David and Mary Croft ’79 to Give $25,000 for AWE-inspired space in CSBR

Growing up in Papua New Guinea as the daughter of missionaries, Mary Croft ’79 learned a thing or two about living a simple life. croft

“Our living conditions were fairly primitive or perhaps rustic,” she says, fondly recalling her first home, which had a thatched roof and woven bamboo floors. “I think our parents did all they could to make us feel as though we weren’t missing anything by growing up in a developing country.”

Memories of Mary’s early living conditions flooded her mind when she toured Augsburg’s 60-year-old science building just a few months ago.

“The fact Augsburg can earn these amazing grants and work in this building is pretty mind boggling,” she says when thinking about the building that looks nearly identical to what it did in the ’60s when she first studied at Augsburg.

Now, Mary and her husband, David, want to ensure that Augsburg students don’t feel they’re missing anything either.

The Crofts have pledged a $25,000 gift for the AWE-inspired (Augsburg Women Engaged) student study lounge in the future Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

Because of this generous commitment, the AWE CSBR fundraising initiative has surpassed its initial $100,000 goal. In the meantime, the initiative continues to gain momentum as more alumnae and friends learn about the AWE fundraising initiative and want to join the effort.

Mentored to give more

The desire for the Crofts to give to this project is multifaceted.

David, a retired Andersen Windows manager who humbly says he “worked in marketing and finance,” looks forward to seeing the cross-disciplinary building help grow the business industry. In fact, it was in business that David was inspired to be philanthropic.

David says former Andersen Windows founder and president, the late Fred Andersen, was a very philanthropic person who always gave from the heart. David is now engaged in the philanthropic community, giving to causes like Augsburg’s CSBR and, separately, serving on the board of the Fred C. and Katherine B. Andersen Foundation.

Mary’s inspiration to give stems from her 95-year-old father who, with his meager means, gave generously to causes close to his heart.

Since health sciences and women’s issues are causes close to Mary’s heart, giving to the AWE-inspired space in the CSBR seemed like a natural fit.

The 68-year-old said she got “caught up in the women’s movement.”

“I’ve always been an independent person,” says Mary. “I was one of the few Andersen management’s wives who worked in their chosen field. While I enjoyed attending Andersen functions, I also wanted to have a career independent of my husband’s.”

Wellness as a pathway

Mary’s passion for public health led her to a career in healthcare. She primarily worked as a nurse at the prison in Stillwater, Minn., encouraging prisoners to remain healthy, as opposed to treating them once they got sick.

Mary’s interest in health and wellness attracted her back to Augsburg in the late ’70s, where she had initially studied education for two years before the College began offering health science degrees.

Mary enrolled as a nontraditional student in the bachelor of science in nursing program while also working full time and raising her and David’s young son, Matthew. Mary proudly became an Augsburg alumna in 1979 and thrived in her nursing career.

She describes both of her stints at Augsburg as defining. As an 18-year-old, Mary excitedly but nervously ventured to the United States, without any family, to study at Augsburg.

“Being at Augsburg helped me integrate into the American culture,” Mary says, adding that Augsburg was, and still is, like a home to her. “College is a defining period in life when students are finding their home and a niche.”

Encouraging others to join

Through their gift, the Crofts are pleased to be playing an important part in making the Augsburg experience even more defining for students who will study in the future cross-disciplinary building.

“Having been a missionary, you make do with whatever is given to you,” Mary says.

And the new AWE-inspired study lounge in the CSBR is what Mary would like to give to current and future Augsburg students.

 

Beth Franklin ’09 Thanks Augsburg with Pledge to CSBR

Franklin_Beth 1

Photo courtesy Star Tribune 2014

“There was some kind of serendipity involved,” says Beth Franklin ’09 of the events that led her to Augsburg College. As a high school senior she had her sights set on attending a large research university, but when that institution put her on a wait list, both her father and a mentor suggested she consider Augsburg. She visited campus, felt completely at home, and applied for admission immediately. “I’ve never doubted that choosing Augsburg was the right decision,” says Beth, who majored in accounting and music business. “You really get an incomparable experience at a small, mission-driven college.” Now an alumna, she stays involved with Augsburg by attending alumni events, keeping up connections with faculty, and supporting The Augsburg Fund and CSBR Campaign.

