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Founding Visionary

from the president




Chauncey Bayes ART DIRECTOR




Tim Jaeger

Dear Friends,


Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ!

Joel Kilpatrick EDITOR

In this issue of our CUI Magazine we pay tribute to Rev. Dr. Charles Manske, founding president of Christ College, now known as Concordia University Irvine. Even though Dr. Manske and a dedicated group of clergy, faculty and lay leaders worked diligently to found a Lutheran college in Irvine, Dr. Manske would be the first to acknowledge the gracious hand of God in the establishment and growth of our university. As we honor Dr. Manske and our early leaders for their vision and courage, we also honor our God for His steadfast love toward us and His countless blessings to Christ College and Concordia University Irvine. God, of course, continues to bless the efforts of so many who learn and serve at Concordia as we strive to be faithful to the founding vision of Concordia as a “Great Commission” college. Concordia’s faculty and staff remain dedicated to communicating the Gospel and making disciples of Jesus Christ across ethnic, cultural and generational boundaries, sharing His love with all people. Establishing a college to prepare students to live out the “Great Commission” was the vision of Dr. Manske and our early leaders, and that is our vision today. May we stay faithful to that vision even as we thank and honor Dr. Manske for his efforts to found the wonderful university Concordia is today.



Peter Senkbeil ASSOCIATE PROVOST AND VICE PRESIDENT ACADEMIC AFFAIRS SEND ADDRESS CHANGES TO: Concordia University Foundation 1530 Concordia West Irvine, CA 92612-3203 or call (949) 214-3186 or email Get in touch with us; We want to hear from you! Email: MISSION STATEMENT Concordia University Irvine, guided by the Great Commission of Christ Jesus and the Lutheran Confessions, empowers students through the liberal arts and professional studies for lives of learning, service and leadership. DEVELOPING WISE, HONORABLE, AND CULTIVATED CITIZENS Concordia University Irvine is a member of the Concordia University System of The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod.

In His service,


Experience the CUI Magazine online:

Kurt J. Krueger, PhD





Developing Wise, Honorable, and Cultivated Citizens





contents volume 2 number 2 • SPRING 2014

features International legacy................ 6 Manske’s vision of a university built on the Great Commission and reaching out to Asia and South America lives on in alumni whose dramatic and inspirational stories are building CUI’s legacy.

Breaking into STEM fields... 15 Female faculty and students have an unusually strong presence in science and mathematics at Concordia Irvine.

Survivor and Giver.................. 18 Ed Grafe survived the attack on Pearl Harbor and later became a generous supporter of CUI.

8 Founding visionary Charles Manske, CUI’s first president, was the relentless driving force behind CUI’s founding. Read how it all came to be.



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From left to right: Mickey Burke ’15, Jessica Marquardt ’15 and Kevin Guck ’15.

TRIATHLON CLUB RACES THROUGH SECOND YEAR Many are surprised to hear that CUI has its own 20-member triathlon club, which for the past two years has competed in USA Triathlon events against teams like UCI, UC Berkeley and Stanford. “The response has been really good,” says Kevin Guck, a junior biology/ pre-med major and club president. “We’re seeing people join who have done a sport in high school and don’t do it anymore but want to remain competitive. Or it’s collegiate athletes who don’t have time for a sport or




were burned out and want to try something different.” The CUI triathlon club competes with other universities for points that translate into a ranking in the conference. CUI competed last year in three meets and sent one team to collegiate nationals in Arizona. This year they will compete in five or six meets. Each triathlon includes a half-mile swim, a 15-mile bike race and a 3-mile run. “You want to play to your strength in triathlon and push where your advantage is,” says Guck. “We have lot of good swimmers who go as hard

as they can on the swim, then do the bike and survive the run. If you’re a good runner you try to survive the swim, do well on bike, but have enough energy to do well on the run.” The swimming portion is first and can be done in the ocean, a lake, a river or even in a suitable swimming pool. After the swim, athletes go into a transition area to gear up for the biking and running portions. “Races are won and lost in the transition area,” says Guck. “A pro will spend less than two minutes in a transition area. An amateur will take seven or eight minutes. That’s a huge difference.”

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The triathlon ends at the finish line of the running section. The event in its entirety typically takes an hour and a half to two hours. The club, which is self-funded, trains six days a week, though no practice is required. “People like that nothing is mandatory,” says Guck. “You’ll get out of the team what you put in.” Club members run around campus and do a variety of workouts, including weight lifting. On Saturdays they have long practices which include a beach swim at Corona Del Mar. “People come up and ask me all the time out of the blue about the club,” says Guck. “I don’t even have to look for people now. We invite them to join us so we can push each other and compete and have fun together.”


the Dean of the School of Business Administration. Christensen first joined CUI in 2001 as executive vice president for university advancement and special assistant to the president. For the past three years, he has served as executive vice president of external relations. Christensen has been active in the region’s business community for thirty years and achieved significant business acumen working at numerous universities, private businesses and non-profit organizations. He will be responsible for expanding the school’s presence in Southern California, nationally and internationally. Wright is in his fifth year at CUI and previously served as assistant dean of the School of Business and Professional Studies, as well as a faculty advisor in the Master of Arts in International Studies program. Wright will be responsible

for daily operations of the school including finance, administration and academics. The School of Business is the largest program on CUI’s campus with 350 undergrad majors and 120 MBA students in six majors: accounting, economics, finance, marketing, management and sports management. In July, the University separated the School of Business and the School of Professional Studies to more effectively serve its diverse population of students in these two market segments.

STUDENTS BRING MUSIC TO RETIREMENT COMMUNITY Residents of Freedom Village assisted living community were treated to a special recital of music by CUI music majors at a packed mid-day concert

CUI announced the appointment of Stephen Christensen as Dean of the School of Business, effective February 1, 2014. “Our School of Business continues to gain prominence with employers and recognition in California, the United States and abroad,” said Dr. Kurt Krueger, president of CUI. “This is a direct reflection of the highly skilled graduates currently working around the world, as well as to the brilliant professors shaping the minds of tomorrow’s business leaders. We know Stephen and George will be instrumental in the continued success of the School of Business.” Assisting Christensen in growing the school and building the faculty will be Prof. George Wright who will serve as

CUI Music students performed at Freedom Village, joined by long-time Concordia friends. From left to right, Accompanist Patricia Raffel, Louise Schinnerer, Matthia Duryea, Whitney Leehey, Michael Miller, Gretchen Sheetz and Mary Jean Spallino.



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this fall. The presentation featured works by Bach, Brahms and more. Gretchen Sheetz ’14, a music performance major and creative writing minor at CUI, played J.S. Bach’s Violin Sonata #2 on her concert grand harp. “I was excited at the opportunity to play for more people and share this music, especially at the retirement home because they are so gracious and appreciative,” she says. “It was a beautifully decorated room and the audience was audible in their reactions, which was very sweet. If they liked something they would sigh or say, ‘Yes, that’s great.’ Many came up afterward and spoke to us about how much they enjoyed our performance. As music majors, the more we get to perform in front of people, the better.” The recital was intended to feature just one soloist, a CUI student, but he came down with bronchitis. Adjunct

professor of voice Diane Elias quickly recruited several students who were preparing for senior recitals and they eagerly accepted the opportunity to perform at Freedom Village. “It worked out even better than I had planned,” Elias says. “The place was packed and they had to bring in more chairs.” Michael Miller ’14, a clarinet performance major, played the first movement from Brahms’ Clarinet Sonata #2 in E-flat Major, and movement 2 from Francis Poulenc’s Clarinet Sonata. “From the happy faces I saw in the audience it seemed like it was received very well,” he says. Matthia Duryea ’14, a church music major, sang pieces by Handel, Emily Dickinson and Richard PearsonThomas.

