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

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.”

Husfloen Legacy to Live on in CSBR

HusfloenLast fall a member of the Augsburg community, James Husfloen, passed away in Fargo, North Dakota.  Jim attended Augsburg in the fall of 1954 for two years and returned for a semester in 1960.  Other students at that time were Pastor Bob Bagley ’58 and US Representative Martin Sabo ’59, who roomed with him in Alpha Beta Gamma Delta in Memorial Hall one year, as well as Jim’s brother, Richard ’60. After leaving Augsburg, Jim entered the Air National Guard, served in the Air Force, and graduated from Moorhead State in 1970. Jim left the College a significant estate gift of $170,000, which will be designated towards the CSBR. Although Jim didn’t graduate from Augsburg, Gordon Meland, a good friend of Jim’s since grade school, said Jim had a “soft spot for Augsburg.”  His generosity reflects his commitment to education, his Norwegian, Lutheran upbringing and loyalty to his family and community.

 

Jim, born January 21, 1932, in Fargo, North Dakota, was the oldest son of Norwegian Americans Joe and Clara Alfreida (Simonson) Husfloen. His father, was a non-ordained minister and preached in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Some will still remember Richard L. Husfloen ’60, Jim’s younger brother. He graduated from Augsburg in Theology and also taught Sociology at Augsburg after finishing his graduate studies at Luther Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. Richard died quite suddenly in Sun City, Arizona, in 2003.  His career in the ministry, as pastor, administrator, and resource developer, prepared him for his role as the 12th President of Augustana University College in Camrose, Alberta, where he served for seven years before retiring in 2003.

 

Jim graduated from Oak Grove School in Fargo in 1950.  After attending Augsburg, he and his friend Gordon joined the Air National Guard. Jim lived two years on Moody Air Force base in Valdosta, Georgia, training pilots.  His experiences rescuing downed pilots affected him throughout his life.  After returning to the Fargo area, Jim entered college again and graduated from Moorhead State University on June 10, 1970,  with a BS in Broadcasting-Film and a minor in Marketing. He later married and had a son, Robert, who died tragically after working hard in the devastating floods the Red River Valley experienced in 1997. Jim’s work life included driving a bus for college trips and representing Nabisco in sales and distribution.  He also did other paid and volunteer work, including broadcasting for Fargo area radio stations and occasional writing for the West Fargo newspaper.  Jim  liked to draw.  He suffered from illness at different times in his life and Alzheimer’s disease in his later years. Jim died in Fargo on October 16, 2013, in his last home, Rosewood on Broadway.

Augsburg Graduate and Longtime Faculty Member Gives to Campaign for CSBR through Payroll Deduction

dale headshotWhen 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.”

Putting One Foot in Front of Another

Wayne Jorgenson '71I have shared before the story about a movie I’ve found to be so in touch with our situation at Augsburg and our decision to build an academic building like we’ve never done before. The movie was called, The Englishman Who Went Up a Hill But Came Down a Mountain. Sometimes the best way to climb up something really tall is simply by putting one foot in front of another. Setting out to raise an average of $1 million from 50 of our Augsburg classes in support of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion qualifies as such a tall order. What’s great about taking each step forward is that by doing it together, we are much more likely to arrive at the top safe, sound and successful!

Last month 200 alumni leaders gathered for another of our Leadership Summits. Each person was eager to share experiences from their days at Augsburg and excited to define the way they want to show their support for both the Center and this class challenge effort (check out the latest update on our results in the chart).

Our Summit events provide guests an opportunity to visit the existing science facilities, meet remarkable student leaders, especially those involved in student research, as well as other alumni, faculty and friends who want to see this new Center built. To those who can attend future summits, we invite you to do so. For many living in other parts of the country, this is not possible. For them and everyone, we share thoughts and notes in these campaign updates.

On this particular evening last month, biologist and faculty leader Dale Pederson ’70 decided, rather spontaneously, to invite anyone among the assembled guests to speak to their reasons for supporting the CSBR and Augsburg. As he put it, “in the Lutheran tradition of altar call, you need only offer us your testimonial, not your repentance!”

