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

Investing in Minneapolis

Inez and Lyall Schwazkopf '59

Photo credit: John Walsh

Like many Augsburg students, Inez (Olson) Schwarzkopf ’59 counted on paychecks to help meet college expenses. She ran the switchboard at St. Barnabas Hospital and operated the freight elevator at Deaconess Hospital, taking the dirty linens down to the basement, and the morticians’ gurneys up to the morgue. The job at Messenger Press Bookstore on 22nd and Riverside was the one that really paid off, though. That’s where she met Lyall Schwarzkopf, a veteran whose widowed mother owned and operated the hardware store next door. “The best thing I got out of that was my husband,” laughs Inez. She and Lyall have been married for 56 years, and made a gift to Augsburg every year since Inez graduated.

It was Lyall who suggested they make a bigger commitment to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). “I was a consistent kind of giver to the annual fund as well as capital drives” explains Inez. But when her non-alumnus husband said, “I think we have to do something [for the CSBR],” Inez listened. “He appreciates the value of the College as a business anchor for that part of Minneapolis,” says Inez of Lyall, who is former Minneapolis city clerk and city coordinator, and secretary of the Minneapolis Charter Commission.

Learning at Father’s Knee

Inez’s father, Iver Olson ’35, was an ordained pastor and professor at Augsburg Seminary and Augsburg College, where he taught religion and Scandinavian language, literature, and culture for twenty years. He’d regale Inez and her three siblings with Norwegian folk tales, as well as tales of Augsburg, all the while moving smoothly between Norwegian and English.

Her family expected that she would go to college, and that the college would be Augsburg. “Nobody ever told me there was anyplace else to go!” she remembers. A writer from an early age, at Augsburg Inez encountered professors like Jerry Thorson, head of the English Department, who helped her hone her craft. “He didn’t let me get away with any sloppiness,” she remembers. “That was an important turning point for me … I was a flashy writer, but I had to get good.” She received several writing awards at Augsburg and at the University of Minnesota, where she later received a Master of Arts. Continue reading

Exciting New Announcement for the CSBR

I have very exciting news to share with you regarding the Center for Science, Business, and Religion!

On the heels of another successful Summit, on January 30 we announced to the Board of Regents and to the faculty and staff that Augsburg has received a transformational $10 million gift that has lifted us above the $40 million mark in our campaign to raise $50 million to build the CSBR.

The name of the donor, a current member of the Board of Regents, will be announced in the near future when we can recognize and honor the family in a most appropriate way for their naming-level gift. The gift is to be given in cash before the end of 2015, which means that conversations will now begin as to when groundbreaking can be considered.

Thanks to each and every individual and family who has contributed to the campaign’s success and our growing momentum. We can now see the finish line ahead. We still have $10 million in pledges to secure in order to achieve our goal, and I ask all of you for your continued prayers and support.

I BELIEVE that we can finish the campaign this year! If we do that, we will be able to begin construction on the entire building instead of staging the construction in two phases. This would save the College several million dollars in construction costs.

Crossing the $40 million mark is a great accomplishment. I ask you to join us in celebrating this new milestone and giving thanks to God for the generosity of this family who has been so faithful to Augsburg. I also give thanks for all the volunteers, donors, and staff who continue to work for the completion of this campaign.

Thanks for BELIEVING! All things are possible for those who believe.

With gratitude,
Mike Good ’71
National Campaign Chair
Center for Science, Business, and Religion

* There is still important work to be done in order to reach our $50 million goal and break ground in May 2016. I look forward to sharing more about how we can work together to complete this effort. To learn more about this project, visit augsburg.edu/csbr.

Alumni Couple Look Back with Appreciation, Pay Forward with Conviction

Erickson photoDenny and Mary Lou (Ervin) Erickson, both ’64, first read about plans for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion in an annual fund correspondence. They’d also heard about the Center from Chris Kimball, a former Augsburg provost and dean and current president of California Lutheran University, where Denny is serving his third term on the Board of Regents. But it wasn’t until Keith Stout, assistant vice president of major gifts, drove down from Denver to northern New Mexico to spend a few hours in their Los Alamos living room that the CSBR vision came into focus.

