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Dr. Mae AndersonIn 1937, Dr. Mae Anderson became the first woman to head a department at Concordia College in a non-traditional subject for women: mathematics. She was also one of the few women in the United States to achieve a doctorate in the subject before 1940. In addition to her scholarly achievements she was active in campus organizations and events.

Martha BrennunMartha Brennun was a Norse and math instructor at Concordia, who later worked as registrar. Brennun was the salutatorian of the first collegiate class at Concordia. She also helped establish the first literary society at the college.

Anna JordahlIn 1944, Anna Jordahl was appointed head librarian at Concordia College.  In this capacity she helped develop the plans for the Carl B. Ylvisaker library, built in 1956, which gave her the space to increase the collection size to over 100,000 volumes before her retirement in 1973.

Park Region HallThe construction of Park Region Hall in the mid-1950s as a women’s dormitory was part of Concordia’s response to increasing post-WWII student enrollment as well as the availability of government loans.  From 1951 to 1955 the college’s enrollment increased by fifty-two percent, with 1354 students registered for the 1955-56 academic year.  In addition to providing a new housing option for students, Park Region Hall experimented with a new form of residence governance that was eventually adopted across campus.  In the twenty-first century the dormitory remains a place to test new ideas.  During the 2016-2017 academic year Park Region was the first Concordia dormitory to offer a sexuality- and gender-inclusive floor.  

Margaret CallsenMargaret Signora Callsen discovered a love of learning in her time as a student at Concordia that she carried with her throughout the rest of her life and career. This love of learning grew in Callsen and she became determined to spread it to others through her own teaching at several universities.  After her retirement she continued to encourage education by providing a generous donation to Concordia College to support junior faculty and undergraduate research.

Coya Knutson is a Concordia alumna who can serve as an inspiration for women across the United States, and especially from the North Dakota/Minnesota area. She was a strong-minded, independent woman in an era when women were often in the background of their own lives. Knutson was an effective member of Congress; however, her career as a U.S. Representative was unfortunately cut short.  She was defeated in her bid for reelection due to inherent sexism in politics at the time, accomplished through actions by her Democratic-Farmer-Labor party colleagues in collaboration her husband.

Norma Gooden OstbyNorma Gooden Ostby took charge of Concordia’s dramatic program in 1932.  Initially the theatre was unsupported by a formal budget or theater season; Ostby described the early productions as a “desperate financial enterprise.” In 1938, Ostby revitalized the artistic community of Concordia College by forming the Concordia Theatre, which provided the school with the organization and budget necessary to hold an annual theater season.

Emma NorbryhnEmma Norbryhn was a linguistically gifted woman who instructed a variety of language courses at Concordia.  During her lengthy teaching career she introduced new language courses and taught Norse, French, Latin, German, and Greek before retiring in 1948. At her retirement she held the title of longest term of service at the college. Today she is among a handful of Concordia faculty to reach the forty year mark.

ClaClara Dueara Duea taught music classes and directed musical groups at Concordia for nearly two decades.  In 1927, she established Concordia’s Music Club, which performed and sponsored the first Christmas Concert, a tradition that continues at the college.

Margaret Teigen was a member of the first graduating class from Concordia College’s Practical Program.  As the only female member of the class, Teigen paved the way for other women to enroll at Concordia and believe that they too could obtain an education. Teigen continued her involvement with the college by serving on the faculty for several years following her graduation before she enrolled in medical school to become a practicing physician.