The Auggie experience

“I may have been over-involved,” says Beth of her student days. She served on the Student Council; co-chaired the Accounting and Finance Club; and served as an orientation leader, an accounting tutor, and a community advisor. She also served as the student representative on several committees, and had internships at St. Paul’s History Theatre and Fox Tax, a Minneapolis firm where she now works as a CPA. She describes the senior keystone course in El Salvador on Vocation and the Christian Faith as a profound religious experience. “I had such an amazing experience at Augsburg that I didn’t want it to end,” says Beth.

Some of her friends wonder why she supports Augsburg financially when she’s still paying off the student loans she took out to supplement scholarships, paychecks, and her mom’s help. “I think of paying back the loan as paying for my education,” explains Beth. “My gifts are a way of paying Augsburg back for the experience and the way it shaped me… I am who I am because of Augsburg.”

Career connections

Beth secured an internship and, eventually, her current job at Fox Tax, thanks to her advisor, Accounting Professor Stu Stoller, who suggested that she apply for a scholarship from the American Society of Women Accountants (now the Accounting and Financial Women’s Alliance). A member of the scholarship selection committee referred her to Fox Tax, which shares Beth’s interest in providing tax services to individuals and small businesses in the creative industry. After earning a Master’s of Business Taxation and working for two years at a local public accounting firm, Beth returned to a full-time position at Fox Accounting. She recently recruited fellow Auggie Greg Mann ’11 to the firm.

Every gift counts

Beth says she supports the CSBR Campaign in addition to The Augsburg Fund because it gives people something of which to be proud, it’s good for campus, and it’s good for student recruitment. “I never gave it a second thought that science, business, and religion belong in the same building because of how seamlessly they are integrated at Augsburg.”

“I’m honored to be associated with Augsburg,” says Beth. “Just imagine what would happen if everyone in my class—or in every class—gave $5 a month.”

Longtime Benefactors Martin and Sylvia Sabo Make CSBR Gift

The four years Martin Sabo ’59 invested at Augsburg returned far more than a bachelor’s degree, and even more than a revered political career. It also delivered a lifetime of treasured connections with fellow students and faculty. Martin and his wife, Sylvia, are honoring one of them with a cash pledge to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

 

Former professor Joel Torstenson, who died in 2007 at age 94, was Augsburg’s “father of sociology,” well-known for his civil rights and social services advocacy. “Clearly, people like Joel have an impact on what you think and who you are,” says Martin, who spent 46 years serving his state and country as an elected official. “Most of us felt so close to certain faculty members. They were all very good in the classroom, and they made their subjects interesting and challenging. Every one of them has had an impact on me, and several have remained part of my life ever since.”

 

The son of Norwegian immigrant farmers, Martin was passionate about sports and politics since early childhood in tiny Alkabo, North Dakota, which shepherded several of its Lutheran children, including his older sister, to Minnesota to attend Augsburg.

 

“Three of us were there at the same time,” Martin recalled. “That’s saying something for a town of 60. I came from a high school graduating class of three.”

 

He had his trepidations at first. “I wondered about all these kids, half of whom were from Minneapolis. Where would I fit in? But I got over that fairly quickly. When I realized that they didn’t know much more than I did, I got into the swing of it.” Within his first month or two on campus, he was recruited by fellow students looking for new Democrats and dove into student government.

 

After graduation, the political science/history major planned to work for a year, then go to grad school, but his roommate, former Augsburg student body president Jim Pederson, talked him into running for the Minnesota House of Representatives. It was 1960. Martin was 22. He won.

 

A fabled career followed, not only in the state House, where he became minority leader and first Democrat to serve as House speaker, but also in the U.S. House, where Minnesota’s fifth district elected him in 1978 and thirteen more times before he passed the torch in 2007. He remains active in transportation issues and is undoubtedly blessed often by bicyclists crossing the Martin O. Sabo Midtown Greenway bridge.

 

His Augsburg connection never waned. He served on the Board of Regents from 1973 to 1984. He and Sylvia made several gifts, including contributions to the Sabo Center and an endowed chair in Citizenship and Democracy, and visit campus regularly to attend church, advise scholarship recipients, and participate in various activities. Their daughters, Julie, a former state senator, and Karin, are also Augsburg alumni.

 

Martin remains an avid sports fan. “Before we went to Washington, D.C., we lived within a few blocks, and I used to stop by to watch basketball practice on my way home,” says Martin, confessing that his primary athletic skill is cheering for the home team.

