While that definition speaks to my experience at Augsburg, I have been thinking of the word differently. What has been on my mind is the efforts of many that turn the tide in the direction of success, the people who champion a great cause and see an effort through to its completion.
This month I am celebrating the champions of my own Augsburg class of ’81 who have made their gifts in support of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) and exceeded our $1 million goal. It’s great to have our class on the leader board!
I am also pleased that in the past month we have added 39 givers to those who have said yes to supporting the CSBR and joined others, now totaling nearly 600 alumni donors to the campaign.
Later this week many alumni and friends of Augsburg will join us for a CSBR Class Leadership Summit. We will shine a light on the classes that have already contributed $1 million dollars or more to the CSBR, and bring attention to the classes who are well on their way. This gives us a chance to honor the championing of Augsburg, and the momentum growing both on and off campus. We will draw attention to some of the named spaces honoring faculty members. A contribution to one of these named spaces would also “count” towards your class challenge. Read about one of these
challenges in the profile featuring Corky Hall ’71.
As you read on, you will hear the many great reasons alumni and faculty are generously investing in the future of Augsburg. Thank you for continuing to do three things:
- to consider your own stretch giving,
- to contact people who need to hear the story of Augsburg and
- to believe in the CSBR and Augsburg’s future.
Thank you for your ongoing encouragement and enthusiasm. It’s the fuel for champions everywhere!
Chris Ascher ’81
“Making a donation in my father’s honor while he is still living was not a difficult decision,” says Bruce Nelson, ’71. “The Center for Science, Business, and Religion is something I believe in. When you get to a certain age and believe in something, then you want to be a part of it.” Bruce and his wife, Kathy, have pledged $25,000 to the CSBR.
Bruce’s father, Edor Nelson, ’38, has earned their honor in several ways. Born in Dawson, Minnesota, Edor was the first man in Lac qui Parle County to be drafted for World War II. He was inducted in August 1941, assigned to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, and captured in 1944 while trying to cross the Moselle River in France. He spent several months as a POW in Poland before escaping with four fellow prisoners and making his long way home by foot, boxcar and boat to reunite with his wife and high school sweetheart, Dorathy.
Super coach influences many
In 1946, the couple bought a house in south Minneapolis, where they raised Bruce and his brother. Edor joined Augsburg as an instructor and coach, or, you might say, super coach. He coached football for 23 seasons (1947-1969). He coached baseball for 34 seasons (1946-1979). He brought hockey back to Augsburg as coach in 1956-57. And he was Augsburg’s first wrestling coach, from 1949 through 1963. Edor Nelson Field is named for him.
So it’s no surprise that Bruce wants to honor his father. In fact, the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. Currently president of the Augsburg A-Club, which his father launched with three colleagues in 1936, Bruce was football team captain while at Augsburg, then spent 36 years as a high school teacher and coach. Now retired and passionate about fundraising, he was instrumental in convincing not only the A-Club but also the Augsburg coaches—all of them—to support the CSBR capital campaign.
Augsburg in a great place
“It’s a very exciting time. Augsburg has never been in a better place,” Bruce says. “The major change I see is that instead of us having to go out and seek new students, they will come and seek us out. The CSBR will be a draw, even for student athletes. It will be a showcase.” About 480 student athletes—80 more than last year—play sports at Augsburg, which enjoyed a 70% winning season last fall, earning much national respect, and is home to the first women’s lacrosse program in the Upper Midwest.
“For a tuition-driven school, that’s a great situation,” Bruce says. It’s also a situation made great by the contributions of many, including both father and son.
Tim Miller is one proud husband. “He claims to this day that he married the founding president and only member of the little known Augsburg Car-Starting Program,” laughs Deb (Anderson) Miller ’72. Deb and Tim met when she was an Auggie education major, he was a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota, and they both worked part-time at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Tim parked across the street at Augsburg. After they started dating, Deb made frequent trips outside to start his car during the frigid Minnesota winters. Thus, they say, was the start of “The Miller Team,” a partnership marked by deep faith, hard work, profound challenges, and great joy.
The Millers have created a charitable foundation focused on supporting healthcare and education organizations like Augsburg. “We’re not taking any of the tangible things with us,” explains Tim. “It’s our responsibility to assist with the development of others.” After supporting the Augsburg Fund for many years, they recently made a commitment to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). A chemistry faculty office will be named in recognition of their gift. The Millers see the blending of these three philosophies (Science, Business, and Religion) as unique, thoughtful, and intriguing—and most importantly, symbolic of the College’s entire mission.
