Orville and Gertrude Hognander Endowment Fund

“I guess you could say that if it weren’t for Augsburg, I wouldn’t be here,” said Joe (Orville C.) Hognander, Jr. with a chuckle. The retired naval officer and private investor has deep Augsburg roots: his grandfather, Reverend Lars R. Lund, graduated from Augsburg Seminary in 1912 and his parents, Gertrude Lund and Orville Hognander, met during their Augsburg Class of 1936 freshman registration.

Reverend Lars R. Lund, in an oval-framed cabinet card photo
Reverend Lars R. Lund, ’12

Gertrude and Orville shared a lifelong love of music. Gertrude began playing the piano when she was five and subsequently played the organ in her father’s church while still in her teens. Orville, who also grew up surrounded by church music, supported his dad’s ministry by serving as announcer for the family’s weekly WDGY radio program of music and the spoken word. Joe recalls hearing classical music regularly in their home, especially from their complete collection of New York Philharmonic Orchestra’s 78 RPM records in the pre-FM radio days.

Gertrude Lund and Orville Hogander together in their home
Gertrude Lund and Orville Hogander

While students at Augsburg, both Gertrude and Orville were deeply involved in the newly formed choir, Gertrude as piano accompanist and Orville as the announcer/business manager. Most notably in 1935, he created and produced the “Hour Melodious,” a weekly radio program on WCCO featuring the 50-member choir. He also planned and arranged the choir’s first tour, which covered 20 concerts and more than 2,000 miles.

After Augsburg, the Hognanders served their communities in many ways. Gertrude became a teacher and music education supervisor in Escanaba, Michigan, before marrying Orville and moving to Minneapolis in the early 1940’s. She became organist and director of several church choirs and joined, among other groups, AAUW, the St. Louis Park Woman’s Cub, and the United Nations Association of Minnesota, eventually becoming president of those associations. In 1973, she received Augsburg’s Distinguished Alumni Award.

Orville began work for the Tennant Company as a salesman in the Detroit area, advancing rapidly to become vice president at age 31 and member of the Board of Directors eight years later. At the same time, he rose through the ranks of the National Sales Executives, becoming vice chairman in the early 1950’s. Sadly, at age 43 he suffered a major stroke that paralyzed his right side and required him to re-learn how to walk, talk, and write. Through great determination, he succeeded and was able to resume his responsibilities at Tennant, where he negotiated foreign business agreements that opened markets in Europe and Japan.

Joe (Orville C.) Hogander Jr. wears a suit and stands in an art gallery
Joe (Orville C.) Hogander Jr.

Joe recalls how his father gave great thought to where his money should go when he was no longer here. It was a difficult decision but in the end he chose to support those organizations and causes that had been of greatest importance to him during his life.

After he died in 1997, his will provided money to Augsburg College to create the Orville and Gertrude Hognander Endowment Fund, which specifies full tuition funding for an outstanding junior and senior in the Music Department. The department faculty selects the recipient based on past performance during their freshman and sophomore years at Augsburg or another college as well as their potential for future distinction.

“The scholarship’s goal is to provide a strong incentive to encourage and reward excellence for those in the music field,” noted Joe. “I have been very impressed with each one of the past winners.”

Strong Behind-the-Scenes Supporters

The Egertsons stand in their driveway with their collector car
“Three old-timers” – The Egertsons and their 1930 Model A Ford Coupe.

David Egertson and his wife, Edith, never attended Augsburg College, but their family ties and commitment to the Lutheran Church certainly explain their enthusiasm for the place.

“When I was young, I wasn’t interested in college, and as it turned out, I did fine without it,” says David, a former railroad marketing executive whose extended family included several pastors and one bishop. “The idea of a Christian education meant a lot to my father, but he couldn’t afford to attend college. If one of his kids expressed an interest in college, Dad encouraged and helped to send them to Augsburg. Three of my brothers and two of our children went there.”

David and Edith Egertson on their wedding day
David and Edith Egertson celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary in June 2016.

To honor their father’s values, David’s brother, Darrell Egertson ‘55, an Augsburg Regent Emeritus, established the Ernest S. Egertson Scholarship in 1992 to provide encouragement and financial assistance to students preparing for a Christian service vocation.

“Christian service was what my dad stood for, and that’s what the family wants to honor,” says David. “Darrell and his wife Helga were the early supporters of the scholarship, but Edith and I soon became involved. At first we made smaller contributions, but now that we’re doing legacy planning, we want to include Augsburg College in our estate. Our Christian heritage means so much to us. We want to pass that along.

