Conversations with ATX Leaders: Donald Christian
“When do you move on planning to make the plan?”
President of Concordia University, Donald Christian, joins ABBA Executive Director, Rich Carney, for a great conversation from the world of academia. Through this season, Concordia’s main goal is to ensure students persist through this time. Wether it’s completing this semester, wrapping up their degree, or getting students registered for Fall courses, the focus is on equipping faculty to empower students.
Fortunately for Concordia University of Austin, their online strategy had been firmly in place, along with a healthy cash reserve to sustain their institution. “Not having prepared for this, we were still prepared.” Donald was out of town when area restrictions and mandates were released in the Austin area. Through that experience he not only realized the value of having the right people in the right place across an organization, but through rapid application through transitions, Donald thankfully recognized that Concordia had already done that.
Viewing a daily death count on the television, reminds Donald of the days of news coverage over the Vietnam War. Reflecting on his experience as a leader in the Houston area during 9-11, Donald had to stand in front of students for weeks following that tragic event. “I watched my students make meaning of what just occurred as weeks unfolded, and I realized – it’s a leader’s role to help create meaning. I can’t fix all the issues, but I can speak hope into the future.”
Donald shares his insight from leading on how his team is moving forward in the midst of so many unknowns. “We used to prepare budgets for what we knew would be true, but now having to prepare a budget not knowing what will be true.” Pausing on things, not rushing, and relying on experts across various fields to glean the most accurate information possible, Donald shares what he is observing through his leadership process within this pandemic.
In the story of Christ, we see death, burial, hope and new life. That continues to be our story. We as leaders, through trial and darkness, are charged with pointing the way toward light and hope. Let’s hear how Donald Christian is doing just that!