The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26
Dr. Mark Looker served as director of CUAA’s English department, joining Concordia’s faculty in 1975.
Written by Vice President of Administration Rev. Dr. Ryan Peterson:
Please join me in congratulating and celebrating Dr. Mark Looker!
Professor of English, Mark Looker is completing 45 years of full-time teaching at CUAA, the longest tenure of any faculty member in the history of the school. Let’s all let that sink in: 45 years!
Mark received an Associate of Arts degree from Concordia when it was a two-year school, a BA from Concordia Chicago (River Forest), an MA from Washington University in St. Louis, and a Ph.D. in English Language and Literature from The University of Michigan.
He has served in many roles at Concordia; in fact, there are probably NOT many roles in which he has not served. Mark has been a department chair, the chief academic officer, and Director of the Kreft Arts Program.
For the last 17 years he has led a group of students on a study abroad program in London (the 18th, unfortunately, canceled for this year). Dr. Looker is the author of a number of books and articles on 19th and 20th century literature and culture. He is married to Karri, a nurse at the University of Michigan Medical Center, and has two children, Benjamin, a professor at St. Louis University, and Anna, a mental health counselor at Wayne State University. He has spent the last month teaching his Zoom courses from Paris, Northern England, Russia, the North Pole, and the mad scientist lab in his basement.
Mark: you are a true gift to Concordia, academia, the arts, and generations of students. In fact, here are what some of your former students have said:
“Dr. Looker is the best no matter the setting.”
“I have such wonderful memories of classes with Dr. Looker! Not surprised he went the “extra mile” to engage students.”
“Thank you Dr. Looker for continuing to educate and inspire students at CUAA.”
“Dr. Looker was one of my favorite profs. He made me think deeply and apply myself.”
“I thank God for Dr. Looker. He is a gift.”
We all thank God for you, Mark. You are indeed a gift to all of us. Congratulations on an amazing career of service and impact!
Well-wishes for Dr. Mark Looker
Concordia University Ann Arbor students, alumni, faculty, and staff share memories and messages of encouragement, appreciation, and blessings to Concordia University Ann Arbor’s retiring professors upon the completion of the Spring 2020 semester.
Related: A look inside a virtual Looker class
Dr. Looker, Of all of the classes I took with you, I remember The Novel best. In the stories we read that semester — Don Quixote, Henderson the Rain King, Things Fall Apart — the characters came alive in you! I felt Don Quixote’s love for Dulcinea. I heard The Rain King’s inner chant, ‘I want, I want.’ I saw disillusionment personified in Okonkwo as ‘he wiped his machete on the sand and walked away.” Each day in class was a journey to meet someone new. As I moved on to lead my own English classrooms, I felt your excitement for literature in my voice, in my gesturing, in my questioning, in my preparation, in my careful responses to student writing. Who knows how many students have felt your contagious love for story, for symbol, for meaning as others like me have carried you in our hearts across the country and around the world. As you step away from the classroom to certainly continue engaging with reading and writing, rest assured, that we all ‘carry your heart with us(we carry it in our hearts)’. Much love and respect to you. —Kristin (Kolb) Rathje (’88)
Congrats on retirement, Mark! Thank you for your dedication to CUAA. You are an amazing role model for teaching professors in every subject matter. Your longevity has been inspiring to me. —Christopher Stark
Dr. Looker, you were my favorite professor! I enjoyed all the classes I took from you. You were also my advisor, and you were so helpful when I wasn’t sure what classes to take. Your door was always open for a chat, and I really appreciated that. Thank you for being there for me. I wish you all the best in your retirement. You will be deeply missed! —Jennifer (Egner) Schumacher (’93)
