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Founding President of Concordia University Irvine, Rev. Dr. Charles Manske, Dies at Age 82

Founding President of Concordia University Irvine, Rev. Dr. Charles Manske, Dies at Age 82

IRVINE, Calif. (July 7, 2015)—Rev. Dr. Charles Manske, founding president of Concordia University Irvine (CUI), died Saturday, July 4th from pancreatic cancer. He was 82.        “Dr. Manske was a man of uncommon vision and determination,” said CUI President Kurt Krueger. “All of us who study, teach, and serve at Concordia University Irvine are indebted to Dr. Manske’s vision to establish a university dedicated to the values of Lutheran higher education and committed to the Great Commission of Jesus Christ.”

Born on October 20, 1932, in Sebewaing, Michigan, Manske grew up in a family of Lutheran school teachers. He considered a career in law but felt called to pursue professional service in the Lutheran church. He attended St. John’s College in Winfield, Kansas (A.A. 1952); Concordia College in St. Louis (B.A. 1954); Concordia Seminary in St. Louis (M.Div. 1958); Washington University in St. Louis (M.A. in Sociology-Anthropology); and the University of Southern California, where he earned a Ph.D. in Social Ethics (1979).

After a 10-week summer visit to Southern California in 1953 to work with local Lutheran parishes, Manske saw great opportunities for the Lutheran church because of the ethnic diversity in this region. In a recent interview, Manske believed that the “future of Lutheranism” was in Southern California.  Upon returning to his studies at Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, he wrote a set of life goals. One of them was to “start a new Lutheran college in Southern California.”

In 1973, while serving as campus pastor at the University of Southern California, Manske was asked by a group of Lutheran leaders in Southern California to help establish Christ College Irvine. Known for his determination, track record as a campus minister, and as a spokesperson for the church, in 1976, under Manske’s leadership, Christ College Irvine launched its first academic year with 36 students in one single building that housed dorms, classrooms, and administration offices. Manske served as president until 1979, when he transitioned to a faculty position.

Even though Manske was the founding president of Christ College Irvine, now called Concordia University Irvine, he was best known as an excellent teacher and dedicated mentor to students. From 1973 to 1998, he taught at Christ College/Concordia University Irvine in the areas of theology, ethics, world religions and Christian apologetics. In addition to teaching, Manske served as the director of graduate programs in the School of Arts and Sciences, establishing the Master of Arts Program in Reformation Theology, and the Ethnic Pastors Certification Program, now called the Cross-cultural Ministry Center, a four year in-residence seminary curriculum, in cooperation with Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Later in his career, Manske developed the television series “Christianity on Trial” which focused on issues of Christian apologetics, Reformation theology and world religions.  The 82-program series ran for six years with Manske serving as producer and host, winning four Angel Awards for excellence in media in international network television.

Manske married Lutheran deaconess Barbara Meinzen Amt on July 23, 1966. He is survived by his wife and their three children, David, Christine and Noel.

A memorial service to celebrate the life and ministry of Dr. Manske will be held on Saturday, July 18, at 11a.m. in the CU Center at Concordia University Irvine, 1530 Concordia West, Irvine, CA. In lieu of flowers, gifts may be made to the Rev. Dr. Charles & Barbara Manske Scholarship Endowment by contacting Eron Jacobson at [email protected] or (949) 214-3177.


For more information about Charles Manske’s ministries and work, see the Spring 2014 edition of CUI Magazine.                                                                

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