Seeing is Believing

Mike-Good-headshotWe commonly use the phrase “seeing is believing” to communicate the idea that only with concrete evidence can we be convinced of a new idea.  It is the essence of the disciple Thomas’s statement of doubt before he saw the risen Jesus and believed.  Jesus responded—“Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed”.

 

I thank each of you who read our “Good News” each month. You know the power and passion of my message to ‘Believe’ that the Center for Science, Business,  and Religion (CSBR) will be a reality.  When we aim our vision in the direction of what we truly desire and believe, we open up new possibilities and along the way, and achieve that vision.  We are on an exciting journey.

 

This summer a new saying has emerged for me…”Believing is Seeing”.  As I continue to meet with Alumni and friends of Augsburg who believe in the college’s mission, they are visualizing (seeing) how the new CSBR, as the new heart of campus, will become a vehicle to help us live out our mission of educating future leaders for our changing and challenging world.  You continue to find ways to support this campaign because you believe and therefore you see the possibilities!

 

Most of you have heard and responded to my three calls for your action:

•         To prayerfully consider a stretch gift (cash, stock, wills and other creative mechanisms)

•         To consider who else needs to hear the story of Augsburg as this special place that is small to its students and big for the world;

•         To become a Class leader and help spread the word of this important project to classmates and help your class exceed its goal of $1 million for the campaign.

 

You have taken my requests and run with them. It’s exciting to see what happens when you do.

 

Last issue I mentioned the doors opened by Mert Johnson,’59, who has introduced us to business and technology leaders in Alexandria, MN. These relationships are blossoming with multiple exchanges involving campaign leadership, President Pribbenow, local retired business leader Rick Ekstrand, ’72, and faculty members who are learning about the exciting work being done in the sciences and business by a company guided by its strong faith and religious commitment.

 

It has been exciting to explore potential synergies with these community and business leaders as we share Augsburg’s story of excellence today and the exceptional alumni across many generations who are also business, community, and faith leaders.  These conversations would never have occurred without Mert’s thoughtful response to my second request of him.

 

I ask each of you to think about community and business leaders you know who might resonate to Augsburg’s mission and our vision of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.  Each conversation, each meeting, each new commitment further convinces me that now is our time. This is Augsburg’s time to be bold and confident that we have something very special in our culture, our mission, and our urban campus to share with the world.

 

Please join this movement of those for whom Believing is Seeing–becoming leaders who embrace the challenges of life in the 21st century. Those who know that by acting on belief, we can truly shape a better future for us all.

 

Read on and enjoy the stories of some great Augsburg givers.

 

And remember, I am always eager to hear from you and look forward to sharing the inspiring stories of Augsburg.

 

Warmly,

 

Mike Good

Longtime Benefactors Martin and Sylvia Sabo Make CSBR Gift

The four years Martin Sabo ’59 invested at Augsburg returned far more than a bachelor’s degree, and even more than a revered political career. It also delivered a lifetime of treasured connections with fellow students and faculty. Martin and his wife, Sylvia, are honoring one of them with a cash pledge to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

 

Former professor Joel Torstenson, who died in 2007 at age 94, was Augsburg’s “father of sociology,” well-known for his civil rights and social services advocacy. “Clearly, people like Joel have an impact on what you think and who you are,” says Martin, who spent 46 years serving his state and country as an elected official. “Most of us felt so close to certain faculty members. They were all very good in the classroom, and they made their subjects interesting and challenging. Every one of them has had an impact on me, and several have remained part of my life ever since.”

 

The son of Norwegian immigrant farmers, Martin was passionate about sports and politics since early childhood in tiny Alkabo, North Dakota, which shepherded several of its Lutheran children, including his older sister, to Minnesota to attend Augsburg.

 

“Three of us were there at the same time,” Martin recalled. “That’s saying something for a town of 60. I came from a high school graduating class of three.”

