A commitment to future opportunities

Paul and LaVonne (both ’63) Batalden’s commitment to endow Augsburg University faculty with future opportunities has deep roots—three generations deep, in fact—and a spiritual foundation grounded in lives well-lived.

Paul’s grandfather, a fisherman who grew up just off the west coast of Norway and lost a brother at sea, decided in 1871 to move to Minnesota and take up farming. His name was Christian Olson, a name so common that his mail often wound up in the wrong hands, prompting him to change it to Batalden, after the island where he grew up. That first Batalden, an active supporter of education and child development, took special note of Augsburg Seminarium, which Norwegian Lutherans had founded in Marshall, Wisconsin, in 1869 and moved to Minneapolis in 1872. His youngest son, Abner Batalden, enrolled there and, despite some interruptions, earned a history degree in 1935.

Abner, Paul’s father, was also committed to education and understood the struggle it involved. “He was going to school during the Depression, when Augsburg was having trouble staying open. The students, many of whom were the first generation to attend college, were living hand-to-mouth, working and paying tuition. Augsburg was living on those tuitions,” says Paul.

Abner started the student employment service at Augsburg, worked at the publishing house, managed the bookstore, and, after a few years away, returned to take a position in the development office. He helped raise funds for the first science building, now being replaced by the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion; Paul remembers going to the dedication as a child. It was Abner’s idea to establish, in 1980, a convocation and lecture series known as the Batalden Symposium on Applied Ethics.

“Applied ethics covers every discipline, every walk of life. It was the way he lived his life,” says Paul. “Ethics scholars say that ethics is the application of morals to everyday life. In his mind, the life he lived was grounded in moral values, which for him were Christian. It was so fundamental, and he saw it in many lines of work.”

“Ethics were looked upon as a philosophical endeavor, but he saw it as much broader,” adds LaVonne, who married Paul three weeks after graduation. The two had met in a freshman English class and shared a love for science. After a globe-spanning career in pediatrics and public health that expanded their knowledge of other cultures, Paul remains active as professor emeritus at the Dartmouth Institute for Health Policy and Clinical Practice, Geisel School of Medicine, and LaVonne retired recently as associate professor of natural sciences at Colby-Sawyer College in New Hampshire. They still travel widely but now live in St. Paul, close to their family.

Although they had initially wanted to endow an ethics chair, they realized that building upon Abner’s foundation would serve more people. Along with Paul’s brother, Stephan Batalden ’67 and his wife Sandra, they have endowed what is now the Batalden Faculty Scholar Program in Applied Ethics, which covers the seminar series and also offers two years of release time to faculty members, who often pass along stipends to students involved in their projects. Recipients come from various fields, so far including nursing, sociology, religion, and environmental studies.

“It’s perfect. Paul’s father had a vision for the future, and we have brought it into the 21st century,” says LaVonne. “What pleases us is that it maintains the idea of service grounded in theology and ethics, and we have broadened that.”

Paul, who served on Augsburg’s Board of Regents from 1979 to 1990, cites his concern for education’s future in our culture, which depends heavily on the voluntary sector, unlike government supported health and welfare in Europe. Colleges cannot rely on tuitions alone, and religious institutions can no longer bridge the gap.

“We realized that Augsburg had basically no endowment, and it’s clear that that pattern of financial support would not lead to more creative and flexible programming. We want to make sure that this program is secure,” Paul says. “College offered us a liberal arts education, and we are deep lovers of the liberal arts. We see their relevance to everyday life the same way my father saw ethics in everyday life.”

The couple also believes in doing what you can. They cite a favorite poem by David Whyte, quoted here in part:

Start close in,

don’t take the second step

or the third,

start with the first

thing

close in,

the step

you don’t want to take. . .

. . .

Start right now

take a small step

you can call your own

don’t follow

someone else’s

heroics, be humble

and focused,

start close in . . .

