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.
The Rev. Herb ’54 Chilstrom, the ELCA’s first presiding bishop, grew up in Litchfield, Minn., a town where everyone was Caucasian when he was young. “Almost everyone had northern European roots. We were very insulated. Coming to Augsburg College opened my eyes to justice issues. The person who pulled me out of my comfort zone was sociology professor Joel Torstenson ’38.”
Herb and his wife Corinne are giving $30,000 to honor Joel Torstenson in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
Torstenson challenged students to confront the world’s problems
“Dr. Torstenson impacted me not only during my student years but throughout the rest of my life,” Herb says. “He taught that if you are a Christian, you need to face the problems of the world and be out on the front lines, even if it makes you unpopular.”
He remembers Torstenson confronting Augsburg students with the fact that Jews at that time were not allowed to buy and own property within the city of Minneapolis and that African Americans were segregated in north Minneapolis. “Torstenson said emphatically, ‘This is not fair, and we all have to do something about it.’” Recalling this impassioned teaching, Herb credits Torstenson with inspiring him years later to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian people.
Herb and Corinne Chilstrom deeply influenced by Torstenson
Corinne and Herb began dating shortly after high school when both attended Lutheran Bible Institute. Later when Herb attended Augsburg, he talked extensively with Corinne about issues raised in Dr. Torstenson’s classes. “Through those conversations and also by typing papers for Herb, I too was influenced by Dr. Torstenson,” she says.
After graduation, Herb married Corinne, a Fairview Nursing School graduate. Herb then went to Augustana Theological Seminary, now a part of Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He received his Master of Divinity and served Faith Lutheran in Pelican Rapids and Augustana Lutheran in Elizabeth, both in Minnesota. In 1962 he was named professor of religion and academic dean at Luther College in Teaneck, N.J. In 1966, he graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a master of theology. Later he earned a Doctor of Education from New York University.
The couple returned to Minnesota in 1970 when Herb accepted a call as senior pastor of First Lutheran in St. Peter. In 1976, Chilstrom became bishop of the LCA’s Minnesota Synod.
Corinne held many nursing positions over the years including obstetrics, pediatrics, intensive care and college nursing. While living in St. Peter, she obtained a B.S. in nursing from Mankato State University.
Herb encouraged her to attend Luther Seminary when she told him, “If I could do anything I wanted, I would go to seminary and study theology.” She received her M.Div. degree in 1985, wondering whether she would ever receive a call since her husband was a synod bishop and conflict of interest could present a barrier. She was delighted to receive a call in another church body, the American Lutheran Church, to serve Bethlehem Lutheran in South Minneapolis.
When Herb was elected presiding bishop, she spoke and taught widely throughout the church for five years before accepting a call as associate pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran in Park Ridge, Ill. Corinne was the world’s first wife of a Lutheran bishop to also be a pastor. Now they are retired and divide their time between St. Peter, Minn., and Green Valley, Ariz.
Proceeds from Chilstrom’s new book to go toward CSBR
Herb, a master gardener and author, currently is working on My Friend Jonah and Other Dogs I Have Loved. Proceeds from this book will go toward the CSBR.
“Giving is a lot of fun,” Herb says. “We have been blessed, and we like to share our blessings. Giving to the CSBR means I can say thank you to Dr. Torstenson for the major impact he had on my life, and maybe, by example, we can encourage others to do likewise.”
“Incubator. Hub. Thoroughfare. The new Center for Science, Business, and Religion will be all these things,” says Marty Stortz, who has pledged an estate gift. And one more: “It’s a place-based symbol of the good work that is already happening here.”
Martha Ellen Stortz brought along the benefits of an outsider’s perspective when she was named Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation in 2010. “I left graduate education for undergraduate education; I left theological education for higher education; I left California for Minnesota,” says Stortz, who was previously professor of historical theology and ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, where she spent nearly three decades. “I could see that many of my colleagues in other higher education institutions were reaching for an urban experience for their students. But Augsburg was already there and already providing that.”
In her move to the Twin Cities, she drove herself across the country in time to join her new science, business, and religion colleagues on a field trip to visit the new science center at St. Olaf. “When we all left at the end of that day, we had envy for their building. But they had envy for our faculty and collegiality,” she recalls.
So within her first week, she was already considering what it might be like to have an office next to a social science professor, or share midmorning coffee with a business maven. “We’re not waiting for this building to be built: we’re already working together. The conversation is already forming. We have the faculty, the collegiality, and the interdisciplinary focus in place to move forward, especially with our connections to the community and the corporate world,” she says. “I think it’s extraordinary.”
The new building will be “a meeting place, a hub for a lot of what the College stands for. Augsburg has never had a closed academic quadrangle. What I love about the architecture is that it is meant to be a thoroughfare for the campus, for the communities, for the city and beyond.”
Stortz describes a class that her colleague, physics professor Ben Stottrup, taught this past semester. Stottrup combined business and science by bringing in acclaimed chefs from three Twin Cities restaurants—Victory 44, Borough, and Haute Dish—to discuss the physics of food. Because the local food scene is a hotbed of youthful creativity, inventiveness, and vibrancy, its appeal to students is apparent.
“I see the CSBR as a resource to the college but also as an incubator for the city. It invites corporate sponsorship and draws people in,” says Stortz, who believes that the notion of an applied liberal education is in Augsburg’s DNA. “We have business students doing internships, but what if we had science students interning in restaurants? Those kitchens need what Augsburg students and faculty have to offer.”
Through another of Stottrup’s panels, this one on beer and entrepreneurship, Stortz met Jacquie Berglund ’87, the founder and CEO of FINNEGANS, a Minneapolis brewery that donates 100% of its profits to local food banks. Stortz invited Berglund to a keystone course for business majors, which she team-taught with marketing professor Bill Arden. There, Jacquie explained that she’d been “bitten by the service bug” at Augsburg. She shared her belief that righting society’s wrongs is a responsibility that belongs to everyone in every corner of the city, not just churches, nonprofits, or municipal governments.
“By the time she finished talking, all of my students wanted to do internships with her. That’s the kind of synergy you get here. That’s what’s happening now, and this building is going to make it happen more,” Stortz says. “Who wouldn’t want to support that?”
You are invited for an evening of inquiry and fellowship hosted by members of the Augsburg College Faculty.
Thursday, September 11, 2014
Hoversten Chapel, Foss Center
Valet Parking provided
This dinner event for the Campaign for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion will include 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.
Space is limited and this event may reach our maximum capacity. Please RSVP by Friday, August 1 by contacting Sonja Casperson at 612-330-1171 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Leadership Summit Hosts
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
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.”
Campaign Progress as of May 31, 2014
The Board of Regents will set a date to break ground when we have reached goals for both cash in hand and outstanding pledges that assure completion of the campaign.
Thank you for all you are doing to move this project forward.