“Unto whom much has been given, much is expected.”

Lee (Dyrud) Furman '61Leola “Lee” (Dyrud) Furman ’61 remembers her very first day of school well: “My mother announced that I had many years of schooling ahead of me: grade school, high school, and then Augsburg College!” Furman not only attended Augsburg, she became one of its most loyal benefactors and volunteers, a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, an adjunct faculty member, and one of the first to make a financial commitment to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

Called to Social Work

Growing up on a farm in Thief River Falls, Minn., surrounded by her Norwegian family, Furman didn’t think much about urban poverty and blight. At age 12, however, she attended Bible camp and heard Augsburg professor Mert Strommen ’42 talk about the great need for social workers. “I felt the call to service at this early age, and I knew that Augsburg would prepare me for this calling.”

At Augsburg, President Bernard Christensen reminded students often that, “Unto whom much has been given, much is expected,” and sociology professor Joel Torstenson opened her eyes to issues of poverty and race relations. Both men challenged students to become involved in social justice issues, regardless of their career paths.

Furman took her calling seriously, but playing the cymbals in band provided some opportunities for fun. “One summer we traveled up the Alcon Highway, playing concerts all the way through Canada, through the Yukon Territory, and up to Alaska to celebrate their statehood,” Furman remembers.

After Augsburg, Furman went on to earn a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the Fielding Graduate University. By the time she completed her doctorate she was living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with husband Philip Furman, raising two boys, and teaching in the social work department at the University of North Dakota (UND). Continue reading

Together, We Are Making This Happen

Wayne Jorgenson '71My fellow alumni and friends,

Wow! Look at the advancement we have made on this campaign! We have now raised more money than we’ve ever raised before for a single capital project. I believe 2015 will mark the year that we reach our financial goal for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) and that soon after we will put the shovel in the ground and start construction of the largest building project in Augsburg’s almost 150 year history.

To reach our goal we need each one of us to say, “I care. Here is a gift from me to the students of today who I may never have the opportunity to meet or know. Much like those who gave money to help me and others like me get an education, I want to give my gift now to recognize their generosity by paying it forward and helping Augsburg’s students of the future. By giving now I’m saying thank you to those who came before me; people whose contributions and investments made a difference. Their contributions paid for the Oren Gateway Center, Kennedy Center, Foss Center, and all the other buildings I benefited from; and yet, we never met them.”

As chairman of the Alumni Class Challenge, one of my goals is to encourage every alum to participate in this special campaign. Today we can offer you a new and great way to add your YES to this effort.

Have you heard about the Buy A Brick campaign? You can recognize someone you admire, a family member, a favorite faculty member, whomever you wish, when you make a contribution through this link.

As more and more classmates share their gifts, each is counted as one participant. It’s wonderful to see the dollar amounts rise for each class as the donations come in and it’s exhilarating to see how many alumni are saying, “Here’s my gift because I’m proud of being an Auggie and I want to see this college continue to do well.” Continue reading

Nic Parsons ’15 Shares Inheritance with Augsburg and CSBR

Like many adult undergraduate students, Nic Parsons ’15 had a lot of living under his belt before he enrolled at Augsburg. “Sometimes people just have to live and learn,” explains Parsons, now 38 and nearing completion of his bachelor’s degree. Augsburg has made a difference in Parsons’ life, so when he received an inheritance from his grandfather he decided to use a portion of it to support the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), even while he was still a student. A faculty office in the new building will be named in recognition of his generosity. “I felt like giving,” remembers Parsons, “so I called the office of Institutional Advancement and asked about opportunities.” Parsons made his gift early in the CSBR campaign, even before momentum for the campaign had swung into full gear.

Finding his own path

Parsons spent many of his early school years in North Branch, Minn., and graduated from high school in St. Paul, Minn. He earned a pre-apprentice electrician diploma from Job Corps, and in 2008, he completed management and marketing management certificates at Minnesota State College and University (MNSCU) system’s Normandale Community College. In 2011, he received an associate of science degree in management from MNSCU’s St. Paul College.

When it came time to choose where he would complete his bachelor’s degree, he thought about a public college, but chose Augsburg in the end. “The Lutherans got to me,” he says with a laugh.  He kept his full-time position at 3M for a while after starting at Augsburg, but eventually became a full-time student. “I decided it was time to focus on me,” says the management major. Continue reading

Believe … Let’s Finish the Campaign This Year!

Hello friends,

Mike Good '71The incredible $10 million gift announced six weeks ago has given us tremendous momentum! Momentum is a great thing when you feel the wind at your back!

During much of this Campaign to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, we have felt like we were running uphill against the wind, and this change feels really special and good. We are within approximately $9 million of our stated goal and I BELIEVE we can finish the campaign yet this year and break ground on this long-awaited facility that represents the best of the transformational work already being done at Augsburg.

Even during moments of doubt, we found strength in believing that God was calling us all to this special challenge and would continue to be our strength throughout our work together. I remember many conversations with alumni who would ask me how we were doing … if we were getting campaign weariness. My response was always twofold.

First, I shared with them that I wouldn’t be personally engaged in this CSBR work if I didn’t believe that God was actively at work in the mission and life of Augsburg College. Secondly, I shared with them that each interaction, each meeting, each gift from an Augsburg alum or friend gave me and the entire staff new energy, new confidence and new faith that we were on the right path. You continually give us hope and encouragement, and we are grateful.

The donors of this transformational “naming gift” are very grounded in their faith in God and his redeeming grace. They have been long-time supporters of the College and believe in the mission of Augsburg. They understand the importance of not only maintaining our differentiation as an institution but in building on those key differentiators.

One such differentiator is that we boldly proclaim Augsburg as a college of the church, and that our calling is to educate future leaders for today’s and tomorrow’s world that know they are called to serve their neighbor with their unique gifts. Without that differentiation, Augsburg would not be the same institution.