“That visit explained the project in a way that gelled our thinking and commitment,” Denny says. “The creative inspiration that brings these three mainstream disciplines together in one place can only happen at a faith-based institution. The synergy they create is one of the underlying thrusts of our culture, and that will be even more important as we go forward into the future. It’s going to be dramatic.”

 

Shaping a world view and a lifetime

Denny credits his Augsburg education for not only his esteemed physics career at Los Alamos National Laboratory but also a broad worldview that serves him well. He credits an inspirational pastor at what is now Abiding Savior Lutheran Church in Mounds View, where he and Mary Lou were active in the Luther League, with introducing them to Augsburg. LuVerne ‘Red’ Nelson was an Augsburg and Augsburg Seminary graduate who promoted his alma mater every chance he got.

“In those days we didn’t think too much about leaving home and going across the world to get educated, so for us it made sense. And once it got us, we never looked back,” Denny recalls.

He’d considered starting out at Augsburg, then transferring, but once on campus, he quickly reconsidered. “That’s when Ted Hanwick captured me,” Denny says. “I became one of his protégés, and he put me on a life track that I never got off. He was one of those few wise individuals I’ve been lucky to come across in life, especially in my young life. He understood the beauty and rigor of physics, and he recognized—I now know in retrospect—my aptitude for science. He kept feeding and pushing and inspiring me, and at the end of my junior year, he helped me get a summer appointment at Oak Ridge National Laboratory.”

Continue reading

Augsburg receives $10 million gift to name the Center for Science, Business, and Religion

The message below was shared with Augsburg faculty and staff on Friday,  January 30, 2015. We know you will rejoice in this good news with us!

Dear colleagues,

This is the kind of news that college presidents love to share: Today, we are making a preliminary announcement of a $10 million naming-level gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. We will not be announcing the name of the donor today because we are working on a formal announcement event that we hope will be meaningful and include the donor’s family. You will hear more about that celebration in the coming months as plans are confirmed.

The CSBR naming gift brings the total funds we have raised for the campaign to more than $40 million! And, in the interest of moving toward ground-breaking for the new building, the donor will make this gift in cash this year. I am truly humbled and inspired by the generosity and leadership of this donor, whose confidence in this project, I know, will inspire generosity in others throughout the final stretch of this campaign.

As I said this morning when we shared this news with the Board of Regents, the success of the campaign for the CSBR is the result of this entire community’s commitment. At the core, it is critical to have strong leadership from the Board of Regents – because our goals are so ambitious and because we not are not only seeking to raise the needed funds but also to create a culture of philanthropy. Our Board has embraced this challenge.

Leadership from within our campus community also has been central to this success. I was proud to name many faculty and staff members this morning when sharing with the Board the roster of those who have supported this effort, engaged in events, reached out to others, and inspired donors by providing outstanding educational experiences for our students. Each of you, truly, has made a difference in this campaign.

Finally, I acknowledge with a deep sense of gratitude the work of the team that has been on the ground (and in the air) keeping the momentum of this campaign going month after month. First is Mike Good ’71, who two and a half years ago moved back to Minnesota to take on the role of CSBR campaign chair. He has been on campus and visiting donors around the country every week since then. His commitment and drive have accomplished more than we could have imagined.

And then there is the Advancement staff, led by Heather Riddle, Vice President of Institutional Advancement. This team made significant shifts over the last couple of years to embrace a strategy of supporting a volunteer-led effort – one that is paying off not only for the CSBR campaign but also in Annual Fund growth, growth in funding for academic programs, and in a growing base for a future endowment campaign to support the academic success of our students. This team consistently gives the credit for their success to the donors they work with, but make no mistake about the effort and commitment they themselves bring to the table. It is extraordinary.

Together—and only together—we are going to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. And so, together, let’s celebrate this terrific news and the inspiring support of this leadership donor.

