Business Manager, Coordinator, or Coach—The Whole Team Cheers for the CSBR

Melodie Lane in stadiumMelodie Lane joined the Augsburg staff less than five years ago, but her team spirit makes it seem as if she’s been here much longer. She is both a generous donor to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion and a CSBR campaign cheerleader through and through.

“There are times when I’m the face of Augsburg in the athletics office. But then, we’re all the face of Augsburg,” says Lane, who serves as athletics business manager/program coordinator, is a current Master of Arts in Leadership student, and also coordinates the A-Club.

Her journey here covered several of her many interests. She taught elementary school, managed theater productions, became a real estate appraiser, and ran an appraisal business in Texas before following her brother-in-law, then an assistant football coach, and sister, who previously worked in the athletics department, to the inner-city campus.

“I think Jeff [Swenson '79, Athletic Director] knew we had a good work ethic in our family when he called, and I was looking for a change,” says Lane, who began as an over-qualified administrative assistant but happily pursues new responsibilities. “The reason why I’m still here is not so much the job I do—everyone wants to do meaningful work, and sometimes secretarial things just need to be done. It’s something about all the people here, the mission of the college, and the mission of the athletic department that makes you feel you’re part of the team. And that makes you want to stay.”

Lane didn’t hesitate when Swenson challenged his department to give the CSBR their full support. “I would say we mirror his passion and his commitment to the college being the best it can be. I believe the CSBR is the next big step for our entire campus,” she says. “I’m not a science or a business major, so it doesn’t connect for me in that way. It’s more about the college as a whole and what we can accomplish together as servant-leaders in the world.”

Lane is now an official Auggie, having finished her master’s degree in leadership in May. She is excited about collaborating with Athletic Department Chaplain Mike Matson ’07 on an authentic leadership project. She also manages to pursue her photography, gift, and card business in her spare time.

“I keep doing things I love. That’s just who I am,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been blessed in so many ways, over and over—not just my job, but my master’s degree, the people I work with, the entire Auggie family. So I want to give back, to carry this forward so that those who follow and want a great education can have it.”

Lane is convinced that the CSBR will attract more students. “I really do believe Augsburg is a diamond in the rough. We’re the middle-of-the-city school, probably the most diverse in the metro area. But we keep surprising people, and we don’t settle for mediocrity.”

She cites last year’s new field turf and this year’s “amazing scoreboard,” dedicated to the late Edor Nelson, as examples of striving for excellence. “The CSBR campaign brings us closer and closer to that every day,” she adds. “We are not a school that has large endowments. We work hard for our success, and when things turn out, we’re proud of it. We really are determined to be the best we can be.”

Activating Our Engagement

Shelby Andress '56I often ask myself when I volunteer for Augsburg: what helps someone decide to take the leap and actively engage as an Auggie? What turns someone from interested to active and committed?

When my husband Jim ’51 returned from World War II, he planned to continue his education in pre-med. However, when he “mustered out,” Veterans Affairs discovered he had come home with tuberculosis. After three years in a sanatorium, he was considered well. Still, he learned that medical school would not accept him. Fortunately, a VA counselor suggested he look into becoming a science teacher, and referred him to Augsburg. Here he found his passion and pathway to lifelong service—his own way for making a brighter future for others as a teacher and administrator.

When Jim died in 1996, we received many generous memorial gifts in his honor. I was pleased to receive guidance from our pastor to collect them all and create an endowed scholarship to honor Jim. It made perfect sense to me!

Today that endowed fund has grown more robust. Now I can provide a more generous scholarship to our deserving students. I so enjoy learning about the students who receive support for their Augsburg education.

Sometimes we need someone else to show us the pathway and help us know how to activate our generosity and engagement. That pastor helped expand one aspect of my commitment to this great College.

Another wonderful example is found in the spirit of Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE).

What I love about AWE is that we are women of all ages coming together to connect, learn from one another, and give generously. Cumulative gifts of AWE have exceed our initial fundraising goal of $100,000, and include naming a student study lounge in the future Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

I don’t have the means to do big gifts. But I also know that active engagement and giving go together. I found ways to increase the level of my giving by using estate planning tools. I could not have imagined just how large a gift I can make because of this planning, and I am so satisfied to share with my family this decision to make a stretch gift in this way.

My passion in life is to facilitate the work of leaders, and I especially like to do that by continuing to meet and learn from the amazing students I meet on campus. I know, too, how essential it is to their future and ours to put my money to work to invest in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, where the faculty, passionately dedicated to the vision and mission of our college will foster great leaders for tomorrow.

