Mark Gjerde ’65 Honors Father with Gift to Build New Campus Building

jan and mark gjerdeIn 2012, Mark Gjerde ’65, attended a presentation about the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) hosted by Augsburg President Paul Pribbenow. That evening, Mark, a third-generation Auggie, went home and told his wife Jan (Lunas) ’68, “Something special is happening at Augsburg!” Now Mark and Jan are part of that something special with the CSBR.

Remembering a Servant Leader

Their gift to the building honors Mark’s father, the late Dr. Luthard O. Gjerde ’33, ’36. “Dad brought a strong faith to Augsburg, which was molded into servant leadership in the Lutheran Church,” explains Mark. His father served as pastor of Bethany Lutheran Church in Rugby, ND, for 10 years. His compassion for helping hurting people led him to a career in social services for the next 30 years. He retired as executive director of Lutheran Social Services Minnesota in 1976. Luthard served on the Augsburg Board of Regents from 1963 to 1968 and received the Augsburg Distinguished Alumni Award in 1968. He also received a Honorary Doctor of Divinity from Gustavus Adolphus College. “Dad’s accomplishments were impressive,” says Mark, “but the character of my father who believed and committed his life to serving and loving all people as Christ loved us is an inspiration to all who knew him.” At the time of his death, the family established The Luthard O. Gjerde Scholarship for Augsburg students in pre-med, pre-seminary or other careers in social work.

Interdisciplinary Study Makes Good Business Sense

Mark, who worked for 3M for 38 years, has long understood the benefits of tying science and business together—those connections are the lifeblood of 3M, which has combined scientific innovation with global business acumen to become a multinational conglomerate. “It became an imperative at many levels of the 3M organization to understand business as well as technical disciplines.”

Augsburg has a unique opportunity to tie religion to science and business. Augsburg was founded on Christian beliefs and remains a Christian college, which welcomes all students regardless of their faith. The diversity in the student body provides an environment for students to understand and respect other cultures and religions, which is essential in today’s changing world. “Jan and I feel blessed to honor my father with a gift to the CSBR,” says Mark. Continue reading

Earl ’68 and Lis (Jorgensen) ’70 Sethre Find Rewards in Giving to Augsburg and Their Community

Earl and Lis Sethre If you were on campus in the mid-1960s and wanted to know where the good parties were, you could always ask Earl Sethre ’68. Earl worked his way through college at Larson’s Finer Foods, the grocery store at the corner of Riverside and 22nd that was frequented by Auggies. “They would cash their checks from their parents to buy groceries,” he remembers. “One of the benefits of the job was that I got to know everyone on campus.”

Campus has changed a lot since then: Oren Gateway Center is now located on the site of Larson’s, and the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) represents Augsburg’s commitment to the future of experiential education and academic excellence. Now an Augsburg Regent, Earl and his wife Lis (Jorgensen) ’70 recognize the need for Augsburg to stay competitive and offer exceptional educational facilities and opportunities for its students. “Since we both graduated from Augsburg, it’s been an easy decision to support the CSBR,” says Earl. He and Lis also generously support scholarships and have named Augsburg as the beneficiary of their life insurance annuity. “We feel in some ways an obligation, but also a strong desire to give back to a place that was so meaningful in our young lives.” Continue reading

Steve Anderson Sees No Limits for CSBR and Augsburg’s Future

steve and stephanie andersonAsk Steve Anderson how he became so involved with Augsburg, and he’s a little mystified. He knows it started in 2007, when his son Steve Anderson, Jr. ’12 started as a freshman. “I had driven by Augsburg on the highway for years,” he remembers, “but I didn’t really know much about it.” With his son at Augsburg, Steve started to learn more about the College and got to know the leadership and faculty. He liked what he saw, so when the time came he accepted an invitation from Mike Good ’71, to join the Campaign Steering Committee for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. “Mike shared his story and his journey, from being an Augsburg wrestler to his career,” remembers Steve of his first meeting with Mike. “I remember his exuberance for the school and his commitment to giving back to the Augsburg community.” Steve and his wife Stephanie soon made their own generous pledge of $100,000 for the CSBR, on top of other gifts to the College. “It has been a lot easier to give money away than it has been to ask people for money,” laughs Steve.

