The Rev. Dr. Christopher Thomforde comes to St. Olaf from Bethany College in Lindsborg, Kansas, another ELCA institution, where he served as president (1996-2000). A graduate of Princeton University, where he played basketball, President Thomforde majored in Medieval and Russian history and was recognized for his contributions to the university’s religious life. He completed his graduate degrees in divinity and ministry from the Yale University Divinity School and Princeton Theological Seminary.
President Thomforde is a long-time pastor and college chaplain with extensive teaching and international experience. After completing intensive Chinese language training, he taught Western Languages and Medieval European History at Tunghai University in Taiwan. While completing his master’s degree at Yale (1974), he was program director of the International Student Center of New Haven. As assistant chaplain and instructor in Philosophy and Religion at Colgate University (1974-78), he also served as advisor to foreign students.
As pastor of St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in Dansville, N.Y. (1978-86), Thomforde was active in regional and synodical affairs, prison ministry (at nearby Attica prison), and community life. He was named Danville Citizen of the Year. In 1986, he was called as chaplain by Susquehanna University in Selinsgrove, Pennsylvania, a sister ELCA school of St. Olaf. At Susquehanna (1986-96), he also taught in the department of Philosophy and Religion and was active in church and community affairs.