Alum’s Call to Teach Changed the Lives of Middle Schoolers

Many adults would likely freeze in place if asked to teach a middle school class, much less try to interest those students in theater. Then there are those special people for whom such work just comes naturally. Ertwin “Ert” Jones-Hermerding ’69 was such a person.

Ert’s Augsburg mentor, the late Ailene Cole (who taught theater at Augsburg for 29 years), saw it early on, insisting that his talent was definitely with the younger kids—the high-schoolers, sure; but more so, the younger ones. It was at Augsburg that Ert knew he wanted to be a teacher.

Football and Theater

When Ert found an opening for a speech teacher at Plymouth Junior High in the Robbinsdale, Minn., school district, he jumped at the chance because it gave him the opportunity to also coach football. As a speech/communication teacher and football coach in Robbinsdale for 34 years, Ert endeared himself

Photo of Ertwin Jones-Hermerdig
Ertwin “Ert” Jones-Hermerding, recipient of Augsburg’s 2003 Distinguished Alumni Award

to countless junior high (middle school) and high school students, and many of them went on to pursue interesting professional careers due to his strong influence. His students included Darcey Engen ’88 (Theatre Arts professor at Augsburg), Mad TV’s Mo Collins, and actor Steve Zahn, who once donned a curly wig in junior high and did a memorable, gut-splitting impersonation of TV exercise personality Richard Simmons.

“Herm,” as he was affectionately known by his students, found ways to interest athletes in the drama program, and speech students in the football program, increasing the pool from which to draw and surprising many students who may not have otherwise considered such involvement.

Herm was, most notably, the first to teach improvisational theatre at the junior high level, creating a new model that was replicated in many other schools. When he died suddenly in a one-vehicle motorcycle accident two years after retiring, the online posts from former students said it all—“Brought me out of my shell.” “Favorite teacher.” “Made learning fun.” “Creative and passionate.” “I was fat and unpopular…he cast me in the lead…he lit me up.” “Great mentor to so many kids.”

Herm’s students would often sit together at school lunch to write their own plays. With parental permission to miss some school, they would crowd into a conversion van to take their shows to local elementary schools. Using only milk crates as sets, and maybe a mic for the narrator, they often drew huge groups of youngsters.

When asked how her late husband came to have such a heart for young people, Pat Jones-Hermerding says she isn’t sure how you can understand what’s at someone’s core, but she knew Ert had found his calling. He opened up his ideas to his students, and he had the kind of personality to which they gravitated—a big personality that could take over a room. Everything became a story, says Pat, and it usually grew into an even bigger story. He was energetic and funny—and fit right in with the kids. She takes special pleasure in reminders of Ert’s legacy, particularly when encountering former students who have gone into theater, or played sports for a college, or become teachers.

The Apple Tree

A picture of the sign recognizing the dedication and apple tree
The apple tree was dedicated on campus in October, thanks to the efforts of Ert’s Auggie roommate and longtime friend, Glen J. Peterson.

In October, when more than 20 family members and friends of Ert gathered next to Foss Center to dedicate a young apple tree in his memory, those attending were unaware of the tree’s interesting history. They were just grateful for the tree’s healthy start, and for the opportunity to designate a different tree on campus since the tree they had originally dedicated to Ert’s memory in 2009 had become diseased and died.

The history of the replacement tree, they later learned, was tied to Augsburg student Emily Knudson ’15, who had planted three apple trees as part of her senior Keystone p

Ert and friends stood around the apple tree
To symbolize various aspects of the sacred nature of the dedication, Ert’s longtime friend, Karl Sneider (dressed in black at the right), used four colored flags as he offered a Lakota blessing. Those gathered enjoyed eating big, juicy apples to celebrate.

roject. With this project, and through the Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City program, Knudson was able to enter the network of hundreds of other tree owners and volunteer gleaners statewide who donate tens of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit each year to local food shelf partners. The newly placed plaque by the tree honors both Knudson’s project and Jones-Hermerding’s memory.