“Because of my work, we moved around a lot—we lived in seven cities and 12 different homes. Faith and church are the central focus of our life, so we always got involved with a Lutheran church. We are charter members of the congregation where we now worship here in St. Louis. Edith was the first organist at this church and is still engaged in music, including singing in a church octet,” he says.

The Egertsons in their home making lefse
Making lefse is an annual ritual for the Egertsons.

The Egertsons like that Augsburg is located in the heart of Minneapolis, where they once lived, and where students from all walks of life have the opportunity to be exposed to Christian faith and values that may influence them indirectly. “We hope the scholarship will help someone who couldn’t go to college otherwise. The idea is to make a difference, and to us, this is a way of spreading the gospel,” David says.

The Egertsons also like knowing that years from now, their endowment will change the life of someone they’ve never met by offering them an education and exposing them to the possibilities of Christian service. As David puts it, “To us, the endowment is a gift that keeps on giving—in perpetuity. That’s the beauty of it.”

Golf as a Guide to StepUP

Jon Schwingler
Jon Schwingler

For many, golf is more than a game. It can be a metaphor for life, a way to connect, or an ongoing reminder of challenges faced and rewards hard won. Jon Schwingler remembers being on a golf course when he first became aware of the strength and reach of the StepUP program, which he has recently chosen to endow with an estate gift.

In 2010, Schwingler was invited to play in the StepUP fundraiser golf tournament with his friend, Toby LaBelle ’96, and Toby’s father, Tad Piper. Toby is a Board of Regents member and former StepUP advisory board chair, and his mother, Cindy Piper is the current vice chair, so it took far fewer than eighteen holes for Schwingler to grasp one essential fact. “This program is a huge game-changer for families who struggle with addiction,” he says.

A Saint John’s University graduate and wealth management consultant, Schwingler has faced similar issues. “Recovery has been a big part of my life, and that is part of what opened my eyes,” says Schwingler, who has celebrated more than seven years of sobriety. Within a year after that golf tournament, Schwingler learned of two friends whose children were floundering college drop-outs. He accompanied the families on a visit to Augsburg, where the young people eventually found a safe home, sober dorm, and college degree. So when Schwingler was invited to join the advisory board, the answer was a resounding yes.

“Just knowing that there is an option for students to leave other environments and come to Augsburg is so important. Some graduates I know personally might not have earned a college degree if they had not had the opportunity to be in a safe environment,” he says. “It is a place of hope for parents. It is life-changing.”

Though his StepUP connection, Schwingler also came to love the college itself. “I had a pre-conceived notion of what Augsburg is and was—a little Lutheran school next to the University of Minnesota, a place I’ve often driven past. But now that I’m involved and see more of it, I have a much greater awareness of its urban location and real urban feel, and of many peers I never knew were alumni. I’ve found that people always loved their time at Augsburg.”

Jon Schwingler (center) and family hunched in football formation
Jon (center) and wife Julz (left) with their three kids

Schwingler finds much to applaud: student diversity, progressive buildings such as the new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, specialties such as engineering, and graduate programs such as education. As a father to three not-yet-teenagers who struggle with ADHD, he particularly appreciates Augsburg’s acceptance of and support for students with disabilities of all kinds.

He uses golf to explain. “Most colleges want students who shoot straight down the middle of the fairway. Others aren’t going to do well in those places. For those who have to play in the first or second cut of rough, it’s challenging,” he says. “Augsburg has embraced them and even built programs around them. The Gage Center for Student Success, for example, is amazing. I like to think of Augsburg as the little engine that could.”

In addition to planned giving, Schwingler remains active on the StepUP advisory board and invested in its future. He envisions a transition home for new graduates, for example, as well as more room for StepUP on campus. Another goal is creating more awareness among other universities as well as getting the word out to family members and communities. “We’ve built good relationships with different treatment centers, such as Hazelden Betty Ford, and sober high schools in town, but we need to reach people in other geographic areas who feel they’re in hopeless situations with their kids. How about Chicago? All those things come down to funding,” he says.

“One of the great things about this program is that any college in the country can look at our model and adopt it. We give it away,” he adds. Contributing to such a profound mission feels like making a hole-in-one—or maybe even better.

Appreciation for the Interdisciplinary Inspires Art Sponsorship

Scott D. Anderson in a Norwegian-style sweater
Scott D. Anderson

As a young man just out of high school, Scott D. Anderson ’96 had already developed a love for drawing and painting. He had artistic talent, but the skills necessary to make a full-time living pursuing art were then beyond his reach. He became a chemical technician at 3M instead, launching a career that has helped him come full circle, back to his first love through philanthropy.