I always enjoyed your class and working in the box office. Sorry your last semester didn’t go as planned but I am sure you are making it memorable for your students just the same. Enjoy retirement! —Lisa Rhonemus (’15)
It’s been a long time, but I remember the Poetry Class you taught. In particular, I remember Dylan Thomas’ “Do Not Go Gentle” and “Mr. Flood’s Party” by Edwin Arlington Robinson. I do know that your class helped to open my eyes to human experience far beyond the confines of my personal experience and that has profoundly shaped my service in ministry. Thank you for all that you’ve done to help your students recognize the human condition and to be empathically attuned to those in their life and to those they serve in their callings. God bless you as you transition to a new place in life. —James Wonnacott (’76, ’78)
Thank you! Always enjoyed your classes. Even the papers. 😊 From a grateful English major. Blessings to you and to your family as you move into the next adventure! —Kathy Maier Lustila (’86)
Mark, Enjoy your retirement. Many thanks for your service to Concordia University through the years. I always appreciated your assistance and guidance during my tenure as Manager of the Bookstore and Director of the Library. Stay well and many blessings to you in the years ahead. —Mike O’Leary
Congratulations and God’s blessings on your retirement! I still remember reading the book Silence by Shusaku Endo in your class, especially when I went to see the film they made based on it. Powerful thoughts about the Christian Faith. Thanks for all the knowledge you shared with me. —John Schonkaes (’93)
Congratulations, Dr. Looker! You were my academic advisor! Thank you for all the passion, energy and creativity you put into your classes. They continue to be my most memorable college classes and I recall them with so much fondness and positivity. I will always remember you bringing in the cheeses and teas from England! I wish I would have been able to study abroad with you, as you no-doubt would have made it truly amazing. I wish you much success, happiness and joy in your well-deserved retirement! God’s Blessings on your new journey! Please stay on FB to keep in touch! —Jeremiah Hoehner (’02)
Mark, thank you for your service to Concordia. I remember when I first came to Concordia in 2007, you were one of the first faculty members to greet me and welcome me to campus. Your service and engagement in the campus for all of these years has shaped so much, especially the Kreft Arts Program, the English department, study abroad trips, the CSAS conference and so much more! Thank you for being such an amazing colleague and I wish you the very best, and look forward to seeing you and your wife around downtown Ann Arbor at the usual restaurant favorites. :). God Bless! —Suzy Siegle
I never had you for an English course but I remember your wonderful chapel messages. God bless your retirement, Professor. —Joel Pless (’80, ’82)
On Easter morning in the sermon I preached here at Immanuel in East Dundee, Illinois, I shared some reflections on the 1988 study abroad experience you hosted for Concordia students to London, England. I talked about visiting Glastonbury to see the Abbey there and retold the legend of Joseph of Arimethea visiting that place and founding the church. What an incredible opportunity you gave to those of us who got to tag along on the adventures of exploring England together. You made English literature come to life not just in your classroom but in the real world of being able to visit the amazing places that shaped Dickens and so many other authors.
One of the highlights of that trip was your purchase at a little country pub of a growler of cider which you shared with us–still not sure about the sanitation of such things but I remember it being very good.
I will always remember that moment when Shelly got left at the train station in Bergwitz, East Germany while we were on our way to Wittenberg. Still not sure how you managed to contact the local pastor and go looking for her all to no avail as her own ingenuity got her back to our hotel but it displayed so much your care and concern for those entrusted to you. Thanks for your faithfulness and dedication to all the students you have served.
