but I wanted to be serving at one where you can share God’s Word freely and unapologetically within your field of study. Nothing, nothing is more important than knowing Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.
My personal feeling is if you want what is best for students, if you really care for them, you want to give them the very best. And we know what’s best for them–God’s Word and Jesus. If I don’t or didn’t share that with my team members or students, I feel like I’d be letting them down and not giving them my best.
What are your goals for your program?
I love our university mission statement which focuses on “helping students develop in mind, body, and spirit for service to Christ in the Church and the world.” The section which really speaks to me on our School of Education mission statement revolves around the notion of “lifelong learning.” I want our faculty, curriculum, and programs to inspire a love for the Lord and for learning in our students.
If we can help students follow and pursue their passions, curiosities, and inspirations, then learning will always remain a central part of their lives and joy while serving here on earth. Hopefully Concordia University is not only an oasis on their life journey, but resource which they can plug into and be renewed and recharged with for the rest of their lives.
What’s the one key lesson you hope students take away from your courses/program?
I think at the end of the day, I want each student to know they are “fearfully and wonderfully made,” loved and set apart for a purpose here on earth—thanks be to God! If we can impart that sentiment and belief in each student who matriculates through the School of Education, we can consider ourselves blessed.
What’s your education and career background?
I went to public schools all my life as I grew up in Sun Prairie, WI. I received a well-rounded education in most aspects but didn’t have the religious training and instruction. Post-high school, I went to Concordia University Wisconsin for my bachelor’s degree in Secondary Education – History & Athletic Coaching (1992).
I received 2 different Masters degrees. One Master’s Degree in Early American History from Marquette University (1994). And a Master’s degree in Educational Administration from CUW (2001). In 2008, I earned my Ph.D. in Educational Leadership from Cardinal Stritch University.
- 1994-1999: I served as a social studies teacher, and basketball and volleyball coach at Mayer Lutheran High School.
- 1999-2004: I transitioned into leadership and became the Executive Director of Mayer Lutheran High School until 2004.
- 2004-2013: I served as the Executive Director of Sheboygan Area Lutheran High School.
- 2014-Present: I’ve served at CUW as Secondary Education Department Chair, Director of Graduate Education, and now Dean of SOE (since 2018).
- 2016-Present I’ve also served as Executive Assistant to the Association of Lutheran Secondary Schools (ALSS)
What are some of your career highlights?
- Top Tier Ranking for “Faith and Mission” (2019, 2017, 2016, 2015)
- South Wisconsin District Administrator of the Year (2012)
- Minnesota State Basketball Coach of the Year (Section IV, Class A) (2000)
- James Madison Memorial Fellowship Recipient (1992)
One of my favorite accomplishments has been helping launch the Doctorate of Education in Leadership in Innovation and Continuous Improvement (LICI).
What’s the most interesting part of your field that the general public might not know?
1) Teaching is the ultimate motivational sport.
If you can get kids or adults excited about learning and developing mindsets, habits, skills, and dispositions, you can do almost anything.
2) If you love a good story, you’ll love teaching.
In each class—in person or online—you have 15 or 20 different stories sitting before you or staring back at you. And every single biography is different. Read them all! You’ll never be the same.
What do you like to do for fun?
I enjoy researching, reading, and writing, but probably reading the most. I also like to watch movies and go out to dinner with friends (pre-pandemic times). As I have become older, I treasure having a coffee with my daughter, a golf outing with my son, and a glass of wine with my wife.
What is the best part about being a teacher?
Kids, colleagues, and intentional professional growth opportunities—each one of these brings me great joy. I love seeing the excitement in a student’s eye when one experiences an “ah-ha!” moment. My Concordia University colleagues truly inspire me with their expertise, talent, and dedication. And I love going to conferences, reading professional journals, and being a part of book clubs to learn more about God’s wonderful world and creation.
Why should students study education?
First of all, every single one of us is a teacher whether we admit it or not. As Mark Twain once said, we shouldn’t let schooling get in the way of education. So just learning more about how the brain learns as well as the art and science of teaching—these are all aspects that will serve each of us well in a plethora of vocations.
More specifically, however, almost all of us know the impact of teachers. Whether it was a truly positive or negative experience, we all remember our teachers—everything from the way they dressed, smelled, and talked to us to the various life lessons, habits, skills, and dispositions they imparted to us. That’s the impact that teachers have—they shape lives for life! And Christian teachers can shape and impact their students’ lives, with the power of the Holy Spirit, for eternity!
Why should students consider coming to Concordia?
We are a Christ-centered, excellent school of education, dedicated to giving our students the best in a comprehensive, whole-life manner—a life connected to Christ, a teacher preparation plan equipped in the arts and science of teaching, a state, and national network to meet their career aspirations, and a confidence that they can bring their whole self to the teaching profession to help students in ways far beyond the diploma.
Their Concordia University professors will become, not just mentors and guides for them while they are at Concordia University, but Christian friends for life.
Learn about the core of Concordia’s education.
This blog was originally published on January 28, 2021. It has been updated to reflect current information.