It’s a Great Time to be an Auggie!

Chris Ascher '81Hello Auggies!

I’m excited to report again the great news that Augsburg, our fine alma mater, has succeeded in what it set out to do—secure $50 million from alumni and friends to fund the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) and make it the new heart of our campus. How many ways can we say thank you!

You may know I serve as one of the chairs of the Alumni Class Challenge. It’s been my dream to welcome more and more alumni of Augsburg into the growing circle of generous givers. So many of you have agreed to meet the challenge!

You may also know I work for Morgan Stanley, and have relocated from Minnesota to Ohio. Each June, Morgan Stanley celebrates volunteer month, and I was recognized as a volunteer. Coincidentally, Augsburg staff member Amy Alkire visited us in Cleveland for a meeting with Augsburg alumni. Both meetings reinforced my belief that every class that has come out of Augsburg is filled with accomplished, high-quality people who want to help Augsburg take its future to whole new level. And the CSBR is a big part of that future.

One of the meetings I had was with Andrew Johnson, class of 2007. Andrew grew up in Plymouth, Minn., and was promoted within his Minneapolis-based firm, Ameriprise, 18 months ago and moved to Cleveland. I’ve had the opportunity to meet with Andrew before and was looking forward to catching up with him. Not only has Andrew supported Augsburg in the past but he offered to meet with any Augsburg alumni in the Cleveland area. He’s willing to see how many more Auggies will join the Class Challenge givers. That attitude is indicative of an Auggie! That is why the CSBR will get built! Continue reading

Gift to CSBR is Capstone on a Lifetime of Service

Mert-Strommen-42Mert Strommen ’42 is a household name for the many Augsburg alumni who knew him as youth director of the Lutheran Free Church, Augsburg campus pastor, and professor. A pioneer in youth ministry, a researcher, and a widely published author, Strommen has been loyal to Augsburg College since he was a child and his family included the College in their evening devotions. The Regent Emeritus recently capped off his gifts of time, talent, and resources to Augsburg with a $25,000 contribution for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. A psychology faculty office will be named in recognition of his generosity.

Music, faith, and science

“You should know this: I had only one interest, and that was music,” says Strommen of his teenage years. He recalls listening to the Augsburg choir’s Sunday-evening performance on WCCO Radio’s The Hour Melodious in 1935, when he was age 15. One particularly moving choral work by Russian composer Gretchaninov kept revolving in his mind, making it difficult to sleep that night. He later sang in the Augsburg choir under Henry Opseth and toured with the Augsburg Quartet. With income from choir directing and collections from quartet concerts, he was able to make it through college without debt. He went on to earn a PhD in clinical psychology from the University of Minnesota, where he studied with some of the leading figures in the field. Bridging religion and science, he soon became one of the first to combine counseling psychology with the spiritual development of youth.

Many alumni and others remember Strommen from summer Bible camps, youth conventions, and Luther League activities. “At the time I got started, youth work as a profession didn’t exist,” he explains. “There were no books, no training programs, no research…. It was very primitive.” He calls the ensuing years a “golden period in the life of the church and youth work.”

Strommen’s path-breaking research into the beliefs, values, lifestyles, and concerns of U.S. Lutherans sparked the founding of the Minneapolis-based Search Institute in 1958. He led the organization for 25 years. Today, Search Institute remains an innovator in listening to young people and promoting positive change with and for them. Continue reading

Raabes Honor Edor Nelson (Again) with Estate Gift to CSBR

Mark and Jean RaabeMark ’53 and Jean Raabe recently committed an estate gift of $250,000 to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) in honor of legendary Augsburg Coach Edor Nelson ’38. This is the second gift the Raabes have made for the project; in 2013, they made a gift of $50,000 for the CSBR, half of which was designated to name a faculty office in Coach Nelson’s honor. Since making that gift, Mark Raabe kept wondering if he’d done enough to honor his former baseball coach. “We wanted to make a gift worthy of this legend and that would be more reflective of our feeling toward him,” he explains.