 

He had his trepidations at first. “I wondered about all these kids, half of whom were from Minneapolis. Where would I fit in? But I got over that fairly quickly. When I realized that they didn’t know much more than I did, I got into the swing of it.” Within his first month or two on campus, he was recruited by fellow students looking for new Democrats and dove into student government.

 

After graduation, the political science/history major planned to work for a year, then go to grad school, but his roommate, former Augsburg student body president Jim Pederson, talked him into running for the Minnesota House of Representatives. It was 1960. Martin was 22. He won.

 

A fabled career followed, not only in the state House, where he became minority leader and first Democrat to serve as House speaker, but also in the U.S. House, where Minnesota’s fifth district elected him in 1978 and thirteen more times before he passed the torch in 2007. He remains active in transportation issues and is undoubtedly blessed often by bicyclists crossing the Martin O. Sabo Midtown Greenway bridge.

 

His Augsburg connection never waned. He served on the Board of Regents from 1973 to 1984. He and Sylvia made several gifts, including contributions to the Sabo Center and an endowed chair in Citizenship and Democracy, and visit campus regularly to attend church, advise scholarship recipients, and participate in various activities. Their daughters, Julie, a former state senator, and Karin, are also Augsburg alumni.

 

Martin remains an avid sports fan. “Before we went to Washington, D.C., we lived within a few blocks, and I used to stop by to watch basketball practice on my way home,” says Martin, confessing that his primary athletic skill is cheering for the home team.

 

“It is crazy,” adds Sylvia, who graduated from St. Olaf College. “Once when I went down to St. Olaf for an Augsburg basketball game, I promised my nephew that I’d root for St. Olaf, but I had a hard time doing it!” Often involved in Augsburg initiatives, she marvels at the lifelong friendships that evolved from Martin’s undergrad experience. The two remain close to Torstenson’s widow, Fran, who just turned 101.

 

They share enthusiasm about the CSBR—“a great addition to campus,” Martin says. “The facilities need to keep up with the quality of the faculty.” And both agree that combining three disciplines in one facility is a good thing.

 

“It has to be very good for getting a better understanding at what they all do for one another,” Sylvia says. “I’m always amazed at Augsburg. I think so much good comes out of it, and Martin had such a great four years there. I think its size and location give it a specialness that a lot of colleges don’t have.”

Professor Emerita Honors Her Family as well as Her Alma Mater

Marilyn Pearson Florian ’76 and Kenneth Florian

Marilyn Pearson Florian, ’76 and Kenneth Florian

Anyone who has spent 33 years serving Augsburg College must consider its students, staff, and faculty a family of sorts, one deserving the tribute that a gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion represents. While that is undoubtedly true for Marilyn Pearson Florian ’76, the significant gift that she and her husband, Kenneth J. Florian, have given will also honor her first family, who introduced her to Augsburg and supported her all the way through.

 

Marilyn’s late parents, Eleanor B. Pearson, a secretary and homemaker, and L. Vincent Pearson, a civil engineer who spent four decades working for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, first met in the Augustana Lutheran Church choir, where they sang together for 40 years. Although they had not earned traditional college degrees, they wanted their two daughters to do so, preferably at a good, conveniently located, liberal arts college with a Lutheran connection.

 

“My parents chose Augsburg for both of us, and they supported both of us with love and financial aid while we were there. They also supported Augsburg. They came to our games and were always there for us,” said Marilyn.

 

Marilyn Pearson Florian ’76 and Lavonne “Vonnie” Pearson '74 at Augsburg's Graduation in 1976

Marilyn Pearson Florian, ’76 and Lavonne “Vonnie” Pearson ’74 at Augsburg’s Graduation in 1976

Her older sister, Lavonne “Vonnie” Pearson ’74, graduated first and became a popular Spanish teacher at New London-Spicer and Osseo High Schools. Vonnie also followed her parents’ musical footsteps, becoming a longtime member of Central Lutheran Church Minneapolis Senior Choir.