 

 

 

 

The ongoing gifts of the Augsburg Agres

 

Peter Agre ‘70 claims that if he had been born into another family, he might not have become a scientist. But the Nobel-prize-winning physician-researcher is the son of Courtland Agre, PhD, who founded the department of chemistry at Augsburg in 1959. And if there was anything his father could do, it was inspire interest in science.

Beloved by students who knew he wanted them to succeed first in class and then in their careers, Courtland taught chemistry to a generation and then encouraged them to do great things with it– hundreds went on to graduate or “He felt very strongly that these young people, even though they were mostly from families of modest personal wealth, could achieve significant things in science, and they did.”

It was fitting, then, when he passed away in 1995, that the Agre family, former students and friends established the Courtland L. Agre Memorial Scholarship to provide “encouragement” as well as financial assistance to juniors or seniors studying chemistry. Since then, 23 students have received awards and a nudge from the professor long gone.

Big picture thinkers

Courtland himself proved that someone born, raised, and educated in Minnesota could make it in other arenas. After earning his PhD at the University of Minnesota, he worked on plastics at Du Pont and adhesives at 3M before deciding to teach (first at St. Olaf and for most of his career at Augsburg). As a member of the faculty, he traveled to India to teach, did research, and one year secured a National Science Foundation grant, enabling him to do a sabbatical at the University of California Berkeley. “So we all [the family of then-seven] moved out there in an old station wagon,” Peter recalls. “We were kind of like the Norwegian version of the Beverly Hillbillies.” There Courtland met luminaries like two-time Nobel winner Linus Pauling, who would later visit Augsburg. “He taught the big picture of what science could provide,” Peter says.

That was a picture he shared with all, including his sons, who majored in chemistry at Augsburg and then went on to medical school. They weren’t pressured to do so, according to Peter. It was more that they were exposed to a parade of former students, colleagues, and visitors from academia, medicine, and industry. “There were plenty of role models,” he says, adding that by comparison, other fields just didn’t seem as important or interesting.

Peter Agre is now a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, and director of the Johns Hopkins Malaria Research Institute. Jim Agre ’72, former head of rehabilitation medicine at the University of Wisconsin, is now a member of the rehabilitation medicine faculty at the University of Minnesota. And youngest brother Mark Agre ‘81 is a rehabilitation medicine specialist in St. Paul. Their sister Annetta graduated in 1969  with a major in elementary education.

Paying it forward

Each year, at an annual symposium, the sons of Courtland Agre do what their father did for so many years—encourage students to think big about careers in science. Peter hopes the event opens students’ eyes to new possibilities. “I’m encouraging them to think creatively and not necessarily constrain their aspiration based on family and friends,” he says. His own career has included not only the research on cells that led to his Nobel prize but also working on malaria, advising national leaders on health policy, and engaging in international exchanges with scientists from countries including Cuba and North Korea. “Science opens doors,” he says.

This year at the symposium Jim Agre will talk about the ground-breaking research he did on the late effects of polio. In the 1980s and 1990s, patients who had had polio in the 1950s came to him with questions about problems including fatigue, weakness, and pain. “When I looked at the literature, there were no answers to the questions the patients had,” he says. “That led me to write research grants to get funded so I could study the problems.” His research helped explain what was going on as well as what could be done about it.

Jim Agre now teaches residents to do what he learned—to observe, ask questions, and base conclusions on evidence. He knows his own thinking was heavily influenced by the man who was both father and professor, and he hopes the scholarships given in Courtland’s name will help students to be inquisitive and observant as well. “Supporting students is important,” he says, citing the high cost of education. He then points out another reason for investing in students: “It’s to the benefit of the country to have a population who’ve been taught to look at important issues and ask, ‘Are we really doing the right thing?’”

 

By Carmen Peota.

