Science, Business, and Religion Keystone Course Inspires Vocation

At Augsburg College, Russell Kleckley, in the religion department, and Larry Crockett, in computer science, developed a keystone course for students to explore the intersections between science, business, and religion. Illustrator Timothy Foss visited the class and saw Augsburg College students making connections between disciplines and finding vocation at the core of their real-world implications.

CSBR Gifts Support Auggie Success on the Mat and in the Lab

Jeff Swenson with distinguished alumni wrestlers at Homecoming 2014

Jeff Swenson ’79 with distinguished alumni award recipients (and wrestlers) Dean Kennedy ’75 and Mike Good ’71 at Homecoming 2014.

“Anytime that Augsburg does something spectacular, it’s time to celebrate,” says Augsburg Athletic Director Jeff Swenson ’79. Whether it’s making the dream of the Center for Science, Business, and Religion (CSBR) come true or winning the 2015 NCAA Divison III National Championship in Wrestling, it’s all good for Augsburg. “There’s a lesson to be learned for all of us,” Swenson says of the wrestlers’ victory. “You’re never out of it. You never give up. Many people had counted the team out, but the team never counted itself out. They believed anything was possible.” Swenson also supports another one-time underdog, the CSBR, as a donor and fundraiser. Like campaign leadership, fellow alumni and benefactors, he believes in the CSBR.

First Impressions Matter

“I took classes in our current science building in 1975, and it was old then,” Swenson says, pointing out the simple truth that Augsburg doesn’t have enough labs and science classrooms to meet students’ needs. He admits that coaches hoping to recruit student athletes often skip the science building on tours for fear that it will make a bad first impression. If facilities are inadequate, some students assume that the institution doesn’t care about a particular academic discipline or activity. That couldn’t be further from the truth in the case of science at Augsburg. “There’s some incredible work that goes on in that science building,” he says.

40 Years of “School”

Swenson says he’s gone back to school—not work—at Augsburg every fall since 1975. He keeps learning how to make the student-athlete experience a little bit better every day. “That’s what fuels me,” he says. “It might have to do with providing them with more coaches, or better-lit facilities, or more locker rooms. Whatever the project is, we always want to be moving forward.”

His job is about much more than athletics, though; it’s about Augsburg’s mission. “At Augsburg, we’re preparing our students to be future leaders. Once you’ve been a student athlete and you’ve managed classes, studying, practices, and competitions, then everything else is easy.” Continue reading

Untying the Colt: The Beauty of Generosity

Mike Good '71Our Augsburg capital campaign received some very good news this past month. We’ve been notified of a multimillion dollar estate gift from one of our alumni, who recently passed away unexpectedly.

We’ll share details with you about this magnificent gift very soon. Meanwhile, because it comes to us as something of a surprise, I’m drawn to explore the beauty and mystery of such generosity. For me it connects with the way a special holiday can lead us to see things in a new way, to hear a story and understand it in a new light.

That’s what happened to me on Palm Sunday.

I’ve been spending some time in Florida with my wife Ann and our daughter Mandy, my son-in-law Joe (both Auggies), and our two granddaughters. They attend the Sun Coast Community Church in Sarasota. It’s a non-denominational big box church and the first half hour consists of the congregation standing and singing along with the musicians to (loud) gospel rock music. Then the “teaching pastor” gives an inspiring sermon, many times using video to support his message.

That morning a song caught my ear. It’s by the News Boys, off their CD called “Restart.” The lyrics that stayed with me are:

“We believe in the resurrection.

So let our faith be more than anthems

Greater than the songs we sing.

In our weakness and temptations, 

We believe, we believe!”

Since most of you reading this message know me pretty well by now, you’re probably not surprised that these lyrics truly spoke to me. I hope you’ll listen to it in its entirety.

On Palm Sunday, the pastor had a message that caused me to reflect about giving and our campaign for the new Center for Science, Business, and Religion … and how we are getting so close to its successful completion.

The Lord needs it

The story he shared with us that morning is the familiar Palm Sunday story from Luke 19: 28-42. But this time, the Pastor shared a new way of looking at the first part of that jubilant ride into Jerusalem. It gave me an insight that I’d never really thought about.