I join in raising a Te Deum and doxology for all you have done in the teaching ministry and your valued service to Concordia in Ann Arbor. Enjoy retirement–I know you will be reading lots of books! Much peace and joy to you and yours! —Phillip Baerwolf (’91)
Professor Looker, I remember signing up to take your courses early in the morning. There were two reasons: I loved English and writing and it was a good way to start the day, and I wanted to get up early to make the most of each day. It seemed reasonable. I enjoyed your classes very much, but I feel I must apologize for occasionally falling asleep in your first hour poetry class. I don’t know why I remember this (because I don’t always remember a lot from WAY back then!) but this has stuck with me, probably because I felt so bad about it! Thank you so very much for your dedication and love for the students of Concordia. God’s JOY and PEACE in your retirement! *1 Thess. 3:16* —Patricia (Kemmerling) Maier (’77)
I think we started at Con U at about the same time. I remember the wire rim glasses, the long(er) hair,and how much detail and meaning you could wring out of poetry and prose in English lit class. Gods blessings on you retirement! —Steven Schlund (’79)
Dr. Looker is awesome! It was the early ’90s and by God’s grace I ended up at Concordia even though I was not a Christian at that time. Dr. Looker’s classes were terrific because his passion for the subject and for teaching — plus his care for students — was always evident. I remember writing some disturbing poetry with a twisted sense of humor that I think Dr. Looker may have agreed was disturbing and twisted, but not humorous. Still, he was ever encouraging. On one particular poem I somehow stumbled upon an appropriate formula and won $50 in a school contest. Ironically the next day I learned that I happened to owe the school $50 on an unrelated matter. Dr. Looker astutely surmised, “Concordia giveth, and Concordia taketh away.” —Erik Kreps (‘94)
One of my favorite professors. Getting a good grade was a challenge, but such an accomplishment. You always went the extra step for your students. We were lucky to have you. —Teri Roberts Casem (’91)
We were on the Great War poets, and when you asked us what we thought of Owen’s “Dulce Et Decorum Est;” a girl who I didn’t care for piped up, I HATED IT and so forth, and I was converted in that moment to the belief that Great War poets ruled. I still think so, and when Linda and I were standing inside the casualty clearing station where McCrae wrote “In Flanders Field,” I remembered that and was grateful for you. Thank you for your part in transforming a rather rough mind into one more refined. —John Sproul (’84)
Dr. Looker – Congratulations on your retirement! You were a phenomenal teacher and mentor. I truly enjoyed each of my classes with you. Your passion for Literature and the arts was always evident and appreciated. I hope retirement is filled with books, travel, and quality time with your favorite people. Here’s to you! —Emily (Clark) Lanier (’13)
You were a wonderful professor and advisor. I so enjoyed your classes and your talks! You have been such an important person to this campus and have made a great impact on the students here. I will miss seeing you and talking with you when I visit the campus. May the Lord bless you everywhere you go! —Madelyn Craig (’16)
Dr. Looker, you were one of my favorite professors. I loved taking your English classes. My best memory of you is when you had the class time you to see how long you could sit in a chair—20 minutes. —Amanda (Kaijala) Jones (’01)
Prof. Looker, In the fall of 1979, I transferred to C2A2 from St. Paul’s, Concordia, MO. When I turned in my first paper, you told me it was really well written, but it lacked a thesis statement. I gave you a blank look. For some reason, I’d never heard those words before. You made sure I heard them over and over and never forgot them. You made me a better writer, which has made me a successful pastor. I congratulate you on your retirement and pray God’s blessings upon you! —James Butler (’81)
Congratulations on your retirement! You are a wonderful teacher and impacted so many lives. I signed up for as many of your classes as I could and have fond memories from each of them. My favorites were Arts II and Elizabethan Literature. I’ll never forget reading ‘Damon the Mower’ in your class. That’s the kind of humor I can really appreciate! God’s richest blessings to you! —Kimberly White (’98)
Dr. Looker, you were not only a professor for me, but you were also my advisor and mentor. Thank you for all the times that you encouraged me to challenge myself and helping me find solutions to make sure I could graduate on time and feel successful at Concordia. Thank you for your enthusiasm and energy that you brought to class, especially when you were appalled that we didn’t know what crumpets were, so you brought them to the next class so that we could be properly educated! 🙂 Thank you so much for all that you have done to contribute to CUAA. You are amazing. —Karyn (Tomasic) Darnton (’10)
Oh Captain, My Captain!!! Dr. Looker, you were simply the best prof! Your enthusiasm and passion made all your classes something to look forward too. I learned a lot in your classes and worked hard! No matter how hard class could be, it was always so much fun, too! You were also my advisor, and I am so thankful I had you to keep me on track. I often think about you standing on a table during class, or how you buy your wife flowers every week. You inspired so many people, Dr. Looker. Including me!! —Alison (Schmidt) Jakubs (’15)
Thank you for sharing your love for the English language. It was contagious. —Patti Weidmayer-Monroe (’92)
Mark, you have been such an important person in CUAA. Congrats on your retirement. —Ken Gaschk
Mark, some of my favorite memories from college were with you and Mark Wentzel in London: talking art, laughing on the patio, discussing the plays we saw (If Destroyed,True/ Trick Boxing?/ Oleanna)- what a blessing for me to know you! You are passionate about “whatever is true, honest, pure, and lovely”- and then you engage others in Christ-centered love. Later working on staff I was once again encouraged each time we crossed paths. Thank you for being true to yourself and then sharing that with us all. I hope Seth and I run into you and Carrie on a sunny patio day on Main Street (if not somewhere Bankside) soon. God bless you! —Rachel (Cousino) Hinz (’06)
You made learning fun and engaging. I always enjoyed your class. It also make me happy every time you say hi because it helps me feel the community at CUAA. —Zane Simon (’21)
Blessings on your retirement. I took every class I could in the English Department. I particularly remember a class of yours about plays. I had never enjoyed plays as literature until you showed us our to appreciate them. Plays are one of my favorite things to teach. I even have my students write their own plays/skits to show their understanding of the religion lessons I teach. Thank you for your enthusiasm and inspiration. Again, blessings on your retirement. —Kelly Potillo Hochthanner (’95)
As an English Major, I found you to be a truly engaging professor and a source of inspiration. Your passion and enthusiasm were palpable and set a high bar for those of us with aspirations to pursue vocations in education.
