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.