A larger-than-life role model

When Mark Raabe came to Augsburg from St. James, Minn. in 1949, WWII had ended just four years earlier. Edor Nelson ’38 was a war hero and recent addition to the Augsburg faculty. “He had been a prisoner and escaped; he was larger than life in every way and such a good and decent man,” explains Mark. “He had a profound impact on me.”

In 2001, the Raabes attended a gathering to celebrate the naming of the athletic field in Coach Nelson’s honor. They had visited him only once since graduation, but, as Raabe remembers, “When we were still 20-30 feet away, he looked up and met my eyes, and said, ‘Here comes my second baseman!’ The fact that he would remember, 50 years later, who I was and what position I played for only two years is just amazing. What it says to me is that he cared about his kids. Edor is legendary in that regard.”

Estate planning creates path to greater giving

The Raabes settled in the Washington, D.C., area many years ago and are now retired. They don’t get back to Augsburg often, but they pay attention to what’s happening at the college and how the CSBR campaign is progressing. “We get emails about gifts and updates from Campaign Chair Mike Good,” says Raabe, explaining that the articles about others’ giving helped motivate them to dig deeper. Clearly there was a lot of momentum building for the campaign,” he explains. “That makes you re-evaluate. As you see people give more, you reach down and see if you can give more.” Continue reading

Serving a Student-Ready College

Shelby AndressGreetings fellow Auggies!

It’s a busy time of year on the Augsburg campus. Performances, competitions, final presentations, preparations for graduation.

And celebrations!

Just the other day I attended a favorite such celebration: the annual scholarship and donor recognition brunch. You may know, my family endowed a scholarship fund to honor my late husband, Jim ’51.

This year I joined the table with Congressman Martin Sabo ’59 and a Sabo scholar, Taylor Kuramoto ’15. She grew up in Rochester, Minn., and her freshman year attended a college she knew from summer swimming camps. However, she discovered that she really wanted more diversity in her academic experience, believing she would be better prepared professionally to enter a global workforce.

She decided to transfer to Augsburg, where she became a math major and joined the soccer team that went to nationals this past autumn. Last year, Taylor spent the summer in Tennessee as part of the NIMBIOS program: The National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis. She was one of only18 undergraduates from across the country chosen for this fully funded 8-week research program.

Her sights are set on doing statistical analysis for government in areas of public policy. Upon graduation she will pursue a graduate degree in statistics, epidemiology, or public health. All I can say is, “WOW!”

Like her peers, Taylor already has a grasp of world issues that matter. She, and so many others like her, are headed out to serve in ways that are complex and challenging. It’s where they want to be. And I’m so impressed.

At the same event, our president Paul Pribbenow remarked, “In the news we read everywhere about students who are not ‘college ready.’ Augsburg sees it differently. We believe a college needs to be student ready.” Continue reading

The Band Plays On

Earl and Joyce Hauge '63In 1960, the 50-member Augsburg Concert Band, led by Director Mayo Savold, went on a six-week, 10,000-mile tour of Canada and Alaska that culminated at the Alaska Music Festival. The intrepid musicians traveled by bus, plane, and ship, and even made a vinyl record that was marketed nationally by Schmitt Music Company. Percussionist Joyce (Gustafson) Hauge ’63 celebrated her 20th birthday on the trip. Fifty-five years later, she remains friends with her former band mates, and she and her husband Earl are loyal Augsburg donors. Their gifts have supported the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, scholarships, and more. “It’s wonderful to give back to a college that has given me so much,” says Hauge, referring to the lifelong friends and career preparation she gained at Augsburg. “We’re happy that we are able to do it.”

A Close Community

Hauge grew up near Hanley Falls in southwestern Minnesota. With a high school graduating class of 12, she was attracted to Augsburg’s small size, its Christian foundation, and the fact that it was in Minneapolis, where there would be more career opportunities in her chosen field of elementary education “The city was a real calling card with me,” she explains.