College years are full of distracting (and at times educational) experiences and I’m certain I was incapable of fully appreciating all that you brought to your classroom and your students at that time. You are fondly remembered, however, and the value you brought to my own education has not been lost on me all of these years later.
One of my most embarrassing moments in a Concordia classroom occurred one afternoon in one of your classes. I came rather sleep-deprived (unfortunately that was an all too common reality) and drifted off into a daydream. You posed a question to the class at the exact same time that a friend at summer camp (the location to which I was transported in my daydream) posed a question of me. I responded to my camp friend’s question out loud as if responding to yours and my reply made absolutely no sense in the context of your inquiry to the class. I recall your puzzled look as you said, “What?!” That is what startled me awake—your earnest attempt to make sense our of my response, to which I could only offer; “Never mind.”
You always extended such grace to us and never shamed or belittled your students no matter how widely we opened that door for you to step through! You modeled so many excellent qualities as an educator, far beyond your mastery of the subject matter you were teaching that in itself was of such great worth.
Thank you for leaning into your calling and for your faithfulness to your craft. Congratulations on your retirement. I pray you have many years to enjoy this new season of life as you continue to bless and transform the lives you touch along life’s journey. —Greg Birgy (’88)
Dr. Looker, you inspired me to write and gave me confidence in my abilities that helped complete a book. Also, I still pick up off the wall, out of my comfor zone books to read after your class. Concordia will not be the same without you on campus. —Michelle O’Brien (’07)
Dr. Looker, you truly opened my eyes to a world of possibilities and dreams I never knew I had. Your passion for literature and art inspired me to read and do so many wonderful things. I’m extremely thankful for all the classes I had with you and the fantastic trip to London as many of our interactions and conversations kept me grounded through all the stress of school. —Megan Dophal (’19)
Thank you for supporting us in our theatre/movie ministry, CubeCity Entertainment. You’ll be missed at CUAA. The Lord bless you and keep you. —Roberto and Jill Munoz (’71)
Thanks so much for your tremendous work as a Professor at Concordia. You taught me to love to read again. I had gone through a rough four years of high school. But Professors like you inspired us! Thanks, Dr. Looker! Enjoy a well earned retirement! —Paul Appold (’84)
I don’t know if you remember me but I was part of the summer 2009 London study abroad trip. It was a great experience to be your student during that time. I fell in love with the arts and history of London during that trip. Thank you so much for letting me be a part of your class. God Bless! Biancia Dupre
Dear Dr. Looker, I was fortunate to have you as a professor last fall of 2019 for my Western Culture and Worldview class. I am so thankful I was able to experience your love and passion for literature first hand. I have always enjoyed reading and writing, so it was refreshing to have a class that brought each story to life! You made whatever novel or play we were reading fun and added lighthearted humor whenever possible. It was truly an honor to have you as a professor. My friends and I still talk about your class and how much of a pleasure it was. I am sad to see you retire, but I wish you the upmost happiness with your future endeavors. Thank you for everything you have done and given to Concordia. You have truly made a difference! —Paxton Green (’22)
Congratulations on your retirement! I always enjoyed taking your classes and I couldn’t have asked for a better advisor. —Amanda Bischoff(’10)
Dr. Looker always produced classes that were engaging and high energy! I remember taking a trip to downtown Detroit for my Urban Perspectives class and the enthusiasm he had towards the various points of interest in town. Dr. Looker was one of my favorite professors at Concordia! Congratulations and enjoy your retirement!! —Samantha Cuppen (’10)
