Because You Believed in Me

Anne Thompson Heller with her family at Augsburg College graduation

Anne Thompson Heller with her family at Augsburg College graduation

Before Anne Thompson Heller ’08 began her studies at Augsburg, she hadn’t even visited the College. But she knew Augsburg was where she needed to be, because of the StepUP® Program on campus. Honestly, she says, she’s not sure she would have been able to go to college when she did without the support of StepUP, Augsburg’s residential recovery program.

Now, while completing a doctoral program at the University of Connecticut, Thompson Heller helps other young people in recovery to achieve academically and thrive. With two master’s degrees (one in educational leadership, higher education, and student affairs; the other in marriage and family therapy), she works tirelessly to support youth recovery. Though she hadn’t intended to pursue multiple advanced degrees, she did so when she discovered an undeniable passion for helping others facing addiction issues, just as she had been helped in her StepUP experience.

When she moved back to Connecticut, she served CTYF (Connecticut Turning to Youth and Families) as a board member, and eventually as its vice president, advocating for youth services with several state and other influential agencies, and attempting to raise awareness of the problem. Her involvement with CTYF led to her current work on the board of directors for Connecticut Community of Addiction Recovery (CCAR).

In 2010, after speaking at the National Education Recovery Summit, Thompson Heller was invited to join the board of the Association of Recovery Schools (a “phenomenal” organization, she says), where she led the advocacy committee and worked to enhance youth leadership in recovery schools. In that role, she was able to support the development of YPR (Young People in Recovery), a national advocacy organization, as one of the organization’s founding members. YPR now has chapters across the country, which emanated from several national conferences that sought to address addiction recovery and related issues such as leadership training and organizational development. Continue reading

Planting Seeds for an Urban Arboretum • October 14

Campus quadAre you curious how the Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion will impact campus green space? Do you have questions or ideas for how Augsburg could maximize our green space in our urban neighborhood? Do you really love trees? Join us October 14th for a special chapel service featuring Professor Larry Crockett who will share insights and philosophies related to stewarding green space.

Following chapel, join us from 11am-12pm in Oren Gateway Center Room 100 for a panel with Q&A moderated by Regent Matt Entenza. The panel will feature partners helping in planning Augsburg’s campus transformation into an Urban Arboretum. Learn how we will maximize green space to improve experiences for students, faculty, staff, and our neighbors!

Panelists include:
Tom Oslund Principal, Oslund & Associates, Landscape Architect
Dale Pederson ’70, Associate Professor, Biology
Ralph Sievert, Director of Forestry & Certified Arborist, Minneapolis Park & Recreation Board, Augsburg College.

Catch up with the Augsburg Centennial Singers

The Augsburg Centennial Singers have announced their fall appearance schedule, which includes the Homecoming Chapel service on Saturday, October 10. Be sure to catch them on the road at a church or service close to you!

  • Friday, September 25. First Lutheran Church, 505 Holdt St. W., Battle Lake, MN, 7:00 p.m.*
  • Saturday, September 26, Calvary Lutheran Church, 605 Douglas St., Alexandria, MN, 7:30 p.m.
  • Sunday, September 27, Cambridge Lutheran Church, 621 Old North Main St. Cambridge, MN, 4:00 p.m.*
  • Sunday, October 4, King of Kings Lutheran Church, 1583 Radio Drive, Woodbury, MN, 4:00 p.m.
  • Saturday, October 10, Augsburg College, Homecoming Chapel Service, 10:00 a.m.
  • Sunday, October 11, House of Prayer Lutheran Church, 7625 Chicago Ave. So., Richfield, MN, 3:00 p.m.*
  • Sunday, Oct 25, St. Philips Lutheran Church, 1401 15th Street W., Hastings, MN, 3:00 p.m
  • Sunday, November 1, St. Phillip the Deacon Lutheran Church, 17205 County Road 6, Plymouth, MN, 3:00 p.m.*
  • Saturday, November 7, Christ the King Lutheran Church, 8600 Fremont Ave. So., Bloomington, MN, 7:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 8, Fort Snelling Chapel Veterans Day Service, 11:00 a.m.
  • Sunday, November 8, Lutheran Church of the Master, 1200 69th Ave. No. Brooklyn Center, MN, 3:00 p.m.
  • Sunday, November 15, First Lutheran Church of Columbia Heights, 1555 40th Ave. NE, Columbia Heights, MN, 4:00 p.m.*

* Designates ticket sale concert

New Uniquely Augsburg Travel Info Sessions Added

Berlin-WebAugsburg alumni, parents, and friends of the College are all welcomed to be a part of the Uniquely Augsburg Travel programs in 2016 and beyond, including a celebration of Lutheran heritage in Germany and Prague that coincides with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. Curious to learn more? A special information session will answer all your questions. Join Sally Daniels Herron ’79 and religion professors Mark Tranvik and Hans Wiersma on Sunday, October 11, at 2 p.m. in Oren Gateway Center (OGC) 100. This is your chance to get on board for this historic trip happening October 27-November 6, 2016. Find cost information, registration details, and a full itinerary here.

In January, 2017, English Professor Kathy Swanson and her husband, Jack, will lead an educational trip through Thailand and Cambodia, visiting Bankok, Chiang Mai, and Siem Riep along the way. Learn more at the information session scheduled for Sunday, November 8, 2015, at 2 p.m. in Oren Gateway Center (OGC) 100. Don’t miss these thoughtful and educational tours customized specifically for Augsburg alumni, parents, and friends!