Hauge had known she wanted to be a teacher since the first grade. “In the summer we would spend hours on our porch playing ‘school,’ whether my sisters wanted to or not,” she laughs. At Augsburg she became part of the first graduating class in elementary education. “Martha Mattson started the program at Augsburg while I was there, and she did a wonderful job preparing us to start our careers.” Hauge went on to spend the majority of her 28-year teaching career educating first graders, mostly in Glenwood, Minn., where she and husband Earl still live. “I love working with children,” she says.

Making Friends and Music

unnamed(1)“You kind of felt you were family at Augsburg. It was a really good feeling, coming from a small community where you knew everybody.” Hauge says she has wonderful memories of going to games, performing in the band, and singing in the Cantorians women’s group. “Music was a big part of my college life.” She worked as a switchboard operator and senior counselor in the girls’ dormitory, a secretary to Mayo Savold, and a cashier in the dining hall. “Everyone has to eat, and I saw all the kids going in and out of the dining hall,” she remembers fondly. After graduation she worked in the office of Gerda Mortensen, dean of women, before starting her first teaching job. Hauge married Earl in 1963, and they have lived in Glenwood for the past 40 years. Continue reading

Celebrating Excellence and Providing Opportunity with Gift to CSBR

RebekahDupontLSAMPGrads14“One of the most exciting things about being an educator is seeing former students come back,” says Rebekah Dupont, Augsburg professor of mathematics, director of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) Programs, and a donor to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). She’s looking forward to welcoming alumni and other volunteers to the CSBR and thrilled that Augsburg will have a STEM learning environment that reflects the excellence of its students and faculty. “The CSBR is exciting on a lot of levels,” she says. “I can’t wait!”

Welcoming STEM Alumni Back to Augsburg

131031 calc class 315(1)In the 20 years since Dupont joined the Augsburg faculty, she’s seen a lot of students come and go – and come back again. “It’s engrained in Augsburg alumni to give back,” Dupont says. Alumni help prepare students for high-paying, meaningful STEM careers by mentoring students, visiting classes, and arranging for site visits, research opportunities, and internships. “I’m passionate about being able to watch the journey of alumni and work with them collaboratively,” Dupont says. By helping students, alumni also help educate greater numbers of qualified STEM graduates to meet workforce demand and diversify the workforce. Part of faculty, staff, and alumni’s shared work is to ensure that first-generation college students and others master both the technical skills and the “soft skills” they will need to excel in the workplace. “If we can support these students, we’re benefiting them, their kids, their parents, and their families.”

CSBR Will Open Doors to STEM Careers

RebekahDupontConferenceThe design of the CSBR will facilitate both formal and informal interaction between students, alumni, and faculty in different fields. “This interaction will feed their careers,” says Dupont, who helps students discover career paths they may not have considered. “Jobs in STEM sectors are the highest paying and have the highest job satisfaction and security rates of any sector,” she explains. Increasingly, she says, scientists with advanced degrees are going to work for corporations, rather than colleges and universities, so interaction with business students and faculty in the CSBR will be valuable to students as they discern their vocations. As an example, Dupont points to significant growth in the need for highly analytical graduates who have the ability to work with “big data,” the unprecedented volume, velocity, and variety of information available to businesses today. “A STEM degree in a larger liberal arts context helps them understand the implications, ethics, and creativity of their work,” Dupont says.

Honoring Faculty, Students and Alumni with CSBR Gift

Dupont recalls a recent conversation with a 1965 alumni couple who shared how Augsburg faculty challenged them to do their best, but also supported them and gave them the confidence to succeed in their careers in mathematics. She loves to hear stories like theirs. “Our faculty give their all to their students,” she says. “And they’re resilient and resourceful! When you look at the level of work being done, the amazing amount of undergraduate research, and the limited resources and facilities the faculty have, it’s very impressive.” In a way, she says, her financial support of the CSBR is in honor of Augsburg faculty. “This facility will allow them to take their students to even higher levels.”