 

Marilyn was next. “My sister lived at home and commuted, but I wanted to live on campus. It’s a great college and I absolutely loved it, both as a student and student athlete,” she said. After earning a master’s degree at St. Cloud State and teaching and coaching briefly at a community college in Mason City, Iowa, she returned to her alma mater to teach health and physical education.

 

“I wanted to get back to the Twin Cities, and I knew Augsburg was a great opportunity. It’s a small college, and smaller class sizes mean lots of personal attention from faculty and staff. It’s a very friendly and open place, and you get to know so many people. It also has strong academic programs,” she said. In addition to teaching as assistant professor of health and physical education, Marilyn was head volleyball coach for 19 years and became women’s athletic director, then assistant athletic director of the combined men’s and women’s department until she retired as professor emerita in 2013.

 

When fundraising for the CSBR began, she responded to the athletic department’s initial call to action, which resulted in 100 percent participation.

 

“The CSBR is a great addition, both for the college as a whole and the Athletic Department. Everyone donated something, mostly through payroll deductions. But for me—I wanted to do more,” she said. Sadly, Vonnie passed away in April at the age of 63. “She was a great teacher and a great big sister. I’m the only one left, and I want to honor what my family gave me. They really are my initial connection to this great college.”

Augsburg Faculty Invite You to Attend a Leadership Summit

CSBR-Leadership-Summit-HeaderThanks so much for attending this inspiring evening of inquiry and fellowship hosted by members of the Augsburg College Faculty.

Save the date for the next event:

Leadership Summit Hosted by Alumni Class Leaders

Alumni leadership will host a special CSBR campaign event on Thursday, January 29, 2015, which will include an opportunity to meet with current faculty, students, and College leadership, plus a tour of science labs and a Q & A session, followed by dinner on campus.

If you would like to attend, RSVP to Sonja Casperson at casperso@augsburg.edu or 612-330-1171.

 

Thanks to all the Leadership Summit hosts for the Sept. 11 event!

This dinner event for the Campaign for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion included student research presentations; a faculty panel presentation; featured speakers President Paul Pribbenow and Chief Academic Officer and Provost Karen Kaivola; and special music by Augsburg students.

Paul Pribbenow, President

Karen Kaivola, Provost & Chief Academic Officer

Amy Gort, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs & Dean of Arts and Sciences

Lori Peterson, Assistant Vice President of Academic Affairs & Dean of Graduate and Professional Studies

Bruce Batten, Director Master’s of Business Administration

Jacqueline  deVries, History Professor & Director of General Education

Suzanne Dorée, Mathematics Professor

Rebekah Dupont, Director STEM Programs

Darcey Engen ’88, Theater Arts Associate Professor & Chair

Vivian Feng, Chemistry Associate Professor

Bob Groven, Communication Studies Professor & Director of the Honors Program

Stella Hofrenning, Economics Associate Professor

Russell Kleckley, Religion Associate Professor & Chair

David Matz, Psychology Professor

Marc McIntosh, Business-MIS Assistant Professor

Tom Morgan, Leadership Studies Professor

David Murr ’92, Physics Associate Professor

Dale Pederson ’70, Biology Associate Professor

Noel Petit, Computer Science Professor & Chair

Deborah Redmond, Communication Studies Assistant Professor & Chair

John Schmit, English Professor & Chair

Dixie Shafer, Director Undergraduate Research & Graduate Opportunities

Jody Sorensen, Mathematics Associate Professor

Ben Stottrup, Physics Associate Professor & Chair

Kathy Swanson, English Professor

Joseph Underhill, Political Science Associate Professor

Shana Watters, Computer Science Associate Professor

John Zobitz, Mathematics Associate Professor & Chair

 

McNeff Legacy at Augsburg Remains Strong

McNeff FamilyTwo Generations in One Family Work Together to Make $650,000 Gift for CSBR

Augsburg College has been part of life for Clayton McNeff ’91 further back than he can remember. He has walked the college halls since he was old enough to walk. His mother, Marie Olive McNeff, taught for almost three decades in the Education Department and later was vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.

