According to Evangeline (Gundale) Hagfors, “In our family there was only one calling, and that was to help others.” The daughter of Norwegian immigrant parents, she and her husband, Norm Hagfors, have demonstrated this calling most recently with their gift to Augsburg.
Vangie’s father, Elnar G. Olsen (who later used his middle name, Gundale, to distinguish himself from so many other pastors named Olsen) emigrated to the United States in 1930, studied at Augsburg College and Seminary, and was ordained in 1937 as a Lutheran Free Church pastor. While a seminary student he taught Norwegian at Augsburg.
Norman and Evangeline (Gundale) Hagfors met at a Sunday evening after-church coffee. After visiting, Norm drove Vangie, a nursing student at Deaconess Hospital near Augsburg, back to her dorm. Over the next 55 years they would marry, have a family, enjoy a distinguished career, and form a continuing connection with Augsburg.
Last spring when they decided to make a naming gift for Augsburg’s new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), they affirmed their commitment to the importance of the three disciplines brought together in the building and the excellence of these disciplines. “The need for the building was not new. And their amazing science programs produce remarkable results,” said Norm.
Norm reported, “My real interest in the sciences was piqued by my high school teacher who was an Augsburg graduate named Donald Murphy. He made science so interesting.” While still a student, studying electrical engineering at the University of Minnesota, Norman joined Earl Bakken and Palmer Hermundslie as the number four employee of Medtronic, Inc., then located in Palmer’s garage. Later, as director of research and manufacturing, he was part of the management team that transitioned Medtronic from a medical instrument repair and service organization to a medical device company specializing in implantable products. It is now the largest medical device company in the world. He has received a number of patents related to the development of medical devices.
Norman was the founder and president of Stimulation Technology, Inc., a medical device company pioneering the development of pain control devices. The company was eventually sold to Johnson & Johnson. Prior to his retirement, he was president of Norsen, Inc., and partner of KLGT-23 television.
Why did they decide to add their name to the Hagfors Center? Vangie shared that with her family ties to Augsburg spanning 85 years, and Norm, as a longtime member of the Board of Regents, “The timing was right. Augsburg’s leadership is strong, the faculty is outstanding, the student enrollment is growing, and the need for the building is clear. Adding our name signals that we stand with Augsburg. We support the CSBR project and the many benefits it will provide faculty, students, and the Augsburg community.”
The Hagfors Center represents Augsburg’s commitment to be faithful to our mission and Lutheran identity, and highly relevant to today’s students. As we become a sought-after campus for leaders of the future, the Hagfors Center will be a home for the College’s extensive and renowned undergraduate research that prepares students for work and graduate studies, and fosters a culture of discovery and transformation.
The interdisciplinary Hagfors Center is designed to foster intersections among areas of study, support active learning, and connect the College to the community. The new building embodies Augsburg’s mission of educating students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders.
Ground will be broken for the new academic building on April 29, 2016, and the building is expected to open in January 2018.