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

This Work is a Team Effort

Mike Good '71Were you among the hundreds who experienced the abiding promise delivered through Augsburg Vespers?

Talk about a team effort.

This 35th Advent Vespers, celebrated last weekend at Central Lutheran Church in the heart of Minneapolis, required the discipline, dedication and commitment of so many, from four conductors (Douglas Diamond, Nancy Grundahl, Peter Hendrickson ’76, and Mark Sedio ’76) to the many performers, liturgists, hospitality volunteers, and musicians from multiple choirs and orchestra.

Auggies performed another brilliant program designed to remind us of the hope, goodness, and light of the world. It gives each one of us time to consider and appreciate the power of transformative acts, of miracles. Actions that measurably contribute to a better world.

Each month I share with you my abiding passion for encouraging each one of you to see yourselves as part of the continuing transformation of Augsburg. I invite each of you to join us

  • by connecting your past experience of an Augsburg education
  • with your present action on behalf of Augsburg
  • thus activating your dreams for a better future.

I invite you to celebrate your roots in Augsburg and to come home to those roots by making a commitment to Augsburg’s future.

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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

Matching Gifts Multiply Jacobson-Dewald Family Giving

Rolf JacobsenGenerosity is an important spiritual value for Augsburg Regent Rolf Jacobson, his wife Amy Dewald, and their two children, Ingrid (age 15), and Gunnar (age 10). “We attempt to be generous in the way we live, not just in the way we give,” explains Rolf, who is also a former assistant professor of religion at Augsburg College. “Our family’s value of generosity is part of how we try to respond to God’s calling.”

One way they express their faith and values is by financially supporting the Augsburg Fund and the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR).  Amy is operations manager—quality and tech consulting for Wells Fargo Institutional Retirement and Trust—and Wells Fargo matches qualifying employee donations to educational institutions. “Wells Fargo wants to be a good corporate citizen of the Twin Cities, and we are very delighted that they are matching our gift dollar for dollar,” says Rolf.

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We are all in this great work together

Mike Good '71Earlier this beautiful autumn, I was fortunate to gather on campus with many of my fellow Auggies and celebrate the spirit of Augsburg. Fellow distinguished alumni award recipients and I stood with several others to be recognized for leadership and alumni service at the 2014 Homecoming Convocation.

Listening to the eloquent citations offered, I heard a prevailing theme. Augsburg creates a community in which people are transformed through a call of faithfulness and relevance onward toward vocation and generosity.

I met First Decade award recipient Victor Acosta ’04 whose achievements in physics and his career working for Google would impress even the most prolific among us. He quipped to us, “How is it that a Puerto Rican Jew from New York found acceptance and purpose at a Lutheran college like Augsburg?” Victor shared that his time at Augsburg included finding a safe haven in the StepUP® program. It helped him find lasting sobriety and substantive encouragement to be himself. It also led him to move from a major in religion toward the study of physics. Scientific learning opened the door to explore the very meaning of the universe and more ways to be in service to others. He described his time at Augsburg as some of “the most vulnerable and challenging of my life” and they catapulted him toward his remarkable achievements including six patents and a host of published writings. His humble acknowledgement of his classmates with substantive achievements speaks to another Auggie value: we are all in this great work together! Continue reading

Auggie + Scientist = Unified Support for CSBR

Mary Quanbeck Barber ’77 and Loren BarberIt’s no surprise that Mary Quanbeck Barber ’77 is committed to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion capital campaign. She is one of about 80 Quanbecks with strong Auggie ties, including her father, Rev. Dr. Philip Quanbeck, Sr. ’50, a much-decorated faculty member who retired in 1993. Her brother, Philip Quanbeck II, has served on the religion faculty since 1987. What’s perhaps more surprising is that someone with no previous Augsburg ties at all matches her CSBR passion: her husband, Loren Barber.

“I believe very strongly in scientific literacy in the public domain,” says Barber, a retired 3M chemist and researcher. “We have literacy in many areas of education—obviously we all think about being able to write and communicate effectively—but scientific literacy should be an equally high priority. Every student leaving Augsburg should be able to understand the science-related issues that affect everyday life, be they health care, the environment, or other similar subjects.” Continue reading

Giving Back to the College that Changed his Life

Larry & Sue Turner“When I think about what Augsburg has done for me, I know I can afford to make a gift,” says Larry Turner ’69, who made a gift of appreciated stock for the Center for Science, Business, and Religion. “I see a real need and it’s extremely important to support that,” explains Larry. He says it pains him to see how hard Augsburg has to work to raise money for such an important project. “I strongly encourage all alumni to make a gift to the CSBR,” says Larry.

Lessons Learned at Augsburg

Larry is quick to say that Augsburg changed his life. Growing up on a farm near West Concord, Minn., he was unsure what he could accomplish in life. “No one expected me to go to college,” he remembers. But Larry had become familiar with Augsburg through family and friends, and decided to give it a shot. He planned to major in math and physics, but eventually turned to accounting and economics.

Larry had to learn some hard lessons at Augsburg before he found success. Unprepared for college-level academic rigor, he nearly failed out. But instead of showing him the door, Augsburg put him on probation and gave him one more semester to pull it all together, because the faculty believed he could do it. “In order to achieve, you have to believe you can achieve, and then work like heck,” explains Larry.

Hard Work Pays Off

And work he did. He mastered new study skills and concentrated on academics. Most importantly, he buckled down. He gave up wrestling to focus on his studies, but was able to return to it in his final year. He remembers well the feeling of accomplishment. “I had a final coming up and I studied all weekend,” he remembers. “I got an ‘A.’ I didn’t even know I could get an ‘A’ … it blew me away.” Continue reading

Alumnus Hopes to Inspire Young Science-Minds Through CSBR Gifts

devries_jon_opt

Photo courtesy of General Mills/Medallion Labs.

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.

Never Mind the Impossible

Mike-Good-headshotMy role as Campaign Chair to build a new Center for Science, Business, and Religion at the heart of Augsburg’s campus allows me to meet and spend time with so many terrific people.

Recently, I shared time with a Minnesota corporate leader, a man of great faith. He is not an Augsburg alumnus, but his company and personal values directly connect to the goals of the CSBR.

He introduced me to a CD, “God of the Impossible,” by Dr. David Gibbs, Jr.

It is a re-telling of back-to-back stories of Jesus performing two miracles in Matthew 14: the feeding of the 5,000; and Peter’s walking on water to join the disciples as they cross a turbulent Sea of Galilee. Jesus teaches the disciples that all things are possible through Him … a lesson that continued to be difficult for them (and us) to fully comprehend.

Gibbs begins by sharing that great things are done by many without belief in God.

However, he adds, God calls believers to do the Impossible through Him…even when the conditions don’t seem conducive (like having only 5 loaves and two fish to feed a multitude, or walking on water in a raging, tumultuous sea).

Gibbs confesses that most of his life he has prayed for God to change the conditions, the obstacles that are getting in the way of what he has been trying to accomplish.

The four key points in this moving CD are:

1)    Ask God specifically for something Impossible.

2)    Get your eyes off the conditions.

3)    Forget Plan B.

4)    You have to get out of the boat if you want to be a “water walker.”

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