Please join me and take a leap to engage with Augsburg. Come back to Homecoming—there are so many opportunities to connect—attend a reunion, and be sure to give. For I believe that it is in giving we expand the circle that is a great Augsburg tradition. Read on to learn more stories of generosity for the Class Challenge effort.

Shelby Andress ’56

Steve Nielsen ’64: Returning to his roots on the farm and at Augsburg

Steve and Becky NielsenSeveral days each season, Steve Nielsen ’64 (pictured with his wife, Becky Nielsen ’65) can be found working his 80 acres of soybeans and corn in southwest Minnesota. “I like the serenity that comes with being out in the field: the time alone, sitting in a tractor cab, and the satisfaction that comes with the harvest,” he explains. He’s returning to his roots, working some of the same land he helped farm as a teenager. His roots also extend to Augsburg, where he has made gifts and pledges totaling $200,000 in support of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. “I felt grateful that Augsburg allowed me to have some success in life, and I thought I should share that,” Steve says.

Growing Years

These days farming is a hobby and a chance for some quiet time on the tractor, but back in the day it was a way of life for Steve’s family and community. In the 1950s, most rural Minnesota schools weren’t focused on preparing young people for college. “I knew other people from my high school who attended one or two semesters at the U of M and flunked out,” says Steve, whose teachers had never asked him to write a term paper or read an entire book until he started college.

He was nervous about being underprepared, but he wanted to go to college and become a high school teacher and football coach. “That was all I knew: farming or teaching,” he says. At Augsburg, he played football (even going up against future Vikings tackle Gary Larsen in a game against Concordia College in Moorhead, Minn.), and worked hard to make ends meet. One year during the football off-season, Steve and his roommate worked at a dairy processor in St. Paul, lugging 100-pound bags for eight hours, and getting home at 2 a.m. “That hurt my grades badly,” remembers Steve. “But once you get started [with college], you don’t quit, because it’s an admission of failure.” Attending chapel provided him with a respite from the whirlwind of work, classes, and football.

Cultivating a Career

After graduation Steve obtained a commission in the U.S. Navy and served four years, which included service in Vietnam. “When I came back, I realized that teaching wasn’t for me,” Steve remembers. “I didn’t have the patience.” He went to work as a field representative for Del Monte Foods, eventually rising to become vice president of vegetable production. He finished his career as vice president of supply chain management at Chiquita, and retired in 2006.

He is the immediate past chair of the Carver County Republicans, in which he has been active for many years. Steve and his wife Becky met at Augsburg, and have three daughters. They have 11 grandchildren; his granddaughter Morgan is just beginning her second year at Augsburg.

Planting the Seed for Future Students

Fifty years after graduating from Augsburg, Steve credits the college with helping him develop good judgment and teaching him how to work with other people. Steve’s support of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion boosts the Class of 1964’s response to the Class Challenge, which seeks to raise an average of $1 million from each class for the CSBR. “The only way that an institution like Augsburg can survive and thrive is with the support of alumni and friends,” says Steve.

Popular Professor Celebrates Mind, Spirit, and Work with CSBR Donation

mark engebretson“The Center for Science, Business, and Religion really encapsulates a substantial part of what Augsburg is about: an environment that celebrates both the mind and the spirit, and also celebrates the reality of Christian vocation,” says popular physics professor Mark Engebretson, who retired—sort of—in May. He and his wife tithe regularly, but have also pledged a substantial CSBR donation and urge other faculty to follow suit.

Today, academic and worldly endeavors cannot be separated. “As Christians, we’re here to make the world a better place or at least support it so it doesn’t fall apart, and that means the world of work. At the same time, we’re thinking beings and we’re curious,” he explains. “That’s a basic contrast to the way the world was 2,000 years ago. Education then was for elite thinkers and had no practical consequences; work was done by slaves.”

Deep Intersections

Deep thought about how disciplines intersect is nothing new for Engebretson, who joined the Augsburg faculty in 1976 after earning a Master’s in divinity at Luther Theological Seminary and a physics Ph.D., at the University of Minnesota. He declined to choose between science and religion.

“I was interested in too many things, and certainly both science and Christianity,” he says. “I applied to every ELCA college in the country and also inquired about posts at two international Christian colleges, in Tokyo and Beirut.” He chose Augsburg for its tenure track and the opportunity to teach courses such as Science and Ethics; Physics, Computers, and Society; and Issues in Science and Religion.