Lifting others up
“Augsburg is a gem that does not just work on creating a glittering façade,” they say. “It exists to build people up so that they can go out into the world to lift it up.” Deb says she was a “quiet little mouse” when she left Jackson, Minnesota, for Augsburg in 1968. “I really had little exposure to the big picture of life,” she recalls. “Augsburg changed me and changed the direction of my life.” By volunteering with children’s organizations around the Twin Cities and teaching Sunday school in North Minneapolis, Deb became more aware of others’ fears and difficulties. “Today, Augsburg retains a singular focus on helping people grow and increasing their self-awareness so they can help the world,” says Deb. “If anything, the message of service is even stronger today than it ever was.”
Inspired by faculty
At Augsburg, Deb met inspirational figures like education professor Marie McNeff, whose progressive educational philosophies shaped Deb’s own teaching style. “She was far ahead of her time,” explains Deb. “She taught us that a true teacher considers what is now known as the ‘whole person’ and welcomes everyone, regardless of their needs or gifts.” One of Deb’s part-time jobs was helping Chaplain Orlin Mandsager with childcare, and she became close to the family in the process. “Chapel came to be a very significant part of my life,” she remembers. “It was very grounding to take that moment out of the regular routine.”
Strengthening the core of each person
“All of these experiences helped me become more self-aware,” she explains. “I began to embrace the Augsburg message that I mattered as an individual, and that even I had the potential to benefit the world.”
Deb went on to teach middle school in New Prague, Minnesota, for many years, and Tim became a physician. Together, they raised three children: Daughter Adina is an ER physician like her father, and Brittany is an oncology RN and mother of triplets. Nate ’06 is a paramedic. Nate, who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a pre-schooler, participated in Augsburg’s CLASS program, which helps academically qualified students with disabilities reach their individual potential. “Tim and I became involved with the Parent and Family Council during Nate’s years at Augsburg and fell in love with Augsburg all over again,” says Deb.
“We discovered anew that Augsburg walks its talk….It lives out what it asserts to be.”
Have you ever just let yourself say, “Yes!” because you were so very enthused about and persuaded by the person you just met? That happened to me last Friday.
I attended the annual Augsburg student research event known as Zyzzogeton (a word I learned very few of us know how to pronounce—phonetically it sounds like Zizz za gee ton). It was put on by Augsburg’s URGO Office (Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity). This department, so capably run by Dixie Shafer, helps students apply for research opportunities both during the school year as well as during the summer, either here on campus or at many fine institutions throughout the country.
At this year-end celebration of their work, 80 students presented 70 posters of their research to any and all who walked by and were willing to stop long enough for them to start telling the story of their explorations and discoveries. This event caused me to envision what a tremendous impact the Center for Science, Business, and Religion will have on future student research projects at Augsburg.
One young man in particular caught my attention—Kirubel Frew, a senior Augsburg chemistry student. While talking with him, I noticed the headline on his poster. It included the words “cure for cancer.” That intrigued me.
As we visited, he told me about the invitation he has, right after his graduation on May 4, to spend the summer at Harvard. He wants to continue this research that trains one’s own immune system to find and attack cancer cells. He hopes to see if these cells pushed through a filter might open the cells up, triggering action to devour the bad cells and strengthen the good ones. Now that is an audacious idea!
Kirubel found Augsburg from his home country of Zimbabwe (he was born in Ethiopia but grew up in Zimbabwe). He started searching for a way to come to the United States to study.
Luckily, Augsburg starts with A, and so he found us first. With scholarship support, he started his inquiry into the sciences and the path he is on now, to become a medical researcher. I could not help but add some financial support to help him continue his work this summer.
Challenges lead to success
More and more Auggies are adding their heartfelt “Yes!” to the campaign for the Center for Science, Business and Religion. You will see that another class has broken the $1 million goal. Welcome, Augsburg Class of ’81! Thank you to everyone in the class for stepping forward with your contributions, each one adding up to a very large number.
We invite many more of you to do the same and join us with a contribution. You might find you can give $100, or maybe $1,000, or maybe much more—perhaps thousands of dollars directed toward your belief in a stronger Augsburg.
Each gift truly matters as we want to increase the numbers of donor participants—those who will let people like Kirubel know he made a great choice to come to Augsburg:
• a place that encourages exploration and discovery,
• a place that welcomes people eager to learn, and dedicated to giving back.
Read on and learn of others making the choice to add their “Yes” to Augsburg. And please join us today with your own special way of saying yes. Call the Office of Alumni and Constituent Relations at 612-330-1173 and say, “I want to help.”
Wayne Jorgenson ’71
Class Challenge Chair