No Boundaries

Steve knows all about how important a positive attitude like Mike’s can be when faced with naysayers. “I was fortunate at an early age to score very poorly on standardized tests,” he remembers. When he was in seventh grade the school guidance counselor called Steve and his parents in to discuss his future. She thought they should realign their expectations of his academic capability. “Early on, that experience instilled in me an attitude that I wasn’t going to let boundaries affect the decisions I made or pathways I took.” He went on to be part of the National Honor Society in high school and, at age 27, founded Anderson Agency, Inc. Today, with $45 million in annual sales, the company represents manufacturers of custom plastics and metal components for medical device and industrial markets.

Meetings of STEM-Minded Faculty and Business People

Since discovering Augsburg in 2007, Steve has spent a lot of time in Augsburg’s science building, bringing clients from medical device companies like Medtronic to talk with faculty about their companies’ STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) workforce needs. “It’s been an interesting journey, watching the business community merge with department heads to talk about [the STEM curriculum] … It’s invigorating when we come together to talk about the same subject,” says Steve. “The more meetings we have, the more I understand the College’s commitment to educational excellence in the STEM disciplines, and the more interested I become in participating on a little bit larger scope.” Continue reading

Matching Gifts Multiply Jacobson-Dewald Family Giving

Rolf JacobsenGenerosity is an important spiritual value for Augsburg Regent Rolf Jacobson, his wife Amy Dewald, and their two children, Ingrid (age 15), and Gunnar (age 10). “We attempt to be generous in the way we live, not just in the way we give,” explains Rolf, who is also a former assistant professor of religion at Augsburg College. “Our family’s value of generosity is part of how we try to respond to God’s calling.”

One way they express their faith and values is by financially supporting the Augsburg Fund and the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).  Amy is operations manager—quality and tech consulting for Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust—and Wells Fargo matches qualifying employee donations to educational institutions. “Wells Fargo wants to be a good corporate citizen of the Twin Cities, and we are very delighted that they are matching our gift dollar for dollar,” says Rolf.

  Continue reading

Auggie Couple Make $500,000 gift for new Center

Melody and Gary Johnson '74

Melody and Gary Johnson ’74

Gary Johnson ’74 has good reason to be reflective.

The Tampa-based company he has worked for, developed, and now owns has become a global leader. His family is thriving. And he is happily surprised that one of his two sons now works side-by-side with him as he plans the next phase of the company’s leadership.

It’s a great time to remember where it all started—back in Minnesota on the campus of Augsburg College.

Growing up in New Brighton and attending Mounds View High School, he was always active in the Lutheran church. His parents wanted him to attend a Lutheran college. As his father said, “Go to a small school and you will make friends for life.”

He visited Gustavus and Augsburg, and quickly decided that Augsburg felt right to him because of its location in the city and the people he met on his visit.

Drawn in by mathematics, he took classes in accounting and business. Right away he found a group of friends and, by his sophomore year, he was living in one of the campus houses with 11 others.

“We were especially lucky when we drew cards and got into the Beta Kappa house. I made my lifetime friends there. We still get together to travel quite frequently.”

Having met his wife, Melody, in high school, they were married in the summer of his junior year and started making plans together. He found his first job with Advance Machine right after graduation, and four years later joined Unipress as its controller.  An English group bought the manufacturer of laundry and dry cleaning presses in 1978, and Gary worked as their first American employee. In 1982, he helped close up the Minneapolis facility and sell off the property while moving the company to Tampa “to start the company over.”

“We created a new business model for the industry in 1982 and that proved to be solid and successful over time.”

During the next 10 years of hard work and transitions, he became a shareholder of Unipress and, “three leveraged buyouts later, became its owner.” Continue reading

Auggie + Scientist = Unified Support for CSBR

Mary Quanbeck Barber ’77 and Loren BarberIt’s no surprise that Mary Quanbeck Barber ’77 is committed to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion capital campaign. She is one of about 80 Quanbecks with strong Auggie ties, including her father, Rev. Dr. Philip Quanbeck, Sr. ’50, a much-decorated faculty member who retired in 1993. Her brother, Philip Quanbeck II, has served on the religion faculty since 1987. What’s perhaps more surprising is that someone with no previous Augsburg ties at all matches her CSBR passion: her husband, Loren Barber.