A family connection to Augsburg

Educating Students to Serve

“I think people are interested in what Augsburg is doing to educate students so they can be of ministry in the world,” says Martha Gisselquist ’86. Her gifts help Augsburg University do just that, while lifting up programs that are dear to her heart: To honor her family’s Augsburg legacy and celebrate their shared love of music, she gives for the Clement A. Gisselquist Church Music Endowed Scholarship Fund. Martha, a nurse by training, also generously supports and passionately advocates for Augsburg’s nursing outreach programs. “I just want Augsburg students to be successful in their professions and find ways to be of service to the community.”

Photo of Borghild and Martha Gisselquist
Borghild and Martha Gisselquist ’86

A Musical Legacy

Martha comes from good Auggie stock: Her father, the Rev. Clement A. Gisselquist ’41, all five of her siblings, and many other family members attended Augsburg. Her uncle, Orloue Gisselquist attended Augsburg and was a professor of history for three decades. Since 1987, the Gisselquist Fund has provided support to 37 music students, with preference given to students of organ and/or choral music who hope to serve in the ministry of music of the Lutheran Church. “Augsburg was close to [Clement’s] heart and we knew that music was something he was always interested in,” explained Martha’s mother, Borghild Gisslequist, in an Augsburg Now article. “I always wish the scholarships could be more,” says Martha, “but every little bit helps as they try to make their tuition.”

Nursing students, faculty and alumni serving the community

While the family connection to Augsburg is strong, it was the nursing program in Weekend College (now the Adult Undergraduate Program) that drew Martha to Augsburg as a student in the 1980s. The program offered her a chance to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (which she needed to advance her career) while continuing to work fulltime as a manager with Ebenezer’s home care and community service programs.

To Augsburg she brought a passion for nursing outreach that thrived as she became involved in the Nursing Center (now the Augsburg Central Health Commons), which provided students with public health experience and helped meet Minneapolis’ growing homeless population’s health needs. She went on to graduate with the first Weekend College nursing class. Degree in hand, she continued to advance her career, which culminated in long term care insurance product development with United HealthCare.

“If you’ve done it unto the least of these, you’ve done it unto me.”

Now retired, Martha volunteers at Health Commons weekly. “There’s a lot of counseling, blood pressure checks, wound care, and foot care,” she explains. She works alongside Augsburg nursing faculty, students, and alumni, while community volunteers distribute contributed toiletries. She also supports this and other Augsburg community nursing work with gifts to the Nursing Outreach Endowed Fund. The Fund supports programs like Health Commons that provide health care and services to underserved communities, while also providing practicum sites for students.

Recognizing Martha’s commitment to nursing outreach, one of her nephews made a gift to the Fund in honor of her birthday. “He just went online and did it,” she says. “He knew it was something that I’d really appreciate.” Martha hopes that others will join her in supporting experiences that provide nursing students at all levels the opportunity to integrate curricular studies, experiential learning, and service. “The needs are great out there,” she reminds us. “If you have the time, abilities and interest, there are so many ways that you can serve and be God’s hands.”

A Generous Family

A Portrait of Jean and Phil Formo
Jean and Phil Formo

“Go west, young man!” was the mantra guiding the young Philip Formo in his college selection. But after graduating from Pacific Lutheran University in 1968, he must have heeded a different axiom: “Yes, you can go home again.” Home again he came, not only to finish a special education degree at St. Cloud State University and a divinity degree at Luther Seminary, but also to pick up the Formo family legacy where it left off—at Augsburg.

Now a retired ELCA pastor, Phil, his wife, Jean, and their niece, Dawn, are the primary Formo forces behind not one, not two, but three separate scholarships honoring various family members and extending generosity to future Augsburg students.

“I was the first person on both sides of the family not to go to Augsburg,” says Phil. “My mother met my father in chemistry class there. She was in nursing and needed help, and he was good in chemistry. They also both sang in the first Augsburg choir concert that ever took place, after the men’s chorus and the women’s chorus merged.” His parents, Jerome and Winifred, both ’37, were extremely dedicated to Augsburg and stayed deeply involved in all things Auggie throughout their lifetimes. Jerome received a Distinguished Alumni Award in 1983 and was also a Regent Emeritus.