 

“It is crazy,” adds Sylvia, who graduated from St. Olaf College. “Once when I went down to St. Olaf for an Augsburg basketball game, I promised my nephew that I’d root for St. Olaf, but I had a hard time doing it!” Often involved in Augsburg initiatives, she marvels at the lifelong friendships that evolved from Martin’s undergrad experience. The two remain close to Torstenson’s widow, Fran, who just turned 101.

 

They share enthusiasm about the CSBR—“a great addition to campus,” Martin says. “The facilities need to keep up with the quality of the faculty.” And both agree that combining three disciplines in one facility is a good thing.

 

“It has to be very good for getting a better understanding at what they all do for one another,” Sylvia says. “I’m always amazed at Augsburg. I think so much good comes out of it, and Martin had such a great four years there. I think its size and location give it a specialness that a lot of colleges don’t have.”

Professor Emerita Honors Her Family as well as Her Alma Mater

Marilyn Pearson Florian ’76 and Kenneth Florian

Marilyn Pearson Florian, ’76 and Kenneth Florian

Anyone who has spent 33 years serving Augsburg College must consider its students, staff, and faculty a family of sorts, one deserving the tribute that a gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion represents. While that is undoubtedly true for Marilyn Pearson Florian ’76, the significant gift that she and her husband, Kenneth J. Florian, have given will also honor her first family, who introduced her to Augsburg and supported her all the way through.

 

Marilyn’s late parents, Eleanor B. Pearson, a secretary and homemaker, and L. Vincent Pearson, a civil engineer who spent four decades working for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, first met in the Augustana Lutheran Church choir, where they sang together for 40 years. Although they had not earned traditional college degrees, they wanted their two daughters to do so, preferably at a good, conveniently located, liberal arts college with a Lutheran connection.

 

“My parents chose Augsburg for both of us, and they supported both of us with love and financial aid while we were there. They also supported Augsburg. They came to our games and were always there for us,” said Marilyn.

 

Marilyn Pearson Florian ’76 and Lavonne “Vonnie” Pearson '74 at Augsburg's Graduation in 1976

Marilyn Pearson Florian, ’76 and Lavonne “Vonnie” Pearson ’74 at Augsburg’s Graduation in 1976

Her older sister, Lavonne “Vonnie” Pearson ’74, graduated first and became a popular Spanish teacher at New London-Spicer and Osseo High Schools. Vonnie also followed her parents’ musical footsteps, becoming a longtime member of Central Lutheran Church Minneapolis Senior Choir.

 

Marilyn was next. “My sister lived at home and commuted, but I wanted to live on campus. It’s a great college and I absolutely loved it, both as a student and student athlete,” she said. After earning a master’s degree at St. Cloud State and teaching and coaching briefly at a community college in Mason City, Iowa, she returned to her alma mater to teach health and physical education.

 

“I wanted to get back to the Twin Cities, and I knew Augsburg was a great opportunity. It’s a small college, and smaller class sizes mean lots of personal attention from faculty and staff. It’s a very friendly and open place, and you get to know so many people. It also has strong academic programs,” she said. In addition to teaching as assistant professor of health and physical education, Marilyn was head volleyball coach for 19 years and became women’s athletic director, then assistant athletic director of the combined men’s and women’s department until she retired as professor emerita in 2013.

 

When fundraising for the CSBR began, she responded to the athletic department’s initial call to action, which resulted in 100 percent participation.

 

“The CSBR is a great addition, both for the college as a whole and the Athletic Department. Everyone donated something, mostly through payroll deductions. But for me—I wanted to do more,” she said. Sadly, Vonnie passed away in April at the age of 63. “She was a great teacher and a great big sister. I’m the only one left, and I want to honor what my family gave me. They really are my initial connection to this great college.”