Dr. Looker, You were Professor Looker when I was an English major at C2A2. It was a pleasure being in your classes. My love for Jane Austen was fostered and still continues to this day. I also appreciated the extra money you allowed me to earn as a baby-sitter for Ben. This coming school year will be my 35th as a Lutheran educator. Congratulations on your retirement. May the Lord continue to bless you. —Laura (Schumm) Hoff (’86)
You made your classes so interesting – from literature and the history surrounding it, to trips to Eastern Market and around Ann Arbor. Thank you for sharing your passion for learning with your students. Best wishes for a fulfilling retirement! —Megan Ryno (’02)
I really enjoyed our discussions revolving around literature. You took time to share your passion about reading and writing which became a key part of my teaching. I was so proud of the times when a student who hated writing, found that they loved it! In fact, writing became my second career as I became a published author (romance, children’s books, and non–fiction). I hope you continue to find joy in the myriad of books and literature. All the best in your retirement! —Melissa (Fullington) Keir (’00)
Dear Mark, I enjoyed working with you as a colleague when I was at CUAA. The leadership you have provided for the campus over the years will continue to impact the campus in coming years. You are also a gifted educator who inspired so many students! Congratulations on your retirement! —Linda Behrendt (’77)
Dr. Looker, I wish you a wonderful retirement. I feel truly blessed that I was able to be one of the many students touched by your passionate teaching. I also enjoyed all of the moments chatting about topics ranging from brilliant literary works to Sesame Street. You will be greatly missed at Concordia, and I do hope that you visit campus on occasion. Perhaps I’ll see you at Boar’s Head again? God bless you! Allie Cadavieco (’16)
Hello, Mark. Congratulations on your retirement from Concordia, Ann Arbor. I really didn’t know you as I think you graduated in 1971?? But, I remember seeing you and hearing about you, so I was excited that a Concordia alum near my age became at professor there. —Kathy (Wardin) Schiemann (’70)
Dear Dr. Looker, In every way you exemplify the good teacher. Your depth of knowledge is blended with your enthusiasm for the content you teach and your love of the students with whom you share that knowledge. Because you believe literature has worthwhile things to teach about life and death, your students learn to believe it, too.
I (doubtless, like many others) cannot help smiling as I think of all my memories from your classes. Even in general studies courses, you had a gift for engaging decidedly non-literary majors just as much as those inclined toward linguistic pursuits. I distinctly remember in “”Living with the Arts”” you having a slightly bemused Oberon stand on top of a table to set the scene at one point. Though, of course, your passion was even more catching in the proper English courses. Among my favorite memories are reading from “”The Cherry Orchard”” with a chewy cherry Chuckle in my mouth, going to Stratford to see Brian Bedford in “”Tartuffe,”” having proper Victorian crumpets and tea on the last day of Vic Lit, and being part of the first London Mayterm class.
Often in my own years of teaching I have thought of and followed your example in re-reading the literature you were teaching each semester, no matter how many times you had read it before. I was also deeply affected by the few times I received from your pen the marginal note “”insightful,”” and that has been a word I have reserved as one of highest praise when grading compositions.
I think, though, that the greatest thing that might be said about your inestimable influence as a teacher is that you brought to everything joy and conviction with an honest humility. You loved to teach, and you loved your students. You were skilled in teaching, and you taught to the best of your ability. This is precisely the nature of vocation as Luther pictured it: to do well what you are given and thereby love your neighbor and serve God.
