Augsburg Faculty Invite You to Attend a Leadership Summit


Thanks 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 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

Be a Champion for Augsburg

What does the word champion mean to you? Do you think of it only as a single person making a big difference in athletics?Chris Ascher headshot


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

Coach Son Honors Coach Dad with CSBR Contribution

edor baseball“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.

Deb ’72 and Tim Miller Team up to Support Augsburg and the CSBR

Deb and Tim MillerTim 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 May 31, 2014

Campaign Progress as of May 31, 2014

The Campaign goal for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion is to raise $50,000,000 in philanthropic support from alumni, parents and friends of Augsburg College.May 2014 3 sized thermometer

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.

Regent and Spouse Give a CSBR Gift Honoring Their Scientist Mothers

Lisa Novotny Natalya Flaten Mark Flaten“There is no better example of the miracle of God’s work than in science,” says Lisa Novotny ’80, an Augsburg regent, quoting one of her mother’s favorite sayings.

Lisa says she and her husband Mark Flaten share something special: “Both of our mothers were scientists who were strong, committed Lutheran women. Both women were way ahead of their time, getting college degrees and teaching science at a time when many women were full-time homemakers.”

‘Our moms would smile if they knew’

To honor these groundbreaking women, Lisa and Mark are naming a biology faculty office in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion in their memory. “This building fits with what our moms, Zeena Novotny and Edith Flaten, stood for,” Lisa says. “The way science and religion will intersect in the CSBR would have really pleased them. I think our moms would smile if they knew their names will be attached to a faculty office.”

Supporting daily needs alongside capital efforts

Lisa and Mark are pledging $60,000 to the CSBR and $20,000 to the Augsburg Fund. “We started out giving to Augsburg’s annual fund. That has always been important to us,” Lisa says, “because it supports the overall excellence of the college and its mission. When we considered our campaign gift, we wanted to add to what we were already giving to the annual fund.”

Lisa grew up in Wisconsin, and her parents encouraged her to attend a public university. Her dream was to major in social work, studying in an urban location. When an Augsburg representative visited her high school, Lisa thought Augsburg sounded like a great fit. She applied and filled out the financial aid application, hoping she could afford to attend. She was delighted to receive a generous scholarship which made it possible to become an Auggie. She double-majored in social work and Spanish.

Augsburg prepared Novotny well for leadership in human resources

“At Augsburg I learned to think about the world as a connection of systems: individuals and their family, community and faith system, and how these all fit and affect each other. I also learned to write well. These things prepared me well for my career in human resources.”

From the University of Minnesota she later received an M.A. in industrial relations. Currently she is vice president of human resources at General Mills. She oversees human resource strategy and leadership for the company’s international segment with 25,000 employees around the world. Earlier she was vice president of human resources for Dain Bosworth in Minneapolis, and manager of human resources for First Bank System.

She met Mark when both were summer camp counselors at Luther Park in Chetek, Wis. He graduated from the University of Minnesota but says Augsburg was the hub of his social life, including having two Auggies as apartment mates.

Mark Flaten pursued his vocation in ministry and family therapy

Mark received a Master of Divinity degree from Luther Seminary in St. Paul in 1985. His seminary internship assignment was Taiwan. He and Lisa lived in Taiwan for two years, providing global experience that helped her in international work at General Mills.

Mark served St. Philips Lutheran Church in Fridley and Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley, and then returned to graduate school. He attained an M.S. in marriage and family therapy and has been in private practice as a therapist for 18 years.

Daughter Natalya thrived at Augsburg

Lisa and Mark have three children. Their middle daughter Natalya Flaten ’12 graduated from Augsburg College as a studio arts major. “I became a regent for the college at about the time Natalya began her studies there. Our daughter felt really welcome at Augsburg,” Lisa says. “Both of these experiences deepened my connection with Augsburg. I love the vision and mission of the college, and it’s a pleasure to serve as a regent and support the college financially.”

“We appreciate the values of the school, including its diversity and inclusiveness,” Mark adds. “Augsburg means a great deal to our family. We want to do what we can to help the school thrive.”

Family Members Honor Parents by Naming a Faculty Office in the CSBR

larson finalHave you noticed—your parents got smarter over the years? Maybe not in IQ but in how you view their actions and ideas compared with what your teenage self thought? Dean ’62 and Barbara ’63 Larson laugh while describing this phenomenon.