Husfloen Legacy to Live on in CSBR

HusfloenLast fall a member of the Augsburg community, James Husfloen, passed away in Fargo, North Dakota.  Jim attended Augsburg in the fall of 1954 for two years and returned for a semester in 1960.  Other students at that time were Pastor Bob Bagley ’58 and US Representative Martin Sabo ’59, who roomed with him in Alpha Beta Gamma Delta in Memorial Hall one year, as well as Jim’s brother, Richard ’60. After leaving Augsburg, Jim entered the Air National Guard, served in the Air Force, and graduated from Moorhead State in 1970. Jim left the College a significant estate gift of $170,000, which will be designated towards the CSBR. Although Jim didn’t graduate from Augsburg, Gordon Meland, a good friend of Jim’s since grade school, said Jim had a “soft spot for Augsburg.”  His generosity reflects his commitment to education, his Norwegian, Lutheran upbringing and loyalty to his family and community.

 

Jim, born January 21, 1932, in Fargo, North Dakota, was the oldest son of Norwegian Americans Joe and Clara Alfreida (Simonson) Husfloen. His father, was a non-ordained minister and preached in the Fargo-Moorhead area. Some will still remember Richard L. Husfloen ’60, Jim’s younger brother. He graduated from Augsburg in Theology and also taught Sociology at Augsburg after finishing his graduate studies at Luther Seminary and Princeton Theological Seminary. Richard died quite suddenly in Sun City, Arizona, in 2003.  His career in the ministry, as pastor, administrator, and resource developer, prepared him for his role as the 12th President of Augustana University College in Camrose, Alberta, where he served for seven years before retiring in 2003.

 

Jim graduated from Oak Grove School in Fargo in 1950.  After attending Augsburg, he and his friend Gordon joined the Air National Guard. Jim lived two years on Moody Air Force base in Valdosta, Georgia, training pilots.  His experiences rescuing downed pilots affected him throughout his life.  After returning to the Fargo area, Jim entered college again and graduated from Moorhead State University on June 10, 1970,  with a BS in Broadcasting-Film and a minor in Marketing. He later married and had a son, Robert, who died tragically after working hard in the devastating floods the Red River Valley experienced in 1997. Jim’s work life included driving a bus for college trips and representing Nabisco in sales and distribution.  He also did other paid and volunteer work, including broadcasting for Fargo area radio stations and occasional writing for the West Fargo newspaper.  Jim  liked to draw.  He suffered from illness at different times in his life and Alzheimer’s disease in his later years. Jim died in Fargo on October 16, 2013, in his last home, Rosewood on Broadway.

Augsburg Graduate and Longtime Faculty Member Gives to Campaign for CSBR through Payroll Deduction

dale headshotWhen Dale Pederson ’70 went to the University of Minnesota to pursue a Ph.D. in zoology, he began to realize what a special education he had received at Augsburg College. At Augsburg, Pederson majored in biology while immersed in the liberal arts, taking classes in art history, religion, and the American judiciary, which exposed him to new ways of critical thinking. “Augsburg was an engaging and challenging place to be,” he says, “and I took it for granted.”

 

In his doctoral program, fellow students from all over the United States described a wide variety of undergraduate experiences. “I began to see the rarity,” Pederson says, “of Augsburg’s community of learners, where the faculty feel sincere commitment to their students’ welfare, and where there is an intersection of faith and sciences, not a great divide.”

 

Dale Pederson ’70, CSBR champion, joined Augsburg’s faculty in 1992

Pederson has taught biology at Augsburg College for 22 years. Previously he completed post-doctoral fellowships at Mayo Clinic and Cambridge University and taught both at St. Teresa University in Winona, Minn., and Winona State University.

 

Pederson has been a tireless champion for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, speaking at numerous Summit gatherings and other meetings with prospective donors about the vision for this cross-disciplinary building. He gives voice not only to the need for the CSBR but also to the opportunity it will afford the college to continue deepening its academic prowess.

 

‘CSBR may look like a bold move’

“People who see that Augsburg intends to create a signature academic building including science, business and religion may consider it a bold move,” Pederson says. “There are plenty of schools where the sciences and religion are viewed as being in conflict. At Augsburg we have always been a place where these are complementary ways of knowing and where examination of their intersections are welcome and necessary. The cross-disciplinary building is not bold for Augsburg. It will simply be a statement of what we are and always have been. For example, we encourage students interested in scientific careers in a corporate setting to take business classes, and we encourage discussion of faith perspectives in science and business classes.”

 

The new building will provide urgently needed laboratory space for faculty and students. “Today we have so many science students that we are running 100 lab sections each year in this building, and the current building isn’t designed for that.”

