Russell P. Dawn, Concordia University president | Provided

Concordia University Chicago has named Russell P. Dawn as 12th president of the River Forest-based institution. The first Concordia president not to be an ordained pastor will begin his tenure on Aug. 1. 

 “We are extremely grateful that the Lord has provided us with Dr. Dawn to lead Concordia-Chicago as we continue to provide a Lutheran education to students both near and far,” Dominic Salvino, board of regents chairman, said in a statement. “Dr. Dawn’s experience in higher education as well as his knowledge of Lutheran thought will serve the university well.”

Dawn, 52, holds a doctor of philosophy degree from Oxford University. He has spent the last seven years as professor of history and political thought at Concordia University Irvine in California, a sister institution of Concordia University Chicago. The board elected him following a nationwide, eight-month search where 62 candidates were considered. 

Before entering higher education, Dawn worked for the FDIC, then earned both a J.D. and MBA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. He practiced law both with a private firm and as assistant general counsel for a publicly-traded company, as well as working in investment banking. 

Dawn is a member of the Lutheran Church. He said he looks forward to bringing the institution into the future. 

“Higher education has been a central part of Lutheranism for 500 years, and Concordia-Chicago is poised to set the standard in Lutheran higher education as we embark on the next 500 years,” Dawn said in a statement. “It’s Concordia-Chicago’s people who are making this possible. I can hardly wait to join this community of talented, dedicated people.”

His appointment follows the retirement of President Daniel Lee Gard, who announced in October 2018 he would be leaving the post.

Nona Tepper 

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