Julia Blixrud ’76 Honored with Memorial Scholarship and Lecture

JuliaBlixrudAlumna Julia Blixrud ’76 was honored in Washington, D.C., on October 8, 2015, with a memorial scholarship and annual lecture by the Association of Research Libraries. A number of family members attended the fall forum in which the inaugural Julia C. Blixrud Scholarship was awarded and the Julia C. Blixrud Memorial Lecture was delivered. Blixrud, of Lawrence, Kansas, was a longtime staff member of the Association of Research Libraries, most recently as assistant executive director for scholarly communication. She passed away in October, 2014.

Her mother, Eileen Blixrud, shared that in her role as a research librarian, she promoted access to information to libraries locally and all over the world, visiting Turkey, Malaysia, Australia, Saudi Arabia, and Canada, as well as land grant colleges in the United States.

In a post after her passing, her employer noted: “Julia’s greatest professional legacy is likely her work dedicated to opening up access to information for all. Her personal legacy includes the effervescent energy and uncommon kindness that she generously gave to her family, friends, and colleagues with her enduring optimism, resilient character, and contagious smile. These personal and professional legacies are intertwined in many ways, perhaps illustrated most powerfully in an interview Julia gave to NBC News in 2004, discussing the importance of open access to information in the context of her own serious health challenges.”




Nov. 7 Memorial Bench Dedication Honoring Lois Swenson

Lois-and-kids-photoOn Saturday, November 7, the family and friends of Lois Swenson, a resident of north Minneapolis and well-known local peace and justice activist, will be gathering at Augsburg College to remember Lois and give a handcrafted, wooden bench to the college in her memory. Amy Gort, Dean of the College, will be accepting the gift on behalf of the college.

Lois left her estate to Augsburg so that seminary students will be financially supported in their study abroad through the Center for Global Education and Experience. “My experience living in Central America opened my eyes to the real world and changed my life. I would like to provide similar experiences to seminary students who will be in a position to further educate people.”

The entire Augsburg community is invited to attend this brief ceremony and reception. Read more about Lois Swenson here.

Saturday, November 7, 2015
2 pm
Lindell Library, first floor
630 22nd Ave. S., Minneapolis

The handcrafted wooden bench, made by Wisconsin artist Edward Wohl will be placed on the first floor of Lindell Library so students will be inspired by and be reminded of Lois’ commitment and work for peace and justice. Inscribed on the bench is one of Lois favorite quotes, “Live simply so that others may simply live.” For more information, call Sherilyn Young, Donor Relations Coordinator at 612-330-1462.

Call for Alumni Award Nominations

120111 auggie 323You can help the Augsburg Alumni Board identify potential recipients for the 2016 Distinguished Alumni Awards. Use the nomination form to submit nominations by January 4, 2016. The Alumni Board votes on the recipients at their February board meeting.

Award Criteria:
The First Decade Award 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: to prepare future leaders in service to the world. Graduates from the day, weekend, and graduate programs are eligible.

The Spirit of Augsburg Award 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.

The Augsburg Alumni Association bestow 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.

Active ’69 Alumna Honored with State Award

Matty 21In her 37 year career as a coach and teacher at Shawano High School in eastern Wisconsin, Janis “Matty” Mathison ’69 made physical education into all that it could be. Like her mentors at Augsburg, she took her role in her students’ lives to heart. She knew she could give something back, and make life easier for someone else. She’s promoted health with vigor, enthusiasm, and integration in daily life in the years since she has retired.

“You make your own bed,” Mathison says, “and I really like the bed that I made.”

She had always been active in community life, but retiring gave her the opportunity to become more involved. “I find when I do something it’s pretty all-encompassing,” she says, and her involvement has been widespread and made a difference not only on individuals, but also on her community in Shawano County, Wisconsin.

matty 6 On Oct. 13, Mathison will be honored by the American Planning Association’s Wisconsin Chapter as its Citizen of the Year for the work she’s been doing in her whole life, particularly for her leadership since retiring. Her devotion to creating a healthy community comes organically, and her involvement has been widespread—from improving parks experiences, to promoting an anti-binge drinking campaign, planning safe routes to school, making school start times later, planning a regional bicycle ride, and helping to create a bicycle-and pedestrian-friendly master plan for the county. One of her nominators for the award, planner Ann Freiwald, calls Mathison a terrific instigator and motivator who leads local residents and works with planners to promote healthy living and active lifestyles in Shawano County.

Mathison serves as an Executive Board Member with Shawano Pathways, a community nonprofit tasked with planning for and facilitating the development, implementation and maintenance of a greenway and trails network within Shawano County. This year marks the third year of Bike the Barn Quilts, a supported bike tour of Shawano County that she led the effort to host. The ride attracts more than 200 participants.

Embracing All Abilities

When Mathison was growing up, she was not just a natural athlete, but a teacher as well. As the oldest of 9 children, Mathison remembers using a backyard playhouse as a play schoolhouse, and she was always the teacher.  Her parents instilled in her an ethic that may have been the best advice she’d ever received: “share, care, and play fair.”

Matty 20As a physical education teacher, gym with Mathison was as likely to involve spelunking, cross country skiing, rock climbing, and canoeing or kayaking. She designed curriculum in health and physical education to involve and challenge all students, regardless of ability or how much they liked competition or sports. Continue reading

Artist Tom Peter Gives Augsburg Elms New Life

Campus quadIn early August, two of the three remaining elm trees in Augsburg’s quad were removed in an effort to save the third tree from Dutch Elm disease. Tom Peter, a local certified arborist and wood-turning artist, reserved some of the wood to be transformed into pieces of art available to alumni and friends of the College.

"First Fruits Vessel" - a donation to the College by the artist Tom Peter.

“First Fruits Vessel” – a donation to the College by the artist Tom Peter.

Peter takes pride in giving an ever-lasting voice to the trees, and is honored to have been chosen for the project. He has made a gift to the College of a vessel, inset with a medallion (at left). His work carries the history of the trees’ beautiful past and can be seen for decades to come. This piece and others will be available for viewing at the Taste Of Augsburg in Murphy Park on Saturday, October 10.

Branch art_PeterThe elms created wonderful character of space in the quad for decades, and have helped inspire our longer-term visioning of the central campus as a larger green space that, over time, becomes an even more significant component of campus life.

To learn more about Augsburg’s urban arboretum and how you may own a wood-turned creation from the elm trees, please contact Amanda Storm Schuster, Director of Leadership Gifts at 612-330-1098 or schustea@augsburg.edu.

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.