Donald Christian was named chief executive officer last month of Concordia University Texas, following the retirement of Tom Cedel on August 1, and last week, Lynette Gillis of River Place, was named interim dean of the College of Business.
During Cedel’s tenure, the University moved in 2008 after 82 years on a 23-acre campus in Central Austin to its current home, a 389-acre property in Four Points.
Additionally, Concordia has experienced tremendous gains in undergraduate and graduate-level admissions, growing from 1,073 students in 2002 to nearly 2,600 students in 2013; increased fundraising; saw programmatic growth, including the additions of a Baccalaureate of Science in Nursing program in 2008 and Master of Business Administration program in 2010, among others; enjoyed ever-increasing prominence of faculty members; and saw unprecedented athletic success.
“Working with Tom for almost a decade has been a blessing, and it has prepared me well for this position,” Christian said. “I have the institutional familiarity and understanding of Concordia’s culture and mission that allows me to build on the solid foundation laid by Tom Cedel.”
The board of Concordia gave Christian the title of chief executive officer, a first for the college. As CEO, Christian will have all the responsibilities that Cedel had as president. The title “more accurately captures a 21st Century university’s need for leadership focused on academic excellence coupled with a business acumen that provides for a strong and sustainable future,” said Albert Carrion, chairman of Concordia Board of Regents.
Christian has served as dean of the Concordia College of Business since fall 2005. Since then, he has doubled enrollment of the Bachelor of Business Administration program, launched the Concordia MBA in 2010 and provided direction in creating the required leadership curriculum that is used across the campus. Christian has engaged the community in the growth of the College of Business by bringing together multiple program advisory boards, establishing a monthly speaker series that highlights Central Texas leaders and partnering with multiple entities that provide real-world experiences for Concordia students.
Christian teaches leadership and management, focusing on developing the critical and creative thinking process for students.
Prior to joining Concordia, Christian served in a variety of leadership positions, including headmaster of Lutheran High North in Houston, parish life administrator at Trinity Lutheran Church in downtown Houston, and as a high school band director in Minneapolis, where he began his professional career.
He earned his doctorate from the University of Phoenix in management and organizational leadership, his master’s in music and wind conducting from the University of Cincinnati and his undergraduate degree at Concordia University Chicago.
Christian is past-president of the Austin Ending Community Homelessness Coalition board and serves in an advisory capacity to LINC-Austin. He and his wife, Deborah, who teaches English and serves as the college admissions coordinator at Concordia High School in Austin, make their home in Round Rock.
Gillis will begin as interim dean of the College of Business on July 15.
“Dr. Gillis has all the qualities needed to be successful in this role – she understands the needs of faculty and students, has the respect of the broader Concordia Texas faculty, and is well known and respected throughout the greater Austin region,” said Christian. “I’m excited to work with her in this interim role, and I know that she will continue to build the College of Business at Concordia.”
Gillis began at Concordia in 2008, where she is currently a full-time assistant professor of management, specializing in international business, leadership and strategic management. Additionally, as director of the Bachelor of Business Administration program, Gillis has worked closely with Christian to ensure that the program’s quality, growth and improvements provide a robust and relevant curriculum in the College of Business.
In addition to her role as full-time professor, Gillis has served as the chair of the general education committee and the faculty welfare committee. Gillis also oversees the Business Thrivent Scholars Program and is involved with the Ethics in Business and Community Awards for the Greater Austin area.
In her new role, Gillis will oversee the College of Business operations and academic processes, as well as provide leadership and oversight to its graduate and undergraduate programs for all locations, including the main campus, remote centers and online. Gillis will take over the College of Business Speaker Series, a monthly event that provides students with opportunities to hear and learn from a variety of successful business professionals who model leadership and ethical values, as well as oversee the College of Business budgets.
Gillis, who has a doctorate in management from the University of Texas at Austin, as well as undergraduate degrees in economics and human resource management from Baylor University, lives in Austin with her husband and four children. A search process will begin in the fall for permanent dean of the College of Business.