The day after the joyous announcement of the $10 million gift, I was reading in my Daily Bible an important story that reminded me of Augsburg’s own journey. In the story, the Israelites have already forgotten their covenant with God in the desert and made a golden calf. Moses asks God to forgive His people. Then he asks God for His Presence to go with them on their journey to the promised land. Moses says to God: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and your people unless you go with us?  What will distinguish me and your people from all other people on the face of the earth?” God responds: “I will do this very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

Without God’s Presence, we become just another urban college. But with His Presence we are distinguished from all the others because of our unique calling. May God’s Presence go with Augsburg as we finish this campaign to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion and as our faculty, staff, and administration continue to live out that mission for the benefit of our students and Auggies everywhere!

Mike Good ’71

Phil Formo Remembers Family with Gifts for Scholarships and New Building

If Augsburg had a title of “honorary alumnus,” it might go to Phil Formo. His family connections run deep at Augsburg, but he never studied on campus himself. “It was supposed to be automatic that I’d go to Augsburg,” remembers Formo. Instead, in a decision that he says surprised even himself, he chose to attend Pacific Lutheran University. Even without the Augsburg degree he did OK for himself: he became a special education teacher, earned a MEd from St. Cloud State and a MDiv from Luther Seminary, and was called to serve four Minnesota churches. Now retired, Formo celebrates his family’s Augsburg legacy through his philanthropy. His generosity includes support for two endowed scholarship funds and a gift for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

Papa – A Life Remembered

Formo’s Augsburg connections trace back to his grandfather, Andreas Helland, who emigrated from Norway in 1889 at age 19. A graduate of Augsburg seminary, Helland served as professor of New Testament from 1905 to 1940. He wrote an early definitive history of Augsburg Seminary; edited Augsburg College President Georg Sverdrup’s collected works; and in 1947 wrote a biography of President Sverdrup.

In 2013, his grandson Formo published a creative memoir based on professor Helland’s log of his life’s events. “Papa – A Life Remembered” follows Andreas from boyhood on a North Sea island, through his years at Augsburg and his nearly four decades of service on the Lutheran Board of Missions, to his death in 1951. “He was so connected with Augsburg,” says Formo. “When the campaign for the new science hall began [in the 1940s], my grandfather gave the first sizable gift, as well as others for the project as time went on.” Continue reading

Tom Crook Honors Wife, Nancy English ’73, and Daughters with Gift to Building

Tom Crook with daughters Emily Crook (left) and Hilary Crook (right)“Augsburg has been part of our lives for a long time,” says Tom Crook. Tom isn’t an alumnus himself, but the three most important women in his life attended Augsburg: his late wife Nancy English, MD ’73, and their daughters, Hilary ’01 and Emily Crook ’07, ’15 MAE. His $25,000 gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) honors his wife and daughters. “We’ve always been fond of Augsburg,” says Tom. “I thought it was a nice way to remember my wife and honor my children.”

Tom and his family will be recognized with the naming of a psychology faculty office in the new building. Tom says that naming a psychology office seemed right because Nancy was a social worker before she went to medical school at age 37, and she had considered returning to medical school to become a psychiatrist. Instead, she decided to dedicate her career to the practice of family medicine. “Anyone who’s going to study pre-med at Augsburg will spend a lot of time in that building,” says Tom. The gift to Augsburg also celebrates the family’s and the College’s shared Norwegian roots. Continue reading

Neal ’57 and Judy (Fosse) ’61 Snider Find Joy in Giving to CSBR

Neal & Judy SniderAs a pastor for 54 years, Neal Snider ’57 saw how money can bring joy if it’s shared. Finding joy in giving to an institution that shares their values is one of the reasons why Neal and his wife Judy support the Center for Science, Business, and Religion with current and planned gifts.

He has witnessed how accumulating wealth can become an addiction, as real as alcoholism or any other. “Money is a dangerous thing,” explains Neal. “If it’s used only for oneself, it’s not a blessing, it’s a curse … few people can handle it properly.” “But then,” says Neal, “the question is, ‘why give for a building that in 60 years may be obsolete and torn down?’… The only justification for a Christian to give to the building is that it’s a gamble that the professors will motivate the students to leave Augsburg and be servants in the world and not aggrandize themselves. Then it pays off.” He can’t be sure the bet will pay off, but he’s hopeful. “I have confidence in the leadership … I was very impressed with the leadership of Bill Frame, and from what I can see, Paul Pribbenow is of the same mold.”

Formative Years at Augsburg

“I got an education and I met my wife Judy ’61 at Augsburg, and the College was formative for my entire life.” He remembers professors who cared about students, invited them to their homes, and supported the maturation of their faith. College professors Carl Chrislock (History), Mario Calacci (Humanities, Greek, and Latin), John Stensvaag (Religion), and Paul Sonnack (Religion) were especially important to Neal. He remembers time with friends at Smiley’s Point soda fountain and playing ping pong for hours in the basement of Gerda Mortensen Hall. “I was a really good ping pong player,” laughs Neal. “One of the best, but not the best. Jim Norman was the best.”

A Debt of Gratitude

“My father was a janitor [in Pembina, North Dakota], and wasn’t able to provide a lot of support,” says Neal. So in his freshman year Neal kept track of everything he spent. “If I put a nickel in a parking meter or bought a pack of gum, I wrote it down,” he remembers. “I got a full-tuition scholarship for the second semester, which was $80.” All told, he spent $1,001.58 that first year. “It didn’t come easily, but I was given an opportunity at Augsburg, and I got out of there without any debts,” says Neal, who worked and lived at Enger Funeral Home from his sophomore year through his first year in seminary. Continue reading