“Unto whom much has been given, much is expected.”

Lee (Dyrud) Furman '61Leola “Lee” (Dyrud) Furman ’61 remembers her very first day of school well: “My mother announced that I had many years of schooling ahead of me: grade school, high school, and then Augsburg College!” Furman not only attended Augsburg, she became one of its most loyal benefactors and volunteers, a Distinguished Alumnus Award recipient, an adjunct faculty member, and one of the first to make a financial commitment to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

Called to Social Work

Growing up on a farm in Thief River Falls, Minn., surrounded by her Norwegian family, Furman didn’t think much about urban poverty and blight. At age 12, however, she attended Bible camp and heard Augsburg professor Mert Strommen ’42 talk about the great need for social workers. “I felt the call to service at this early age, and I knew that Augsburg would prepare me for this calling.”

At Augsburg, President Bernard Christensen reminded students often that, “Unto whom much has been given, much is expected,” and sociology professor Joel Torstenson opened her eyes to issues of poverty and race relations. Both men challenged students to become involved in social justice issues, regardless of their career paths.

Furman took her calling seriously, but playing the cymbals in band provided some opportunities for fun. “One summer we traveled up the Alcon Highway, playing concerts all the way through Canada, through the Yukon Territory, and up to Alaska to celebrate their statehood,” Furman remembers.

After Augsburg, Furman went on to earn a Master of Social Work degree from the University of Chicago and a PhD from the Fielding Graduate University. By the time she completed her doctorate she was living in Grand Forks, North Dakota, with husband Philip Furman, raising two boys, and teaching in the social work department at the University of North Dakota (UND). Continue reading

Nic Parsons ’15 Shares Inheritance with Augsburg and CSBR

Like many adult undergraduate students, Nic Parsons ’15 had a lot of living under his belt before he enrolled at Augsburg. “Sometimes people just have to live and learn,” explains Parsons, now 38 and nearing completion of his bachelor’s degree. Augsburg has made a difference in Parsons’ life, so when he received an inheritance from his grandfather he decided to use a portion of it to support the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR), even while he was still a student. A faculty office in the new building will be named in recognition of his generosity. “I felt like giving,” remembers Parsons, “so I called the office of Institutional Advancement and asked about opportunities.” Parsons made his gift early in the CSBR campaign, even before momentum for the campaign had swung into full gear.

Finding his own path

Parsons spent many of his early school years in North Branch, Minn., and graduated from high school in St. Paul, Minn. He earned a pre-apprentice electrician diploma from Job Corps, and in 2008, he completed management and marketing management certificates at Minnesota State College and University (MNSCU) system’s Normandale Community College. In 2011, he received an associate of science degree in management from MNSCU’s St. Paul College.

When it came time to choose where he would complete his bachelor’s degree, he thought about a public college, but chose Augsburg in the end. “The Lutherans got to me,” he says with a laugh.  He kept his full-time position at 3M for a while after starting at Augsburg, but eventually became a full-time student. “I decided it was time to focus on me,” says the management major. Continue reading

Phil Formo Remembers Family with Gifts for Scholarships and New Building

If Augsburg had a title of “honorary alumnus,” it might go to Phil Formo. His family connections run deep at Augsburg, but he never studied on campus himself. “It was supposed to be automatic that I’d go to Augsburg,” remembers Formo. Instead, in a decision that he says surprised even himself, he chose to attend Pacific Lutheran University. Even without the Augsburg degree he did OK for himself: he became a special education teacher, earned a MEd from St. Cloud State and a MDiv from Luther Seminary, and was called to serve four Minnesota churches. Now retired, Formo celebrates his family’s Augsburg legacy through his philanthropy. His generosity includes support for two endowed scholarship funds and a gift for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).

Papa – A Life Remembered

Formo’s Augsburg connections trace back to his grandfather, Andreas Helland, who emigrated from Norway in 1889 at age 19. A graduate of Augsburg seminary, Helland served as professor of New Testament from 1905 to 1940. He wrote an early definitive history of Augsburg Seminary; edited Augsburg College President Georg Sverdrup’s collected works; and in 1947 wrote a biography of President Sverdrup.

In 2013, his grandson Formo published a creative memoir based on professor Helland’s log of his life’s events. “Papa – A Life Remembered” follows Andreas from boyhood on a North Sea island, through his years at Augsburg and his nearly four decades of service on the Lutheran Board of Missions, to his death in 1951. “He was so connected with Augsburg,” says Formo. “When the campaign for the new science hall began [in the 1940s], my grandfather gave the first sizable gift, as well as others for the project as time went on.” Continue reading

Tom Crook Honors Wife, Nancy English ’73, and Daughters with Gift to Building

Tom Crook with daughters Emily Crook (left) and Hilary Crook (right)“Augsburg has been part of our lives for a long time,” says Tom Crook. Tom isn’t an alumnus himself, but the three most important women in his life attended Augsburg: his late wife Nancy English, MD ’73, and their daughters, Hilary ’01 and Emily Crook ’07, ’15 MAE. His $25,000 gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) honors his wife and daughters. “We’ve always been fond of Augsburg,” says Tom. “I thought it was a nice way to remember my wife and honor my children.”

Tom and his family will be recognized with the naming of a psychology faculty office in the new building. Tom says that naming a psychology office seemed right because Nancy was a social worker before she went to medical school at age 37, and she had considered returning to medical school to become a psychiatrist. Instead, she decided to dedicate her career to the practice of family medicine. “Anyone who’s going to study pre-med at Augsburg will spend a lot of time in that building,” says Tom. The gift to Augsburg also celebrates the family’s and the College’s shared Norwegian roots. Continue reading

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