Now this couple follows both sets of their parents’ example of generous giving. “My parents gave at the first of every month. If they had food on the table, they gave money away. That always came first before other spending,” Barbara explains.

Today she and her husband Dean─like their parents before them─practice “first fruits” giving, donating a percentage of income to Christian causes. They find tremendous joy in doing so.

Augsburg College ranks as a priority in Dean and Barbara’s charitable giving. They named Augsburg as a beneficiary of their estate plan and pledged current gifts for the Center for Science, Business and Religion (CSBR).

Dean and Barbara Larson teamed up with Dean’s sister Patricia Moylan ’57 to make the gift.

Together they are naming a faculty office in memory of Dean and Patricia’s parents, Ernest ’32 and Ellen Gynild ’28 Larson.

Dean and Patricia’s family history intertwines repeatedly with Augsburg College. Their grandfather, Endre Erik Gynild, who served as president of the Lutheran Free Church, was a graduate. Their parents and numerous aunts, uncles and cousins were Auggies. Dean and Patricia’s father, Ernest, chaired the Board of Directors. Devotion to the College was closely tied to devotion to the Lutheran Free Church, a predecessor of today’s Evangelical Lutheran Church in America.

Dean grew up attending many Augsburg events including the groundbreaking ceremony for the current science building. He declares the new building essential for the college. “I am excited that science, business and religion will all be combined in this space,” he says. “Communication among these disciplines is needed in our world. It’s necessary to get away from silos.”

Barbara transferred to Augsburg from Concordia College, Moorhead. Fellow staff members at Galilee Bible Camp at Lake Bronson, Minn., encouraged her to come to Augsburg. A music major, she sang in the Augsburg Choir. Dean, a math education major, also sang in the choir.

Dean taught high school math in Buffalo, Minn., for two years and then attained a Master of Divinity degree from Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary. “My dad and grandfather were pastors, so people always asked if I planned to be a pastor too,” he said. “I fought my call for a long time because I knew it would be all-consuming. In the end, it felt right. Ministry issues were deeply engaging.”

Augsburg is a priority for the Larsons’ giving

Dean served congregations in Broadus, Mont.; Fergus Falls, Gaylord and Morris, all in Minn.; and Williston, N.D., before moving to the Twin Cities where he served four congregations as an interim pastor. Barbara taught music and led choirs in Gaylord, Morris and Williston, including teaching for 12 years at the University of Minnesota, Morris.

Now retired, Dean and Barbara reconnected with Augsburg upon moving back to the Twin Cities. Dean explains: “We consciously support ELCA causes as a way of strengthening the larger church. Augsburg is a priority because we like to give back to a place that meant a lot to us personally and to our families. We also admire the school’s mission and the way it connects to the neighborhood and the world.”

‘We see now what our parents were telling us’

Barbara, an Augsburg Associates volunteer, comments: “As we have gotten older, we realize that as human beings we are here to give of ourselves, our time and our possessions. We are here not to accumulate but to give back. We now know the blessing that comes from being a part of God’s generosity. We finally see what our parents were trying to tell us years ago.”

Auggie Entrepreneur Honors Grandfather’s Legacy

Bill Urseth image001Business leader and entrepreneur Bill Urseth says he grew up knowing “I was always going to college, and I was always going to Augsburg.” He was living a legacy that he and his wife, Kathy, will pass down to future generations through a $1.5 million estate gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

But unlike many such legacies, his skipped a generation. His parents, who didn’t attend college because they lacked the means, nevertheless instilled in him honor and respect for the grandfather he never met.

Hans Andreas Urseth was a substantial figure in Augsburg’s formative years . His name will grace the CSBR’s main hallway: Urseth Hall. “I wish I had known him,” Bill says. “He died in 1909, when he was 42 and my father was less than a year old. He was a very dynamic gentleman who had the ability to bring people together and ignite them in a positive way.”

Carrying tradition, shifting his language

Hans emigrated from Norway as a teenager and settled with his family near Crookston. A bright young man for whom Red River Valley farming lacked appeal, he moved to the Twin Cities in 1890, attending Augsburg Seminary and becoming a popular pastor at Trinity, then the Cities’ largest Lutheran church. There he made a crucial decision: to quit preaching in Norwegian. “Americans speak English, so we should speak English” was his refrain; he’d picked it up easily and spoke with little accent.

