Concordia University Texas is pleased to announce Dr. Thomas Cedel, Concordia’s president, as the honoree of its eighth annual Excellence in Leadership Gala. Each year, the Excellence in Leadership Gala recognizes an outstanding Christian leader and raises money for the University’s scholarship fund. This year’s event will be held on Friday, Aug. 22, at 6:30 p.m. at the Four Seasons Hotel Austin.
“I am very humbled to receive this prestigious honor and to follow in the footsteps of an amazing group of central Texas Christian leaders,” Cedel said. “For the past 12 years, I have been committed to growing Concordia in every way—increasing student enrollment, deepening our Christian identity, adding more academic programs and degrees, and further developing our athletic programs—with the end goal of molding well-rounded future Christian leaders. This award is a testament to the entire staff at Concordia University Texas, and I am so glad I can share this with them.”
Concordia University Texas, a member of the Concordia University System, is a private, accredited liberal arts and sciences university. Dr. Cedel proposed and oversaw the relocation of the campus—from just 23 acres downtown to more than 389 acres with multiple buildings, dorms, athletic facilities, a nature preserve and more than 100 buildable acres for future expansion—in 2008. The Concordia University Texas campus site is now the largest in the Concordia University System, which consists of more than 10 schools in the United States.
Under Dr. Cedel’s leadership, Concordia University Texas has seen tremendous growth in student enrollment. Since 2002, enrollment has more than doubled, and 10 times more students graduate from Concordia each year than before Dr. Cedel became president. His vision to move the campus provided significant growth opportunities, and it was a catalyst for the increasing student population since 2008.
During his tenure, Dr. Cedel managed the successful implementation of several new undergraduate and graduate degree programs, both in a fully online and traditional setting, as well as the Accelerated Degree program (ADP) for part-time students and adult returning students.
“We realized that more than 80 percent of our students work, and we needed to offer more realistic opportunities to earn a degree within a reasonable timeline,” Dr. Cedel said. “That is why we partnered with area community colleges, including ACC, to make transitions from a community college to a four-year college seamless, as well as created online degree programs that offer students the exact same experience and content they would get in the classroom, but in a virtual setting.”
Additionally, Dr. Cedel is credited with increasing Concordia’s presence in the community by forming partnerships with local school districts for teacher education programs, as well as leaders in the business and healthcare communities who share their experiences with students during monthly speaker series events.
The Concordia University Texas athletic program also grew in size and accomplishments during Dr. Cedel’s presidency. He was instrumental in building the NCAA-regulation Tornado Baseball Field, as well as receiving approval to construct an NCAA-regulation softball field, scheduled for completion in 2015. A baseball fanatic, Dr. Cedel has watched the team win multiple American Southwest Conference (ASC) championships, host and compete in NCAA DIII tournaments, and send players to Major League Baseball. Additionally, the men and women’s basketball teams made their first appearance in the NCAA “March Madness” Tournament in 2013.
Concordia University Texas has been recognized with numerous accolades during Dr. Cedel’s presidency, including a Top Private Texas Institution for Education degrees from Online College Database. Additionally, the Concordia University Texas nursing program is one of the fastest growing in central Texas.
Dr. Cedel instills Christian leadership in his colleagues and students, leading by example as a member of many service groups and community organizations. As a result of his commitment to serving others, he has implemented mandatory “Service Days” at Concordia, during which all students participate in volunteer or mission work for at least two days throughout the school year.
Dr. Cedel was born into a conservative, Lutheran family in Pittsburgh, Pa., where he later met his future wife, Penny, when he was 16 years old. Dr. Cedel graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a bachelor’s degree in biology. After that, he immediately entered the Air Force, where he served in Japan, Pakistan and Korea as a fighter pilot. Following the end of the war, he returned to Pittsburgh and accepted a role in the National Guard, where he hoped to prepare for the NASA astronaut program, while earning a doctorate in biology at the University of Pittsburgh, in addition to completing a post-doctoral fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University.
When the Challenger shuttle accident happened in 1986, NASA ended its astronaut training program for a period of seven to eight years, and Cedel’s dream of flying in space came to an end. He retired from the military and moved to northern Virginia, where he worked for Litton, TASC Inc. as a private defense contractor. While there, he felt a calling to teach in a small Lutheran school and soon found an opportunity to serve at Concordia University Ann Arbor. After serving as dean and vice president, he left the school to take the job as president of Concordia University Texas. After 12 years at the university, Cedel will retire on August 1.
Dr. Cedel has been married to his wife, Penny, for 42 years, and they have two grown children, David Patrick and Rebecca Ann, as well as two grandchildren, Rigel and Jacob. Penny has been a staple at Concordia University Texas since Dr. Cedel became president 12 years ago. She became involved with community groups in an effort to raise Concordia’s presence, grew the school’s health and education programs, and created the Excellence in Leadership Gala, which is now Concordia’s single largest fundraising event.
“Dr. Cedel epitomizes the characteristics of Christian leadership,” Don Adam, vice president of Concordia University Texas, said. “Concordia University Texas has seen the greatest and most positive changes in its 88-year history under the leadership of Dr. Cedel. It is hard to imagine a campus without the presence of Tom and Penny, but the environment they have created has positioned us for continued growth and success.”
For more information about the Concordia University Texas Excellence in Leadership Gala, please contact Meredith Allen, at 512.313.4104 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
After Dark party tickets are now on sale for $60. The After Dark party begins at 9 p.m. following the EIL Gala program.