IRVINE, Calif. (August 4, 2022) — The Rev. Dr. Jacob A. O. Preus III went to sleep in the Lord on Thursday morning, August 4, 2022.
The third president of Concordia University Irvine, Rev. Dr. Jacob “Jack” Preus, was known for his dedication to Concordia’s Lutheran confessional heritage, focus on the future of the university, and familial attitude towards all who came to campus. With a background in theology, parish leadership, academic administration, international relations, and military duty, Preus emphasized relational leadership to advance a new phase of growth at Concordia. He was passionate about connecting with the students and developing them into wise, honorable, and cultivated citizens.
Vice President and Chief Mission Officer Steve Mueller reflects, “Jack Preus’s presidency leaves a strong legacy at Concordia. His life and leadership reflected his identity as a child of God. Building on the foundation laid by our founders, his strong vision led the campus with both faithfulness and excellence. As a professor and dean of the faculty at Concordia Seminary St. Louis, he helped launch the Cross-cultural Ministry Center in partnership with Concordia University Irvine. As president, he cultivated academic and spiritual strength that continues to this day. While we grieve the loss of our colleague and friend, we rejoice at the salvation he has received through his faithful Lord Jesus. Well done, good and faithful servant.”
Preus arrived at Concordia University Irvine in October 1998 with a mission to claim the university’s heritage and shape its future. He delivered on this promise by emphasizing the “Concordia Experience,” strengthening the faculty, focusing on the growth of undergraduate and graduate programs, establishing a separate school of theology in 1999, launching the School of Business in 2002, and the School of Adult Studies (later renamed the School of Professional Studies) in 2005. Under his leadership, the University initiated the President’s Showcase for Undergraduate Research in 2004, and the Faithfulness and Excellence program for faculty and staff (now the Vision, Mission, and Vocation program) in 2007. The campus infrastructure expanded during his tenure with the construction of Robert Alan Grimm Hall, and the Chi Rho, and Chi Sigma residence halls.
During his time at Concordia University Irvine, Preus developed long-lasting relationships with education and ministry leaders across the globe to establish missionary and student exchange opportunities. He served as a consultant and a speaker on a variety of topics, including the intersection of contemporary culture and faith, leadership, and cross-cultural relations. Conversant in Spanish and Portuguese, he traveled, lectured, and taught extensively throughout Latin America, Africa, Asia, Southeast Asia, and throughout the United States.
Preus retired as president of Concordia University Irvine in 2009 and went on to serve as Executive Vice President for Mission Advancement at Bethesda Lutheran Communities until 2014. He most recently served as the North American Liaison for Fundación Educacional Concórdia. He received a bachelor’s degree from the University of Missouri and achieved a master's of divinity, a master’s of sacred theology, and a doctorate in theology and culture from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, Missouri. He was Professor of Systematic Theology at Concordia Seminary, where he also served as the Dean of the faculty until 1998. Prior to that, Preus was a parish pastor in St. Louis, Missouri, and in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. He served as a chaplain in the U.S. Navy (Reserves) and was assigned to the 3rd Battalion, 24th Regiment of the U.S. Marine Corps during the First Gulf War.
Rev. Dr. Mike Middendorf, Professor of Theology, remembers an address then President Preus gave at a service for Concordia University Irvine church work students. “He spoke on 2 Timothy 4:11, where St. Paul said Mark was ‘useful to me for ministry.’ Preus emphasized what a privilege it is to be deemed ‘useful’ for the work of God's kingdom, but he was certainly much more! As an influential teacher, pastor, leader, and author (see his Just Words), Jack Preus exhibited and expressed the fullness of the Gospel, and now enjoys its eternal blessings.”
Rev. Dr. Jack Preus is survived by his wife, Sherry Preus, and their three children, Jacob “Jack” IV, Emily, Rebecca, and their families. A Celebration of Life service will be held on Saturday, August 27 at 11 am at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, AZ.
About Concordia University Irvine
Concordia University Irvine (CUI) is a non-profit Christian liberal arts university governed by the Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod (LCMS). Preparing students for their vocations—their callings in life—Concordia offers graduate and undergraduate degree programs through its six schools—Arts & Sciences, Business & Economics, Christ College, Education, Health & Human Sciences, and the Townsend Institute. Nationally, its undergraduate core curriculum program, Enduring Questions & Ideas, has earned public recognition. Concordia is a U.S. News Top Tier Regional University and has been named by The Chronicle of Higher Education as one of the fastest-growing private nonprofit master's institutions. The only NCAA DII university in Orange County, Concordia enrolls about 4,000 students annually and is a Hispanic-Serving Institution (HSI).