“Art inspires me,” says Anderson, who is sponsoring “A Song of Dust” by collage artist Stephanie Hunder in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion through the Art & Identity program. “Ever since I got my chemistry degree, I’ve wanted to give something back to Augsburg. I’m very grateful to Augsburg for giving me the opportunity to obtain a degree in science. Now I can return the favor.”

With the support of his employer, Anderson completed his chemistry degree through Augsburg’s Weekend College. It took him about six years while working full-time. He has been a regular donor to the Augsburg Chemistry Alumni Scholarship ever since, and he has also devoted more than 36 years to 3M, where he is now a senior research chemist in the Infection Prevention Division.

The art he chose for Hagfors Center is a 6’ by 12’ piece comprised of five panels, one of which had already been sponsored. Anderson will sponsor two panels, and 3M’s employee matching gift program will cover the remaining two. Stephanie Hunder, gallery director and art professor at Concordia University in St. Paul, uses printmaking and photography to create images of actual objects, such as branches and grasses pressed into paper, that often mimic scientific recording in some ways. Anderson spotted her work while exploring an entire room of art proposed for the Art & Identity campaign.

“What she put on the canvas was partly scientific and partly artistic, so it represented the sciences and the arts at the same time. In fact, it represents what I do now at 3M—chemistry, engineering, biology. It all flows together. It meshes,” says Anderson. “To see art on the walls when you walk around campus is pretty inspiring, at least for me.” The piece will appear with a small recognition plaque in a prominent hallway near the physics area in the Hagfors Center.

The Hagfors Center is slated to open next January. Meanwhile, though he is not yet ready to retire, Anderson is beginning to rediscover his talent for art, using pen and ink, watercolor, and acrylics in occasional projects. “Sometimes I surprise myself,” he says. “I believe it is important to mix art with academics, as well as mixing humanity studies with science.”

— Cathy Madison

Stepping Up for the StepUP Fund

Cindy and Tad Piper
Cindy and Tad Piper

About 25 years ago, young Toby Piper LaBelle ’96 had already learned a few things. He’d taken a year off after graduating from Breck School and gone west to teach skiing, which convinced him that he aspired to more than a minimum-wage job.  And he’d spent time in treatment for addiction, which taught him that staying sober was the only way to ensure success in college.

“Toby wanted a local school and chose Augsburg. It was the right place for him. He felt comfortable there,” says his mother, Cindy Piper. But he wasn’t comfortable sharing a dorm with students who drank alcohol, so he moved into an apartment off campus. Eventually he approached Don Warren, then director of the Academic Skills Center at Augsburg, about the need for a safe, sober place where students in recovery could live and support each other. In 1997, under Warren’s direction, the StepUP program was born.

The Piper family have been staunch supporters ever since. Cindy and her husband, Tad Piper, retired CEO and chairman of Piper Jaffray, recently pledged $500,000 to establish the Piper Family Executive Director of Recovery Advancement as well as to inspire others to contribute to the StepUP Program Endowed Fund. “We wanted to give a significant gift to get this program off the ground,” Cindy says. They have currently raised $5.2 million toward their $10 million endowment goal.

Thanks in part to Toby’s advocacy, StepUP became one of the first residential recovery programs in the nation and continues to be viewed as the gold standard for residential collegiate communities. Six months of recovery is required before students are admitted, and infractions are not tolerated. Today about 90 students are enrolled, and they maintain high abstinence rates and an average GPA of 3.2.

A smiling Cindy Piper at the podium at the 2016 StepUP Gala.
Cindy Piper at the 2016 StepUP Gala.

“Addiction is an ugly, cunning, baffling disease. Young people have to make up their minds they don’t want to be in it,” says Cindy. “I just feel so strongly about recovery for all people, especially young people who want to go to college. Toby’s business degree from Augsburg has served him well.” Now senior vice president at Northland Securities and a father of three, Toby is former chair of the StepUP Advisory Board and a member of the Augsburg College Board of Regents.

Cindy, who spent nine years as a trustee on the Hazelden Foundation, is now vice-chair of the StepUP board, where she organizes galas that gross half a million dollars a year. “That’s an unusual amount of money in recovery organizations. We’ve been able to add to the endowment through our proceeds,” she says. “As my son reminds me, we must keep in mind that we are changing lives. That’s the magic of the recovery community.”

— Cathy Madison

Historian and Art Sponsor Phil Adamo

Phil Adamo perches on the arm of a chair, resting his elbow on a plinth displaying a bust in the Lindell Library
Photo by Stephen Geffre.

If you crossed paths on the Augsburg campus with history professor Phil Adamo, you would quickly learn of his enthusiasm for the history of the place. You may even hear him share one of the many stories that make Augsburg’s 150-year history so intriguing.

