Brian Anderson ’82, who triple majored in Physics, Math and Religion, knew English was not his strong suit. Noticing a woman in the back row giving excellent answers in their freshman English class, he waited by the classroom door one day to introduce himself to Leeann Rock ’81. They met frequently at the campus snack bar, the Chin Wag. They married in 1983.
Family connections with Augsburg run deep
Brian grew up on campus. His father Ray Anderson taught speech at Augsburg for almost 50 years. His mother Margaret Anderson was on staff for more than 20 years, retiring as head librarian and then continuing to volunteer for more than 10 years. Going to Augsburg for him was a foregone conclusion. The family connection remains strong as his brother Stuart currently teaches physics at Augsburg.
Leeann had not considered attending Augsburg until a high school friend invited her along on a prospective student tour. The friend ultimately chose a different college, but Leeann, captivated by biology professor Neal Thorpe’s address to prospective students, came away thinking, “I have to go here.”
Challenge grant motivated Anderson and Rock
Leeann and Brian, who felt superbly prepared for their vocations and grateful for meeting each other, have given $100,000 for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Their gift is designated for the Theodore Hanwick, Sr. Intro to Physics Laboratory. The cost of naming the laboratory for Dr. Hanwick is $500,000, and Leeann and Brian are giving in response to the $250,000 challenge grant established by Dan ’65 and Alice Anderson (no relation).
Brian, who received a Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Minnesota, admires Dr. Hanwick’s leadership in founding the Physics Department at Augsburg.
After retiring, Hanwick occasionally subbed in physics classes. Brian remembers hearing him lecture on optics and lenses. “He didn’t use notes. He didn’t need them. It was a direct conversation with us as students. He was delightful, energetic, engaging and funny.”
Augsburg launched fulfilling careers in space research and pathology
Brian, named a Distinguished Alumnus of Augsburg in 2004, is a physicist with The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. He is magnetic fields co-investigator and deputy project scientist for NASA’s MESSENGER mission─MErcury Surface Space ENvironment GEochemistry and Ranging.
Immediately after receiving his Ph.D., he taught at Augsburg for two years. He also assisted Professor Mark Engebretson with research, which led to a post-doctoral fellowship at the Applied Physics Laboratory where he has remained, working on five space missions.
While studying at Augsburg, Leeann decided to become a doctor. She remembers the premed experience at Augsburg as “competitive but friendly.”
She received her M.D. from the University of Minnesota and is a clinical pathologist at Frederick Memorial Hospital in Frederick, Md. Describing her work, she says, “Other doctors do surgery. I analyze samples and figure out the diagnosis.”
“What strikes me about the existing science building at Augsburg is that so many of the scientific facts and inventions that we take for granted today, like DNA and the transistor, have been discovered since it was built,” she says. “We have marvelous students and faculty at Augsburg who need new space where they can grow and shine.”
“The vision for CSBR is perfect, novel, and will help Augsburg get out in front”
Brian is excited by the cross-disciplinary character of the CSBR. “Science provides technical capabilities but does not tell us how to use the power the capabilities give us. We need religion for that, and we need business to help us develop products based on scientific discoveries. This building demonstrates that Augsburg understands that science, religion, and private enterprise are essential components of a larger vision. All three areas of learning can and should be partners.”
“The vision for the CSBR is perfect. It is on target, and it is novel,” Brian says. “The design does not parrot what other institutions are doing. Building the CSBR is a way for Augsburg to get out in front.”