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Presidential Inauguration

Speaker Series

Students, employees, alumni, church partners, and beyond are invited to grow in wisdom and cultivate higher thought by joining in the Presidential Inauguration Speaker Series. All presentations will be available via livestream, but guests are invited to attend in person – at no charge – whenever possible.

Keynote speaker

  • Thursday, September 28, 2023
  • 7-8:30 p.m. Central/8-9:30 p.m. Eastern
  • CUW’s Todd Wehr Auditorium or via livestream
  • Higher Education and the Great Conversation
Panayiotis Kanelos
Dr. Panayiotis (Pano) Kanelos Founding President of the University of Austin

Dr. Kanelos’s keynote address will discuss the ways in which human beings, as logos-centered creatures, have created the institution of universities to give shape to our collective search for truth.

Dr. Panayiotis (Pano) Kanelos is the Founding President of the University of Austin (UATX). Lauded by Forbes as one of higher education’s “academic entrepreneurs,” Dr. Kanelos was President of St. John’s College, Annapolis, the nation’s most storied great books liberal arts college. During his tenure, St. John’s successfully launched a historic initiative that included the most significant tuition reduction at any American college, accompanied by a $300 million campaign. He is widely acclaimed as one of the country’s most powerful advocates for liberal education. Other appointments include Dean of the Honors College at Valparaiso University, associate professor of theater at Loyola University Chicago, associate professor of English at the University of San Diego, and as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University. He is a Shakespeare scholar, who he has authored and edited numerous books, articles, and essays on Shakespeare, including the “Shakespeare and the Stage” series. Kanelos holds a Ph.D. from the Committee on Social Thought at University of Chicago, an M.A. in Political Philosophy and Literature from the University Professors Program at Boston University, and a B.A. in English from Northwestern University.

Throughout the week

Concordia’s history and future
Bill Cario
Dr. William Cario

Questions from Concordia’s Past that Shape Its Future, Monday, September 25, 2023. 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern. CUW’s Todd Wehr Auditorium or via livestream

A historian of the American experience, Dr. Cario has spent much of his professional life as an academic administrator at Concordia University. He served for many years as CUWAA’s Provost and, more recently, as the Interim President of CUWAA. He currently serves as Special Assistant to the President. He received is Ph.D. in American History from New York University.

Mark Looker
Dr. Mark Looker

Every Now and Then, Tuesday, October 3, 2023, 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern, CUAA’s Chapel of the Holy Trinity or via livestream

Dr. Mark Looker is Professor Emeritus of English at Concordia University, Ann Arbor where he has taught since 1975—the longest serving faculty member in the history of the school. He earned a BA degree at Concordia University Chicago, an MA degree at Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature at the University of Michigan. During his long tenure at CUAA as a member of the English Department, he served as Chair of the Division of Language and Literature and Vice-President for Academics. He was also director of the Kreft Arts Program and for eighteen consecutive years he conducted a May Term course in London for Concordia students. He currently serves on the CUAA advancement committee, is a member of the vestry at Historic Trinity Lutheran Church in Detroit, and is on the executive board of the Association of Lutheran College Faculties.

Concordia: A Christ-centered community
Rev Dr Scott Bruzek
Rev. Dr. Scott Bruzek

Christ at the Center, Tuesday, September 26, 2023, 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern, CUW’s Todd Wehr Auditorium or via livestream

When Jesus touches us with his Holy Things, He pulls us into his orbit and makes us his disciples. Pulling us into his orbit puts Christ at the center of everything, especially here at Concordia Wisconsin. Making us his disciples prepares us for life in a world which still needs Him, but does not always know or welcome Him. Come hear how our University is preparing us for faithful lives in love for our Lord and service to our neighbors — how Christ can have best use of us for a lifetime, no matter where we go or what we do.

Rev. Dr. Scott Bruzek has been Senior Pastor at St. John Lutheran Church in Wheaton, Illinois for 26 years. His preaching, teaching, and writing have focused on the beauty and rhythm of the sacramental life that orbits Christ. He has an earned Ph.D from Princeton Theological Seminary (1995) and a theological diploma from Cambridge University in England (1986). He is a 1985 graduate of the Concordia Seminary, St. Louis.