In 2009, Phil designated proceeds from their estate to establish the Jerome and Winifred Formo Scholarship for music majors or those with a strong interest in choral music directing. Seven students have already benefited from this fund, but it was not the first Formo scholarship. That distinction belongs to the David J. Formo Scholarship, which was established in 1979 and is awarded annually to a junior or senior student who has successfully overcome adversity to achieve academic and extracurricular excellence.

“My brother David graduated from Augsburg in 1964 and became a U.S. Navy commander whose plane went down in the Mediterranean Sea on November 3, 1979, the same day that Iran took U.S. captives. Before that, he had delivered to the Shah of Iran the gift of a new jet. It’s really a small world,” mused Phil.

The scholarship to honor his brother was the first for the Formo family, but not the last. When Phil retired in 2011, he decided to write a book about his maternal grandfather, Andreas Helland, who immigrated from Norway in 1889, attended Augsburg Seminary, and served there as New Testament professor for 35 years. “He was also very involved in fundraising. In those days you did everything, and he was really good at stewardship. One of his daughters, Beatrice, married Norman Anderson, who was the fundraiser for the first science building at Augsburg, and they were all there for the groundbreaking. My grandfather was the first to give a major gift,” Phil recalls.

Proceeds from Phil’s book, Papa—A Life Remembered, along with contributions from his own family and his parents’ estate, fund the Andreas Helland Scholarship, established In 2012 for students with financial need and academic achievement. “Education is so important, but we all know how expensive college is,” Phil says. “If students can get through in four years instead of five or six, they will have saved the equivalent of two years’ salary.”

Phil is sold not only on the value of affordable education, but also on the value of Augsburg. “I’ve always been amazed by what Augsburg, long known as a conservative Lutheran school, has become. What they are today is just awe-inspiring—their involvement in the community and openness to everyone is incredible. Culturally, they have really been able to reach out, to take minorities seriously,” he says. “For the only ELCA college in the city, what a unique opportunity.”

A Sisterhood: Strong, Adventurous and Daring

Sisterhood had long been the goal of Kathryn Kingsbury, who grew up in rural North Dakota with two brothers. “I wanted sisters so bad! I kept praying to God, but that doesn’t always work,” she says. Or does it? What she got instead of siblings may well reveal the mysterious power of prayer.

A photograph of the Fairvew Nurses class of '69
Fairview Nurses Class of ’69.

 

Kingsbury used to sit with a dictionary in that North Dakota kitchen, studying every word of the “Tell Me Doctor” feature in her mother’s Ladies Home Journal. Fascinated by all things medical, she first pursued medical technology but eventually found herself in nursing school at Fairview Hospital, one of 33 women in the class of ’69. Today she is among the many donors who contribute to Augsburg nursing scholarships through the Fairview Hospital School of Nursing Alumni Association, of which she is the treasurer, database keeper, and indefatigable fan even as health care education evolves dramatically.

The Fairview nursing school, which began in 1916 and ended in 1976, trained nurses in three years. “You couldn’t beat a three-year grad. We could function at 100% on day one of our hire,” Kingsbury says. The student nurses attended psychology, chemistry, and biology classes on the Augsburg campus and lived together in a dorm since replaced by Fairview’s corporate offices. It was rumored that their proximity to the Augsburg boys’ dorm across the street created some jealousy among Auggie girls, but what Kingsbury remembers most is the indelible bond linking the future nurses.

“Mrs. Torland, our housemother from Norway, was strict and firm but loving. She was a mother hen who scrutinized our dates and invited us to her house for Norwegian coffee,” Kingsbury says. It was a time of penny loafers and skirts at all times on campus, and, on the hospital floor, glass intravenous bottles that required nurses to count each drip (10 or 12 drops a minute, depending on the IV fluid brand).

