Meet Spirit of Augsburg Award Winner Grace Kemmer Sulerud ’58

Grace Kemmer Sulerud '58Grace Kemmer Sulerud ’58 has displayed faithful service to Augsburg University across her time as a graduate, librarian, faculty member, and alumna. She personifies Augsburg’s deep sense of calling to humbly serve others in a variety of ways, with joyful dedication.

As a dedicated volunteer, her nominators say, “You will find her wherever an extra hand is needed.”

Determined to gain a full education, Sulerud worked and saved money to go from her hometown, Williston, North Dakota, to Augsburg, as it was the college of the Lutheran Free Church. Sulerud’s Augsburg education and excellent professors prompted her to experience life in the Twin Cities, exploring the state capitol and fine arts like symphony concerts and plays. She made lifelong friends and enjoyed being on the staff of the student newspaper, The Echo.

After graduating from Augsburg in 1958, she was an elementary librarian and junior high English teacher in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. From 1961 to 1964, she was an elementary librarian in U.S. Air Force Department of Defense Schools in Tokyo, Japan; Tripoli, Libya; and Wiesbaden, Germany. This gave her an opportunity to travel around the world with a stop in India to visit a friend, Maxine Berntsen, another distinguished alumna of Augsburg. After returning to the United States, Sulerud studied for a master’s degree in Library Science (1968) and later received a master’s degree in English (1970), each from the University of Minnesota.

During her many years as Augsburg’s Collection Development Librarian and faculty member, she was committed to the learning of students. She served two terms as the treasurer of Augsburg Associates, from 2003 to 2007 and 2011 to 2017, ensuring they raised funds for Augsburg student scholarships. Her interests and energy lead her to participate in travels to Cuba with the Delegation For Friendship Among Women, and to Ethiopia supporting the efforts of REAL, Resources for the Enrichment of African Lives, an organization that helps girls stay in school.

In Minneapolis, Sulerud is a member of Trinity Lutheran Congregation located on Riverside Avenue, a congregation associated with the founding of Augsburg, where she sings in the choir, leads the monthly quilter’s work session and has participated in activities with Metropolitan Interfaith Council on Affordable Housing.

With her late husband Ralph, long-time Augsburg biology professor, Sulerud has remained a supporter and enthusiast for all things Augsburg. Though she retired from Augsburg in 2003, she continues to stay involved at important university events: the recent grand opening of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion; Homecoming festivities; Velkommen Jul; and Advent Vespers.

Sulerud lives out the Spirit of Augsburg Award and exemplifies Augsburg’s historic mottos consistently: “Education for Service” and “The Truth Shall Make You Free.” Her loyalty, dependability, and generosity enable Augsburg to carry forward with hearty conviction, intellectual rigor, and relational connectedness.

Meet Spirit of Augsburg Award Winner John R. Holum

Dr. John Holum
Dr. John Holum and his daughters, Kathryn and Ann

John R. Holum, Ph.D., is a beloved Augsburg University retired professor whose legacy spans over 30 years as faculty. He is a prolific writer who has published dozens of books and peer-reviewed papers, which have inspired not only generations of students who read his chemistry textbooks, but also thousands of researchers and teachers around the world.

One nominator says this of Holum in a letter of support: “In his life and work he embodies the very ethos of Augsburg’s commitment to the education of the whole person…Dr. Holum’s approach to pedagogy was both engaging and inspiring…he made the material accessible to all and exciting to learn. He was articulate and patient.”

After serving in the Army, where he enjoyed a community of fellow scientists, Holum briefly taught chemistry at Pacific Lutheran University on the West Coast. Drawn to Augsburg in 1957 because it was at the center of population density for Lutheran students in the United States, Holum had a vision to empower the next generation of science and medicine students to be faithful Christian witnesses in a variety of industries and locations.

He came to Augsburg with a Ph.D. in organic chemistry and began to teach chemistry to nurses and pre-med students. Holum continued to work at Augsburg until his retirement in 1993, also teaching advanced organic chemistry and environmental chemistry, which students said should be required for all their classmates.

The more students he got to know—including one exemplary Augsburg student, Peter Agre ‘70, who later won a Nobel Prize for chemistry—the more he realized the caliber of their character, intelligence, and diligence. This deepened sense of appreciation for his students transformed into a drive to write textbooks that better suited the needs of students learning in his classrooms and others studying the alluring complexities of chemistry. Through discussions with traveling textbook salespeople and a summer of long days researching with a grant from the National Science Foundation, his creation of a single textbook developed into a successful writing and publishing career that complemented his teaching in the classroom.

Holum’s lifelong passion for academic excellence and support of students on their educational journey reflects Augsburg’s anchoring principles of robust liberal arts and professional studies, guided by the faith and values of the Lutheran church. Generations of students can attest to the transformational power of learning embedded within Holum’s life and career. He was kind and generous as a professor, and is a man who lives a life of faith and service beyond the classroom.

Meet Spirit of Augsburg Award Winner Orville “Joe” Hognander

Joe Hognander
Orville “Joe” Hognander

By following his family’s values of faith, dedication to building community, and applied philanthropy, Orville “Joe” Hognander has improved the lives of many.

Joe has deep Augsburg roots that extend back over 100 years to when his grandfather, Rev. Lars R. Lund, graduated from Augsburg Seminary in 1912. Later it would be at Augsburg where his parents first met during their freshman registration for the class of 1936. During their Augsburg years, Gertrude Lund and Orville Hognander shared their love of choral music through the newly created Augsburg Choir, where Orville became the first announcer and business manager and Gertrude was the piano accompanist. Of note, Orville created a weekly radio show on WCCO called the Hour Melodious, which featured the choir with Orville providing the spoken word. He also arranged the choir’s first tour of 20 concerts throughout the Midwest.