His spouse Denise Sideen McNeff ’94 also has lifelong memories of Augsburg. “I grew up going to games and spaghetti dinners on campus with my dad, Wes Sideen ’58, who served on the Alumni Board for years. My uncle, Neil Sideen ’65, is an Auggie too.”

The two generations of the McNeff family—Clayton and Denise along with Clayton’s parents, Larry and Marie—gave $650,000 to sponsor a chemistry suite in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Clayton says the gift is not purely financial. “Mom gave her whole self to Augsburg College. She worked with people to allow them to reach their potential. That lives on with Augsburg College, and it is something we honor.” His mother died last year.

CSBR will help different departments collaborate
on solving the world’s problems

Clayton, who majored in chemistry at Augsburg, received a Ph.D. in Analytical Chemistry from the University of Minnesota. He predicts far-reaching results from bringing science, business, and religion together. “Augsburg always has had great faculty. Extraordinary interactions between faculty and students have led to great accomplishments like graduates winning the Nobel Prize and Rhodes Scholarship. The CSBR will bring these conversations into a top-notch physical space.”

Large universities tend to isolate research within discreet departments. “The strength of Augsburg is that as a small liberal arts college we can encourage interdisciplinary work. We can break the walls down between silos and solve bigger problems. The CSBR will actively bring disciplines together and help engender conversation that our society deeply needs to solve the world’s problems.”

Striving to protect the very future of the human race

Clayton’s business, Ever Cat Fuels, has a mission to preserve the future of the human race through the development of clean-burning biodiesel fuel. One of Clayton’s colleagues in the work is an Auggie and Rhodes Scholar. While still an undergraduate, Brian Krohn ’09 did research aimed at producing biodiesel in a cleaner, more environmentally friendly way. McNeff, upon hearing of Krohn’s initial research, invited him to work with veteran scientists on developing the process for market.

5 cents a gallon adds up fast

Ever Cat Fuels was launched in 2008. A production facility in Isanti, Minn., produces 3 million gallons a year of this clean-burning fuel. Even as Ever Cat Fuels was founded, the McNeffs envisioned Augsburg benefitting from the company’s success. “We pledged to give a nickel to Augsburg College for every gallon we sold over our first four years,” Clayton says.

Clayton’s father Larry is a biochemist with an entrepreneurial bent. Larry founded SarTec Corp., working on the uses of algae and sarsasaponin, a yucca plant component that promotes health and growth in animals. After receiving his Ph.D., Clayton joined his father in business at SarTec and later launched Ever Cat Fuels.

Meeting over a chem lab experiment

Clayton and Denise met when Clayton subbed as a proctor in her General Chemistry Lab. Little did the professor know she was igniting a relationship that would lead to marriage.

Denise majored in history and education with a minor in religion. She has been a public, charter and private school teacher. Currently, she oversees the education of their three children who study online through the Minnesota Virtual Academy. From her perspective as an educator, she says: “The CSBR will be wonderful. It will provide technological aspects that Augsburg needs, and the building’s aesthetics will help students learn.”

“It has been gratifying for our family to see progress toward creating the CSBR,” Clayton says. “My mom and dad instilled the values in me that it is important to support the things related to what you are doing and what you care about. We care deeply about helping Augsburg succeed for the sake of the larger world.”

Our Most Productive Feat. The President’s Perspective

paul on riverside September 2013Spring is “scholarship time”—a time when we celebrate scholarships and academics at our annual Scholarship and Donor Brunch and a time when we award the President’s, Fine Arts and other scholarships to first-year students who will join Augsburg next fall.

