Tom Ries & Concordia University St. Paul

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  1. Tenure at CSP & Retirement
  2. CSP Four-plex
  3. Central Midway Building
  4. Footnotes

Tenure at CSP & Retirement

Before serving as interim president of Concordia University Portland in 2020, Rev. Dr. Tom Ries was the president of Concordia University St. Paul from 2011 until his retirement in 2019. He received many awards and tributes at the end of his tenure. CSP renamed a building as Ries Tower in his honor, and official releases from CSP and the Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod celebrated the “tremendous growth in CSP’s enrollment, program offerings, student retention rates and campus facilities” that occurred under his watch alongside a $10,000 tuition “reset” in 2013.[1, 2] The Association of Lutheran Development Executives awarded him the 2019 ALDE Outstanding Executive Director Award.[3]

CSP Four-plex

Dr. Ries was subject to some scrutiny in 2018 when Pioneer Press revealed that CSP had sold a four-plex apartment building to his wife while he was president.[4] Dr. Ries corresponded with tenants living in the building from his CSP email account as the “treasurer” for Susie Ries Interiors, Inc.[5] The property was put up for sale later that year for $1.2 million, more than three times what Susie Ries Interiors paid CSP in 2016.[6]

1287 Dayton Avenue near the campus of Concordia University Saint Paul.

Central Midway Building

In late 2018, CSP reached an agreement to purchase a large office building near campus where it had leased office and classroom space since 2015. Officials said the building acquisition would allow it “to expand academic programs including business and health science.”[7]

The St. Paul City Council raised concerns about the acquisition.[8] The property sits near a newly opened light-rail line with lots of new development and CSP pays no property taxes as a non-profit organization. Dr. Ries appeared before the council to defend the acquisition, and CSP withdrew its request to the city for help with financing.[9, 10] The property was finally sold on March 19, 2019, and one month late renamed as Ries Tower.[11]

In 2020, after Concordia University Portland closed, it announced that its Accelerated Bachelor of Science in Nursing program would move to CSP.[12]

393 N Dunlap Street, formerly known as the Central Midway building before it was renamed Ries Tower, in Saint Paul, Minn.

Footnotes

1] Concordia University St. Paul. “Ries Celebrated, Honored as he Enters Retirement.”
2] Reporter. “Ries to retire from Concordia, St. Paul, in 2019.” Cheryl Magness. August 8, 2018.
3] Concordia University St. Paul. “President Ries Receives 2019 ALDE Outstanding Executive Director Award.” February 7, 2019.
4] Pioneer Press. “Spouse of Concordia University president buys faculty housing, converts all four units to Airbnb despite city rules.” Frederick Melo. August 23, 2018.
5] Pioneer Press. “University four-plex housed students and faculty when president’s wife bought it, converted it to Airbnb.” Frederick Melo. August 24, 2018.
6] Pioneer Press. “Concordia president and wife put former faculty housing up for sale for $1.2 million.” Frederick Melo. October 16, 2018.
7] Pioneer Press. “City council pushes back on Port Authority-Concordia University plan to take office building off tax rolls.” Frederick Melo. January 28, 2019.
8] Star Tribune. “St. Paul City Council stalls Concordia’s purchase of a Midway building.” Emma Nelson. January 24, 2019.
9] Pioneer Press. “St. Paul City Council postpones decision on Concordia University’s purchase of Central Midway building.” Frederick Melo. February 6, 2019.
10] Pioneer Press. “Amid pushback, Concordia withdraws bond request to city for Central Midway building.” Frederick Melo. February 19, 2019.
11] Concordia University St. Paul. “CSP Officially Acquires Central Midway Building.” March 21, 2019.
12] Concordia University Portland. “Concordia St. Paul to Pursue the Transfer of CU-Portland’s Accelerated Nursing Program.”