“The audience was very receptive,” she says. “I think I even saw a few tears in people’s eyes as we performed different pieces. It was nice to provide music for people who might not be able to leave Freedom Village very often. The interactions and conversations I had with residents truly brightened my day. God sure works in wonderful ways. I definitely hope to bring music to places like this in the future.”

CUI EXPANDS TO SPECTRUM CENTER CUI’s programs have grown so much that some offices recently relocated to the Irvine Spectrum area and now serve as satellite workspace for twenty-five CUI staff. “We’ve been here since November 1 and it’s working out great,” says Tim Peters, Dean of the School of

Ribbon-cutting ceremony at the new Concordia University Irvine Spectrum Center location.




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Professional Studies (SPS). “It’s a very professional space.” Student and program growth is outpacing the construction of new buildings on campus, and the need for space has become critical. The university decided to move the SPS and Master of Arts in Coaching and Athletic Administration programs off campus since those programs are conducted almost entirely online. No classes are meeting off-campus. Rather, the new location frees up campus space for staff who require closer proximity to campus. “Most universities that are growing today are not at one location,” says Peters. “At Concordia Irvine we are serving an adult, diverse population that has less need to be on the main campus if we serve them well.” The phone, Internet and teleconferencing technologies at the Spectrum location are identical to what is available on campus. Chapel services are streamed twice a week and staff attend chapel in person on Friday. “The university did a good job not just giving us a space but making it very workable,” says Peters.

STUDENTS PRESENT E-BOOK RESEARCH AT NATIONAL HONORS CONFERENCE Nine CUI honors students presented an original research paper called “Academic Rigor in the Freshman Seminar: But Ouch! Student Antipathy to E-Books” at the recent National Collegiate Honors Council attended by over 7,000 professors and students in New Orleans. It was the first time CUI students have participated in the honors conference.

The nine CUI students’ research on e-reading emerged from a two-year investigative project in collaboration with the CUI library. They compared freshmen student experiences with e-books and traditional paper books for class assignments. The result? “Students said, ‘We hate these e-readers,’” says Dr. Susan Bachman, director of the honors program. “That surprises many people because students are so used to reading on phones.” Courtney Thornton, a sophomore biology/pre-med major and honors student, says student antipathy to reading e-books was mostly attributable to the clumsy user experience offered by the website which makes these e-books available. “We were forced to read from a certain website rather than a Nook or a Kindle,” Thornton says. “That was the biggest issue. It wasn’t compatible with Mac laptops, so a problem came up with that. It was harder to read from an electronic book than a paper book. You had to log into the website and it would time out after thirty minutes. Even students who were technology savvy weren’t able to figure out the website.”

Other students preferred paper books because they like to make handwritten notes on books and enjoy the tactile experience and portability. “Our view wasn’t that e-books are terrible but that there needs to be more work done before it becomes something that everyone can use,” Thornton says. “People say technology is taking over and paper books are becoming obsolete. Our argument is: not yet. There’s still a long way to go to use the technology.” The CUI students’ presentation received high praise. “I don’t believe I have ever seen or heard a better use-analysis for a library as you students just gave,” a librarian at Eastern Kentucky University commented afterward. “Our presentation was helpful to librarians because they got a different viewpoint on what schools are going through and the struggles they are having with e-book databases,” says Thornton. “The presentation went a lot better than I thought it would. It ended up being really enlightening because you could see the expanse of what we were researching and how it applied to people thousands of miles away.”

When students were allowed to read on their Kindle or iPad “there was better feedback.”



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Great Commission focus lives on at CUI


ne of founding president Charles Manske’s living legacies is CUI’s emphasis on living out the Great Commission at home and abroad. Since its founding, CUI has become a crossroads for students journeying overseas on mission work or coming to study from a foreign country. Timu Kwi ’94, a family doctor in coastal Texas, came to CUI from wartorn Thailand where her hopes for becoming a medical doctor bloomed amidst bloodshed and poverty. “Every summer we had to worry about the Burmese coming and shooting people,” Kwi says. “Several of my friends were killed. Most of my brother’s friends were, too, either by landmines or they were shot. The soldiers would rob the grain and burn the villages.”

Her parents were lay missionaries to the Karen (pronounced ka-RIN) people on the border of Burma and Thailand. Fellow missionaries saw Timu’s initiative and paid for her to take correspondence courses in English literature and biology. She also worked in a small community hospital where a missionary trained her and other locals to give IVs and shots, deliver babies and prescribe medicine. She then worked as a maid in Bangkok for a missionary family and ran over to the English school in her off hours to take classes in physics and math.

Above: Dr. Timu Kwi ’94 outside the Port Lavaca, TX clinic. Below and inset: Anthony DiLiberto ’08 serves as a missionary at La Misión Luterana del Peru.

Even worse was the malaria, she says. “One time I had it for a whole month and couldn’t walk. I had to learn to walk all over again.” But Kwi kept her dream alive and admired the example of her aunt, a doctor who would come home from work to find people sitting on the stairs of her house waiting to be treated. “I thought that was pretty cool to work in a hospital and then come home and help the neighbors,” Kwi says.

your hand finds to do, do it with all your might.’ Whether it was taking care of people with malaria in the village or taking the SAT, I always tried to do my best and wait for God to open the way. He is amazing.”

But the future “seemed pretty bleak,” Kwi admits. “I didn’t have any money or way to come to the U.S. But I studied hard and prayed and God made a way for me.”

God opened a door through Dr. Marlin Schultz, a visiting missionary from CUI. He arranged for Kwi to get a scholarship to study in CUI’s pre-med program.




“There was a lot of prayer,” Kwi says. “What really motivated me was the Bible verse in Colossians, ‘Whatever

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“The teachers at Concordia were wonderful and down-to-earth,” Kwi says. “You could walk in any time and talk to them.” For a part-time job, Kwi took care of Charles Manske’s mother for a time when his mother lived at home. She also gave home care to Congressman Dannemeyer’s mother-in-law. In her leisure time she ran the trails around campus. “That was my quiet time,” she says. “It was good exercise spiritually and physically.” When she graduated she was not a U.S. citizen and could not afford medical school, so then-President Ray Halm personally drove her to Loma Linda University and introduced her to the president who offered Kwi a grant to attend medical school. During her residency Kwi returned to Thailand annually to serve in internal medicine and infectious disease, then moved there for a year to work at a hospital. Today she and her husband and two children live in Port Lavaca, Texas, a small fishing town south of Houston which has a population of Karen refugees. Kwi teaches Sunday school in their native language. “My father says, ‘God works in mysterious ways. You couldn’t come here [to Thailand] so they came to you,’” Kwi says. Her parents, also refugees, live in Port Lavaca as well. “God has been wonderful,” Kwi says. “One day I’d like to go back to Thailand and serve there full time.”

