Capturing the Imagination

KariLoganWhen Kari (Eklund) Logan ’82 agreed to assist a client in raising public awareness of the value of trees, she decided to hang huge price tags on the trees in the front yard of Minnesota’s State Capitol. The client, the Minnesota DNR’s Division of Forestry, was pleased. In fact, the rush of media attention that followed resulted in the act’s replication by foresters across the country and even other parts of the world.

At CEL Public Relations (Plymouth, Minn.), where Logan heads up the media relations team, capturing the public’s imagination is the norm. With eight years’ prior experience in TV news and programming (WCCO-TV and KSTP-TV), Logan is well-connected and can pull out all the stops (websites, newsletters, TV coverage, campaigns, and numerous other marketing communications) in order to assist CEL clients. Primarily a writer, she especially enjoys the diversity of subjects that cross her desk every day, including CEL’s signature areas of service—education, urban forestry, financial services, and the arts.

Having joined the firm in 1990, when it was only two years old, Logan has helped increase awareness in numerous areas, including pregnancy and infant loss, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, and eldercare. She has worked and dined with famous chefs, including Ina Garten and Andrew Zimmern. In 1993 she became a partner in the firm.

Kari Ren Fair-2When she isn’t writing, you may find her singing in a theatrical production. Logan recalls her first visit to Augsburg, as a junior high student, to see Godspell with her older sister, Lori (Eklund) Quello ’77, then a student at Augsburg. That night, Logan knew she “had to be part of Augsburg Theater.” Continue reading

Jane Austen on Wheels

Devoney Looser '89.

Devoney Looser ’89. Photo credit: Jennifer Roberts of Moonshadow Studios.

If Jane Austen were magically to come back to life and appear in Devoney Looser’s ’89 English classroom at Arizona State University, she would undoubtedly be charmed by the lively discussion of her writings from two centuries ago, pleased that they had survived and continue to be relevant among college students. If she decided to hang out after class, however, she would be in for quite a surprise, learning about Looser’s athletic alter ego. For the past five years, Looser has played roller derby as Stone Cold Jane Austen.

A Twin Cities native, Looser first encountered Austen’s novels as a teenager (thanks to her mother, who had not read the novels herself but sensed their importance). Looser loved the opportunity to read them then—and loves to teach them now—along with other favorites from that era, like Frances Burney, Mary Hays, and Maria Edgeworth. She also is intrigued by other truly unusual women from that period who led fascinating lives: Harriette Wilson, Lady Hester Stanhope, and Anne Lister.

Now, Looser is following their example. She is editor of a recently released volume, The Cambridge Companion to Women’s Writing in the Romantic Period (Cambridge University Press). As much as she enjoys spending time around people who’ve written fascinating books (one of the “great gifts” of her professional life), she is likely surrounded by many who feel the same about her. Find more information on her numerous publications and background at devoneylooser.com. Continue reading

Curt Rice ’84 Named President at Norway’s Largest University College

Curt Rice '84

Photo: Sonja Balci / HiOA

 Curt Rice ’84 was appointed the new president of Oslo and Akershus University College of Applied Sciences (HiOA). Rice is the first non-Norwegian head of a Norwegian institution for higher education.

The University College is Norway’s largest, and is unique owing to its wide range of professional programs and close ties between research and corresponding fields of practice.

Rice, a philosophy major at Augsburg, and wife Tove I. Dahl ’84 jointly received the Distinguished Alumni Award in 2009.

“I look forward to meeting the faculty, staff and students and working closely with them and our other partners to write HiOA’s next chapter,” says Curt Rice.

Rice comes to the University College from a position as professor at the Department of Languages and Linguistics at the university in Tromsø. He earned his PhD in general linguistics at the University of Texas at Austin. Rice will assume his new position on August 1st. Continue reading

Teaching Must Be in the DNA

Jane Bracken and Jenna Held

Jane (Catlin) Bracken ’71 and Jenna (Bracken) Held ’05

Things have changed a lot since Jane (Catlin) Bracken ’71 began teaching first grade in Cannon Falls back in the early ‘70s. Handouts done on ditto machines (with that distinctive purple print), filmstrips, and simple newsletters have given way to iPads, Smart Boards, and classroom blogs. And though most of the tools have changed, the supreme satisfaction of teaching little kids how to read has remained constant for Bracken. For 41 years, she taught first grade (all in the Cannon Falls district), and in 2009, she was named Cannon Falls Teacher of the Year. She says it has been “so cool” to watch students grow up and have kids of their own, then meet with them as parents during conferences. One year not too long ago, one-third of her students were children of earlier students.

