When Dale Pederson ’70 went to the University of Minnesota to pursue a Ph.D. in zoology, he began to realize what a special education he had received at Augsburg College. At Augsburg, Pederson majored in biology while immersed in the liberal arts, taking classes in art history, religion, and the American judiciary, which exposed him to new ways of critical thinking. “Augsburg was an engaging and challenging place to be,” he says, “and I took it for granted.”
In his doctoral program, fellow students from all over the United States described a wide variety of undergraduate experiences. “I began to see the rarity,” Pederson says, “of Augsburg’s community of learners, where the faculty feel sincere commitment to their students’ welfare, and where there is an intersection of faith and sciences, not a great divide.”
Dale Pederson ’70, CSBR champion, joined Augsburg’s faculty in 1992
Pederson has taught biology at Augsburg College for 22 years. Previously he completed post-doctoral fellowships at Mayo Clinic and Cambridge University and taught both at St. Teresa University in Winona, Minn., and Winona State University.
Pederson has been a tireless champion for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, speaking at numerous Summit gatherings and other meetings with prospective donors about the vision for this cross-disciplinary building. He gives voice not only to the need for the CSBR but also to the opportunity it will afford the college to continue deepening its academic prowess.
‘CSBR may look like a bold move’
“People who see that Augsburg intends to create a signature academic building including science, business and religion may consider it a bold move,” Pederson says. “There are plenty of schools where the sciences and religion are viewed as being in conflict. At Augsburg we have always been a place where these are complementary ways of knowing and where examination of their intersections are welcome and necessary. The cross-disciplinary building is not bold for Augsburg. It will simply be a statement of what we are and always have been. For example, we encourage students interested in scientific careers in a corporate setting to take business classes, and we encourage discussion of faith perspectives in science and business classes.”
The new building will provide urgently needed laboratory space for faculty and students. “Today we have so many science students that we are running 100 lab sections each year in this building, and the current building isn’t designed for that.”
He believes that the growth in highly qualified science students is a result of 15 years of investment from Augsburg in faculty and student research. “We have been investing in ‘release time’ for faculty members to start research programs, in funding student research, and in scientific equipment. Now more and more students are coming, but we don’t yet have the space for them. Providing that space is the next step in our commitment to our students.”
‘Intergenerational trust sustains Augsburg College’
Pederson demonstrated his personal commitment to the CSBR campaign by making a pledge which he fulfills through payroll deduction. He hopes thousands of donors will join him to make the campaign a success.
He gives financially because he feels a debt of gratitude to the graduates and friends of the College who gave in earlier generations, helping support his own student scholarships. “I grew up with modest means and yet graduated with no student debt. That was due to the commitment of others who went before me,” he says.
“There is an intergenerational trust involved in sustaining a school like Augsburg. I hope the students whose education will be greatly enhanced by the CSBR will also support the students who follow them. That is how we make this place thrive.”