From Costa Rica to Cocordia Irvine David Garcia ’14, a Costa Rican with a heart for ministry, grew up working in Christian camps with his parents

who are part-time ministers. “When I was 11 or 12, I found my passport and got this feeling that one day it would be David Garcia ’14 filled with stamps,” David says. “By the time I was 14, I had an understanding of where my family was financially and geographically and said, ‘Ah, forget it.’” But while serving at a non-profit organization in Costa Rica after graduating high school, he met CUI English professor John Norton, who sat on the organization’s board. “Dr. Norton asked me, ‘What’s your dream?’” Garcia remembers. “I said, ‘To be a soccer player, but I gave that up.’ He asked about college and I said I couldn’t afford it. He said, ‘What if we pay for it?’” Norton helped him secure a visa. David flew to Irvine on Sunday and was in college classes on Monday at Saddleback Community College. He knew so little English that “I had no idea what my professors were saying,” he says. “I was scared.” Norton made him read books in English and write reports on them. Norton then marked them up and made him do it again. “After three months I started dreaming in English,” Garcia says. “Words started coming together into sentences. I got good grades and transferred to CUI.” In his first semester at CUI he participated with Norton in the Around-the-World Semester® trip. “I look on my passport and it’s now

filled with stamps,” Garcia says. “God did give me the desires of my heart.” Garcia graduates in May and is already moving into ministry. He lives with three other young men in a house in a poor Hispanic neighborhood in San Juan Capistrano. The house was purchased by a church to be used as a ministry center. “Our purpose is to love and to learn,” says Garcia. “We want to help people by starting a tutoring center and giving kids a vision of what it means to go to college. That’s why I decided to come to this neighborhood: I felt those kids needed to know there is a chance. I got that chance. Somebody saw something in me and said, ‘This is worth it.’” Even his soccer-playing dream came true. Garcia walked on to the CUI team, never having played organized soccer (“just in the street with a Hi-C box or water bottle”), and scored the winning goal in his first game, heading the ball into the net. The next year the team won the GSAC tournament and regular season championship. But his heart is for ministry. “I am passionate about people,” he says. “My heart will always be for helping people.”

Taking the gospel to Peru Anthony DiLiberto ’08 from San Dimas became interested in Latin America while studying at CUI and taking shortterm missions trips to build houses in Tijuana. “I began to see there was a dire need for spiritual care in Latin America,” he says. He minored in Spanish at CUI and was part of ACTS theater group and a men’s group called Band of great commission, continued on page 19



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Founding Visionary


ore than any other person in Concordia University Irvine’s history, founding president Charles Manske is recognized as bringing the school into existence. His relentless perseverance in the face of near-constant challenges and skepticism helped establish this institution which in nearly 40 years has blessed thousands and become a flagship Lutheran college on the West Coast. “Chuck is an incredible guy,” says Robert Dargatz, one of the early faculty members and now pastor of Immanuel Lutheran Church in Orange. “He had the vision for the place, he pushed for it and it was obvious he was the Lord’s choice. I don’t think anyone else would have started the school. Chuck was like a bulldog with his teeth into the stick and would not give up on the dream because he believed that it was of God.” CUI’s second president, Ray Halm, in describing “the most influential forces and ideas that have given shape to Christ College Irvine [now CUI],” wrote in his dissertation on the school’s history that “Most important of all was the influence of the president of the college, Dr. Charles L. Manske, whose dogged determination pushed those more reluctant to do what needed to be done to launch the college.” In the early days, most observers gave “the Irvine project” little chance of success. Money was short for such a large project and some leaders simply could not envision starting a Lutheran college in Southern California because, as one leader expressed it, “When people move to California, they leave their religion behind.” “This was a venture of faith and prayer, my friend,” says Dale Hartmann who was the first faculty member hired by the new college and served as its librarian for many years. “It’s a result of the Lord’s direct hand.”

Early years Manske’s determination to see CUI born springs from key moments in his life, beginning in high school. Raised 8



in the “thumb” of Michigan in a family of Lutheran school teachers, Charles pondered law school but asked himself, “The day I retire from whatever profession I will have chosen, what will I have done with my life? How will I have I helped people?” He changed course and made a new commitment: “My goal is to serve Christ. I want to bring people to Christ, to be his ambassador on earth. I don’t want to pursue an occupational line of my own.” So he launched into an academic career with a strong ministry component, graduating from St. John’s College in Kansas with an AA degree, then earning his MDiv from Concordia Seminary in St. Louis while concurrently earning his MA in sociology/anthropology and a minor in communication and speech from Washington University. In the summer of 1953 his path changed forever when, instead of following friends home for a leisurely break, he volunteered to spend ten weeks in Southern California making thousands of house calls for local parishes. The experience was a revelation. “I saw the future here [in Southern California] with everything from Asia and South and Latin America,” he says. “This was the future of Lutheranism.” A few months later, in his dorm room at Concordia Seminary, he wrote down a set of life goals. One of them was: “Start a new Lutheran college in Southern California.”

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After studying for his PhD at Northwestern and Loyola while serving his vicarage in Chicago, Manske was called to the University of Southern California as campus pastor where he served from 1958 to 1973. The young academic excelled in public relations, gained membership into the Los Angeles Press Club and appeared frequently on Los Angeles radio and TV stations as a clergyman.

In the early 1960s he became acquainted with the proposed Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod (LCMS) college at Irvine, which was struggling to find its footing. A local committee had visited and rejected eighty-seven sites before finding an ideal site near the new UC Irvine. The Irvine Company, which owned the land in the area, wanted a small, religious liberal arts college to augment its burgeoning community and sold the land to the Synod for a very good price.



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But factors emerged to thwart efforts to build it. While one Synod convention after another approved money for the college at Irvine, leaders in St. Louis were less enthusiastic to carry it out. A theological controversy had broken out within the Synod, causing a temporary but real drop in finances. The Synod actually closed three colleges during this time and a number of leaders did not think it prudent to direct millions of dollars to a new college in Irvine. Others lobbied to support the new California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks instead of building a college just 90 miles

away. Still others hoped to sell the Irvine land, now worth much more than what the Synod had paid for it, and locate a proposed West Coast college in a remote area of Arizona — an idea that never really got off the ground. For a decade the Irvine college’s supporters struggled to be faithful to God’s call to build the college while not having the money to turn a single spade of dirt. Meanwhile, the Irvine Company, dismayed over the lack of progress, pressed the Synod to build the college or sell the land back.

“This [university] was a venture of faith and prayer. It’s a result of the Lord’s direct hand.”

Around this time, Lutheran pastor Rev. Philip Gehlhar of El Segundo, who had no involvement with the Irvine college, says he heard God speak to him in a time of prayer: “This was the first time I clearly heard the Lord speak — not audibly but in a very real way. He said, ‘Ask for bigger things.’ I said, ‘What should I ask for, a million dollars? What would I do with a million dollars?’ He said, ‘You’d build my school at Irvine.’” Later, when Gehlhar climbed what became known as French Hill and surveyed the city all the way to the ocean, he says he heard the voice again say, “From here I can reach the world.”

Taking a chance on a young guy In early 1973 the Irvine college’s board of control asked Charles Manske to serve as acting president because, they stated, “[his] vision of what our school can become is well known to all.” Manske had built a track record as an effective campus minister, negotiator and publicist for the church (he was also serving as public relations director for what was then the Southern California District) and already served on the Irvine project’s architectural committee. Supporters realized, as did Manske, that it would take “major fundraising among Lutherans here in the Pacific Southwest” to move ahead. Manske, with his gift for speaking and persuasion, seemed right to lead the effort.

