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ISSUE 119 VOL 19 PUBLISHED 5/5/2006

Thomforde looks ahead to graduation, Moravian

By Lisa Gulya
Arts Editor

Friday, May 5, 2006

The future holds many different things for President Christopher Thomforde, including graduation preparations and end-of-the-year celebrations with the leaders of the senior giving campaign and Fulbright scholars. Thomforde will then pack and prepare for his move to Bethlehem, Penn., where he will assume the presidency at Moravian College on Aug. 1.

Before he leaves St. Olaf, Thomforde and his wife, Kathy, hope to spend time with many friends, colleagues and students. While his schedule is as tight as usual, he encourages students to say their goodbyes when they spot him around campus.

"If they want to have some sort of farewell moment, just stop me," Thomforde said.

Next year, Kathy will continue to teach at St. Olaf, staying with her son Jim until he graduates from Bloomington Jefferson High School.

"Rather than overturning the applecart on Jim’s education," Thomforde said, explaining that the couple decided that they could spend a year apart. The year also gives Kathy "a more leisurely leave-taking" than Thomforde felt he had.

Still, it was a hard decision for the newlyweds.

"We don’t like that part of the future at all," Thomforde said.

However, Thomforde looks forward to moving back East, where he was raised and educated, and his new location will make trips to see other family members much easier. He will have to travel only an hour to Hoboken, N.J., to see his daughter Rebecca, her husband Rick and their son Fritz. Thomforde’s sister and her family live two hours away in Long Island, N.Y. Many of Thomforde’s college friends live in nearby states.

Thomforde also celebrates the history he will become a part of. The presidential home at Moravian was built in the 1800s and contains a desk and bedroom set that President George Washington used when he visited Moravian.

He sees his destination as "a more liberal setting than Minnesota is now," and looks forward to "a little more dynamic" pace of life and "more direct" relationships, contrasting with the “Minnesota nice” that he thought sometimes inhibited straightforward communication.

However, Thomforde said he will miss "the grandeur" of the Great Plains, and "the beauty of the sky," in views unencumbered by the hills, woods and densely populated areas of the East.

Thomforde hopes to see St. Olaf faces often after he leaves, but it is unlikely that he will return to campus during the next academic year so as to give President David R. Anderson "one full, unobstructed year" to get settled at St. Olaf.

Yet the future holds more for Thomforde than leaving one college for another. As he noted, he may work only six or seven more years before retiring. As someone who has never had "a big life plan," Thomforde emphasized his desire to foster family ties in the years to come.

"The most important thing about the future," Thomforde said, "is to continue to nurture my relationship with Kathy, because that relationship will go on, hopefully, as long as we’re both alive."

He also looks forward to deepening his relationships with his children – his three and Kathy’s two – and his grandchildren.

Reminded of the importance of his e-mails to the student body, Thomforde promised to send a final message before the year’s end. He will also be at a farewell celebration for St. Olaf students at 8:30 p.m. in the Pause on Friday, May 12.

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