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Concordia College starts new year under new president

New Concordia College President William Craft leads the freshmen in the Cobber cheer for the beanie toss Thursday on Olin Hill in Moorhead. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

MOORHEAD - A new president at Concordia College tossed his beanie to kick off the new school year Thursday along with a group of freshmen.

William Craft greeted the Concordia community during opening convocation and led the class of 2015 in the traditional Cobber cheer.

"I have come to a wonderful place," Craft said. "The students have such wonderful gifts and high ideals."

Craft began July 11 as Concordia's 11th president.

He's embracing Concordia's traditions, including wearing a maroon beanie, the color designated for transfer students.

Craft recalls wearing a beanie when he was a first-year college student. Craft earned his bachelor's degree from Westminster College in Pennsylvania.

"I thought that tradition had not continued until I came here," Craft said. "It's a great community-builder."

Concordia welcomed more than 700 new students to campus. Enrollment numbers are released after the 10th day of classes.

During Craft's speech, he challenged students to make connections across cultures and get to know people who are different from themselves.

"Listen to them; study their culture; take the risk to imagine what it would be like to be them," Craft said.

Craft, a former academic vice president for Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, and a Shakespeare scholar, referred several times to the 16th century during his speech.

"I'm so sorry. You're just going to have to get used to this," Craft said.

Students on Concordia's orientation committee said Craft has been active during this week's orientation, meeting each freshman Wednesday night and then eating with students in the dining hall.

"He's instilled a lot of confidence in students that he will do a good job," said Amanda May, a Concordia junior and orientation committee member.

Craft said he's been impressed by the students.

"They are the kinds of young people who can take great advantage of the kinds of relationships that they're going to have with faculty and with our staff here," Craft said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Amy Dalrymple at (701) 241-5590