Many are the professors who spend their years trying to make a name for themselves while happening to teach students, but few are those who joyfully, humbly spend their years teaching students regardless of what it will earn them. You, Dr. Looker, are one of the few. In Christ Alone, Heather. —Heather (Judd) Smith (03)
Dr. Looker, My Concordia experience had a lot of you in it…from memorable classes to you being my academic advisor (I can still picture you running down the hallway in the classroom building to ask another professor a question, instead of just calling…. complete with coffee cup in hand of course!). It was a great privilege to be counted as one of your students! Thank you for serving Concordia with your gift of teaching. Blessings to you and your family as you begin this new journey. “ —Megan Gallagher (’02)
Dr. Looker, my days spent working with you and Kim (Leiser) Prey in the English department rank among some of my all time favorite Concordia memories. You somehow managed to make our “work” seem fun every day – and I’m so thankful that I simply had the opportunity to be there. Thank you for all of your time and effort, for all of the contagious excitement you shared with your students; you always knew how to get people excited about literature. Campus will definitely not feel the same without you there. May God bless you richly in your retirement – you have earned it! —Jolyn (Daenzer) Felten (’97)
Dr. Looker, I came into college as a student who loved literature but was terrible grammar. I dreaded taking college English courses, and prepared myself to simply get through them, and hope I passed. I very clearly remember taking a literature course with you the spring of my freshman year of college, where that idea quickly changed. Every piece of literature that we read that semester came alive- complete with reenactments with you standing on your desk! I began to fall in love with reading again as we poured through the Book Thief, and many other texts. My favorite memories with you by far, are from the 2014 London trip. I loved the hole in the wall plays, when you broke your coffee mug in the middle of class, and the “wine and cheese” night you hosted. I loved working for you in the Box Office for a few years, and every memory from college that you are apart of I smile. While I may not have been an English major, I can say that you 100% had a large impact on my time at Concordia, and I am so thankful that I had the opportunity to learn from and work for you during my time there. Thank you for pouring into the lives of thousands of students, and for letting your passion truly dictate what you do. If you ever wanted to teach a Zoom class that would be open to alumni, I can think of at least ten who would jump on that chance! Just an idea 🙂 Thank you again for your service to Concordia, campus will not be the same without you! —Marissa Kulig (’14)
Wow. Will it really be Concordia without the good Dr. Looker?? In my senior year, a rep from Concordia visited my high school and I became interested in the campus. The recruitment officer did some follow-up calls and one day, I guess I stumped him with questions about the English department. The next thing I know, a Dr. Looker is on the phone with me! That really made an impression, not only about Concordia, but the man. I can honestly say I enjoyed — and learned from — every class I took with you. There was no doubt you knew the subject inside and out, but you also wanted everyone to *enjoy* it. It showed in how you interacted with students and fellow faculty. Many years later, I was walking on Main Street with a friend and there you and your lovely wife were. You greeted me by name and chatted for a bit before heading on your way. My friend couldn’t believe that you remembered a student all these years later. I know I stumbled along the way, but you continued to be an important mentor and resource, whether you knew it or not. God blessed the hundreds of students who passed through your classes. May we pay it forward, honoring your efforts and continuing the legacy. May you enjoy your well-earned retirement. Blessings and joy! —Carly Paul (Wojcik) (’98)
Thanks for your words of encouragement, which I’m certain aren’t specifically remembered by you — because how many times did you write on the backs of papers the potenial you saw in a phrase or thought? Thousands of times?! I’m sure I’m not the only student to have saved at least one creative writing assignment or Arts paper, not for our own brilliant writing, but because of the thoughtful and encouraging words on the back that made us feel like maybe brilliance was a possibility. Thanks for being a part of my happy memories of CCAA. —Rebekah Hoeft, née Holmes (’98)
Dr. Looker, Just a short message to let you know how much I enjoyed having you as one of my professors during my undergraduate years. Your teaching really helped me to settle in to English as my major, and 35 year later I still think of you when certain works come up in the teaching schedule each year in my English classes. My freshmen have been reading Great Expectations this month for their online learning, and I still have my copy from Development of the Novel with notes and highlighting throughout. Blessings to you in retirement. —David Kusch (’84)
— Rachel Thoms served on Concordia University's Strategic Communications team from 2015-2022. Any inquiries about this story can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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