 

He believes that the growth in highly qualified science students is a result of 15 years of investment from Augsburg in faculty and student research. “We have been investing in ‘release time’ for faculty members to start research programs, in funding student research, and in scientific equipment. Now more and more students are coming, but we don’t yet have the space for them. Providing that space is the next step in our commitment to our students.”

 

‘Intergenerational trust sustains Augsburg College’

Pederson demonstrated his personal commitment to the CSBR campaign by making a pledge which he fulfills through payroll deduction. He hopes thousands of donors will join him to make the campaign a success.

 

He gives financially because he feels a debt of gratitude to the graduates and friends of the College who gave in earlier generations, helping support his own student scholarships.  “I grew up with modest means and yet graduated with no student debt. That was due to the commitment of others who went before me,” he says.

 

“There is an intergenerational trust involved in sustaining a school like Augsburg. I hope the students whose education will be greatly enhanced by the CSBR will also support the students who follow them. That is how we make this place thrive.”

Gift given in honor of Joel Torstenson

140523 Chilstrom 029The Rev. Herb ’54 Chilstrom, the ELCA’s first presiding bishop, grew up in Litchfield, Minn., a town where everyone was Caucasian when he was young. “Almost everyone had northern European roots. We were very insulated. Coming to Augsburg College opened my eyes to justice issues. The person who pulled me out of my comfort zone was sociology professor Joel Torstenson ’38.”

Herb and his wife Corinne are giving $30,000 to honor Joel Torstenson in the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

Torstenson challenged students to confront the world’s problems

“Dr. Torstenson impacted me not only during my student years but throughout the rest of my life,” Herb says. “He taught that if you are a Christian, you need to face the problems of the world and be out on the front lines, even if it makes you unpopular.”

He remembers Torstenson confronting Augsburg students with the fact that Jews at that time were not allowed to buy and own property within the city of Minneapolis and that African Americans were segregated in north Minneapolis. “Torstenson said emphatically, ‘This is not fair, and we all have to do something about it.’” Recalling this impassioned teaching, Herb credits Torstenson with inspiring him years later to fight for the rights of gay and lesbian people.

Herb and Corinne Chilstrom deeply influenced by Torstenson

Corinne and Herb began dating shortly after high school when both attended Lutheran Bible Institute. Later when Herb attended Augsburg, he talked extensively with Corinne about issues raised in Dr. Torstenson’s classes. “Through those conversations and also by typing papers for Herb, I too was influenced by Dr. Torstenson,” she says.

After graduation, Herb married Corinne, a Fairview Nursing School graduate. Herb then went to Augustana Theological Seminary, now a part of Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. He received his Master of Divinity and served Faith Lutheran in Pelican Rapids and Augustana Lutheran in Elizabeth, both in Minnesota. In 1962 he was named professor of religion and academic dean at Luther College in Teaneck, N.J. In 1966, he graduated from Princeton Theological Seminary with a master of theology. Later he earned a Doctor of Education from New York University.

The couple returned to Minnesota in 1970 when Herb accepted a call as senior pastor of First Lutheran in St. Peter. In 1976, Chilstrom became bishop of the LCA’s Minnesota Synod.

Corinne held many nursing positions over the years including obstetrics, pediatrics, intensive care and college nursing. While living in St. Peter, she obtained a B.S. in nursing from Mankato State University.

Herb encouraged her to attend Luther Seminary when she told him, “If I could do anything I wanted, I would go to seminary and study theology.” She received her M.Div. degree in 1985, wondering whether she would ever receive a call since her husband was a synod bishop and conflict of interest could present a barrier. She was delighted to receive a call in another church body, the American Lutheran Church, to serve Bethlehem Lutheran in South Minneapolis.

When Herb was elected presiding bishop, she spoke and taught widely throughout the church for five years before accepting a call as associate pastor at St. Luke’s Lutheran in Park Ridge, Ill. Corinne was the world’s first wife of a Lutheran bishop to also be a pastor. Now they are retired and divide their time between St. Peter, Minn., and Green Valley, Ariz.

Proceeds from Chilstrom’s new book to go toward CSBR

Herb, a master gardener and author, currently is working on My Friend Jonah and Other Dogs I Have Loved. Proceeds from this book will go toward the CSBR.

“Giving is a lot of fun,” Herb says. “We have been blessed, and we like to share our blessings. Giving to the CSBR means I can say thank you to Dr. Torstenson for the major impact he had on my life, and maybe, by example, we can encourage others to do likewise.”