Students and supporters worship on the campus site (top). Groundbreaking ceremony for the first campus building (bottom). 10


Manske wasted no time raising support locally for the Irvine college. He launched a “Share Christ Worldwide” campaign aimed at local churches

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which included a film that told the college’s story, such as it was then, and set out Manske’s goal of having 3,000 students by the year 2000. Manske also entered into agreements with Lutheran seminaries in India and Hong Kong for an exchange of students and services, though the Irvine college did not even exist. Pastors in Southern California started a prayer effort in support of the college. One benefit of delay was that Manske and the college’s supporters had time to deeply consider and refine the college’s vision. Manske told an interviewer in the 1980s that “Every small college around us wanted to be the ‘Harvard of the West.’ We wanted something new, something refreshing. We chose the words of Jesus in the Gospel of Saint Matthew, ‘Go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost.’”

Rev. Dr. Charles Manske with some of the early faculty of Christ College Irvine, including Rev. Robert Dargatz, Dr. Ken Ebel, Rev. Dr. Shang Ik Moon, Prof. Dale Hartmann, and Dr. Allen Nauss.

“My goal,” he told CUI magazine more recently, “and the one I pushed was not only to cherish our heritage but to reach out to where we had not found great success, among Asians, Latin Americans and Africans. We wanted this to be the first Lutheran university to face Asia and Latin America, to cherish the heritage we have and pass it on to the next generation, but also help this branch of Christianity reach out and strengthen those areas where it has been weak in the past.” Manske chose the name Christ College Irvine (CCI) “singlehandedly,” according to a colleague, because, as Manske explains, “During the time I was building the college I was aware that it was vulnerable and might not exist at all. We took seriously a direct quote from scripture, ‘Whatever ye shall ask the Father in my name he shall give it to you.’ We frequently said we believe that Christ will give us this college in the name of his Son because he promised that whatever we ask in his name he will give to us.’” As prospects brightened for the fledgling institution, the district began to search in earnest for a president. Two prominent educators in the LCMS turned down calls to serve in the post. In the absence of willing candidates, the board again turned to Manske who then-district president Arnold Kuntz says “was the most committed. Nobody else was willing to go so far out on the limb. The school is here because God wanted it to be here. He used Chuck to keep our feet to the fire.”

Manske accepted the position in early 1976, recognizing that he “did not have the experience in higher education administration that the men had who turned down the call. But I was a known commodity,” he says. “I represented where people in California were coming from. So the board of regents said, ‘We’ll try this younger guy.’” He set about building a faculty. His first hire was Dale Hartmann, a librarian at Concordia Theological Seminary, then located in Springfield, Illinois, who says his first conversation with Manske changed the course of his life. Manske, visiting from California, walked into Hartmann’s office, introduced himself and asked if he was interested in becoming the librarian of a new Lutheran college in Orange County. Hartmann responded, “Did the Holy Spirit send you, or my wife?” Manske didn’t know that Hartmann’s wife dreamed of living in Orange County, a place she had never been. Manske’s second question sealed the deal: “What do you know about evangelism?” With that, Hartmann, an evangelist at heart, was sold. “My wife thought she had a direct pipeline to God,” he says. “Within fifteen minutes of meeting Charles Manske, I knew what my future was. All the factors had led up to this point.” Hartmann became the first full-time called professor to the campus. Each of the founding five faculty members came from the Midwest and each was advised by friends and colleagues not to come to Irvine because “they thought it manske, continued on page 14



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They dreamed of a white Christmas and got it as alumni, students and friends gathered on campus in December for one of the biggest events of the year. This year’s Concordia Christmas festivities offered 75-foot sled runs, a horsedrawn carriage, food and live music from Concordia ACTS, in addition to traditional Concordia Christmas fun.






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manske, continued from page 11

would never fly, that there was no way you could start a college out here,” says Hartmann.

we needed God to be with us. So many times we dodged the proverbial bullets.”

When Hartmann arrived at the Irvine site — where a single building had been constructed to serve as dorms, classrooms and administration offices — he found a small office with six boxes of books. His mandate from Manske: “Build me a library.”

He also calls Manske “an underrated theologian. In my opinion he’s one of the world experts in the two-kingdom model and paradigm of Luther in the world today. He was the one that opened my eyes that there was a distinctively Lutheran ethic built on the proper distinction between Law and Gospel. I was a loyal son of the church and very interested in exegesis but it was Chuck that helped me to develop my ability to be a Lutheran theologian, to love and cherish the Lutheran confessions and understand there is distinct hermeneutic and it’s incredibly important.”

“I asked Manske, ‘How many students have you got?’ ‘Eight,’ he said. ‘But by September we’re going to have hundreds!’” Hartmann recalls. “We knew it was going to work. Charles Manske is a visionary. He can imagine things that will happen. We would stand in his office and he’d say, ‘Down there is the library, and there’s the chapel and the gym.’ We’d say, ‘Charlie, there’s nothing there.’ He’d say, ‘There’s going to be.’”

A vision realized

The young and still-vulnerable institution received a major boost in February 1977 when the Western Association of Schools and Colleges voted to grant candidate for accreditation status to CCI. “To achieve candidacy status in the first year was nothing short of a miracle and must be ranked among the most important moments in the history of the college,” Manske later said. “Normally, accrediting agencies do not grant such status during the first year of operation, yet within five months CCI had candidacy status. ‘Bud’ Schulz and Shang Ik Moon deserve the credit on this one. … By the time students left in the summer they could transfer anywhere in U.S. with their courses.”

On September 26, 1976, at 4 p.m., the first academic year in the history of Christ College Irvine began. The first professors were Shang Ik Moon, Robert Holst (who later became president of Concordia St. Paul), Martin Schramm, Charles Manske and Dale Hartmann. The first class of 36 students was small and eclectic. Six were from Hong Kong but had to transfer after one semester because they lacked proper legal forms. Schramm recruited more The single building on students and the student Rev. Dr. Charles Manske and his wife, Barbara. campus had been built with body grew to nearly 200 no closets, and some students within three years. CCI rented apartments at Balboa Island lived in lofts reachable only by a ladder. Manske chose the to house them. address of the building, “1530,” to remind students of the In March 1979 Manske, worn out from the rigors of founding date of the Augsburg Confession. the college, stepped down from the presidency and took “The city wasn’t happy because the building had three the role of head of the theology/religion division. floors instead of two,” Dargatz says. “Chuck got into a little “I had other options available to me but I liked the idea of bit of trouble which he did a lot. Chuck has always been a staying at CCI,” Manske says. “It worked out exceptionally man of vision and done some things where it’s better to ask well. I was very pleased with my relationship with all the for forgiveness than permission. If he hadn’t done that, we faculty and the board of regents. I was very grateful for the wouldn’t have gotten started.” chance to administer it in the beginning and help set the Dargatz recalls spending “time in prayer as a faculty parameters and vision for the college.” because that’s what it took in those early days. We knew

manske, continued on page 21




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Women excel in STEM fields at CUI


raditionally in higher education, fewer women than men have gone into the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

But not at CUI. Women are a strong part of the science and mathematics faculties and three of four full-time mathematics faculty members are women. Not only that, but the number of women majoring in these fields at CUI continues to rise. “It’s not normal to have three of four full-time mathematics faculty be women,” says Dr. Amanda Croll, assistant professor of mathematics, who just completed her first semester teaching at CUI after finishing her PhD in mathematics at the University of Nebraska. “A lot of departments in mathematics have many more men than women.” As an undergraduate, Croll participated annually in the Carleton College Summer Mathematics Program for Women, which encourages women who are gifted in mathematics to pursue higher degrees, “partly because there are so few women in STEM fields,” Croll says.