Yours faithfully,

Paul C. Pribbenow, Ph.D.

President
Augsburg College

Christian Values Lead Mert Johnson ’59 to Support New Campus Building

Mert and JoAn JohnsonYou might say that Mert Johnson ’59 was born to attend Augsburg. He was named after Mert Strommen ’42, who later served as national youth director of the Lutheran Free Church, founded the Youth and Family Institute at Augsburg, and served as campus pastor. Our Savior’s Lutheran Church located in Milroy, Minn., very near the Johnson Family farm, was where Mert Strommen’s father served as pastor.

Today, Mert Johnson is a generous benefactor of Augsburg College and the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR). “I think the plan for the CSBR is very well conceived,” says Mert. “I’m very pleased that they are merging religion with business and science.”

Church First

Mert remembers how his father, a staunch Christian, used to harvest his first acre for God and give the proceeds to church every year. Church, school, band, choir, farming, and sports were all part of Mert’s early years. Basketball was his game, and Mankato State University offered him a full-ride scholarship. Instead, he decided to become an Auggie because the College shared his own values. He went on to earn four letters in basketball, playing with Team Captain Lute Olson ’56, who became a college basketball coaching legend.

Long Days and Short Nights at Augsburg

Without the benefit of scholarships, Mert worked his way through college. During the school year he worked up to 60 hours a week at Smiley’s Point, the soda fountain down the street from campus. “Back in those days, I made a $1 or $1.10 an hour,” says Mert. He remembers talking with some of the many GIs who were in school at the time and with the campus pastor, who would walk down to Smiley’s for a cup of coffee. “I did most of my studying between 4 and 8 a.m.,” says Mert. He made sure to schedule classes for first-thing in the morning so he could get to basketball practice on time and get the most out of every day. “I just didn’t require a lot of sleep,” says Mert of the secret to his success. Augsburg football coach Edor Nelson ’38 was Mert’s advisor and helped him get a summer job at Land O’Lakes doing deliveries and special projects. Continue reading

Seeing the Need Sparks Generosity for New Building

Karolynn Lestrud '68

If Karolynn Lestrud ’68 ever had any doubt that her $100,000 pledge for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) would benefit a worthy and necessary cause, it was erased when she toured the Augsburg campus last spring.

“The science professors took us to the labs, and there is no question that the physical plant is woefully inadequate. People are stacked in there, almost on top of each other, to do their work,” she recalled. One of the professors showed her a piece of scientific equipment that the school had been thrilled to obtain.

“’But we have nowhere to put it,’ the faculty member told me. She was going on sabbatical and suspected that her office would be used to house the machine while she was gone. When she returns, then what? You reach a point—and we’ve all been there—when your first apartment is just too small, so you buy a house. Then your house becomes too small and you need a bigger one. At Augsburg, it’s way past time for a bigger house.”

Freshman rituals lead to friendship

Much has changed since Lestrud, who was recruited by a passionate advocate visiting her home town of Menomonie, Wisconsin, first arrived on campus. Enduring the freshman rituals of those days, wearing beanies and cleaning funky old apartments for upper classmen, helped her bond with fellow students who became lifelong friends. An English, French, and secondary education major, she lived in dorms and the French house, Chez Nous, and has fond memories of her experience.

“I got assigned to work for Norma Noonan, a political science teacher who was incredibly bright and tough as nails. What a role model. She was amazing,” Lestrud said. “I didn’t realize it at the time, but Augsburg was a very safe place to become really independent. A lot of people were looking out for you, but not in the way that your parents or people in your hometown did. It was such a nurturing environment, and faculty members were so supportive and encouraging.”

A culture of support

She sees the same culture in today’s science department, where the touring professors showed her the substantive projects students are now taking on. “I was astonished at the level of work those kids were doing, working with scientists in the field as well as professors at the school. They have their names on articles in major scientific journals. For those pursuing science careers, that kind of real world experience is an enormous leg up.” Continue reading

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