“It’s not quite the same, is it?” the Fairview alumni say when they gather for their annual luncheon, Kingsbury reports. About 1,000 nurses from 38 states and 5 countries populate her database; about 100 attend the luncheon, which, this year, included a table of graduates from 65 years ago. “Oh, they’re funny – so strong, adventuresome, and daring,” says Kingsbury. “Later grads, who did not live in the dorm, don’t have the sense of unity that we did. We were tight.”

Sisterhood reigned, but change was inevitable. By the ‘70s, a four-year Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN) became the gold standard, but out of reach for many. In 1996, the Fairview alumni created an Augsburg nursing scholarship fund with proceeds from the estate of Clarice J. (Vaardahl) Laushkin, Fairview class of ‘35. Ann Good, Fairview class of ’70 and wife of former Augsburg board member Mike Good ’71, still works three days a week at a chiropractic clinic in Alexandria and has made several donations to the fund.

“We were a very close community,” she says of her fellow students. After a decade of work at Fairview, she wanted to go back to school for her BSN but was unable to do so. “Scholarships are so important. I want returning nurses to have the opportunity I didn’t have at the time, to be able to go back and get their degree.”

A photograph of the Fairview Nurses Class of '69
Some of the Fairview Nurses Class of ’69 today.

While she recognizes that the Fairview Nurses Alumni Association will eventually die out and is currently archiving its artifacts with the Minnesota Historical Society, Kingsbury is happy that the scholarship program is endowed in perpetuity, though of course new gifts are encouraged. For her, it has been a worthy journey. “I got my sisters—wonderful sisters,” she says. “We were there for each other in good times, in bad times, and in between.”

A Bountiful Blessing

Out of family tragedy, springs student opportunity

The Lester A. Dahlen Family Endowed Scholarship is a bountiful blessing. It rewards Augsburg University students’ hard work and provides financial assistance, while also assuring the family of Rev. Lester Dahlen that their family’s values will live on at Augsburg and be carried into the world. “As graduates go on to their lives after Augsburg, we hope they will be loving Christian people wherever they are and that they will touch whomever they can with the love of Jesus,” explains Barb (Dahlen) Cornell.

A blessing today, the scholarship sprang from a family tragedy more than 50 years ago. In 1966, when Barb was 18 and her sister, Ginny (Dahlen) Baali ’72, was 16, their brother Paul died in a plane crash with fellow Augsburg senior Jerry Pryd. Paul was pursuing a social studies major and physical education minor and, like his father before him, he played on the Auggie baseball team. To memorialize their son and highlight the importance of Augsburg to their family, Rev. Lester Dahlen ’39, ’42 and Marian Dahlen established the Paul Dahlen Memorial Scholarship to help students who had Christian purpose, demonstrated academic achievement and participated in extracurricular activities.

Blessed by Augsburg

Ginny (Dahlen) Baali and Barb (Dahlen) Cornell
Ginny (Dahlen) Baali ’72 and Barb (Dahlen) Cornell

“Our family’s connection to Augsburg started with Dad,” explains Barb, who supports the scholarship along with Ginny. A Minneapolis native, Rev. Dahlen enrolled in Augsburg in 1935 and quickly became involved in athletics, choir, student government and other organizations. “Augsburg helped prepare him for God’s calling and to be a man of faith and missions,” she continues.

“Ever since we were little kids we heard about Augsburg from our dad,” remembers Barb. Rev. Dahlen often brought the family to concerts, games and other campus events and, in later years, he sometimes wore Paul’s letter jacket. He was grateful for his lasting friendships with Augsburg greats Leland Sateren ’35, Edor Nelson ’38, Ernie Anderson ’37, Sig Hjelmeland ’41 and others.

After graduating from Augsburg Seminary, he served several parishes during the course of his 40-year career. The family did mission work in Taiwan and Hong Kong, and Rev. Dahlen also served as Lutheran Free Church Director of World Missions and staff member of the American Lutheran Church Division of World missions. “Augsburg was in his heart always,” remembers Barb. Their mother also held Augsburg in high regard: Marian worked in the financial aid office and joined the Augsburg Associates to provide volunteer support.