“Through that program I’ve come to know an amazing network of women in mathematics which has been really helpful.” Croll says in her experience, “I never felt a barrier because I was a woman, but I did meet women who actually felt put down by the fact that there weren’t other women and that it wasn’t okay for them to be there [in a mathematics field]. There are actually some women who feel they can’t do math because of the environment they’re in with so few women. It made me more aware that for some people that is still an issue. As a professor, I encourage all of my students equally who are gifted in math about opportunities that are out there.” CUI mathematics professor Dr. Melinda Schulteis ’95 says she never felt discriminated against, but did “always feel people’s surprise: ‘Oh, you’re a woman in mathematics.’ It was a good motivator to continue doing what I loved already.” She credits retired CUI professor Ken Mangels for encouraging her to be a mathematics major, which has become her field of expertise.



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“I felt very motivated when I came back to Concordia [to teach],” she says. “I didn’t care if students were male or female. What I wanted was to connect students to local and national mathematics conferences so they could get research experiences as undergraduates.” She is proud that CUI now regularly takes students to mathematics conferences as participants and speakers. “We’ve gone from not having any presence in that community — ‘Who is Concordia?’ — to regularly engaging with other colleges and their graduates. It’s fun to see,” she says. One of those opportunities is the Nebraska Conference for Undergraduate Women in Mathematics at the University of Nebraska, where each year 250 undergraduate women in mathematics present research. This year CUI students

senior Michelle Schoon and junior Kelsey Swerdfeger, both mathematics majors, will present projects they have been working on with Dr. Croll. “I’m really excited to have this opportunity because I’ve never done something like this before,” says Schoon, who is presenting research on how computers use linear algebra to create facial recognition technology (like the kind used on social network sites). “It has definitely helped to have female professors at Concordia. Most of my math teachers in high school and grade school were males, but in college they’ve been all females except for Professors Taylor and Meyer. It’s definitely nice to have females leading the way.” Another CUI student, Megan Sorenson ’15, recently presented research about fractals at the Pacific Coast Undergraduate Mathematics Conference, explaining how imaginary numbers allow one to create computer screen

From left to right: Mathematics professors Dr. Melinda Schulteis ’95, Dr. Amanda Croll, and Julie Melberg, with science professors Dr. Sarah Karam ’04, and Dr. Lindsay Kane-Barnese ’05.




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backgrounds with intricate designs that repeat endlessly and never lose their intricacy. Sorenson came to CUI from Boise to play volleyball and fell in love with mathematics through Schulteis’ “contagious” influence, she says.

“It’s one of the really nice things for our students here that we have both female and male role models, people they can look up to and say, ‘Hey, that could be me.’”

“I had always liked math, but now I absolutely love math which I didn’t really see coming,” Sorenson says. “The professors are really good. I love the problem-solving aspect of it and how there is always an answer. Math applies to almost everything in your life: music, art and so on. You can see math in everything once you get into it.”

Sorenson is now spending a semester at Oxford with the Oxford study abroad program and is taking a full slate of mathematics courses. She hopes one day to work as an actuary for an insurance company. Julie Melberg, who has taught at CUI for seven years, believes a transition has taken place in the STEM fields in the last decade. Her sister studied veterinary medicine at UC Davis. In the hallway are photos of each graduating class by year. In the 1970s the photos contain mostly men. Today, of 110 students at the vet school, 105 are women, she says. “It almost completely transitioned from a male-dominated field to a female-dominated field,” Melberg says. “It really was very stark.” Melberg says that by the time students are in college “it’s a pretty fair field.” She has had some female CUI students tell her that in middle school and high school they were discouraged by a teacher who told them they couldn’t do math but “as a faculty at Concordia I don’t think there’s any prejudice either way.” Lindsay Kane-Barnese ’05, a CUI alum with degrees in biology and chemistry and a PhD from UCLA, says she never experienced any barriers at CUI or elsewhere. “I was always encouraged by my parents and elementary and high school teachers, and especially in college,” she says. “I don’t think it matters that there are fewer or more women in a department. I think it’s important that our faculty encourage everyone alike to do the best they can do and that all students consider a career in the STEM fields.

We need to motivate them to take on these challenging areas. They are our future.” Sarah Karam ’04, a newly hired assistant professor of biology, teaches Core biology, ecology and ocean science at CUI. She just completed her master’s degree and PhD work at the University of Nevada at Reno. As an undergraduate she transferred from Harvey Mudd College to CUI, where she earned her degree in biology.

Karam says she hasn’t experienced direct discrimination and “never saw myself needing women to emulate,” but is concerned about the so-called “leaky pipeline” in which women, feeling forced to choose between career and family, leave the field before reaching the higher echelons of research. “I didn’t choose the research path because it’s less compatible with life and having a family,” Karam says. “It’s a pervasive view in most higher education that research comes to the forefront and teaching is secondary. That’s not my personal view. I’ve had a lot of colleagues choose to come to institutions like Concordia rather than [top tier research] schools for similar reasons: balance of life and balance within scientific pursuits and teaching.” But she feels that women more often than men are expected to balance home and work responsibilities. “Many of the reasons women feel so constrained is because of historical assumptions of who takes care of the home,” she says. “If women are expected to fully contribute to the workplace it needs to go both ways. Men need to be expected to fully contribute to the home.” Concordia appreciates “the whole person and all the other aspects of their lives,” Karam says. “I think it could be part of women being on the faculty. It’s a reason for anyone to be attracted to Concordia Irvine.” Whatever the complex reasons, there are plenty of women and men in the STEM fields at CUI, and no lack of encouragement for all students. “It’s one of the really nice things for our students here that we have both female and male role models, people they can look up to and say, ‘Hey, that could be me,’” says Croll.



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GENEROSITY E dward Grafe, 94, survived the Japanese bombing of Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. After the war he built a successful insurance business in San Diego, retiring in the 1980s. From CUI’s founding as Christ College in the 1970s, Grafe has been a generous financial supporter and established a scholarship for students with plans to become pastors or teachers. “The world needs the people that are graduating from there,” Grafe says from his home in Tucson. “I want more Lutherans on the battlefield.” Grafe is the oldest of nine children, five of whom are living. He was aboard the USS Rigel, a repair ship moored across from Battleship Row, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Grafe was “on the fantail getting ready to raise the flag at 8 o’clock when the first zeroes came over. Suddenly someone recognized them and we all headed for cover.” The enemy planes flew over the Rigel to get to the battleships. “They started dropping the bombs and torpedoes fore and aft and we got some shrapnel but were otherwise 18



unharmed,” Grafe says. “It was a harrowing experience, believe me, and I don’t want to go through it again.” Grafe and his fellow sailors went out rescuing men who were floating in the water, which was burning because of the spilled oil. “It was over quickly as far as we were concerned,” he says. “The Japanese came, dropped their bombs and left. If they’d sent in a second group they would have really mopped up. We watched the USS Arizona flip.” In the years following that day, Grafe became a warrant officer and an aide for a chief supply officer to Admiral Halsey — “a good place to be because we knew what was going on all over the war.” He was also there for the first landings on Guadalcanal. Grafe retired in 1960 at the top rank of chief petty officer - chief warrant officer, fourth tier. Then he started an insurance agency in San Diego, serving military men and women. The agency did very well and in 1985 Grafe retired and gave the business to the men who worked for him.