The competition for these prestigious awards is part of our annual Scholarship Weekend, which was held at the beginning of March this year. During the weekend, we welcomed nearly 150 highly qualified prospective first-year students, providing them an opportunity to immerse themselves in getting to know what Augsburg is about and to picture themselves a part of the Augsburg community.

Over the course of the weekend, we can see their excitement about Augsburg grow as they spend time on campus and with each other. At the same time, I can’t help but be struck by the impact that these students will make—that every one of our students makes—on the character, the mission, and the success of Augsburg College. Their educational experiences here shape them, yes, but at the same time, they shape who and what Augsburg is.

Our students are not a “product” of Augsburg College. The College is the product of the ambition, abilities, and agency of our students.

And you certainly don’t need to look far to find great examples of Augsburg students who are shaping what it means to be an Auggie. Let me tell you about just three of them:

Dan Kornbaum ’14, a physics student from Little Falls, Minn., is a leader on and off the basketball court. He earned a coveted spot this spring in the 2014 Reese’s Division III College All-Star game, which was played just before the NCAA Division III championship game. Dan also was named as one of 10 finalists for the Jostens Trophy, which is awarded each year to an outstanding Division III men’s and women’s basketball player who excels on the floor, in the classroom, and in the community. As evidence of his accomplishments in those latter two areas, Dan last year participated in a Research Experience for Undergraduates at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where he worked with high-altitude ballooning and also takes time to stay involved with his home church in Little Falls and its mission trips to Costa Rica.

Yemi Melka ’15, an international student from Ethiopia, is studying chemistry and international relations. As early as her freshman year, Yemi conducted undergraduate research—a rare achievement for a first-year student. In her sophomore year, she joined the Model United Nations program and, last summer, earned a spot as a Peace Scholar in Norway, where she studied the ways science can contribute to peace and international security. A Sundquist Scholar, an Interfaith Scholar, and a member of the Augsburg Honors Program, Yemi was also named a Spring Lobby Weekend Fellow this year and traveled to Washington, D.C., to research policy and inform others on how to make change and repeal policies that prevent peace.

Ibrahim Al-Hajiby ’14 was a high school exchange student from Yemen who returned to Minnesota to pursue studies in international relations and international business at Augsburg College. Ibrahim is a member of student government, active in interfaith scholarship, and a Kemper Scholar. Last year, he served as a Nobel Peace Prize Forum student attaché to Peace Prize Laureate Tawakkol Karman. Recently, Ibrahim won the Vincent L. Hawkinson Foundation Scholarship, established by the Foundation to encourage students who have demonstrated a commitment to strive for peace and justice both in their educational pursuits and in their personal and professional lives.

It’s because of students like these that we need to remain committed to making an Augsburg education accessible and affordable to a diverse body of students. This requires that we are vigilant in managing the costs of college as well as in providing support needed to students and their families in paying for their education. To that end, this spring, the Augsburg Board of Regents approved the lowest tuition increase in 10 years for the traditional day undergraduate program.

In addition, through the generosity of donors and continued institutional investment by the College, Augsburg is able to narrow the gap for most students between the cost of tuition and the expected family contribution set by the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid. More than 95 percent of incoming full-time day students receive some amount of institutional financial aid from the College.

We also pay close attention to metrics such as our federal student loan default rate—which, according to the Department of Education’s College Scorecard, is 3.6 percent, compared with the national average of 13.4 percent. Achieving a lower-than-average student loan default rate is especially compelling given that more than one-third of the students we serve come from lower-income households. And we are committed to maintaining this track record by helping families make informed decisions about student loan debt (including understanding the differences between federal and private loans) and ensuring that they are aware of newer financial aid options such as income-based loan repayment programs and public service or other loan forgiveness programs.

We recognize that students and families make significant investments in paying for college—investments that have long-term implications both in terms of debt loads and, on the plus side, in greater potential earning power. It’s a complex task to strike the right balance of institutional scholarship support, government aid, and family contributions—especially given the socioeconomic diversity our student body represents. But the goal of placing a high-quality education within reach of all who are willing to work for it is unequivocally worth it.