Professor Stortz Sees CSBR as Campus and City Connector

“Incubator. Hub. Thoroughfare. The new Center for Science, Business, and Religion will be all these things,” says Marty Stortz, who has pledged an estate gift. And one more: “It’s a place-based symbol of the good work that is already happening here.”stortz

Martha Ellen Stortz brought along the benefits of an outsider’s perspective when she was named Bernhard M. Christensen Professor of Religion and Vocation in 2010. “I left graduate education for undergraduate education; I left theological education for higher education; I left California for Minnesota,” says Stortz, who was previously professor of historical theology and ethics at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, where she spent nearly three decades. “I could see that many of my colleagues in other higher education institutions were reaching for an urban experience for their students. But Augsburg was already there and already providing that.”

In her move to the Twin Cities, she drove herself across the country in time to join her new science, business, and religion colleagues on a field trip to visit the new science center at St. Olaf. “When we all left at the end of that day, we had envy for their building. But they had envy for our faculty and collegiality,” she recalls.

So within her first week, she was already considering what it might be like to have an office next to a social science professor, or share midmorning coffee with a business maven. “We’re not waiting for this building to be built: we’re already working together. The conversation is already forming. We have the faculty, the collegiality, and the interdisciplinary focus in place to move forward, especially with our connections to the community and the corporate world,” she says. “I think it’s extraordinary.”

The new building will be “a meeting place, a hub for a lot of what the College stands for. Augsburg has never had a closed academic quadrangle. What I love about the architecture is that it is meant to be a thoroughfare for the campus, for the communities, for the city and beyond.”

Stortz describes a class that her colleague, physics professor Ben Stottrup, taught this past semester. Stottrup combined business and science by bringing in acclaimed chefs from three Twin Cities restaurants—Victory 44, Borough, and Haute Dish—to discuss the physics of food. Because the local food scene is a hotbed of youthful creativity, inventiveness, and vibrancy, its appeal to students is apparent.

“I see the CSBR as a resource to the college but also as an incubator for the city. It invites corporate sponsorship and draws people in,” says Stortz, who believes that the notion of an applied liberal education is in Augsburg’s DNA. “We have business students doing internships, but what if we had science students interning in restaurants? Those kitchens need what Augsburg students and faculty have to offer.”

Through another of Stottrup’s panels, this one on beer and entrepreneurship, Stortz met Jacquie Berglund ’87, the founder and CEO of FINNEGANS, a Minneapolis brewery that donates 100% of its profits to local food banks. Stortz invited Berglund to a keystone course for business majors, which she team-taught with marketing professor Bill Arden. There, Jacquie explained that she’d been “bitten by the service bug” at Augsburg. She shared her belief that righting society’s wrongs is a responsibility that belongs to everyone in every corner of the city, not just churches, nonprofits, or municipal governments.

“By the time she finished talking, all of my students wanted to do internships with her. That’s the kind of synergy you get here. That’s what’s happening now, and this building is going to make it happen more,” Stortz says. “Who wouldn’t want to support that?”

Coach Son Honors Coach Dad with CSBR Contribution

edor baseball“Making a donation in my father’s honor while he is still living was not a difficult decision,” says Bruce Nelson, ’71. “The Center for Science, Business, and Religion is something I believe in. When you get to a certain age and believe in something, then you want to be a part of it.” Bruce and his wife, Kathy, have pledged $25,000 to the CSBR.

 

Bruce’s father, Edor Nelson, ’38, has earned their honor in several ways. Born in Dawson, Minnesota, Edor was the first man in Lac qui Parle County to be drafted for World War II. He was inducted in August 1941, assigned to Gen. George Patton’s Third Army, and captured in 1944 while trying to cross the Moselle River in France. He spent several months as a POW in Poland before escaping with four fellow prisoners and making his long way home by foot, boxcar and boat to reunite with his wife and high school sweetheart, Dorathy.

 

Super coach influences many

In 1946, the couple bought a house in south Minneapolis, where they raised Bruce and his brother. Edor joined Augsburg as an instructor and coach, or, you might say, super coach. He coached football for 23 seasons (1947-1969). He coached baseball for 34 seasons (1946-1979). He brought hockey back to Augsburg as coach in 1956-57. And he was Augsburg’s first wrestling coach, from 1949 through 1963. Edor Nelson Field is named for him.