The Auggie Friendships

Among those who gathered at the tree’s dedication were two of Ert’s long-time Auggie friends, Glen J. Peterson ’69 and Karl Sneider ’71. All three had been members of Gamma Phi Omega, a campus/community service fraternity active on campus in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Though participation in athletics was not a requirement for membership, many Gammas were involved in sports, which served to deepen many of the friendships. Peterson says that he and Ert were dorm mates as freshmen, and decided to join a third friend to live in a house by Riverside Park for their remaining three years. Peterson chuckles as he recalls that, since there were only two beds in the house when they moved in, Ert was content to sleep temporarily on a mattress on top of the kitchen table.

As Peterson reflects on those college days, he is reminded of how diligent a student Ert was, studying long hours for his language course. He was introspective, hard-working, and intense—in the best sense of that word—and those qualities applied to all areas of his college life: academics, football, track, and theater. He also exerted outsized influence in the life of his young brother, Mike.

If Peterson were to summarize Ert’s legacy in a few words, “integrity” would quickly come to mind. Ert was honest and trustworthy, says Peterson, and dedicated as an educator and as a person. Then he adds, “People would strive to be like him because Ert was adamant about caring about people.”

—by Cheryl Crockett ‘89

Lefse, Waffles and Friendship: Velkommen Jul 2017

Augsburg celebratedPicture of Lefse the holiday period in true Norweigian style, and nearly fifty Augsburg Associates volunteered at the 2017 Velkommen Jul festivities on December 1. Many volunteers were busy putting in extra days to make special Norwegian treats, and arrived early to help butter bread and lefse, and ensure that the event was a huge success.

There was exceptional student participation, including the Associates scholarship students who served waffles to hungry patrons. The event celebrated long-standing Augsburg Three ladies browsing the items for sale.friendships, and encouraged guests to create new friendships from our diverse community. Guests expressed their appreciation with kind words and contributions, and the scholarship baskets gathered a superb $1190.

A Friendship to Last a Lifetime

Auggie Friendships Forever

Mike Scott ’71 admits that talking about friendship isn’t his strongest point, but he’s more than happy to acknowledge that his Augsburg friendships were the best part of his Augsburg experience. Mike and four of those Auggie friends—Larry Stewart ’72 , Tim Casey ’71, Mike Good ’71, and Bruce Santerre ’71—have maintained communication since graduation, and their friendship has survived the test of time. As a group of five, the men have put a priority on keeping in touch; they have celebrated marriages together, consoled each other in difficult times, and gotten to know each other’s children. As far as friendships go, these men share a connection so strong they consider themselves ‘almost’ family.

When Four Became Five

The five men pulling their infamous pose.

In the fall semester of 1967, the academic year was pushed back for a short period of time to accommodate the completion of Urness Tower. All non-commuting football players were accommodated in Memorial Hall until the semester started and they could be placed in permanent residence halls. It was there that Mike Scott met his very first college roommate, Larry Stewart, as well as Tim Casey and Bruce Santerre, who roomed next door. Besides playing football, the men shared another common thread; they were all from rural out-state. The four men connected as teammates, as neighbors, and by their rural upbringings—and they became friends. When the fall semester eventually started, the four were moved to Mortensen Hall where they would be living on a full-time basis. As chance would have it, on moving day Mike Scott encountered a familiar face and an old acquaintance, Mike Good. The young men had met years earlier through coincidence, when Mike Good was visiting family in Mike Scott’s hometown of Renville.  If this was not surprising enough, the men discovered that Mike Good had been assigned to be Tim Casey’s roommate. This sealed the deal; the initial group of four quickly became five and a friendship blossomed that would span the course of the rest of their lives.

Say Cheese

As the delayed academic year trickled into summer, on one lazy afternoon when they were feeling bored and desperate for entertainment, the five men, along with some fellow Mortensen Hall buddies, decided to take a hilariously posed photograph where they flexed their arm muscles or “guns.” Little did they know at the time that this photograph would be the start of a picture-taking tradition that would mark the significant times of their lives, like weddings and reunions.

Throughout college, the five either lived together, or within one house of each other. As life took them on their individual journeys, they continued to support each other and strengthen their friendship.  From babysitting one another’s children, to taking on important duties for each other (Larry is the godfather of Mike Scott’s son, Kelley), to incorporating spouses and ‘special’ friends – their friendship has never wavered.