After the rather normal awkward moment of waiting to see who might bravely speak up, we were rewarded with several in powerful testimonials on why they have decided to support the CSBR. Among them, former US Representative Martin Sabo ’59 kept it short, but on point. “You’ve heard the reasons for this great new Center, now they need our help! Join me!”

Rev. Herbert Chilstrom ’54 also stood and spoke. “When I came to Augsburg (in 1950) the Science Building was brand new and we thought it was state-of-the-art back then.” He went on to say, “During my time as the presiding bishop of the ELCA, I had the opportunity to visit all 29 Colleges of the ELCA and I am very proud of that. There were a few places however, where I had the feeling that, little by little, the college had drifted away from its roots, to the point where the teaching of religion and the relationship with the church were very much on the outer fringe.  One of the things I really appreciate about Augsburg is that it has been a college of the church, a college where faith is treasured, a college where religion has been taught and taught well. Giving to this new building where you bring three of these important disciplines together (science, business, and religion) is very critical.”

At our table, my wife, Carol ’72, and I enjoyed getting to know Mert Strommen ’42 and his son Rev. Peter Strommen. I was raised in Richfield, where the Strommens also lived at the time. Though I didn’t know them back then, I was delighted to get to know these two gentlemen now.

It is exciting to see the numbers of CSBR contributors continue to grow. This is about many things, including paying back those who made it possible for us to study at Augsburg, by paying it forward and providing a new building that will be the center academic building on campus for years to come.

We need everyone to join in. Please don’t shrug your shoulders and leave this important project to others to carry out and complete. Everyone joining in, at whatever level they can, makes everyone else’s load that much easier. Please add your commitment to the many others who have already said a very powerful “Yes.” Click here to make a gift or a pledge.

Please join us in meeting the Class Challenge. Your gift counts toward your class’ numbers. Let’s find out how fast we get to the top of our mountain! We’re over halfway there already!

Wayne Jorgenson ’71
Class Challenge Chair

June Good News

Mike-Good-headshot Answering the Call

You who often read and share this “Good News!” with me likely know my story very well. You understand that out of a dark moment came direction and guidance to persist—to accept the call to serve Augsburg and help bring the Center for Science, Business, and Religion to fruition. (If my story is new to you or you want a refresher, here is short video of that story…. link)

 

 

Today I see such encouraging signs as others take up the charge and are answering that same call.

Some recent examples are worthy of sharing with you here.

- Rick Ekstrand ’72, who has already committed financially to the CSBR, recently opened his home to many Auggies and friends in the Glenwood/Alexandria area. He wanted others to hear the story of the CSBR and to get involved.
- Mert Johnson ’59, who also has committed to the CSBR, answered our request that he think of others he knew who should hear “the Augsburg Story.” He has opened the door to business and technology leaders for us in the Alexandria, MN area with whom we are now sharing the exciting work underway by so many Augsburg students and faculty.
- Herb Chilstrom ’54, also committed to the CSBR, answered the call and sent us a list of additional Auggies whom he thought would be interested in learning about the campaign. We are already working on plans to visit with them
- Linda Engstrom Akenson ’72, got involved by inviting others to attend the event at Rick’s home in Glenwood. She wanted to express her enthusiasm for the CSBR and was willing to reach out to tell fellow Auggies more about the campaign and the vision of the College. Linda made her own commitment to the CSBR this past week and will continue to work with us in “telling the Augsburg story” to fellow Auggies.

As you know, I always have three requests of people I speak to about the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. 1) Prayerfully consider a stretch gift. 2) Think of others who you know that should her about our “Augsburg Story”. 3) Consider being a Class Leader.

Now you have the opportunity to act on behalf of our invitation to answer the call. Each time I share our story I see people get very excited about Augsburg. They relate to our relevance, our excellence, and our vision. Believe, Listen and Respond to your Personal Call.

When you answer the call, you act on an Augsburg value— to make the world better by following through on your ideas and your ideals.

You may not realize it, but now is a great time to listen to those voices, both in you heart and all around you, encouraging you to respond. Many donors have presented challenges to join them in giving to the CSBR. And more classes have reached their class goal of at least $1 million each in support of the CSBR.

In every way, Augsburg is an urban university making a real difference for us all. I am eager to hear from you and ready for what comes next.

With thanks,

Mike Good