Grafe became a generous supporter of Concordia at its founding and was among the first donors to the fledgling Lutheran institution. When his wife Lorraine died he set up a scholarship fund which is now approaching $500,000. He adds $30,000 a year and has left a bequest of more than $2 million to CUI.

cui news

“[At Pearl Harbor] they started dropping bombs fore and aft and we got some shrapnel but were otherwise unharmed. It was a harrowing experience.”

“God has been good to me,” Grafe says. “My will leaves my estate to Concordia where it’ll do the most good.” Last year, Grafe’s scholarship supported Steven Pruhs ’13 who graduated in May with a bachelor’s degree in theology and a minor in biblical languages. Pruhs is now attending Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. “I really appreciate Mr. Grafe’s generosity,” Pruhs says. “Without the scholarship there would have been no way I could have attended Concordia Irvine. I want to be active in ministry and the church. I really appreciate someone helping me.”

Pruhs is now studying to be a worship pastor who adds theological depth in a contemporary worship environment. “I think it’s something I could do well, and with the education I received from Concordia Irvine and the seminary I hope to be well equipped,” he says. As for Grafe, generosity is a way to end well. “I’ve had a very good life,” Grafe says. “I’m 94 years old. I do as I please. I still drive. I have everything I need.” He would like his ashes to be buried at Pearl Harbor.

great commission, ccontinued from page 7

Brothers. But it was two semesters spent studying in Spain that convinced him of his global calling. When he graduated and an opportunity opened up to serve on the mission field in Peru, “I didn’t have to think very long about it,” he says. DiLiberto now serves in Peru as a missionary and director of Christian education at La Misión Luterana del Peru. There he met his wife, also a Lutheran missionary. Anthony is a mercy outreach specialist who directs the Mighty Fortress Mercy House that helps kids who live and work on the streets of Lima. “The nature of the mission has changed dramatically,” he says. “The Lutheran Church—Missouri Synod’s work in Peru began after an earthquake in 2007. It was mostly relief work for the first two years. Then we moved to the city where we’ve established a mission headquarters

and where the missionaries live and work full-time.” DiLiberto says he owes a lot to the professors on the CUI theology faculty. “I felt like I could go to them about anything,” he says. “When I was nervous about moving my life to Peru, Rev. Dr. Mike Middendorf had me over to his office and we talked things out. He really encouraged me in my faith. That was true of all my theology professors. They were constantly pointing me to the cross and the objective nature of Christ’s work for us there. I would put Dr. Rosenbladt on the list as a strong influence.” DiLiberto’s goal, along with the LCMS’s other missionaries in Peru, is to create a national Lutheran church body. “We don’t want to just plant a couple of congregations but reach the whole country,” DiLiberto says. “I want people to know about Jesus and his amazing love for them. That’s all it comes down

to. Most people have heard the story but don’t realize how it affects them. They don’t realize that Christ paid for their sin fully and completely on the cross. It’s incredibly easy to enter into conversations about spiritual things with Peruvians because so many have been beat up or broken [by their prior religious experience]. They are searching for alternatives. Tell them you’re a Lutheran missionary and they are curious what we believe, teach and confess.” Still, DiLiberto is sometimes surprised at where his call has taken him. “I knew I would end up serving the church, but never imagined I would end up living and working as a missionary abroad,” he says. “There are still days when I wake up and it hits me, ‘Whoa, I live in Peru.’ I’m grateful to Concordia University Irvine. If it wasn’t for that global vision, I wouldn’t be here.”



cui sports

BEST FALL SEASON EVER FOR CUI SPORTS CUI enjoyed its most successful fall sports season ever with six GSAC championships and record-setting performances by a number of teams. Women’s soccer cruised to its best season in program history, winning the GSAC championship and tournament championship for the first times. The girls blazed through an unbeaten streak of 21 games and didn’t lose a game the entire season until the quarterfinals of the NAIA national championship. It was the first time the women’s soccer team has been to the final site. Head coach Chris Gould ’06, MBA ’08 was named GSAC Coach of the Year, the first Concordia women’s soccer coach to be chosen, and the first coach in GSAC history to win that honor on the men’s and women’s side in the same season. “This season the players created something that really changed this program for the future,” Gould says. “As talented as we are, the success comes from hard work, togetherness, and teamwork.” The squad finished #5 in the country, the highest ranking in school history. Junior Megan Daniels was named NAIA First Team All-American and junior Lauren Nanez made NAIA Second Team All-American. Daniels was also chosen to the NAIA AllTournament team, the first Eagle to ever be selected. Men’s soccer also posted a banner season with its second straight GSAC championship and tournament championship. Four NAIA AllAmericans graduated last year but




the team still went 9-1 in GSAC and lost in the second round of finals in Alabama. Adrian Padilla ’14 was named GSAC Player of the Year and Gould for the second straight year was named GSAC Coach of the Year. The team finished #11 in the nation. “Every returner will be hungry next year,” Gould promises. Concordia will be the preseason favorite as the team to beat on the west coast in 2014.

VOLLEYBALL CREW REWRITES CUI HISTORY Women’s volleyball won the GSAC championship and made it to the semifinals of the national tournament with a 55-match winning streak dating back to 2012, the third longest streak in NAIA history. The team had played in the national championship

finals the last two years and came one game short of getting there this year, finishing #3 in the country. The last three years have revolutionized the Eagles women’s volleyball program. The team won an NAIA national championship and had a four-year record of 12615. Now eleven of those seniors are graduating. “That group put the program on a different level than it has ever been,” says Brian Gaul, director of athletic communications. First-year head coach Trevor Johnson led the Eagles to a 27-3 record. Concordia advanced to its eighth national championship semifinal in the last 10 years. Senior Le Mi and junior Jessica Israel were named First Team NAIA All-Americans.

WATER POLO HANGS TOUGH Men’s water polo finished its seventh year as a program and its second year under coach John Wright with big wins against CSU Long Beach,

cui sports

Navy, Santa Clara, Harvard and Bucknell, and close games against USC, UCLA, UCSB. The Eagles finished #13 in the nation. “It was a really good year,” says Gaul. “They were playing in every tournament, getting invites everywhere. Then they got worn out and injuries started to pile up.” Wright led the team to a 21-9 finish, a nine-win improvement from 2012 and the program’s seventh winning season in as many years. The Eagles started the season with a five-game winning streak, and finished with a four-game winning streak, climbing as high as #10 in the Collegiate Water Polo Association poll.

“The early win over Long Beach State really helped us realize that we have a special thing going with our program,” Wright said. “To be the small school competing well with the big players in these tournaments says a lot about the achievements of our players. If we can continue to bring outstanding young men into our program it will continue to allow us to get that much better.”

CUI’S ALL-AMERICAN RUNNER Cross country’s Joshua Gomez ’14 won an individual GSAC championship and finished ninth at the NAIA national championship with a final time of 24:47.18 in the 8K,

making him an All-American. It was the third straight year CUI has had an NAIA men’s All-American. Laura Pluemer ’14 finished twelfth in the GSAC on the women’s side. “Josh came in and had a great season, and we knew he was going to have that type of performance at the NAIA Championship,” Concordia interim head coach Mark Sellers said. “At the end Laura was right there in the GSAC Championships and Josh was just steady all year.” All the Eagles teams are looking forward to continuing the success next year.

manske, continued from page 14

Manske served on the faculty at CUI until 1998, also teaching adjunct at Concordia Theological Seminary in Ft. Wayne and starting an LCMS church in Grand Cayman “because they didn’t have one down there,” as Dargatz puts it. CCI changed its name to Concordia University Irvine in 1993.