Phil Adamo came to Augsburg in 2001, after completing his PhD in medieval history at The Ohio State University. In 2015, he was named “Minnesota Professor of the Year” for 2015 by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, the same year he began as Director of Augsburg’s nationally recognized Honors Program. Since 2013, he’s been working with students on a history of Augsburg for its sesquicentennial celebration in 2019.

When asked what made him decide to sponsor a work of art for the Hagfors Center Art and Identity initiative, here is what he said:

Phil Adamo studies at a table with a student. They are surrounded by boxes of files and papers.
Adamo worked in the College archives with students, including Caitlin Crowley ’16, as part of a class documenting the history of Augsburg. Photo by Stephen Geffre.

“Most people don’t know I’m a bit of an art collector. I go to all the student shows and have purchased student self-portraits and other contemporary art. I’m a fan of art and want to support artists. When I found out about the Art and Identity initiative, I started looking at the portfolio of stories about the artists. In fact, I watched every video story on the various artists.

“I noticed the collection includes work by former campus photographer Stephen Geffre. Stephen and I have worked on several projects together over the years. In my current work, writing the history of Augsburg, Stephen took many of the images I’m using. I’ve also bought some of his photography. Then I found out he is a multi-dimensional artist, working as a sculptor. The piece he’s doing for the Hagfors Center appeals to me because it brings to life something of the College’s past. The elm trees in the quad hold a lot of our history. Continue reading “Historian and Art Sponsor Phil Adamo”

Plant a Tree for Augsburg with the Alumni Board

Yvonne Barrett
Yvonne Barrett

As a new Alumni Board member, I am excited to be part of our giving committee. This year, the board agreed to raise $25,000 by December 2018 to sponsor a tree in Augsburg’s Urban Arboretum. The tree campaign is led by the board’s giving committee, including me, Marie Odenbrett ’01, Janeece Oatman ’05, and our staff lead Amanda Scherer. Achieving this goal will be accomplished by 100% participation from the Alumni Board, partnership with the Young Alumni Board, and by asking alumni and friends of Augsburg like you to help plant a tree together!

The 45 Urban Arboretum trees will circle the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion and will be planted this summer. See more about the arboretum and tree plan.

hagfors landscape plan, skyview
Hagfors Center landscape plan

In my Ojibwe culture, trees (and all of nature) are respected life givers and symbolize our connection to each other and Mother Earth. Please help strengthen our Augsburg connectedness by helping to transform Augsburg into an urban arboretum that serves as an education and community resource in harmony with our environment.

The cost to sponsor a tree is $25,000 and includes care and maintenance of the arboretum. All gift levels are welcome. Please help us reach our goal by December 2018. Gifts can be made online at augsburg.edu/giving by selecting “Urban Arboretum” in the drop-down gift field. For more information, contact: Amanda Scherer, Assistance Director of Leadership Gifts, at scherera@augsburg.edu or 612-330-1720.

Yvonne Barrett ’93 and ’00 MSW

Estate Gift Supports Future of Choral Music at Augsburg

John SchwartzThe foundation for the career success and generosity of John Schwartz ’67 was laid early, in Lester Prairie, then a town of 1,000, 50 miles west of the Twin Cities. There, long before he pledged a substantial estate gift to fund Augsburg’s choral music, he grew up in a musical family, singing and playing piano, pipe organ, and percussion. There, to keep school activities such as student government, sports, band, and theater alive, everyone had to participate. And it was there that his parents seeded his commitment to education, hard work, mutual respect, and philanthropy.

“My father valued education because he never had it,” Schwartz says. His father, Norman, was in 8th grade when his mother died in childbirth; he quit school to help raise four younger siblings. But he was ambitious and built a life as a farm implement dealer, bulk propane distributor, inventor, and manufacturer. Buyers for his patented tip-down truck bed came from as far away as Oregon, Schwartz discovered years later while working there.

“When I was in high school, he told me that I should get a business degree because it prepares you for many things,” recalls Schwartz. He remembers sitting at the kitchen table one morning while his mother read a “hot jobs” article in the newspaper. “She told me that hospital administration was one of them. So when I took my ACT test and had to put down my future goal, I wrote ‘hospital administrator.’” The ACT supervisor saw it and scoffed aloud; formally educated hospital administrators were rare then, and what kind of young person would choose such a career anyway? A determined one, apparently.

John Schwarts poses with Auggie Eagle
John Schwartz on campus with Auggie Eagle in February.

