When Concordia College first opened its doors on October 15th, 1891, there were twelve students in attendance with three professors to teach them. Ingebrikt F. Grose acted as principal and also taught English literature and religion. Elmer D. Busby was given the subjects math, natural sciences, and religion to teach. Busby's wife filled the role of dean of women. The final teacher was Caroline Finseth and she taught piano. Although an enrollment of twelve students seems bleak today, Principal Grose was encouraged by this number. Surrounding schools commenced with fewer students than twelve. As per usual of the time and place, the weather and agricultural activity played a large role in the number of students at Concordia. By January 1892, when the fields were bare and frozen, more than 200 students deluged the school. An enrollment of 200 was unprecedented at the time. Surrounding and competing schools considered 125 students to be plentiful and some schools even lost pupils to Concordia. The first crop of students (1891-1892) received room, board (with fully equipped facilities), and tuition for the whole year for $114.75. While this may seem astonishingly low today, the expenses were difficult to meet: at the time, Moorhead was a poor, dirty, pioneer community. The Christian Academy aspect of Concordia was not taken lightly. Students were only allowed to partake and visit places of amusement approved by the faculty. Tobacco, alcohol, and saloons were absolutely out of the question. By 1901 dancing and card playing were added to the list of prohibited activities. Students were required to attend chapel and recitations unless excused. Furthermore, pupils were mandated to stay in their rooms during study hours, which started at 7:00 pm. At 10:00 pm on the dot, wooden sidewalks were retracted, doors were locked up, and the kerosene lamps were extinguished. Students who were not tucked away by curfew time might have faced expulsion or a loss of funds paid. These constraints weren't altogether disliked, as they may be today. Rather, some appreciated the regulations. An 1893 class member once said "us plow boys... learned to have better manners."
In the mid-1970s, Cobbers felt cramped and irritation was on the rise. Students were housed in the Cobber Motel (located opposite of the athletic field), in a block of rooms at the Ramada Inn, and in study rooms. In 1976, the Bogstad Manor apartments were built to provide more on campus housing. 1980 welcomed the new science building which would house the biology and home economics departments; both departments had been lacking a permanent facility for decades. In 1987, Cobbers still felt crowded. The library was often too full and loud, post office boxes were shared, and parking spaces were a rarity to come across. The only way to expand was to keep moving along Eighth Street. Concordia slowly acquired property from complying sellers. The college put forth a great effort to be a good neighbor, and vice presidents made personal calls to civilians and school officials to ensure that Concordia's projects would improve the property. One heartbreaking procurement resulted in the loss of the dearly beloved Tastee Freez on the corner of Eighth Street and Twelfth Avenue. However, this was a necessity in order to build the Outreach Center which dealt with community programs. In 1986, the Olin Art and Communications Center was constructed and was connected by skyway to the Frances Frazier Comstock Theatre. Another apartment complex, Bogstad East, was constructed and opened in 1988. The following year, the new maintenance and office buildings were completed. However, President Dovre didn't only expand; he also worked to maintain and beautify what was already on campus. Old Main, Grose Hall, Academy Hall, Bishop Whipple Hall, Brown Hall, Fjelstad Hall, and the dining hall all underwent renovation and remodeling during his term. The first full-time groundskeeper, Arden Toso, said "kids need beauty too!" in regards to the President Dovre's mission to give the grounds a park-like feeling.
The construction of East Complex signaled a radical change for Concordia. In October 1965, it was approved that a men's and women's dorm would be built on the sixty-five acre area where previously only athletic fields had been. The facility would house 462 students and would have an attached food service. The reason why this was a progressive move was that it was a divergence from tradition. Like many other American colleges, Concordia had previously separated the male and female dorms to different locations. Women living in dormitories used to be constricted by a curfew of 7:30 PM on weeknights and 10 PM on weekends. In 1951, President Knutson extended curfews to later hours and in 1973, the student affairs committee fought to drop all curfews, a battle which they won. With the construction of East Complex, men and women would be living in the same structure, but in different wings. The project was finished in 1968 and cost 2.6 million dollars. It was financed largely by a federal loan from the Housing and Home Finance Agency. Each component received a namesake from generous donors: the two four-story dormitories were dubbed Hallett and Erickson Hall and were connected by Grant Commons.
Concordia is known for its involved students. With over 100 student organizations and the user-friendly ability to form a new club, it's no wonder why so many Cobbers participate in much more than classes. As I was perusing the 1980 yearbook known as the "Cobber," a few student organizations stood out because Concordia no longer has them. Here are some intriguing clubs that existed at Concordia in 1980:
The Tri-College Flying Club
The Flying Club was formed in 1979 due to an increased interest in the aeronautical area. The organization met monthly at the NDSU student union. Most of the flying took place at the Hector International Airport where the Flying Club provided one plane for members' use at a lower cost.
The Skateboard Club was a casual, low-commitment organization that met to skateboard whenever the mood struck. In their 1979-80 season, they secured $200 from the Student Senate to build a skateboard ramp on campus for student use. The Skateboard Club president, Dave Arnott, had this to say about skateboarding: "some people think it's a buggy idea, they don't think it's a legit sport or don't recognize it as athletic, and that's too bad."
Synchronized Swim Club
The Synchronized Swim Club worked hard for their main showcase: the "Magical Mystery Tour" which happened in November 1979. The group practiced one hour a day leading up to the performance to get all of their strokes and floats just right in time to the music.
This organization was comprised of students who were native to Montana. The group sponsored dances and barbecues to raise money to rent vans to travel back to Montana together at Christmas and Easter. This alleviated the expense of air or train fare and the group could travel together as friends.