Augsburg is blessed to have donors and partners who join with us in this effort. The College and the entire Augsburg community are fortunate to support and serve these students—students who bring their gifts to Augsburg and whose dedication and accomplishments make us, and our world, better and stronger.

Best wishes for a blessed and joyful Easter,

Paul C. Pribbenow, President

Nodland Family Sponsors CSBR Classroom

To meet and know Jeff Nodland ’77 and Becky Bjella Nodland ’79 is to experience enthusiasm and positive energy along with a passion for Augsburg. Both currently volunteer for the College—Jeff, CEO of KIK Custom Products, also serves as a member of the Board of Regents and Becky as an active alum who appreciates the work of the Music Department. They are even more engaged now because their daughter, Emily, transferred to Augsburg this fall and is a sophomore studying early childhood and elementary education.

Now, through a pledge toward the Campaign for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, the Nodlands are committed to offering their generous financial support, with a goal of strengthening Augsburg’s academic programs. Jeff describes his career as a business leader as being “all about science,” which makes this gift especially meaningful.

Youth Group Weekend Leads to Love and Marriage

In the late 1970s, when many college students were taking to the streets in protest, Augsburg students (including Jeff and Becky) spent some college weekends traveling in station wagons to area churches. They spent their time singing songs, sharing their passion for faith and dedicating themselves to service to others and the church. Jeff and Becky met on one of these weekends and formed a partnership that has lasted for over 30 years. To this day, their eagerness and enthusiasm for Augsburg shine through. “It was life altering to attend Augsburg,” said Becky.

Giving Where It Is Needed Most

When asked what led them to make their leadership investment in the CSBR, Jeff replied, “If this is what is needed, we want to meet the need. We want to offer our resources where the College needs it most.”

Becky said, “We both had positive, encouraging, and supportive experiences at Augsburg. The music, and the academic and spiritual life at Augsburg made a huge difference in our lives and we are so grateful.”

Augsburg’s Strategic Vision for 2019. The President’s Perspective

With only a few weeks left in 2013, our campus is busy with preparations for final exams, final papers, and the holidays. Our 34th annual Advent Vespers services were a beautiful and profound way to usher in the Christmas season; it was terrific to see so many of you there again this year and to share the good news of Advent. Despite the bustle of activity that the holidays typically bring, I have always found the closing weeks of the year to be one of the best times for reflection. This year, my reflections focus on the unique role that Augsburg plays in the world.

This topic was at the core of the strategy discussions launched by the Board of Regents last January. And, as you may have read in the fall issue of Augsburg Now, one outcome of that strategic planning work is a vision statement that looks out to 2019, our sesquicentennial year: In 2019, Augsburg will be a new kind of student-centered, urban university that is small to our students and big for the world.

How will Augsburg achieve this 2019 vision?

1) First, we will focus on educating for lives of purpose. This is our academic distinction, the core of our work.

The statement in our 2019 vision that we are “small to our students” captures the student experience that so many of our alumni tell us made a difference in their lives. Augsburg is fundamentally student-centered. Our students work with faculty, coaches, and advisors who get to know them individually. In doing so, our faculty and staff are able to recognize each individual’s strengths and help them develop their gifts and talents in ways that provide each student with a pathway for success to graduation and beyond.

Of course, our most significant initiative in this area is the plan for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), which, as far as we know, is the only academic building of its kind to co-locate these three disciplines. The Center will allow us to expand our science and research programs, welcoming more students into programs that have opened doors to prestigious off-campus research and graduate school opportunities. The Center will also create a signature learning environment for our business program, which comprises the largest number of undergraduates on campus. By its nature, business is an interdisciplinary field—focused on planning, execution, and management in a vast number of industries. Co-locating business with science and religion enriches the learning experience for students in all three of those areas of study. Finally, by housing our religion department, the CSBR will welcome students from every single major on campus, as each of them participates in two required religion courses as part of the core curriculum, and will equip them to understand how faith and values are central to all aspects of human experience.