Today, although the friends are not physically together (due mainly to career paths that led each to his own location), the group continues to share an incredibly strong bond. At the 2017 Augsburg University Homecoming in October, the five men reunited for another photograph. Although time has changed the faces in the photographs, the deep friendship of these funny freshmen who were inspired by boredom to take a silly photograph in 1968, lives on.

The four friends posing with their arms in gun (L-R Tim Casey, Mike Scott, Bruce Santerre, Larry Stewart and Mike Good)
Reunited at Homecoming 2017 (L-R Tim Casey, Mike Scott, Bruce Santerre, Larry Stewart and Mike Good)

Auggies in the City: Waitress

The Augsburg University Alumni team are serving up a slice of fun! Come and join us at Tony nominated musical “Waitress” on Wednesday, November 22 at Orpheum Theater. Featuring music and lyrics by 6 time Grammy nominee Sara Bareilles, the show is guaranteed to be a great time– and at $34 per ticket, this deal is as sweet as pie!

Starting at 6 p.m. we will be hosting a pre-theater reception at the Brave New Workshop with plenty of pie, soft drinks and a cash bar. At this reception we will be hosting a talk by Theater professor, Darcey Engen ’88, on the significance of “Waitress” serving up Broadway’s first all-female creative team.

This is an event you wont want to miss– described by Vanity Fair as “a black-and-white cookie where the comic and tragic edges touch but don’t mix” where “you’re laughing one minute… [and] you’re engaged with the difficult things these characters are going through the next”.

Tickets for this event are unfortunately sold-out but if you’re interested please call Becky Waggoner on 612-330-1085 to be put on the wait list!

Join the Augsburg Alumni team at A Christmas Carol!

A Twin Cities holiday tradition that is not to be missed- the Guthrie Theater continues their holiday tradition for the 43rd year.

On Tuesday December 12, the Augsburg Alumni team will be hosting a special Auggie pre-theater reception before the show, which will take place in the Guthrie Theater Target Lounge at 6 p.m., with yummy appetizers and a chance to celebrate holiday spirit with old friends and new!Guthrie Theater A Christmas Carol Prmo Graphic

A miserly and miserable man, Ebenezer Scrooge greets each Christmas with a “bah humbug,” until he is visited one Christmas Eve by the Ghosts of Christmas Past, Christmas Present and Christmas Future. Through a restless night, the spirits show him happy memories from his past, cruel realities from the present and the grim future should he continue his cantankerous ways– Charles Dickens’ A Christmas Carol is a perennial favorite.

Tickets are $35 and are available here:
http://www.augsburg.edu/alumni/events/

Don’t be a scrooge and miss out on this great event!

Did You Know? Alumni Behind The Science Building- Fridlund

Week 4: Paul and Maxine Fridlund

Paul and his wife Maxine Fridlund were important donors to “Old Science Hall”.Paul graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in Chemistry in 1942 and then served four years at sea during World War II as a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy. After his service, Paul returned to education and received his Master of Science in 1952 shortly followed by his Doctorate of Philosophy in 1954, both from the University of Minnesota. He achieved distinction throughout his career and research in plant pathology, which included international work and travel to many countries such as South Africa, Australia, and Romania.  He was a long time faculty member at Washington State University and later in life he used his location to his advantage by writing several historical books about Prosser, Washington where he lived  when he sadly passed away in 2000.

As donors to Augsburg College, Paul and Maxine not only started a scholarship endowment for biology majors, but Paul’s financial gift and gift of equipment to the biology department gave students a unique opportunity to pursue and study plant biology at an earlier stage in their academic careers than most other biology students. A plaque honoring this financial contribution to Old Science is still standing and is located near room 214. Paul eventually received Augsburg’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1980 in recognition of significant achievement in his vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplified both the ideals and mission of Augsburg College. While the records don’t show much about Maxine’s accomplishments, we remember them both today for their generosity.

If you are interested in more of Paul Fridlund’s work with plant biology, he also edited a book called “Virus and viruslike diseases of pome fruits and simulating noninfectious disorders” which you can learn more about here.