His first point was this: “When challenged with our resources, remember the phrase, the Lord needs it.” (v31) Continue reading

Faculty Member’s Gifts Support Augsburg’s Commitment to Vocation

Russell KleckleyRussell Kleckley got hooked on the study of Johannes Kepler when he was working on his doctoral dissertation in theology at the University of Munich in the late 1980s. Kleckley, Augsburg associate professor of religion, became fascinated by the work of the sixteenth-century scientist and theologian, as well as the role of religion in shaping the world that led to the rise of modern science.

“Part of my interest in the CSBR is my own background in the history of science and religion,” Kleckley explains. “The new twist for me is the business connection.” He has participated in several CSBR Summit panel discussions among faculty and alumni; co-developed a course on science, business, and religion; and is a CSBR donor himself. “The CSBR is a chance to invest not just in a building but in an idea,” explains Russell. “This idea, that science, business, and religion all benefit when they engage each other, can empower our students to think more deeply, to act more responsibly, and to believe more boldly than conventional approaches make room for. That’s something worth a commitment of dollars as well as mind and spirit.”

Science + Religion + Business = Vocation

Kleckley thinks that Augsburg’s take on integrating the three academic disciplines makes a lot of sense, historically speaking. “When you go back to the Reformation there is a great deal of interest in understanding the world from a science point of view, but, more importantly, understanding what use we make of it to promote human good.”

It also makes a lot of sense for Augsburg, in particular. “Augsburg’s commitment to vocation is at the center of what we do; it’s the hinge, the key that pulls science, business, and religion together… We need to be thinking about science, business, and religion not strictly in terms of academic dimensions, but in terms of what affects people’s lives,” Kleckley explains. Continue reading

“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

Believe … Let’s Finish the Campaign This Year!

Hello friends,

Mike Good '71The incredible $10 million gift announced six weeks ago has given us tremendous momentum! Momentum is a great thing when you feel the wind at your back!

During much of this Campaign to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion, we have felt like we were running uphill against the wind, and this change feels really special and good. We are within approximately $9 million of our stated goal and I BELIEVE we can finish the campaign yet this year and break ground on this long-awaited facility that represents the best of the transformational work already being done at Augsburg.

Even during moments of doubt, we found strength in believing that God was calling us all to this special challenge and would continue to be our strength throughout our work together. I remember many conversations with alumni who would ask me how we were doing … if we were getting campaign weariness. My response was always twofold.

First, I shared with them that I wouldn’t be personally engaged in this CSBR work if I didn’t believe that God was actively at work in the mission and life of Augsburg College. Secondly, I shared with them that each interaction, each meeting, each gift from an Augsburg alum or friend gave me and the entire staff new energy, new confidence and new faith that we were on the right path. You continually give us hope and encouragement, and we are grateful.

The donors of this transformational “naming gift” are very grounded in their faith in God and his redeeming grace. They have been long-time supporters of the College and believe in the mission of Augsburg. They understand the importance of not only maintaining our differentiation as an institution but in building on those key differentiators.

One such differentiator is that we boldly proclaim Augsburg as a college of the church, and that our calling is to educate future leaders for today’s and tomorrow’s world that know they are called to serve their neighbor with their unique gifts. Without that differentiation, Augsburg would not be the same institution.

The day after the joyous announcement of the $10 million gift, I was reading in my Daily Bible an important story that reminded me of Augsburg’s own journey. In the story, the Israelites have already forgotten their covenant with God in the desert and made a golden calf. Moses asks God to forgive His people. Then he asks God for His Presence to go with them on their journey to the promised land. Moses says to God: “If your Presence does not go with us, do not send us up from here. How will anyone know that you are pleased with me and your people unless you go with us?  What will distinguish me and your people from all other people on the face of the earth?” God responds: “I will do this very thing you have asked, because I am pleased with you and I know you by name.”

Without God’s Presence, we become just another urban college. But with His Presence we are distinguished from all the others because of our unique calling. May God’s Presence go with Augsburg as we finish this campaign to build the Center for Science, Business, and Religion and as our faculty, staff, and administration continue to live out that mission for the benefit of our students and Auggies everywhere!

Mike Good ’71

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