2) Second, Augsburg will achieve its 2019 vision by being “at the table” in shaping education to address the world’s needs.

Augsburg is widely known as an engaged community partner in Minneapolis and St. Paul, as well as in Rochester and around the world. Our commitment to preparing students for lives beyond college calls us to build on that foundation and be “big for the world.” This dimension of the plan recognizes that our academic program will be distinctive because it is relevant to the needs of our community, our region, and the world.

One recent example of our work in this area is the fast-track (three-year) bachelor’s in nursing program launched this fall in partnership with Minneapolis Community and Technical College (MCTC). The program allows students to complete a single application and be admitted to both schools—finishing their first two years at MCTC, then transferring seamlessly to complete their bachelor’s degree at Augsburg. This partnership helps us to meet the growing marketplace demand in the field of nursing and, at the same time, provides nursing students an outstanding, high-value educational experience. It is a terrific example of the kind of collaborative, innovative thinking that helps us meet the needs of our region.

3) Finally, achieving our 2019 vision means that Augsburg will be “built for the future.”

Ensuring that Augsburg will thrive now and in the future requires that we maintain a welcoming and sustainable campus; organizational structures that foster collaboration, efficiency, and effectiveness; and a sound and sustainable financial footing.

An important differentiation Augsburg has in this area is our urban location. Few colleges—including those located in other parts of the Twin Cities metro area—are positioned to influence and to benefit from their location as Augsburg is. When the Central Corridor Green Line begins operation in 2014, Augsburg will be in the only neighborhood in the metropolitan area with access to both Light Rail lines, providing easy access to both downtowns and to the businesses, arts organizations, religious institutions, and civic life found there.

Our location in the city has a profound effect on student opportunities. Following are examples of just a few of our recent alumni who were actively engaged in internships during their time at Augsburg—opportunities that have served them well in their early careers:

  • Dan Brandt ’11, a marketing major, landed a public affairs and community relations internship with the Minnesota Twins during his senior year. He went on to serve in community and public relations positions with both the Minnesota Timberwolves and the Minnesota Wild before transitioning to a leading public relations firm in Minneapolis. Today, he is an assistant account manager at Karwoski & Courage, one of the top 10 public relations firms in the Twin Cities.
  • Kristi Vinkemeier ’11 majored in chemistry and minored in biology. Her internship, a joint project between Aveda and SarTec Corporation, involved synthesizing new surfactants (which are used in shampoos and soaps). Kristi discovered her love of research from this experience and joined SarTec as an R&D scientist following her internship. Today, she works as an environmental health and safety coordinator at Integrated Recycling Technology, a privately held, global company specializing in the recycling of catalytic converters and high-grade circuit boards.
  • After graduating with a sociology major, Tom Thao ’11 served as an AmericCorps fellow for Minnesota Alliance with Youth, working with a north-metro public charter school to support academic achievement in its elementary school programs. Following that, he has worked as a community organizing and public relations assistant at Cycles for Change, coordinating programs to make biking accessible to under-served communities. Tom’s interest in urban planning and sustainable transportation was ignited during his internship with the Local Initiative Support Corporation, where he conducted housing and zoning research along the Central Corridor Light Rail line.

A distinctive academic program. A commitment to being at the table. And a focus on ensuring we are built for the future. That is the framework provided by our 2019 vision. I couldn’t be more excited about this strategic plan or more optimistic about the future of Augsburg College. The support you have shown in the past year—moving the CSBR campaign past the $25 million fundraising mark and making Augsburg the top fundraising college or university on Minnesota’s online Give to the Max Day last month—has provided important momentum in making sure Augsburg can continue to offer the unique education experiences we all value so deeply.