Subversives in Action

Science and religion have been connected for a long time, he says, citing initial Catholic church suspicions that Copernicus and Galileo were closet Lutherans whose theology was subversive. “Some people have trouble making those connections, and once in a while, there’s friction between the two,” he says. The ongoing brouhaha over the evolution theories of Darwin and others is another example. “The idea that life developed from simple forms bothered a lot of people and still does. The hope that I could shed light rather than heat on those topics is why I wanted to teach at an ELCA college.”

Engebretson studies the earth’s space environment and radiation belts, and was one of eight U.S., Canadian, and Japanese scientists chosen to consult with NASA on a recent satellite mission. Augsburg, one of the very first small colleges to give physics undergraduates the opportunity to do cutting-edge research, owns and manages experimental instruments that measure magnetic fields at remote sites in the Arctic and Antarctic regions. Engebretson is delighted that outside sources have funded almost all of his research work, making scarce resources available to others. Since 2008, he has brought in more than $2.2 million in National Science Foundation grants.

Needs for Space Shifting

Building facility requirements used to be minimal. “Our space physics projects didn’t need a lot of specialized equipment in labs because it was all in space, all over the world. Research could take place in a college stretched for dollars,” he says. “But now that we’re doing more research in chemistry, biology and computer science as well as physics, we’re running out of room and confronting limitations in a pretty old building.”

He recalls the 1990s, when the Physics Department won National Science Foundation funding to renovate and expand its lab facilities. “Once that was done, enrollment increased almost immediately and has remained higher ever since, so we have a data point. Having attractive facilities and enough space means we can have a better program.”

Although he has officially given up teaching, Engebretson will still conduct research (two multi-year proposals were recently funded) at Augsburg, as well as in Maryland, where he will be a frequent visitor at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Lab and NASA’s Goddard Space Flight Center. He will also continue to mentor students, a role he relishes.

“Having one-on-one relationships with students is a wonderful way of learning and growing as a professional. And to use that professional creativity in all those various ways, we need buildings,” he says. “The CSBR is a wonderful idea that exemplifies a lot of what I love about Lutheran Christianity, the theology that undergirds this place.”

Called to Action: September’s Good News

Mike-Good-headshotSomeone asked me recently: “What have you learned from your many visits with alumni and friends who are considering making their gift to Augsburg for this transformative campaign to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion?”

One thing that stands out is that Auggies truly believe in the mission of this College. Many alums reflect on the impact that their experience at Augsburg has had on their lives. Some speak to what it meant to be engaged in learning in our urban environment. Many reflect on our deep roots in the Lutheran tradition and on our ongoing commitment to be a beacon of light reflecting our faith, values and commitment to serve our neighbor. All realize the importance of Augsburg’s passionate focus on the vital role of preparing tomorrow’s leaders for our communities, country, and world.

All About Relationships

Another thing that I have learned is that Auggies are forever! Relationships that people developed during their years on campus have turned into lifelong, deep friendships. Augsburg is a place that brings people together and forms relationships that grow richer over the years. That is certainly my personal experience. My closest and deepest friendships are with my Auggie friends.

Thirdly, almost everyone talks about at least one major relationship with a teacher, athletic coach, music or drama director, or other Augsburg mentor who impacted their lives forever! Those mentors instilled in them the confidence that they had what it takes to succeed. They gave them the confidence to believe in themselves, which became transformative … even if they may not have fully understood the transformation until later in their lives.

Giving Thanks

Ultimately, each person I meet with speaks with a voice of gratitude and thankfulness for what they experienced and what they grew into … whether it was professional success, financial success, or personal development and fulfillment. This gratitude leads them to say, “I want to give back because I have received so much and have been blessed.”

Lastly, I am witnessing a growing tidal wave of pride and excitement in our Alumni and friends of Augsburg! (I am hoping for a tsunami.) People are believing that this is Augsburg’s time to boldly elevate the visibility of our mission and the powerful impact of an Augsburg educational experience. They believe that the College is well-positioned for greatness. They are proud of the extraordinary work being done by our students as guided by passionate, gifted and committed faculty and staff.

Positioned for Greatness

These generous donors feel called to become a partner in the exciting journey of Augsburg College. They also sense that it will take a strong and deep commitment on the part of many Auggies to make the CSBR a reality. They believe it is our time! And they believe their contribution will make a difference.