Fellow Augsburg classmates remained lifelong friends of the Hognander family. Leland Sateren ’35 was best man at Orville and Gertrude’s wedding and went on to become a prolific composer, director of the Augsburg Choir, and chairman of the music department. Likewise, Oscar Anderson ’36, became Augsburg’s president from 1963 to 1980. It was during his tenure that Gertrude received Augsburg’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1973.

After graduating from high school, Joe Hognander left the Twin Cities for college, graduate school, and work. While employed by Black & Decker in Dallas, Texas, he received notification from his draft board that he would soon be called, so he immediately applied for Naval Officer Candidate School and was accepted. While on active duty, he had varied and challenging assignments including one as head of the translation division for the U.S. military command located in Saigon during the period just prior to the withdrawal of all military forces from Vietnam.

Following retirement from the Navy, Joe returned to the Twin Cities, where he cared for his parents during their final years. Part of this assistance involved helping his parents fulfill their philanthropic interests, which included support of institutions and organizations that had been significant in their lives. The Orville and Gertrude Hognander Endowment for music students was a direct outcome of this.

Today Joe conscientiously carries on the family tradition of support for work in the arts, sciences, music, charity, and education. As one person noted, “He has the heart of a philanthropist and the head of a businessman.” Scores of organizations doing good work have had their public service magnified because he approaches needs in the community with an Auggie spirit of responsible leadership and stewardship.

Brett Batterson ’80 Shines Bright on Tony Night

Augsburg alumnus Brett Batterson ’80 had big shoes to fill when he took the job as President and CEO of Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis, Tennessee. Prior to his arrival,the theatre had been recognized at the Tony Awards on three different occasions. Under Batterson’s leadership, as part of the Independent Presenters Network, the Orpheum Theatre Group can now claim a share of the 2018 Tony Award for Best Musical! The Independent Presenters Network is an above-the-title producer of the 10-award winning show, The Band’s Visit.

In high school, Batterson was an actor in his school’s theatre productions. When he came to Augsburg, one of his theatre professors, Michael Beery, showed Batterson his potential to create the scenes on the stage itself as a set designer.

“I had wonderful professors at Augsburg including Julie Driver and Ailene Cole, but Michael Beery had the most profound effect on my career.” says Batterson.

Beery helped guide Batterson onto a path where he could find great success. He did perform in one show at Augsburg, but spent the rest of his time behind the scenes creating and designing sets.

While still a student at Augsburg, Batterson had the opportunity to work at The Guthrie Theater, Minnesota Jazz Dance Company and Minnesota Opera Company. Following Augsburg, he took the skills he learned and advice from Professor Beery and obtained his M.F.A. in set design from Tulane University. For 15 years he continued his stage design career until he discovered another passion – arts management. Batterson spent 10 years at Michigan Opera Theatre in Detroit as the company’s Chief Operating Officer. Then another 11 years as the Executive Director of the national historic landmark Auditorium Theatre in Chicago, Illinois. He has been in his current position as President and CEO of Orpheum Theatre Group in Memphis since 2016.

“Theatre education, like I had at Augsburg, builds better people,” said Batterson, “Whether they go into theatre or not, they will go into the world better prepared to succeed.”

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.

Brewtel Means Big Things for Finnegans

Jacquie-headshotAuggie superstar and 2014 Spirit of Augsburg award recipient Jacquie Berglund ’87 is excited about the newest plans unveiled for the downtown Minneapolis block that is the proposed headquarters for the general contractor Kraus-Anderson. The Finnegans owner says news of the “Brewtel,” a hotel and Finnegans brewery concept will be a game-changer for Finnegans if approved. The beer company, which donates 100% of its proceeds to fighting hunger through donations to local and regional food shelves, would create a three-story brewhouse, event space, and a “Finnovation Lab” that would function as a business incubator for social entrepreneur start-ups. Read more about the news in the Star Tribune. Finnegans celebrated 15 years in business on Sept. 1, 2015. Next to the Newman’s Own brand, Finnegans is the second longest-running company in the country that donates 100% of its profits. Finnegans has given more than $500,000 to anti-hunger efforts since 2000.

Berglund will also serve as co-chair of Homecoming 2015 with Devean George ’99, and is excited to be back on campus to see Auggies from all classes.

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 “Homecoming Convocation Honors Exceptional Auggies”

Nominate an Outstanding Auggie

You know some exceptional alums—now tell us how great your classmates are! The Augsburg Alumni office is now accepting nominations for the First Decade Award, Spirit of Augsburg Award, and Distinguished Alumni Awards, which will be presented at Homecoming 2015. Read on for more important details for all award nominations. Send the nomination form to the Augsburg College office of Alumni and Constituent Relations by Dec. 31.

THE AUGSBURG COLLEGE ALUMNI AWARDS PROGRAM

Augsburg College wishes to acknowledge and honor those alumni and friends whose outstanding achievements and commitment to service exemplify the ideals and mission of the College.

The mission of Augsburg College is:

To nurture future leaders in service to the world by providing high quality educational opportunities which are based in the liberal arts, and shaped by the faith and values of the Christian Church, the context of a vital metropolitan region, and an intentionally diverse campus community.

The following awards are selected each year:

Distinguished Alumni Award
Awarded to Augsburg College alumni in recognition for significant achievement in vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplifies the ideals and mission of Augsburg College. Augsburg alumni (graduates and non graduates) are eligible.

First Decade Alumni Award
Awarded to Augsburg College graduates of the last ten 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.

Spirit of Augsburg Award
Honors Augsburg alumni or friends of the College who have given exceptional service that contributes substantially to the well being of the College by furthering its purposes and programs. Alumni, friends, faculty and staff, and groups who have served the College are eligible.
Continue reading “Nominate an Outstanding Auggie”