Best wishes for a blessed Christmas and a Happy New Year,

 

Paul C. Pribbenow
President

Leroy Nyhus ’52 Supports the Campaign with a Charitable Gift Annuity

Creating Charitable Gift Annuities: One Way Leroy Nyhus ’52 Demonstrates his Appreciation for Augsburg College

If you attend football, basketball, hockey, or baseball games at Augsburg College, you likely will see Leroy Nyhus ’52 in the stands, supporting the team. Living in suburban Minneapolis gives him easy access to home games and some away games.

Supporting the team is one way he demonstrates his appreciation for Augsburg. Another important way is supporting the educational mission financially. He gives annually and also has established charitable gift annuities (CGAs), providing him with fixed income for life. Learn more about CGAs by clicking here.

Leroy set up a charitable annuity some years ago at Augsburg. Recently he decided to create another, supporting the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), a facility that will enhance cross-disciplinary work.

1949 is 64 Years Ago!
“A new facility for science would be a real plus,” Leroy says. “I started Augsburg in January 1949. The current science building opened the next fall and now it is 64 years old. It is outdated. I toured the building recently and learned of the science instructional opportunities offered and the scientific research being done by students and faculty. Augsburg is well known for its quality science department. A new science facility will enhance instruction and research, and attract new students.”

He chose a gift annuity as his way to support the CSBR. “Getting tax benefits and a lifetime fixed-income stream at above-market rates doesn’t hurt. The rate of income I receive is much higher than I could get now through a CD at a bank. But the reason I give is my appreciation for Augsburg,” he explains. “Augsburg College gave me my teaching career, my beloved wife, and a circle of friends for life. I want to give something back for all that Augsburg has done for me.”

Badminton Was the Start of a Beautiful Relationship
Leroy met Betty Lee Munson, now deceased, one day when she was playing badminton her sophomore year at Augsburg. He later asked her to join him at an Augsburg football game. It was the start of a beautiful relationship. They married in 1953 and had three daughters, one of whom, Ruth, also graduated from Augsburg in 1981. Betty Lee attended Augsburg for two years, later finishing her B.A. at the University of Minnesota after raising their daughters.

Leroy majored in mathematics and minored in chemistry. After graduating, he taught 9th and 10th grade math plus a science class in Perham, Minn. for one year. Then he attained a master’s degree in education from the University of Minnesota. Afterward, Leroy signed on with the Mounds View School District, teaching and later counseling students for a total of 31 years.

From Homemaker to National Church Leader
Betty Lee, a homemaker for many years, later became Director of Stewardship for American Lutheran Church Women. When the Evangelical Lutheran Church was formed in 1988, Leroy and Betty Lee moved to Chicago. She was named the first Executive Director of Women of the ELCA. Later she was the ELCA Director of Stewardship and Mission Giving.

She also served on the board of directors for Lutheran World Relief (LWR). She traveled to Calcutta in 1987 to meet Mother Teresa, who wanted to thank LWR for a gift of 75,000 quilts. Leroy keeps a photo of Betty Lee’s meeting with Mother Teresa on his bookshelves. He thinks often of his love for her and of their shared Christian values, which included finding ways to be stewards of God’s many gifts.

Betty Lee relished a quote from Mother Teresa: “Rejoice that once more Christ is walking through the world in you and through you, going about doing good.”

Doing More Good!
Leroy ponders this quote each time he considers the good that Augsburg College is doing in the world and the many ways he and each one of us can help further that good.

CSBR Stephanie Weiss and James Trelstad-Porter believe

Director of News and Marketing Services Stephanie Weiss and Director of International Student and Scholar Services James Trelstad-Porter offer thanks to the CSBR’s $10 million anonymous donor and discuss the significance of Augsburg’s mission and the momentum created for the CSBR through generosity. Philanthropy creates excitement and enthusiasm for the CSBR and inspires others to participate and support the campaign. The CSBR will further Augsburg’s vision to prepare global citizens who genuinely understand diverse cultures.