“Dr. Manske is a determined man, a true visionary who painted a verbal picture of a thriving Lutheran college in Irvine which others rallied around.”

“Dr. Manske is a determined man, a true visionary who painted a verbal picture of a thriving Lutheran college in Irvine which others rallied around,” President Krueger says. “As a result of his efforts and the work and sacrifice of thousands of others who shared his vision over these last 40 years, Concordia is the excellent Lutheran university it is today.”

“Chuck is a visionary. That’s his gift from God,” says Dargatz. “There’s only one To Hartmann and many others, it’s the reason Christ College exists: It was an working out of Manske’s original vision. answer to prayer and the will of God. God had equipped Chuck. He has incredible — CUI President Kurt Krueger “I stand up there and look at the campus, abilities but also a humility in spirit. He took the chapel and library and say to myself, ‘By a lot of lumps and would not allow that to golly, Manske was right when he said there dissuade him. You knock him down and he gets up again. will be a chapel, a gym, a library. There is,’” says Hartmann. He has more vision than anybody I know.” “He never lost faith.” Manske’s vision for an international college lives on. Today many pastors of congregations in the Pacific Southwest District that worship in a language other than English are Editor’s note: In this original history are CUI graduates. CUI boasts one of the largest theology included some quotes faculties of any Concordia school and supplied the second from the dissertation Concordia system president, CUI’s own president, Kurt A History of Christ College Irvine — the Krueger. The Synod also located its Center for United First Thirty Years, by States Missions on campus. D. Ray Halm (1986).



class notes

class notes 1980s Terry Rayworth ’85 and his wife Barbara own Little Folks Book and Toy Company ( The store, located in Lake Arrowhead, specializes in toys, books, hobbies, fishing, camping, Columbia clothing, sporting goods, school supplies and more. If other alumni are ever in the Lake Arrowhead area, the Rayworths invite them to drop in and say hello. Sandie Tufts ’89 became the owner, director and morning teacher at Funshine Christian Preschool on the campus of Holy Cross Lutheran Church in Cypress. With the help of some members at the church, the preschool opened its doors on May 1.

1990s Thea Gavin ’95 has two poems forthcoming: “Succession” will be published in issue 9.1 of Measure: A Review of Formal Poetry, and “Dolor, Inc.” will appear in Workers Write! More Tales from the Cubicle. In December 2013 she was elected to serve on the board of directors of the California Native Plant Society, Orange County chapter. Thea is a professor of English at CUI. Cyndi Tully ’96 is in the Lifeway Christian Resources manager-in-training program, learning Lifeway’s procedures and culture. After the program, she will be placed in a store in California. She is very excited and really likes the people she works with. Rhonda Sayers Wood ’98 was promoted to assistant principal for two elementary schools in the Los Angeles Unified School District. Rhonda continues to advocate for special education and was recently a speaker at Autism Conferences of America in Pasadena. Eric Velazquez ’99 rejoined Muscle & Fitness magazine as the senior online editor. Velazquez, who started his career in fitness journalism in 2005 with the same magazine, spent the last four years as a full-time freelance writer for health and fitness industry magazines and




websites. In addition to his journalistic endeavors, Velazquez continued in his capacity as editorial director of PrayFit (, a ministry dedicated to faith and physical stewardship. The company, founded six years ago by fitness industry veteran Jimmy Pena, has produced two workout DVDs through Lionsgate Entertainment and one book which was a top 50 seller on Amazon. Velazquez co-authored PrayFit’s second book, The PrayFit Diet, which is slated for release in Spring 2014. He continues to work with a limited client roster as a personal trainer. His wife Wendy (Ames) Velazquez ’03 continues to grow her vintage hair accessories business, Petals & Panache, which is in a half dozen Orange County stores. The two live in Santa Ana with their daughters Mya, 5, and Ella, 4.

Drew Hantula ’04 and Erica (Demel) Hantula ’06 welcomed their second son Clayton Kenneth Hantula last April. Clayton joins big brother Jacob, 2. Clayton’s godparents are Chris Pond ’04 and Katie (Reed) Pond ’05.


Angela (Calvillo) Horvath ’07 and her husband Greg Horvath proudly welcomed their daughter, Ellie Grace Horvath, into the world in October in Newport Beach. They feel so blessed to be her parents and love being a family of three.

Jen (Lee) Lehmann ’00 and Charlie Lehmann welcomed their second child, Judah, in October. Big sister Elizabeth adores him! Adam Francisco ’00, MA ’01 co-authored the book Making the Case for the Christianity against Modern Objections (Concordia Publishing House). Adam, an associate professor of history at CUI, is a regular book contributor and frequent speaker on Christian-Muslim relations and Christian apologetics. Breanna (Leonard) Martin ’03 was married in 2007 to Landen Martin. They moved to Boise where Breanna taught Kindergarten for one year before having her first child, Peyton, in July 2008. In January 2011 they welcomed twins, Addyson and Zoey. Breanna has developed a passion for photography and creating photo cards, wedding invitations and birth and graduation announcements. They attend Christ Lutheran Church in Meridian, Idaho, where Breanna is involved in the preschool and youth programs.

Tony Capitelli ’07, former Student Body President of CUI, is running for Costa Mesa City Council. Look up his official Facebook page under “tonydcapitelli.”

After graduation, Patrick Rooney ’07 attended Concordia Seminary in St. Louis. Patrick and Kari (Stueve) Rooney ’08 married in June 2008. Kari then completed her DCE internship at Ascension Lutheran Church in St. Louis. Patrick then completed his vicarage at Christ’s Greenfield Lutheran Church in Gilbert, Arizona, where Kari also worked. After completing seminary in May 2011, Patrick was called and ordained as the associate pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church and School in Bend, Oregon, where Kari also is employed part-time as the director of family ministry. In March 2013, their firstborn son John Henry was born. In April, Patrick had the joy of baptizing John, as pictured with Kari, godmother and aunt Lisa Stueve ‘12, and a Skype connection from Peru with godparents Anthony DiLiberto ’08 and Jamie DiLiberto.

class notes

Anthony DiLiberto ’08 and Jamie DiLiberto welcome their daughter, Eliana Grace DiLiberto, in January weighing 5 lbs 10 oz. and measuring 17 inches long. Anthony’s home congregation is Mt. Calvary Lutheran Church in Diamond Bar. See related article in this issue.

2010s Chris Fore ’10 is the author of Building Championship-Caliber Football Programs released in December 2013. Read more about this book and other works he has written at Courtney (Van Laar) Mansell ’11 and John Mansell were married on December 28 at North Coast Church in Carlsbad.

Henry Alonzo, MBA ’09 was in Nashville at the 44th Dove Awards. His company was one of the event promotion partners. Henry runs Adarga Entertainment Group, a development, consulting and marketing company ( Aris Magafan ’09 and his wife Laura welcomed their first baby in October 2013. AJ, which stands for Angelo Jeffrey, is named after his grandfathers. He weighed 8 lbs 3 oz.