Bracken’s daughter, Jenna (Bracken) Held ’05, is now following in her mother’s footsteps, attracted to not only the joy that a teacher’s lifestyle can provide, but the opportunity to do something she loves—work with children. And last year, after having taught fourth and fifth grade for eight years, she copied her mother again and switched to first grade. Teaching at Lincoln Center in South St. Paul is especially sweet for her, as it allows her to work in the community where she lives, and to see her students around town. Continue reading

Paying It Forward, with Gratitude

Kathryn Lange ’72 and Dennis Sonifer in Salzburg

Kathryn Lange ’72 and Dennis Sonifer in Salzburg

A few years ago, Kathryn Lange ’72 and her husband, Dennis Sonifer, decided to update their will, a process that tends to open up a variety of possibilities that aren’t necessarily on our daily radar screens. They realized it would be possible to reach out beyond family members, and agreed that supporting a college made sense, particularly since they both had enjoyed great experiences at small, church-related, liberal arts colleges. Determined to reciprocate the favor of the substantial financial aid each had received as a student, they decided to “pay it forward” and set up an endowed scholarship at Augsburg.

Currently serving as associate dean of the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences at Tufts University in Boston, Lange has spent her entire career in higher education, including a six-year stint as director of admissions at Augsburg. Originally planning to find work directly related to her Social Work degree, she reassessed her plan when she found herself accepting various positions in higher education. Lange stresses, however, that she uses her Augsburg Social Work education every day in her work with students and faculty. At St. Olaf, she worked in housing for three years, followed by her admissions work at Augsburg, and then at the University of Minnesota, first in financial aid and then in student services in the College of Pharmacy. While at the U, she realized she liked working in the college environment and decided to earn a Master’s degree. In 2002, she and Sonifer moved to Boston for their next adventure.   Continue reading

Alum is Among Twin Cities Finest

Josh ’08 and Chelsea Krob

Josh ’08 and Chelsea Krob

It may be a bit unusual for such a young alumnus to be as active in volunteer work as Josh Krob ’08 is, but he readily admits that his employer, Wells Fargo, provides ample opportunity to do so. In addition to volunteering for charitable organizations, such as Habitat for Humanity and Feed My Starving Children, he has coached and supported various sports organizations as well. He has naturally gravitated toward hockey, the sport he played and loved most growing up; and he has helped the Eastview hockey team, Kansas City Stars, and Blake School hockey program.

Recently, another opportunity captured his imagination and passion—raising research funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation. He and 19 other likeminded individuals took on the challenge individually and raised more than $120,000 for CFF. Krob and the other 19 were each granted the prestigious “Twin Cities Finest” award, in recognition of their community volunteer efforts and professional growth in their fields. Continue reading

Augsburg Prepared Grammens for a Nimble Future as an Entrepreneur

GrammensWhen high-speed Internet was just catching on in Minneapolis, Justin Grammens ’96 was building his own servers and hosting e-mail, websites, and Internet radio streams in the closet of his apartment. He developed a keen sense then of the importance of keeping data secure—secure not only from hackers, but from other users on the system, and always asking himself, “How would I like my data treated?” As a software developer and entrepreneur, he knows this challenging game of cat and mouse (with online hackers) is of utmost importance in an increasingly technological world—and it’s a challenge he loves.

In 2009, Grammens co-founded Recursive Awesome, a mobile software development company that specialized in creating tablet, mobile, and web applications. The company—providing solutions for clients such as Best Buy, Thomson Reuters, and BuzzFeed—was acquired in 2011 by Code42 Software, where Grammens currently serves as engineering co-founder, working to protect the world’s data with high-performance hardware and easy-to-use software solutions. Perhaps their best known product is CrashPlan, a system that manages and protects your digital life with easy-to-use software and high-performance hardware storage. (Augsburg is among its users.)

In addition to founding many user groups, filing patents, organizing various conferences, and mentoring countless students, Grammens has recently created a publication, IoTWeeklyNews, which focuses on trends in the Internet of Things, otherwise known as IoT. If that phrase is new to you, you’re not alone! In a nutshell, IoT is the emerging network of everyday objects that can share information online and complete tasks while you work, sleep, or are otherwise occupied. (Think home security system that can adjust temps, turn on an appliance, open windows, etc., while you are out shopping. Oh, and then think beyond the home—cars, factories, outdoor environment, even our bodies!) The possibilities are endless! As you might expect, Grammens has a concern or two with IoT, lying primarily in the area of security and interoperability of smart sensors, and so far, there are few standards in place. Minnesota’s first IoT Hack Day was organized by Grammens. Continue reading