Thanks to all of the hundreds of individuals and families who have already joined us in this campaign! Your support continues to energize me!

We have momentum and the wave of support continues to build. Let’s create our own transformational tsunami that will help Augsburg develop the next generation of enlightened leaders for our churches, communities, country, and the world!

Will you join us in this movement? I am eager to hear from you.

Mike Good ’71

David and Mary Croft ’79 to Give $25,000 for AWE-inspired space in CSBR

Growing up in Papua New Guinea as the daughter of missionaries, Mary Croft ’79 learned a thing or two about living a simple life. croft

“Our living conditions were fairly primitive or perhaps rustic,” she says, fondly recalling her first home, which had a thatched roof and woven bamboo floors. “I think our parents did all they could to make us feel as though we weren’t missing anything by growing up in a developing country.”

Memories of Mary’s early living conditions flooded her mind when she toured Augsburg’s 60-year-old science building just a few months ago.

“The fact Augsburg can earn these amazing grants and work in this building is pretty mind boggling,” she says when thinking about the building that looks nearly identical to what it did in the ’60s when she first studied at Augsburg.

Now, Mary and her husband, David, want to ensure that Augsburg students don’t feel they’re missing anything either.

The Crofts have pledged a $25,000 gift for the AWE-inspired (Augsburg Women Engaged) student study lounge in the future Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

Because of this generous commitment, the AWE CSBR fundraising initiative has surpassed its initial $100,000 goal. In the meantime, the initiative continues to gain momentum as more alumnae and friends learn about the AWE fundraising initiative and want to join the effort.

Mentored to give more

The desire for the Crofts to give to this project is multifaceted.

David, a retired Andersen Windows manager who humbly says he “worked in marketing and finance,” looks forward to seeing the cross-disciplinary building help grow the business industry. In fact, it was in business that David was inspired to be philanthropic.

David says former Andersen Windows founder and president, the late Fred Andersen, was a very philanthropic person who always gave from the heart. David is now engaged in the philanthropic community, giving to causes like Augsburg’s CSBR and, separately, serving on the board of the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation.

Mary’s inspiration to give stems from her 95-year-old father who, with his meager means, gave generously to causes close to his heart.

Since health sciences and women’s issues are causes close to Mary’s heart, giving to the AWE-inspired space in the CSBR seemed like a natural fit.

The 68-year-old said she got “caught up in the women’s movement.”

“I’ve always been an independent person,” says Mary. “I was one of the few Andersen management’s wives who worked in their chosen field. While I enjoyed attending Andersen functions, I also wanted to have a career independent of my husband’s.”

Wellness as a pathway

Mary’s passion for public health led her to a career in healthcare. She primarily worked as a nurse at the prison in Stillwater, Minn., encouraging prisoners to remain healthy, as opposed to treating them once they got sick.

Mary’s interest in health and wellness attracted her back to Augsburg in the late ’70s, where she had initially studied education for two years before the College began offering health science degrees.

Mary enrolled as a nontraditional student in the bachelor of science in nursing program while also working full time and raising her and David’s young son, Matthew. Mary proudly became an Augsburg alumna in 1979 and thrived in her nursing career.

She describes both of her stints at Augsburg as defining. As an 18-year-old, Mary excitedly but nervously ventured to the United States, without any family, to study at Augsburg.

“Being at Augsburg helped me integrate into the American culture,” Mary says, adding that Augsburg was, and still is, like a home to her. “College is a defining period in life when students are finding their home and a niche.”

Encouraging others to join

Through their gift, the Crofts are pleased to be playing an important part in making the Augsburg experience even more defining for students who will study in the future cross-disciplinary building.

“Having been a missionary, you make do with whatever is given to you,” Mary says.

And the new AWE-inspired study lounge in the CSBR is what Mary would like to give to current and future Augsburg students.

 

Beth Franklin ’09 Thanks Augsburg with Pledge to CSBR

Franklin_Beth 1

Photo courtesy Star Tribune 2014

“There was some kind of serendipity involved,” says Beth Franklin ’09 of the events that led her to Augsburg College. As a high school senior she had her sights set on attending a large research university, but when that institution put her on a wait list, both her father and a mentor suggested she consider Augsburg. She visited campus, felt completely at home, and applied for admission immediately. “I’ve never doubted that choosing Augsburg was the right decision,” says Beth, who majored in accounting and music business. “You really get an incomparable experience at a small, mission-driven college.” Now an alumna, she stays involved with Augsburg by attending alumni events, keeping up connections with faculty, and supporting The Augsburg Fund and CSBR Campaign.