Did You Know? Alumni Behind the Science Building – Arnold

WEEK 3: LUTHER A. and clarette arnold

Luther A. and Clarette (Jorenby) Arnold were Augsburg graduates from the class of 1929 and donors to the “Old Science” Building. Today, we remember them with a plaque outside Science 108, but they also gave generously to the college, including significant gifts to the Augsburg Fund, the Foss Center (where the atrium is named after them) and the Lindell Library.

We have little information regarding Clarette’s career, but we know her hobbies included reading, writing, travelling and music. After the couple married in 1928, they both graduated from Augsburg in 1929 and started their lives together.  Luther then went on to receive a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later his Doctorate from the University of Florida-Gainesville. His career spanned science teaching and science education from public schools to the university level, where he was a Chemistry professor and instructor of sciences at the University of Florida.

Outside academia he was the first executive secretary emeritus of the Executive Committee of the Florida Foundation for Future Scientists, served on the board of directors for the International Fair, and was an adviser for the World Science Fair. They were members of Zumbro Lutheran Church and were married for 65 years.

Did You Know? Alumni Behind the Science Building – Sverdrup

Week 2: Leif Johan and Johan N. Sverdrup

Leif Johan Sverdrup posing for a portrait in his uniform.
Leif Johan Sverdrup.

Leif Johan Sverdrup and his son Johan N. Sverdrup left their mark on Augsburg in “Old Science” Hall.  Leif who was also known as Jack, was born on January 11, 1898, in Norway and he emigrated to the U.S. in 1914 to live with relatives. He started attending Augsburg in 1916 and graduated in May 1918 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After his graduation, he served in the army in WWI.

Leif Johan Sverdrup eventually returned to education after  he finished his military service and earned a  civil engineering degree from the University of Minnesota in 1921. After completing his engineering degree, Leif Johan went into business with his University of Minnesota professor John Ira Parcel, and together founded Sverdrup and Parcel (a civil engineering firm specializing in bridge construction).

His career eventually led him to rejoin the army and eventually (between the years 1942-1958) he led engineering construction projects in Europe.

In the 1990’s his son, Johan N. Sverdrup, gave financially to establish the Johan N. Sverdrup Ozone Photophysics Laboratory, the Sverdrup Advanced Physics Laboratory, and the General Leif J. Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Program in honor of his father. These plaques are situated in the basement of “Old Science” Hall.

Picture of a plaque situated outside the Johan N. Sverdrup Ozone Photophysics Laboratory
Plaque outside the Johan N. Sverdrup Ozone Photophysics Laboratory.

 

Did You Know? Alumni Behind the Science Building

Introduction: “Old Science” Hall

One of the current physical centerpieces of the campus, Science Hall, was constructed in 1947-1948 and opened for fall semester classes in 1949. Like the new Hagfors Center, which will realign how the campus is used, this multi-functional building became a hub, not only for science classrooms, laboratories, and lecture halls, but also for campus life.

It was home to administrative officeBlack and white photo of Old Science Hall.s, faculty offices, the student lounge, student org offices, the home economics department, and a prayer chapel on the fourth floor. Originally a library was envisioned as a part of this capital project, but was built separately years later. The Lisa Odland Observatory, which was constructed on the roof and accessed by an exterior stairway, was added in 1960.  The building cost $450,000 and was supported by Lutheran Free Church members, as well as alumni and other friends.  It was reported that part way through the fundraising campaign, 350 students gave a total of $3,611, towards their overall goal of $6,000. Alumni who gave financially to make this building an integral part of the Augsburg experience include Luther A. ’29 and Clarette (Jorenby) ’29 Arnold, Paul R. ’42 and Maxine Fridlund, Lisa Odland, Johan N. Sverdrup, and General Leif J. Sverdrup ’18.

As we eagerly await the grand opening of the Hagfors Center, this series we will pay homage to the important people who made the original science hall a possibly. In “Did you know? Alumni behind the Science Building” we will explore each week specific generous donors of “Old Science” Hall, and highlight the importance of the building to Augsburg College.

 

7 People, 7 Passions, 7 Minutes

Come hear insightful talks from 7 passionate Auggies as we take over Sisyphus Brewing! This “mini-Ted Talk” style event is one you won’t want to miss!

