Augsburg Regent Pam (Hanson) Moksnes ’79 remembers planting seedlings in Murphy Square with her six Auggie housemates more than 35 years ago. Today the trees’ roots run deep into the earth and their branches reach for the sky—not unlike Pam and her husband Mark ’79, who say their time at Augsburg empowered them to reach for their goals. “Augsburg prepared us to be courageous and do whatever’s next,” explains Pam. She and Mark are among Augsburg’s most loyal alumni leaders, as well as generous benefactors to initiatives such as the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). The Chanhassen couple counts 34 years of marriage, three children (including Auggie, Laura ’06), and three grandchildren. “God has blessed our lives together, our family, and our careers,” says Pam. “We have more than enough to care for our family and give back.” Continue reading
I decided for this month’s message to share some insights from key faculty members who have been working side-by-side with the campaign action team to secure our ambitious goal of $50 million for a new Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Their perspective gives us a window into the depth of teaching and research that is characteristic of an Augsburg education.
As biology professor Dale Pederson ’70 once shared at a gathering of faculty and alumni—the College has recognized it could not wait for the new Center to act on strengthening the three programs that will live in the new building.
All about connecting
As physics faculty member Mark Engebretson is quick to tell us, connecting science, business, and religion at Augsburg is an ongoing enterprise, and it is a very Lutheran thing to do.
“The earliest Lutheran leaders had no intellectual boundaries—science and theology were complementary areas of study, not competing ones. Today, our departments incorporate the three themes developed by the World Council of Churches in the 1980s to guide Christians worldwide in their actions in the world. Students are asked to create a society that is sustainable, just, and participatory. Science and technology, economic, social, and political organization, and religious faith are all important components of such a society; all these components must fit together well in order to enhance or even sustain the quality of human life.”
It was the summer of 1963 when Augsburg accepted two curious high school boys into its summer National Science Foundation course for high school students. The course sparked a deep interest in chemistry for Jon DeVries ’68 and his friend, Covey Hendrickson, who had polio.
That spark influenced the two tight-knit friends to enroll together at Augsburg to study chemistry.
Covey lost his battle with the after-effects of polio while the two were attending Augsburg, but DeVries’ love for chemistry lived on.
DeVries went on to earn a doctorate degree in organic chemistry from the University of Minnesota, and then spent the majority of his career as a scientist at General Mills, specializing in food safety and nutrition analysis.
“Augsburg provided me a very good baseline—very solid in math, science, and chemistry—which was great for launching a career in chemistry,” DeVries said.
DeVries and his wife, Sharon, hope to inspire other science-minded youth to become well-rounded contributors to society, whether it be in industry, government or academia, utilizing Augsburg-acquired scientific skills and other essential life competencies. They are acting on this hope by giving $50,000 for two faculty offices in Augsburg’s planned Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).
“I think every person’s career should have a balance between societal responsibility, good business sense, and scientific knowledge—it’s important,” said DeVries, who looks forward to the CSBR being a place where students develop this balance.
“Contributing to the CSBR is an important effort,” DeVries said. “Building the CSBR is a necessary step for Augsburg to take, to stay current and be competitive in what’s a fiercely competitive environment for colleges.”
The couple also contributed $10,000 to help fund the CSBR’s Quantitative Analytical Chemistry Laboratory, which will be named to recognize Jon’s long-time colleague and mentor, Dr. Arlin Gyberg, Augsburg chemistry professor emeritus.
When reflecting on that influential summer on Augsburg’s campus in 1963, Jon can’t help but feel honored to have launched his career that now permits him and Sharon to contribute to the science legacy that will live on through the students who study in the CSBR.
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
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 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
I 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
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