Bread N' Cheese
Although this organization did eat bread and cheese together at every meeting, that was not their main mission. The students of Bread N' Cheese met to discuss and reflect on world hunger and other issues. The group hosted a Wednesday evening communion in March 1980 and the money raised from the offering was used to send food to Cambodia and to send school supplies to Tanzania.
Concordia's roots are deeply intertwined with a respect and love for Norwegian heritage. The location, religion, and faculty of Concordia in its early years all contributed to the growth of its strong Norwegian pride. This ethnic consciousness peaked in the years preceding World War I. Most students spoke in Norse and alternate chapel services were conducted in Norwegian. Association minutes were written almost entirely in Norwegian; some pastors demanded church colleges to teach Norwegian culture to cure the troublesome "Yankee Fever;" the centennial celebration of Norwegian independence happened in 1914; and President Aasgaard supported the addition of Norwegian library books. This attachment to Norwegian culture made a public appearance in 1912 when the Hans Nielsen Hauge monument was unveiled. Hauge was a Norwegian preacher who radically changed the Church of Norway and stirred a religious awakening.
The memorial was dedicated in June 1912 and attracted a crowd of roughly 15,000. President Aasgaard benefited from "the best advertising Concordia has ever received" because at the time, 15,000 people was "the largest crowd ever gathered in Moorhead." A year later, a monument was built to honor Norwegian linguist, Ivar Aasen. Concordia's strong ties with Norwegian heritage, although not as conspicuous as a century ago, are still recognizable today.
There is something reverent and gratifying about looking though old yearbooks. Since Concordia no longer officially prints these books full of memories, it is enjoyable to flip through pages of past Cobbers' lives and remembrances. I am particularly attached to the first few Concordia yearbooks because the upperclassmen included quotes about themselves alongside their photo. Here are a few that I found especially profound or funny taken from the 1923 publication:
"Chase me girls, I'm full of fun."
"Luck is a good word, but pluck means more."
"We laugh with him; we laugh at him; he keeps us laughing all the time."
"The world knows only two, that is Edison and I."
"Gone daft about a woman, and he an eddicated man."
"Contented, laughing, cheerful, her smile will never fade."
"A preacher's son ain't always good-look at me."
"Books are my chief enjoyment."
"I'm sporty, but nobody knows it."
"No matter what the subject may be, you can trust me to disagree."
"When play and duty clash let duty go to smash."
"I'm so busy studying I have no time for classes."
"It is better to be alone than to be in bad company."
"I found C.C. to be the best place after all."
Before his involvement with Concordia, Alfred Hvidsten was a farmer from Stephen, Minnesota. In the 1940s, he was a member of Concordia's board of directors and held tight to the dream of a new music hall on campus. In December 1946, Hvidsten donated $60,000 to the project in an attempt to get the ball rolling. However, Hvidsten would have to wait 16 years before he saw his aspirations come to fruition. In 1962, ground was finally broken by Alfred Hvidsten and construction began. The cost of the Hvidsten Hall of Music totaled $700,000 and was dedicated at the homecoming celebration in 1963. The building was fully furnished with new pianos, rehearsal quarters, practice rooms, teaching studios, and a recital hall. A unique feature at the time was the central court where open-air recitals could be played. The single-story brick and glass-panel building received rave reviews from faculty. Music professors Stahl, Christiansen, and Childs said: "Almost like a palace!" "There isn't a college of our size with anything like it!" "We have absolutely the tops in facilities!" Even today, 52 years later, the Hvidsten Hall of Music is still dearly beloved by many.
In the early 1950s, Cobbers were feeling restless. In the wake of World War II, they yearned for good times and a location to socialize with one another. When the field house opened, Cobbers pounced on the opportunity to use the basement room as a student lounge. The board of directors approved it in October 1952. Furthermore, the gymnasium was opened for for roller skating, which was a popular activity at the time. Students were still left unsatisfied as they pushed for a lunch counter to be opened. The board approved, but stipulated that it had to be located in Brown Hall. Costs were reduced by enthusiastic volunteers who painted and installed carpet for the new lunch counter which opened in April 1953. The following year, the senate purchased a television for the lunch room and a record player for the lounge. Furthermore, sororities, fraternities, and homecoming could always provide entertainment and stimulation for Cobbers. However, students were still left hungry for more. On Firm Foundation Grounded reports that "only when an adequate union was built, many maintained, would their meager social life improve." Concordia today technically does not have a student union, however the social and extracurricular student life is thriving; it is just not constricted to one building.
The year 1897 heralded some fresh changes to Concordia's campus. In January, electric light wires were strung up in Concordia's buildings and approximately 70 lights were installed in hallways, offices, and classrooms. However, students continued to use their own kerosene lamps in their private dwellings. It was also announced that two bathrooms with "modern conveniences" were available to students for 25 cents per term. 1897 also saw an upsurge of bicycle usage. Police officers were given bicycles to pursue lawbreakers at a higher speed and three bicycling clubs developed at Concordia--one for males, one for females, and one co-ed group. The male group named themselves the "Sycamore Cycle Club." They even had matching plaid suit uniforms complete with knee breeches and hats. The ladies' club did not have a title or matching uniforms, but their donning of bloomers caused quite a stir in the area. The co-ed group was led by faculty members and they regularly took an hour ride in the morning before breakfast. One J. E. Johnson purchased a tandem bicycle for $125 and the Moorhead Daily News reported "our young men never like to go out without their best girl, and as the tandem will be much cheaper than a buggy it is expected that this new mode of conveyance will be in great demand." Cobbers today still enjoy a good bike ride and can check out a COBBike through the library!