 

So it’s no surprise that Bruce wants to honor his father. In fact, the fruit didn’t fall far from the tree. Currently president of the Augsburg A-Club, which his father launched with three colleagues in 1936, Bruce was football team captain while at Augsburg, then spent 36 years as a high school teacher and coach. Now retired and passionate about fundraising, he was instrumental in convincing not only the A-Club but also the Augsburg coaches—all of them—to support the CSBR capital campaign.

 

Augsburg in a great place

“It’s a very exciting time. Augsburg has never been in a better place,” Bruce says. “The major change I see is that instead of us having to go out and seek new students, they will come and seek us out. The CSBR will be a draw, even for student athletes. It will be a showcase.” About 480 student athletes—80 more than last year—play sports at Augsburg, which enjoyed a 70% winning season last fall, earning much national respect, and is home to the first women’s lacrosse program in the Upper Midwest.

 

“For a tuition-driven school, that’s a great situation,” Bruce says. It’s also a situation made great by the contributions of many, including both father and son.

Deb ’72 and Tim Miller Team up to Support Augsburg and the CSBR

Deb and Tim MillerTim Miller is one proud husband.  “He claims to this day that he married the founding president and only member of the little known Augsburg Car-Starting Program,” laughs Deb (Anderson) Miller ’72. Deb and Tim met when she was an Auggie education major, he was a pre-med student at the University of Minnesota, and they both worked part-time at St. Mary’s Hospital in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. Tim parked across the street at Augsburg. After they started dating, Deb made frequent trips outside to start his car during the frigid Minnesota winters. Thus, they say, was the start of “The Miller Team,” a partnership marked by deep faith, hard work, profound challenges, and great joy.

 

The Millers have created a charitable foundation focused on supporting healthcare and education organizations like Augsburg. “We’re not taking any of the tangible things with us,” explains Tim. “It’s our responsibility to assist with the development of others.” After supporting the Augsburg Fund for many years, they recently made a commitment to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).  A chemistry faculty office will be named in recognition of their gift. The Millers see the blending of these three philosophies (Science, Business, and Religion) as unique, thoughtful, and intriguing—and most importantly, symbolic of the College’s entire mission.

 

Lifting others up

“Augsburg is a gem that does not just work on creating a glittering façade,” they say. “It exists to build people up so that they can go out into the world to lift it up.” Deb says she was a “quiet little mouse” when she left Jackson, Minnesota, for Augsburg in 1968.  “I really had little exposure to the big picture of life,” she recalls. “Augsburg changed me and changed the direction of my life.”  By volunteering with children’s organizations around the Twin Cities and teaching Sunday school in North Minneapolis, Deb became more aware of others’ fears and difficulties. “Today, Augsburg retains a singular focus on helping people grow and increasing their self-awareness so they can help the world,” says Deb. “If anything, the message of service is even stronger today than it ever was.”

 

Inspired by faculty

At Augsburg, Deb met inspirational figures like education professor Marie McNeff, whose progressive educational philosophies shaped Deb’s own teaching style. “She was far ahead of her time,” explains Deb. “She taught us that a true teacher considers what is now known as the ‘whole person’ and welcomes everyone, regardless of their needs or gifts.” One of Deb’s part-time jobs was helping Chaplain Orlin Mandsager with childcare, and she became close to the family in the process. “Chapel came to be a very significant part of my life,” she remembers. “It was very grounding to take that moment out of the regular routine.”

 

Strengthening the core of each person

“All of these experiences helped me become more self-aware,” she explains. “I began to embrace the Augsburg message that I mattered as an individual, and that even I had the potential to benefit the world.”

Deb went on to teach middle school in New Prague, Minnesota, for many years, and Tim became a physician. Together, they raised three children: Daughter Adina is an ER physician like her father, and Brittany is an oncology RN and mother of triplets. Nate ’06 is a paramedic. Nate, who suffered a traumatic brain injury as a pre-schooler, participated in Augsburg’s CLASS program, which helps academically qualified students with disabilities reach their individual potential. “Tim and I became involved with the Parent and Family Council during Nate’s years at Augsburg and fell in love with Augsburg all over again,” says Deb.

 

“We discovered anew that Augsburg walks its talk….It lives out what it asserts to be.”