To RSVP for either information session and secure your parking pass, contact Sally Daniels Herron ’79 at  For more information, visit the Uniquely Augsburg Travel page or contact Sally via email or phone at 612-330-1525.

Homecoming Convocation Honors Exceptional Auggies

Homecoming is the time to honor alumni and friends of the College who have contributed to Augsburg or who have made significant accomplishments since their graduation. This year at Homecoming Convocation at 10 a.m. in Hoversten Chapel, we honor Dan Anderson ’65, Grace Herr ’57, and Harvey Peterson ’52 with the Distinguished Alumni Award in recognition of significant achievement in vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplifies the ideals and mission of Augsburg College. Physics professor Mark Engebretson and longtime manager of the Centennial Singers Mike Walgren ’64 will receive the Spirit of Augsburg Award, which honors alumni and friends of the College who have given exceptional service that contributes substantially to the well being of Augsburg by furthering its purposes and programs. Keme Hawkins ’05 will receive the First Decade Award, which is presented to Augsburg graduates of the past 10 years who have made significant progress in their professional achievements and contributions to the community, and in so doing exemplify the mission of the College. Continue reading

StepUP® Program Gala Recognizes Jill and Robert Thomas

Gala Web Banner_2Two leaders in the addiction recovery community will be recognized for their commitment and generosity to Augsburg College’s StepUP® program for students in addiction recovery.

Jill and Robert Thomas, residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma, will receive the Toby Piper LaBelle Award at the Augsburg College StepUP Program Gala on October 24.

Thomas familyStepUP program alumni and families are invited to a special program, brunch, and open house to begin the Day of Gratitude at 9:30 a.m.

Alumni, parents, and friends are invited to an evening of inspiration, entertainment, and fellowship at the StepUP Program Gala celebration in Si Melby Hall on the Augsburg College campus at 5:30 p.m.

Married more than 30 years, Jill and Robert Thomas are the proud parents of two daughters: Allie, age 28, and a 2014 graduate of Augsburg College and the StepUP program, and Olivia Jordan, age 26, currently serving as Miss USA 2015.

Robert Thomas co-owns Senior Star, a company that owns and operates senior living retirement communities throughout the Midwest. Jill and Robert are both graduates of the University of Tulsa, Robert with a BS degree in 1974, and Jill with a BS degree in 1977 and a JD degree in 1986.

They have both been actively involved in Alzheimer’s advocacy through the Alzheimer’s Association. Robert has served on the National Board and been the recipient of the Maureen Reagan award for outstanding Alzheimer’s advocacy in 2010. They are actively involved in several community organizations including the Mental Health Association of Oklahoma, Alzheimer’s Association, and the Tulsa Area United Way, to name a few.

The Thomas family has given significant time and resources to the College’s program, which is a leader and award-winning model for residential addiction recovery communities at campuses across the nation.

The Toby Piper LaBelle Award is given to a person or family that has consistently supported young people in recovery. It is named in honor of the first recipient, Toby Piper LaBelle ’96, for his insight and ability to advocate for the needs of recovering college students on a college campus. LaBelle was a lead advocate for students in recovery while he was a student at Augsburg College.

To attend the Gala, and to celebrate the contributions of the Thomas family, please register at

A-Club Golf Tournament Hosts a Record Number of Attendees

A great day of golf! Keith Stout, Augsburg Regent Curtis Sampson, former Augsburg College President Bill Frame, with Regent Norm Hagfors. Hagfors received a standing ovation at the Clair Strommen A-Club Golf Tournament dinner for his leadership in the Augsburg CSBR Campaign.

Keith Stout, Augsburg Regent Curtis Sampson, former Augsburg College President Bill Frame, with Regent Norm Hagfors. Hagfors received a standing ovation at the Clair Strommen A-Club Golf Tournament dinner for his leadership in the Augsburg CSBR Campaign.

A record number of 160 golfers enjoyed a great day of golf on June 29 as Augsburg held its 52nd annual Clair Strommen/A-Club Golf Tournament at Oak Glen Golf Course in Stillwater.

Auggie alumni, staff, family, and friends gathered on the course and raised more than $42,000 to support student-athletes at Augsburg.

A notable absence this year was beloved Auggie Irene Steenson, who passed away in April at the age of 102. Steenson, who received an Augsburg Athletics Distinguished Service Award in 2002, served Augsburg College for more than 40 years, and continued to be an active Augsburg supporter long into her retirement. As the proprietor of the “On the Green with Irene” fundraiser, she sat at a tee box and handed out mint candies to golfers, greeting them with her charm and smile. Any golfer who landed their tee shot on the par three green won a sleeve of golf balls. The tournament continued to honor her this year with this same contest.

2015 sponsors of the event were Gladys and Robert Strommen. Tournament sponsors included Scott Anderson, Thom Berkowitz and Butch Raymond, Bruce Brekke, Rick Colvin, Rick Ekstrand, Twin Cities Orthopedics, and Anonymous. Prize sponsors were MECA Sportswear, Lee Olson, and Butch and Linnea Raymond. Hole sponsors included ADG Promotional Products, Advanced First Aid, Inc.–Norm Okerstrom, A’viands, Anixter, BR Direct Marketing–Bart Davidson, Continuum Construction, Inc., Oliver Dahl, Gamma Group, Jane Helmke, Tom Hofflander ’57, Greg Holker, Hunt Electric Corporation, Minnesota Coaches, Dan Meyers, NRG Energy Center, Thomas Oslund and Associates, Dick Pearson, Robert Strommen, and Jane Thompson.

See more photos from the event on the Augsburg College Auggies Facebook page.