As the Music, Worship and Theology (MWT) building — the first major project in CUI’s master plan—moves closer to reality, the campus community will have many people to thank: the staff and faculty who are leading the efforts and informing the process; the students, whose eagerness and numbers show a continued, rising demand for a CUI education; and the many friends of Concordia for their faithful support.
There is a special pair of music loving donors whose leadership gift helped get the project humming. “Caryn and Michael Borland have tremendous faith, incredible generosity, and a strong commitment to music and the arts,” says Tim Jaeger, executive vice president for university advancement. “They are committed supporters of this project.”
Caryn grew up in Lutheran schools in Orange County and discovered her love for singing and songwriting there. “My dad loved Dixieland jazz,” she says. “When my mom was pregnant with me, they went to see a group my dad liked at a jazz club. Every time the guy did the slide trombone, I kicked. They had to leave early.”
As she grew up, her tastes ran to the Carpenters, Maranatha praise music and Christian artists like Kelly Willard and Karen Lafferty. As a young adult she formed a band which performed some of her original music.
“All my teachers were very musically gifted and I enjoyed learning new songs, singing in church and school choirs, and occasionally performing solos in church,” she says. “Singing and music of any kind has always been a major part of my life.
She attended Orange Lutheran High School, graduated from Christ College Irvine in 1985, and continued performing in choirs as well as plays and musicals. "I had Dr. Manske for religion, Pastor Dargatz, both doctors Baden, a C.S. Lewis class with Rod Rosenbladt which was one of my favorites,” she recalls. “I love Dr. Manske’s phrase,’“Don’t put God in a box. Let God be God!"
She especially enjoyed the Spanish language, culture and people she learned about. “At Christ College we would go to Tijuana with Lutheran Border Concerns to build houses,” she says. “Kids from orphanages would be around, so we would play with them while other people were building. We sang songs and read stories.”
That love led her to earn a master’s degree in Spanish from Cal State Fullerton. She taught elementary and junior high Spanish, then taught ESL to adults before becoming a stay at home mom. It was during this time that she and Michael had met at Christ Lutheran Church in Costa Mesa.
“I always wanted to meet my husband at church,” Caryn says. She continued to record her own music, with Mike playing guitar on some songs.
Music is the ultimate language that everyone understands,” Mike says. “Worship elevates you.
When the Borlands heard about the need for support of a building designed to significantly improve the quality of experience music and theology students have at CUI, they were eager to help. “We saw the need to get the music building where everybody was under one roof,” Mike says. “It was spread around campus: wind and string instruments were in the old bookstore. There were a few practice rooms with a grand piano where you could barely walk around it. The choral room was full to the hilt.”
“It feels really good to help,” Caryn says. “It excites us,” Mike adds. “It’s nice to know we’re furthering God’s kingdom in allowing people to refine their music gifts.” As a result of the Borlands' generosity, the music wing of the new MWT building will be named the Borland Family Music Wing, and the recording studio will be named the Caryn Borland Recording Studio. The Borlands hope their generosity inspires others to open their hearts and pocketbooks as well.
“We encourage people to give because it’s the future of our church and leaders,” Caryn says. “Pastors, musicians, teachers—everybody benefits. It’s going to benefit every student that goes there. Hopefully it helps the church in general, producing musicians, worship leaders and choir members.”
The Borlands are happy that their church, Christ Lutheran Costa Mesa, has twenty or so CUI students who make it their home. Their son, who shares their passion for music and theatre has been in four plays at Orange Lutheran High School.
Caryn's recent album, "City on a Hill," was produced by Concordia music professor Steve Young, and almost all the instruments and background vocals were done by CUI students and alumni. Michael also played guitar on the album. The title song, "City on a Hill," was dedicated to Concordia Irvine, and is available online at CarynBorlandMusic.com.
Caryn also serves on the university’s Board of Regents and is a member of the board of directors of a nonprofit ministry to military, first responders and their families called Task Force Heroes (taskforceheroes.org).