Two new deans are at the helms of Concordia’s School of Professional Studies (SPS) and the School of Arts and Sciences (SAS).
Mike Shurance, EdD ’18, dean of the SPS, has served six years at CUI, mainly in the office of innovative instruction and e-learning, where he helped lead CUI into online learning.
“Technology and the Internet have created what I call a Gutenberg- level shift in the culture,” Shurance says. “What the printing press did for the Renaissance, the Internet has the potential to do for our culture. Christian higher education should be at the forefront of what that looks like and shape society. We can recover a leading role in higher education.”
Shurance taught history, Bible, computers and technology at Lutheran junior high and high schools before running the technology department of a software company. Returning to the field of education, he came to CUI at a critical time when university course delivery is changing year-by-year.
“With good quality design, we can build courses that are equal or better than a seated class,” Shurance says.
New models include hybrid classes, flex education, and “flipping the classroom,” where students watch lectures at home and come to the classroom to do homework with the benefit of the presence of a professor and other students.
“Content is a commodity now, so it’s not necessarily about the information but how you use it and the wisdom piece of it, which makes us unique in higher education,” Shurance says. “Our value proposition is not that you can get knowledge but what you can do with that knowledge.”
Shurance’s goal is to “drive the mission of the University, which is the Great Commission, and maintain excellence in a new environment online.”
Content is a commodity now, so it’s not necessarily about the information but how you use it and the wisdom piece of it, which makes us unique in higher education.
Terry Olson, new dean of the SAS, served as assistant dean and professor at CUI previously.
His first career was in the U.S. Navy aboard the USS Independence in the Persian Gulf, where he was an aircraft structural mechanic. He then earned a PhD from the University of New Mexico, his home state, and worked at the University of Texas at Arlington.
“Part of my master’s and PhD was in pedagogy, to teach other teachers how to teach,” Olson says. “I always wanted to make a broader impact in society and have always believed in being an agent of change. I was taught a long time ago that when you consume space in a room with other people, be mindful of making that space better before you leave.”
I always wanted to make a broader impact in society and have always believed in being an agent of change.
Olson, who says he is “centered on Concordia’s mission as a Lutheran higher education institution,” looks forward to serving as dean while teaching and remaining engaged with students, which is what drives him.
“I came into this with an inquisitive nature of learning, and I don’t think I’ll ever get rid of that,” he says.