Augsburg College was for Schwartz a natural fit: Lutheran, affordable, well-respected, and his best friend’s first choice. Though the diverse neighborhood initially made him nervous—“it certainly wasn’t Lester Prairie!”—Schwartz learned to love the downtown proximity, riverfront gatherings, and especially singing baritone in the Augsburg choir. The five weeks they spent touring Norway, Denmark, and Germany during his sophomore year were transformative. Continue reading “Estate Gift Supports Future of Choral Music at Augsburg”

Give & Receive—Augsburg College Key Chain

What if you could make an even greater impact at Augsburg?

You can—this and every month—through Thoughtful Giving. A Thoughtful Gift is a monthly contribution, paid automatically with a deduction from your checking account, credit or debit card. This gift is ongoing, and you may change or cancel at any time.

Your monthly gifts do more for Augsburg with a steady, reliable gift that allows the College to focus more resources on serving the students and programs that need it most.

For a limited time, in thanks for signing up for Thoughtful Giving, you’ll receive a silver, two-part detachable Augsburg College key chain. We have a limited supply of these special key chains, so I hope you’ll sign up for Thoughtful Giving today. You can check back here to see how many of these key chains remain.

19 key chains remain!

Thank you! Financial support from alumni, parents, and friends of the College is essential to all we are able to provide to our students.

Wefring Establishes Scholarship to Honor Edor Nelson

Larry Wefring's newly established scholarship pays tribute to encouragement he received as a youth from his late neighbor Edor Nelson '38.
Larry Wefring’s established a scholarship in tribute to the encouragement he received as a youth from his late neighbor Edor Nelson ’38.

“Children need a lot of guidance, and it’s good to have a coach on your side as you’re growing up. He was a coach to me,” Larry Wefring says of Edor Nelson, the legendary Augsburg coach who died in 2014 at age 100. Wefring’s $100,000 estate gift will establish the Edor Nelson Memorial Scholarship, but it should be noted that Wefring neither attended Augsburg nor played football for Nelson. Their relationship went far deeper.

“Sports are a fabulous teacher of life,” Wefring acknowledges. “They teach you that you win some and you lose some, but what’s important is that you work together. To be successful in the business world, you need to be a team player.” While he now understands this concept, traditional sports were not accessible to Wefring while he was growing up across the alley from Edor Nelson’s family in south Minneapolis.

Wefring was diagnosed with epilepsy at age seven. Subject to seizures and heavily medicated, he was often targeted by bullies and decided to drop out of public school in 9th grade. Leaning on the support and encouragement offered by Edor Nelson, he enrolled in Minnehaha Academy instead. Having learned electrical and woodworking skills from his handyman grandfather, Wefring had helped his neighborly coach wire his basement. In return, Nelson offered his young neighbor rides to school. They became friends.

“Larry had his frustrating days, but my dad kept telling him that he could be somebody, that he shouldn’t listen to anyone who said otherwise. My dad was a genuine people person, one of those comforting guys you could sit and talk to. He and my mom were always there for Larry, and Larry realized that. Now he is giving back,” says Bruce Nelson ‘71, Edor’s son and Augsburg’s A-Club Advancement Manager.

Naysayers pronounced Wefring too dumb for college, but Wefring went anyway, earning a psychology degree from Mankato State University. He found yet another mentor in Stanley Hubbard, who hired him at Hubbard Broadcasting, where he worked happily for more than three decades before retiring in 2006 to care for his aging parents. He struggled with his disability for much of that time, adjusting his medications to reduce brain fog and, in 1987, undergoing successful—and life-changing—experimental brain surgery in Canada.

Wefring lauds Hubbard for teaching him servant leadership, for showing him that Protestantism and the work ethic are two sides of the same coin, and for inspiring all to “always do the right thing.” But ultimately, Wefring concludes, it was education that turned his life around.

“I was already at a disadvantage, but education offset that. That’s really, really important to remember.

’As a man thinketh, so he is,’” adds Wefring, whose Lutheran faith and spirituality have always guided him. “Trouble is a blessing. It lets you look for the paradoxical nature of life, and learn to be captain of your own ship. But you have to have a dream.”

The Edor Nelson Memorial Scholarship will target students who have a disability, physical or otherwise, and who also aim high. “I told Edor that I wanted them to have a dream, and he said, ‘I do too,’” Wefring says. “And then I told him that I also wanted them to have an extra burden to bear, something that makes graduation tougher than it is for most people. And he said, ‘I do too.’ We were always on the same wavelength.”

Wefring never considered a scholarship in his own name, much preferring that it honor someone as well-known and revered as his former neighbor. He finds being able to share his legacy with institutions that mirror his faith and world view a blessing, and more than enough reward for a life well-lived.

“I gave it my best shot,” he says. “My dream has come true and then some.”

— Cathy Madison