Alyssa (Magnusson) Safty ’09 traveled to Nairobi again in November to launch Invite Hope, a paper and wedding invitation business for their team there. (Read more at They are still running a scholarship program and have 36 students that are now off the street! Isaac, their first scholar, recently graduated 8th grade. Sam Bretzmann ’10, Jessica (Siebert) Vanderhyde ’10 and Alyssa are still developing FIKISHA and looking for board members if anyone in the Concordia community is interested. 

Nathaniel Walter ’11 married Johanna (Hoover) Walter in July 2013. They were married in Charleston, Illinois, by Johanna’s father Rev. Kenneth Hoover at Immanuel Lutheran Church. They live in Fort Morgan, Colorado, where Nathaniel works as an accountant for his father’s manufacturing company. Johanna is in her second year as a Kindergarten teacher at their church’s school, Trinity Lutheran School. Josh Burns ’12 needs your prayers. He is at the City of Hope in Duarte and is very ill. For an update on Josh’s condition go to

Come join us for our 2nd annual outdoor celebration & concert



Enjoy family-friendly fun, food and entertainment!

Sunday, July 13 at 2pm - 5pm at Concordia Stay for the Concert on the Green, 5pm - 7pm SPRING 2014 CUI MAGAZINE


alumni news

BUILDING HOPE IN COSTA RICA Alumnus Rob Meaux ’00, a financial consultant at Thrivent in Anaheim, is sponsoring a mission trip to Costa Rica to work in partnership with Habitat for Humanity to help families move out of poverty. This is Meaux’s sixth mission trip and his first time to co-lead. “It’s about serving others, getting outside and meeting people from other countries and cultures,” says the alumnus who has also served on missions in Argentina, South Africa, Mexico and Kenya. “We also want to encourage Thrivent employees and the Christian community to live more generously with their time. Any Thrivent employee can lead these trips.” Trip planning starts with prayer about what kind of project to do and who should go. Then the team is assembled and the logistics hammered out. This is the second house Meaux will help build in Costa Rica with Habitat for Humanity. Last time he worked at a housing project to lay foundations, build wall structures and perform finish carpentry. “I’ve found that as much as we’re there to serve others, you end up feeling like it’s worked on your own life even more,” he says. “It changes perspectives and re-grounds you in

your purpose. I think God works on me differently every time. I’ve cried while serving on missions trips and laughed on others.” Meaux says he appreciates the CUI community as much or more than he did as a student. “I wasn’t an active campus life participant,” he admits. “As a student I was too cool for that. But now I’m doing what I didn’t do as a student. My biggest reflection when I go back to campus is just how connected we all were, how much people remember us and care and follow what I’m doing with friends and family.” He also thanks CUI for helping him select his career path. “I was thinking pre-med but with the way medicine was changing I decided instead to be a doctor of money as a financial planner,” he says. “It’s the same privacy people feel, getting to the heart of people’s purpose and goals. Money is tightly wound around those pieces.” The decision “was absolutely God-led,” he says. “It’s a very Lutheran standpoint of vocation: God puts us all in a vocation and calls us to the career we’re in. When we understand that, whatever field we work in, we find fulfillment in that job. I have loved what I’ve done.’ Meaux now adjunct teaches a personal finance course in Concordia’s MBA program and serves as vice president of CUI’s Alumni Association board of directors. He also serves on the board of directors for Orange County Habitat for Humanity. “A major impact occurred [at Concordia] that stuck with me,” he says. “I want to be part of it as an alumnus and engage with students.”

Courtesy of Jon Beck Photography




He and wife, fellow CUI business alumna Amy ’00 (Druckenmiller), have two children, ages 3 and 1, and live in Yorba Linda. Meaux welcomes students or alums to contact him about participating in future Thrivent Builds with Habitat for Humanity trips.

cui perspectives



Christian Rowe (left) and his brother Ryan (right).


t’s not often you play a part that means so much to you personally. In the CUI theatre department’s presentation of Falling last November I had the honor of playing a severely autistic son — a role that hit home because of my experience growing up with an autistic brother.

one point, to make himself “shiny bald” like our uncle, Ryan dragged his fingernails across his scalp while showering to remove his hair, creating a bloody mess. Families with an autistic member face many such challenges. My other brothers and I developed a lot of patience.

Ryan, the oldest of five boys in our family, was diagnosed with autism at age 2. We are two years apart but were always in the same grade because he was held back. We are best friends and coming to CUI as a freshman meant living without Ryan. I didn’t know if the transition would be easy.

I prepared for my role in Falling by borrowing Ryan’s mannerisms. I kept a picture of Ryan on my dressing room mirror and before each show I looked at the photo and remembered his mannerisms and behavior, then began to emulate them — clenching my fists, or acting angry or joyful the way he does.

One reason I was eager to get to campus was because of Falling, a play about autism. I was determined to be involved so I could honor my brother and help people understand what living with an autistic sibling is like. The number of people diagnosed with autism is growing rapidly, but the level of awareness about autism is still low.

In one scene I held a family member up against a wall in a moment of anger, then fell to my knees and cried. That moment always brought a surge of emotions for me and for audience members. But I appreciated that the show depicted the pain and sorrow — and joy.

Those of us with experience often say, “If you’ve met one person with autism, you’ve met one person with autism.” My brother, for instance, is not extremely severe but still faces many challenges. He is twenty years old and remains at an elementary education level. His talent is memorization and he often communicates by quoting movies. He loves Disney movies and Batman and if you sit with him he will quote an entire movie in character. It’s amazing. My character in the show was like Ryan but his favorite thing was not movies but playing with marbles and putting them in lines. Autistic people love repetition. Change is hard for them because they can’t improvise as well as other people do. They like doing the same things over and over.

Even better was talking with the audience after each show. We came out after final bows and I shared my story about Ryan. Audience members shared their stories and hearing the similarities and differences in our experiences was meaningful. My awareness of the wide spectrum of autism, not just the part I know, grew significantly. My parents called the show joyful and heartbreaking. I am grateful to have honored my brother and family. Today Ryan is more joyful than ever. Though I miss him now that I’m at college, every day I see how having an autistic brother is a blessing in disguise. My heart grew just by loving someone even in difficult moments. Christian Rowe is a freshman theatre major from San Marcos, California.

Like my character, Ryan went through teenage years when he said he hated everyone and punched through walls. At



Concordia University Irvine 1530 Concordia West Irvine, CA 92612

Gifts & Giving Legacies for Future Generations After Jim Vitale ’92 graduated from Concordia Irvine with a degree in mathematics, he immediately began giving back. “I have a very profound belief in the school’s mission,” says Vitale, an IT professional working for a private mutual fund. Jim and wife Kristin made a significant pledge to the construction of the Robert Alan Grimm Hall and also set up the Vitale Family Endowment to award scholarships to deserving students. “We are doing what we feel compelled to do,” Jim says. “The enjoyment I get is from being connected to the university and knowing that I’m affecting someone’s life the way mine was. It benefited me to be in that environment so I want to help someone who wouldn’t otherwise have that opportunity to get the chance.” Jim calls his time at Concordia “amazing. I loved it.” He encourages people who are thinking about giving to “attend a basketball game or performance on campus. Come meet the university advancement staff,” he says. “Get back in touch with the school in some way. Look around and see what’s happening, see the quality of people. Then consider giving to Concordia as part of your charitable giving.” For more information on giving to Concordia, visit our giving website at or contact Betsy Kunau, Executive Director of Development at or 949-214-3177.

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CUI Magazine Spring 2014  
CUI Magazine Spring 2014