“I believe very strongly in scientific literacy in the public domain,” says Barber, a retired 3M chemist and researcher. “We have literacy in many areas of education—obviously we all think about being able to write and communicate effectively—but scientific literacy should be an equally high priority. Every student leaving Augsburg should be able to understand the science-related issues that affect everyday life, be they health care, the environment, or other similar subjects.” Continue reading

Giving Back to the College that Changed his Life

Larry & Sue Turner“When I think about what Augsburg has done for me, I know I can afford to make a gift,” says Larry Turner ’69, who made a gift of appreciated stock for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. “I see a real need and it’s extremely important to support that,” explains Larry. He says it pains him to see how hard Augsburg has to work to raise money for such an important project. “I strongly encourage all alumni to make a gift to the CSBR,” says Larry.

Lessons Learned at Augsburg

Larry is quick to say that Augsburg changed his life. Growing up on a farm near West Concord, Minn., he was unsure what he could accomplish in life. “No one expected me to go to college,” he remembers. But Larry had become familiar with Augsburg through family and friends, and decided to give it a shot. He planned to major in math and physics, but eventually turned to accounting and economics.

Larry had to learn some hard lessons at Augsburg before he found success. Unprepared for college-level academic rigor, he nearly failed out. But instead of showing him the door, Augsburg put him on probation and gave him one more semester to pull it all together, because the faculty believed he could do it. “In order to achieve, you have to believe you can achieve, and then work like heck,” explains Larry.

Hard Work Pays Off

And work he did. He mastered new study skills and concentrated on academics. Most importantly, he buckled down. He gave up wrestling to focus on his studies, but was able to return to it in his final year. He remembers well the feeling of accomplishment. “I had a final coming up and I studied all weekend,” he remembers. “I got an ‘A.’ I didn’t even know I could get an ‘A’ … it blew me away.” Continue reading

Pam ’79 and Mark ’79 Moksnes Huddle Up for CSBR

Pam (Hanson) and Mark MoksnesAugsburg 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

Alumnus Hopes to Inspire Young Science-Minds Through CSBR Gifts

devries_jon_opt

Photo courtesy of General Mills/Medallion Labs.

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.

Business Manager, Coordinator, or Coach—The Whole Team Cheers for the CSBR

Melodie Lane in stadiumMelodie Lane joined the Augsburg staff less than five years ago, but her team spirit makes it seem as if she’s been here much longer. She is both a generous donor to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion and a CSBR campaign cheerleader through and through.

“There are times when I’m the face of Augsburg in the athletics office. But then, we’re all the face of Augsburg,” says Lane, who serves as athletics business manager/program coordinator, is a current Master of Arts in Leadership student, and also coordinates the A-Club.

Her journey here covered several of her many interests. She taught elementary school, managed theater productions, became a real estate appraiser, and ran an appraisal business in Texas before following her brother-in-law, then an assistant football coach, and sister, who previously worked in the athletics department, to the inner-city campus.

“I think Jeff [Swenson ’79, Athletic Director] knew we had a good work ethic in our family when he called, and I was looking for a change,” says Lane, who began as an over-qualified administrative assistant but happily pursues new responsibilities. “The reason why I’m still here is not so much the job I do—everyone wants to do meaningful work, and sometimes secretarial things just need to be done. It’s something about all the people here, the mission of the college, and the mission of the athletic department that makes you feel you’re part of the team. And that makes you want to stay.”

Lane didn’t hesitate when Swenson challenged his department to give the CSBR their full support. “I would say we mirror his passion and his commitment to the college being the best it can be. I believe the CSBR is the next big step for our entire campus,” she says. “I’m not a science or a business major, so it doesn’t connect for me in that way. It’s more about the college as a whole and what we can accomplish together as servant-leaders in the world.”

Lane is now an official Auggie, having finished her master’s degree in leadership in May. She is excited about collaborating with Athletic Department Chaplain Mike Matson ’07 on an authentic leadership project. She also manages to pursue her photography, gift, and card business in her spare time.

“I keep doing things I love. That’s just who I am,” she says. “I feel like I’ve been blessed in so many ways, over and over—not just my job, but my master’s degree, the people I work with, the entire Auggie family. So I want to give back, to carry this forward so that those who follow and want a great education can have it.”

Lane is convinced that the CSBR will attract more students. “I really do believe Augsburg is a diamond in the rough. We’re the middle-of-the-city school, probably the most diverse in the metro area. But we keep surprising people, and we don’t settle for mediocrity.”

She cites last year’s new field turf and this year’s “amazing scoreboard,” dedicated to the late Edor Nelson, as examples of striving for excellence. “The CSBR campaign brings us closer and closer to that every day,” she adds. “We are not a school that has large endowments. We work hard for our success, and when things turn out, we’re proud of it. We really are determined to be the best we can be.”