Returning to Augsburg to teach theology, Hans became a “welcoming committee of one” to Norwegian students, according to historical records. He liked poetry, wrote hymns, and was a “visible and successful teacher right away. Students flocked to him, partly because there wasn’t much of an age gap,” says Bill. “He seemed to be good at almost anything. That versatility gives a person confidence, and when you have confidence you can shine.”

In 1905 Hans ventured into administration; he was named dean of students, then acting president in 1907. Two years later, a rare disease—cancer, perhaps—took his life, leaving behind his widow and five children. They had no financial safety net; only the youngest two could skip working to finish high school.

Roots in the Milling District

Bill’s father, the baby of the family, sold Pillsbury flour, fought in World War II, and worked at the post office to support his own family. Bill grew up in south Minneapolis playing football with six best friends, including A-club president Bruce Nelson and future business partner Corky Hall, who all became Auggies. A political science major, Bill planned to enter law school, but his admission test got lost in the mail, forcing a year’s hiatus that shaped his future.

Learning how to learn

“Augsburg taught me how to learn. If you have that, you can do a lot of things,” he says. His lot included launching U.S. Communications, a national promotion and marketing firm whose clients included General Mills, Procter & Gamble, Apple and Microsoft. He has authored books, co-hosted a TV show, and owned several popular restaurants. Currently president of Strategic Research & Marketing, he is a general partner of the Minnesota Horse & Hunt Club, where he pursues his outdoor enthusiast passions and works with youth, heading The Youth Hunting Club of Minnesota.

Augsburg, where he served on the Board of Regents from 1986 to 1998, has remained close to his heart. He describes the CSBR as an “excellent facility for the students and faculty. It will help create a great future for young people. That’s what I care about,” says Bill, who looks for real genius and talent, not wealthy networks, in his friends and associates.

Pathways lead to the future

“Augsburg has always been best at creating pathways and educational opportunities for people who are bright and ambitious but not necessarily connected, not necessarily mainstream, not necessarily affluent. It goes back to my grandfather’s day, when those pathways were mostly for young Norwegian men who wanted to get an education,” he says. Today those pathways extend to disparate others, perhaps those with disabilities, or who delayed college until mid-adulthood, or whose full-time jobs required weekend classes.

“That’s what Augsburg is for. It has managed to penetrate those markets,” he says. “Let’s create an opportunity for these people.”

May Good News

Mike-Good-headshotIt’s graduation season,

the time of year when we hear many great speeches that point us toward enduring life lessons. Addresses that often include tributes to inspired teachers. It makes me wonder, who introduced you to the values you consider most important to you? For many of us it was probably a teacher, and very likely someone from Augsburg. I know I learned a great deal about acceptance, determination, belief and friendship from my Augsburg mentors which included teachers, coaches as well as my Auggie classmates.

Later this month, we look forward to many alumni and friends of Augsburg joining us for a CSBR Class Leadership Summit. We will shine a light on the leadership of 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. We will celebrate the growing momentum both on and off campus and draw attention to some of the named spaces to honor 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 Bill Urseth ’71 that follows this report.

I am thrilled with the great update our volunteer and advancement teams were able to give the Augsburg Regents a few days ago. In addition to meeting a number of key goals (over 600 guests have attended a Summit thus far), we have been fortunate to receive gifts and pledges from our donors which have been totaling close to $1 million per month since last October. Many in our community of faculty, staff, alumni and business partners have acted on their belief in the power of an Augsburg education by making their stretch gifts.

At their meeting, the Regents observed that the momentum is changing both Campus and broader Community perceptions of Augsburg with our fundraising success. They agreed, the best plan for proceeding with the new Center will be to adhere to prudent fiscal benchmarks so that we can move forward with confidence to review program and construction planning as soon as it is feasible. The Regents recommend that we look to 2016 for this process to begin, but in preparation, we will take steps to remove existing structures currently where the new complex will stand.

As you read on, you will hear the many great reasons alumni and faculty have for generously investing in the future of Augsburg. Thank you for continuing to a) consider your own stretch giving, b) Refer people to us who need to hear the story of Augsburg and c) Believe in the CSBR and Augsburg’s future.