A Lasting Memorial

When Marian passed in 2003, memorial gifts boosted the scholarship fund. When Rev. Dahlen passed in 2012, a portion of his estate and memorial gifts further augmented the fund. Around that time Ginny and Barb fine-tuned the scholarship criteria to clarify their parents’ intent and more closely represent their family’s values. “Barb and I have continued to be representatives of the scholarship,” explains Ginny, who supports other Augsburg programs in addition to the family fund. The scholarship gives priority to students who are involved in campus ministry and pursuing a major or minor in physical education, and who demonstrate financial need and academic achievement. “People who have a faith background should come to the school and be blessed by it,” says Barb.

And after graduation? “I hope that scholarship alumni will be Christian witnesses to those around them, reach out in love and share their faith with others,” says Barb. “It’s important that Augsburg’s Christian legacy be nurtured and encouraged for all the students who will attend and be blessed by the school. That’s why we want to continue with this.”

-Kara Rose

Dusty Froyum: “It Felt Like Home”

The life path of Dustin (Dusty) Froyum ’98 has had its share of twists and turns, but somehow he always manages to find his way “home” to Augsburg. He acknowledges his gratitude with an annual gift to the Augsburg Fund as well as a recent pledge to sponsor a room in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion to honor favorite professor and fellow alumnus Dale Pederson ‘70.

“Augsburg runs through my whole family. It’s a big part of who we are,” says Froyum, citing alumni relatives that include both parents, his aunt and uncle, and a younger brother. “When my older cousins were attending Augsburg during my teenage years, I think I had promised that I was never going to Augsburg. But you know what? I went there on a football visit and it just felt right. It felt like home,” he adds. “I turned down some football and academic scholarships to come home to Augsburg.”

Sports and science connections cemented the bond. Like his father and brother, Froyum played football, and like his mother and brother, he majored in science during his upper division years, landing in Pederson’s notoriously challenging cellular biology class. “He is a tough but fair professor. I never tried so hard to get a 4.0,” says Froyum, who managed a 3.5. “He is a role model as a person of science and faith famous for pushing students to do their best. My brother’s zoology class was famously difficult as well. Dr. Pederson famously said that he could write a test for which no one could get a right answer, and I’m sure that’s true. He is an extraordinarily brilliant person who, quite frankly, could have been successful in a lot of different settings. But he chose to dedicate his vocational life to Augsburg, and that should be honored. With its fusion of science and faith and impact on the community, the Hagfors Center spoke to me. I can think of no better place to honor Dr. Pederson.”

After graduating, Froyum earned a J.D. from Hamline University School of Law, intending to become an intellectual property lawyer focused on biotech and chemical patents. “But I ended up as a summer intern at Wells Fargo and fell in love with it,” he says. He has handled technology transactions there for nearly 17 years. “That’s an important part of my giving motivation. Wells Fargo is a huge corporate donor and has one of the largest community support programs in the country. It is ingrained in our culture, and they make giving very easy, especially to quality nonprofit educational institutions.”

In his younger years, Froyum adds, he had more time to donate. But today, with two young children, a busy career at Wells Fargo, and side projects dedicated to integrated alternative energy, financial contributions—especially when matched by his employer—are what he is best able to give.

“I feel an overall social responsibility to my Augsburg education,” he says. “I attribute some of those values to my grandfather, who was very progressive in many ways. At some point he turned over his farm acreage to conservation interests, and he chose to be cremated instead of occupying a piece of land.” Froyum lives his values at home, too, by driving an electric car, and tending an urban farm, and making his Golden Valley home completely energy-independent.

“To be part of your community and your world, you need to be responsible. I’ve done well in my career, and this is what I can do,” he says. There is, after all, no place like home.

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 Hognander

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.) Hognander 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.