When: July 7, 2017 at 7PM

Where: Sisyphus Brewing, 712 Ontario Avenue W., Minneapolis

TICKETS HAVE SOLD OUT! Look for the videos of the speakers once released and keep your eye on future alumni events!

Topic & Speaker Line Up:

Be You – Someone Else Isn’t an Option

Heather Cmiel ’02, Global Marketing Communications Strategist, 3M

After being what she thought was a communications agency lifer, two years ago Heather left 13 years of agency life behind to go corporate. She currently serves as the global marketing communications strategist within 3M Healthcare. Heather spends her free time as President of Minnesota PRSA and also leads a contemporary worship band. Heather has been referred to by many as spunky, hellcat, wild and fiery. Could it be she gets those descriptions because of the passion she holds for communications and its impact on business, how she keeps her husband on his toes or the fact at 6ft tall she isn’t afraid to wear heels?

 

These Kids Can Save Democracy (And So Can You)

Bob Groven, Associate Professor of Communication Studies, Augsburg College

Bob Groven juggles many plates: associate professor and co-chair in the Department of Communication Studies, Film & New Media at Augsburg College, he is also co-founder and current director of the Minnesota Urban Debate League.  In his copious free time, he enjoys communication and political consulting where he recently helped run a successful and shockingly bipartisan state senate campaign.  Although some alumni may know him from his 12-year stint as Honors Program Director, he hopes memories of that time can be kept to outraged whispers or public court documents.

 

The Next Billion Dollar Business Is in Your Neighbor’s Garage

Justin Grammens ’96, Founding Partner, Lab 651

Justin lives at the intersection of emerging technology and leading communities on the Internet of Things. He is a founding partner of Lab 651, where he helps companies use sensors and intelligence to build smart, connected products. He is the owner of IoT Weekly, a free curated newsletter with industry expert perspectives on the Internet of Things, a co-founder of IoTFuse, a 501(c)(3) non-profit with the mission to position Minnesota as a leader on the Internet of Things and an adjunct professor at the University of Saint Thomas teaching a graduate level course on the Internet of Things.

 

Living Life as a Global Citizen through Diplomacy and Global Artistry

Trena Bolden Fields ’00, MFA ’16, Actor, Writer, Life Coach

Trena Bolden Fields is an international actor, speaker, career and life coach and writer who has performed in three different countries; Mexico, South Africa and the U.S. Trena is defining her work on her own terms as an actor and creative who helps other artists create career and personal success while she navigates the world as a “trailing spouse” of a U.S. Diplomat.

 

Intermittent Fasting: A Joyful Gateway to Weight Loss

Awale Osman ’15, Community Innovation Associate, Bush Foundation

Awale Osman has experienced much change–from war-torn Somalia, Kenyan refugee camps, learning English as a third language, to graduating with high academic honors. He has also created much change–expanding afterschool opportunities for Somali youth, impressing upon congress the value of federal TRIO programming, and activating safe spaces for women, people of color, and queer students. Awale is a philanthropist by trade, movie fanatic, charming fella and a health enthusiast.

 

The Essential Intersections of Liberal Arts, Engineering & Leadership

Dean Sundquist ’81, Chairman & CEO, Mate Precision Tooling

Dean Sundquist serves as Chairman and CEO of Mate Precision Tooling which is a global leader in the manufacture of tooling used in the sheetmetal fabrication industry.  As a Steve Jobs admirer, he is passionate about fusing together engineering and liberal arts and lives this mission out at Augsburg as an URGO sponsor of science students and as an active member of the Augsburg Board of Regents. When he is not busy working, this husband of 31 years and father of two, enjoys studying and practicing mindfulness, hypertrophy training and listening to rock and pop music of all kinds.

 

The Upside of Cancer

Stephanie Weiss, Director of News and Media Services, Augsburg College

Stephanie Weiss started her working life as the Page One editor of a daily newspaper … something she dreamt of since she was 11 years old. She transitioned into nonprofit public relations where she has been fortunate to identify with the missions of the organizations she has served. She isn’t good at following rules: real or implied. Away from work, she helps out the old lady across the street, works on local and state political campaigns, enjoys dark beer, mutts, open-water swimming, and riding an electric bike. Today she’s going to talk about her recent cancer diagnosis and how she hopes it has changed her for the better.