Paul Burmeister
Professor Paul Burmeister

Shadowed by the Shabby and Seeking the Sublime, Wednesday, September 27, 2023, 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern, CUW’s Todd Wehr Auditorium or via livestream

Burmeister’s speculation is that excellence is best understood in terms of faithfulness, a virtue which is bundled into Christian vocation. Using the Polish poet, Adam Zagajewski’s essay on high and low styles, the presenter will posit our excellence or faithfulness in a vocational space that has room enough for both the shabby and the sublime. The presentation invites us to consider how a scholarly, Christian community can help its practitioners and its church understand what an excellent contribution looks like.

Paul Burmeister is a college educator and administrator, a studio artist, and a writer. He serves as the Assistant Dean of Advising and Professor of Art at Wisconsin Lutheran College. His colorful paintings of vernacular buildings are regularly exhibited regionally, in solo and group shows. As a writer, he is a regular contributor to Vocation Matters: Insights and Conversations from the Network for Vocation in Undergraduate Education (NetVUE.)

Paul Burmeister lives in Waukesha, WI, and is married to Stacy; they have two children and seven grandchildren.

Truth and integrity panel discussion

Thursday, September 28, 2023, 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern, CUW’s Todd Wehr Auditorium or via livestream

Rowan Williams set forth the classic Christian conviction that "what we encounter in Jesus Christ is simply the truth. It is the truth about God and the truth about humanity. Not living into that truth and accepting it, has consequences because this is the last word about God and God's creation." The panel will consider the truth of William's powerful thesis and its consequences for Higher Education.

David Andersen
Dr. David Andersen

David Andersen holds a Ph.D. from Wycliffe Hall Oxford/Coventry University and has taught at several American universities, including Concordia University Ann Arbor. He is the author of Martin Luther - The Problem of Faith and Reason: A Reexamination in Light of the Epistemological and Christological Issues (2012); Faithless to Fearless: The Event that Changed the World (2019); In Defense of Christian Ritual: The Case for a Biblical Pattern of Worship (2021), and What Can We Really Know: The Strengths and Limits of Human Understanding (2023). He lives in Utah and is the Co-founder and President of a software company.

Erik Ankerberg
Dr. Erik Ankerberg

Dr. Ankerberg is President of Concordia University Wisconsin & Ann Arbor. He is a graduate of Marquette University with a doctorate in early modern British literature. He has a master’s degree in British and American literature from Marquette University and holds a bachelor’s degree from Concordia University Chicago.

Adam Fransicso
Dr. Adam Francisco

Dr. Francisco is Director of Academics and scholar in residence at 1517. He earned his DPhil from the University of Oxford and has two decades of experience teaching history, philosophy, and theology. He is cohost of The Thinking Fellows podcast, author of a number of books, articles, and translations, and popular speaker on the topics of Christian apologetics, worldview, and the religion of Islam. He and his wife, Rachel, have four children, are care providers for foster children, and live in Wheaton, Illinois.

Richard Ray
Dr. Richard Ray

For or With?, Monday, October 2, 2023, 10 a.m. Central/11 a.m. Eastern, CUAA’s Chapel of the Holy Trinity or via livestream

We often reduce the idea of service to "helping others." But too infrequently do we stop to consider what kind of help others need or want. What counts as "help" to the people who are the objects of our good intentions? This tendency is — or can be — a symptom of the possibility that we don't know what we want. And because we frequently don't understand ourselves, we fail in our efforts to serve others as our shared faith demands. This lecture will pose several questions intended to help audience members — especially undergraduates — discern the objects of their own desires, and thus be better prepared to serve others.

Dr. Richard Ray is provost and professor of kinesiology, emeritus, at Hope College, where he was a faculty member from 1982-2023. He also has served as the college’s chief academic officer (2010-2016), dean for the social sciences (2008-2010), and chair of the Department of Kinesiology (2003-2008). He was active in a variety of leadership capacities in the athletic training profession. His scholarship was focused on health care leadership. He has taught courses and authored multiple volumes based on his pilgrimage experiences. He serves as the co-director of the Hope-Western Prison Education program, a BA degree program for incarcerated men at Muskegon Correctional Facility. He is the chair of the steering committee of the Michigan Consortium for Higher Education in Prison.