Skip to Main Content

Concordia University Irvine announces 2024 Commencement honorees

Irvine, CA - May 4, 2024 - Concordia University Irvine is pleased to announce honorees for the 2024 Spring Commencement season. Each spring, the faculty of Concordia University Irvine nominate individuals for university awards and recognitions, and they select one student graduating from the traditional undergraduate program as the outstanding graduate for the academic year. 

2024 Outstanding Senior Award: Emmalyn Merritt Doyle

Emmalyn Doyle

Each year, the Outstanding Senior Award is bestowed on a student who has demonstrated outstanding academic and personal achievement. The honored student displays an exemplary Christian life, is actively involved in activities of the student body, has made outstanding contributions to the University community, and has earned at least a 3.5 grade point average. 

Emmalyn Merritt Doyle graduated with a summa cum laude distinction in the Commencement exercises on Saturday, May 4, as a double major in theology and music, with a minor in Lutheran teaching. She was revealed as the 2024 Outstanding Senior at the Academic Achievements & Awards ceremony on Friday, May 3. Emmalyn was also named as the senior award recipient for both of her academic programs, theology and music. 

During her time as a student, Emmalyn was noted for her excellent musicianship as a flutist in the Concordia Wind Orchestra, a vocalist in the Concordia Choir, and as a member of the handbell ensembles. She was also involved in the President’s Academic Showcase, student government, and the Honors Program. She is a member of Omicron Delta Kappa national leadership honor society. 

Dr. Cari Chittick, professor of education and director of the Lutheran teaching program, notes: “Emmalyn’s heart for ministry is apparent in her everyday life as she is driven to hone in on her musical skills and theological knowledge. She is eager to teach and support youth in their own faith walk, while also serving others with her gifts. Her determination and diligence are all to glorify our God!”

Emmalyn has accepted her first call to teach 7th grade theology and English at Christ Lutheran School in Phoenix, Arizona. 


Christus Mundo Award: Lonnie Karges

Lonnie Karges

The Christus Mundo Award is given to an individual who demonstrates a commitment to Christian life, faith, and mission through many years of service to the church, community, and/or Concordia University Irvine.

Lonnie Karges has dedicated over 40 years to serving in Lutheran education and ministry. After attending Christ College Irvine from 1977-1980, where he met his wife Ingrid, Karges completed his bachelor’s degree in history and education at Concordia Teachers College in Seward, NE, graduating with a teaching degree and Director of Christian Education (DCE) certification in 1982.

Karges began his career as a DCE at Grace Lutheran in Storm Lake, IA, where he started a preschool and youth programs. He went on to serve at Our Savior's in Ridgecrest, CA, Trinity Lutheran in Whittier, CA, and Aid Association for Lutherans (now Thrivent).

In 1990, Karges received a call to serve at Bethlehem Lutheran Church and School in Carson City, Nevada. Over the next 33 years, he held various roles, including 4th-8th grade teacher, athletic director, social studies chair, and confirmation instructor. In 2001, Karges became the principal of Bethlehem Lutheran, a position he held until his retirement in June 2023. During his tenure as principal, Karges continued to teach full-time, as well as serve as the athletic director, drama teacher, and coach for basketball, softball, flag football, track, and cross-country. 

Karges and his wife Ingrid have four children, Caleb, Zachary, Joshua, and Melissa, all of whom graduated from Concordia University Irvine, and four grandchildren.

Karges considers the students, parents, and staff at Bethlehem Lutheran to be his greatest teachers, and he feels blessed to have been a part of their lives. His ministry has been a true testament to his dedication, compassion, and a model for sharing the love of Christ with the world.


Great Commission Award: Rev. Dr. Arthur Just

Rev. Dr. Arthur Just

The Great Commission Award is bestowed on an individual who demonstrates a commitment to Christ’s Great Commission, recognizing noteworthy service to the church through missionary activity and evangelism, or through the support of missionary activity and evangelism.

Rev. Dr. Arthur Just is a Professor of Exegetical Theology at Concordia Theological Seminary (CTSFW) in Fort Wayne, IN, where he has taught since 1984. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and English literature from Union College in Schenectady, NY, and an M.Div. degree from CTSFW. 

After graduating from seminary, Just was called as pastor at Grace Lutheran Church in Middletown, CT. During this time, he pursued further theological education at Yale Divinity School, where he received his Master of Sacred Theology (S.T.M.) in New Testament and Liturgics. Just went on to receive his Ph.D. in New Testament from the University of Durham in England. 

Along with his teaching responsibilities at CTSFW, Just has served the seminary in a variety of leadership roles, including as the chairman of the Exegetical Theology department, dean of the Chapel, director of Deaconess Studies, and co-director of the Good Shepherd Institute of Pastoral Theology and Sacred Music. He has contributed significantly to global theological education of deaconesses and pastors in Europe, Russia, Asia, Latin America, and Africa.  

Additionally, Just has written books and created video series for pastors, deaconesses, and laypeople on the topics of visitation of the sick and dying, as well as the theology and practice of liturgy and the Divine Service. He published commentaries the Gospel of Luke, and served as chairman of the Lectionary Committee for Lutheran Service Book for the Commission on Worship.

Just and his wife, Linda, have three children and nine grandchildren.

Back to top