The Auggie experience

“I may have been over-involved,” says Beth of her student days. She served on the Student Council; co-chaired the Accounting and Finance Club; and served as an orientation leader, an accounting tutor, and a community advisor. She also served as the student representative on several committees, and had internships at St. Paul’s History Theatre and Fox Tax, a Minneapolis firm where she now works as a CPA. She describes the senior keystone course in El Salvador on Vocation and the Christian Faith as a profound religious experience. “I had such an amazing experience at Augsburg that I didn’t want it to end,” says Beth.

Some of her friends wonder why she supports Augsburg financially when she’s still paying off the student loans she took out to supplement scholarships, paychecks, and her mom’s help. “I think of paying back the loan as paying for my education,” explains Beth. “My gifts are a way of paying Augsburg back for the experience and the way it shaped me… I am who I am because of Augsburg.”

Career connections

Beth secured an internship and, eventually, her current job at Fox Tax, thanks to her advisor, Accounting Professor Stu Stoller, who suggested that she apply for a scholarship from the American Society of Women Accountants (now the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance). A member of the scholarship selection committee referred her to Fox Tax, which shares Beth’s interest in providing tax services to individuals and small businesses in the creative industry. After earning a Master’s of Business Taxation and working for two years at a local public accounting firm, Beth returned to a full-time position at Fox Accounting. She recently recruited fellow Auggie Greg Mann ’11 to the firm.

Every gift counts

Beth says she supports the CSBR Campaign in addition to The Augsburg Fund because it gives people something of which to be proud, it’s good for campus, and it’s good for student recruitment. “I never gave it a second thought that science, business, and religion belong in the same building because of how seamlessly they are integrated at Augsburg.”

“I’m honored to be associated with Augsburg,” says Beth. “Just imagine what would happen if everyone in my class—or in every class—gave $5 a month.”

I Choose Augsburg

Do you stop and wonder sometimes, how is it we make the choices that turn us in life-changing directions? Decisions like where to go to college, whether and with whom to create a family, and what final Shelby Andress vocation to embrace.

 

As an active and engaged alumna of Augsburg, I marvel at how this small campus shifted me in almost every way. It’s why I am committed to its future strength.

 

As some of you know, I grew up on the prairie of North Dakota. My congregation in Minot was of the Lutheran Free Church tradition, with strong ties to Augsburg.  In eighth grade I heard the Augsburg Choral Club, and I decided right then that Augsburg was where I wanted to go to college.

 

While a student, I traveled to post-war Europe. That’s when I met my husband, Jim ’51, on board ship. Jim was part of the flood of soldiers who had returned from World War II on the GI bill, and were being welcomed at Augsburg. That was a time of both relief and optimism. With Jim by my side in Europe’s war-torn countries, I had my eyes opened to people living in refugee camps. I saw children of war.

 

We witnessed how geography and conditions can make life unbelievably hard. We felt all the more gratitude for our own circumstances.

 

Augsburg instilled in us a commitment to find and act on what we can do to help others. Jim became an educator, we raised our family, and I worked for a  youth development research organization.

 

Today, I see Augsburg as a place that acts on its foundational commitments—a place that models resilience, and turns toward growth.

 

I write you now because I have joined Chris Ascher and Wayne Jorgenson in helping lead the Class Challenge effort to secure gifts of $1 million from each Augsburg class in support of the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

 

My family and I decided to do two things: to endow a scholarship and to dedicate a room in the CSBR. In making these gifts, we stretched ourselves to do more than we at first thought possible. And, now that we have made these commitments, we find great joy in acting on our belief in this wonderful college.

 

I see this new center as a highly innovative educational opportunity—a center for interconnected learning, for the formation of lifelong relationships and transformative discoveries. The integration of learning around science, business, and religion is crucial to effective global citizenship. Beyond their life’s work, more students will find their purpose and guiding-life direction. By making these investments, I can help Augsburg keep its roots strong.

 

As you read the stories shared in this issue of the Class Challenge news, you will learn about others who have made similar investments in Augsburg’s great future. Please join us by making your commitment to the CSBR through the Class Challenge. I look forward to the day we can spread the good news of your gift, too.

Shelby Andress ’56