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

 

Bethlehem Lutheran Honors Quanbeck with Art Sponsorships

Phil Quanbeck speaks to a table of church members
Pastor Quanbeck leading his weekly Bible study at Bethlehem Lutheran Church.

The Rev. Dr. Philip Quanbeck, Sr. ’50 is one of the most decorated faculty members in the history of Augsburg, even among the 80 or so Quanbeck extended family members in the Augsburg fold. So it is little wonder that he is also claimed by Bethlehem Lutheran Church, at 4100 Lyndale Ave. South in Minneapolis, where he became a beloved visitation pastor after retiring from teaching in 1993 and was named Pastor Emeritus in 2010. Bethlehem Lutheran has chosen to honor him by sponsoring two pieces of art in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

“Everyone just adores him,” says Rianne Leaf, who chairs Bethlehem Foundation’s grants committee. “He is such a warm human being, and he has a wonderful way of drawing people out and involving them in discussions. He is not a lecturer as much as a leader, and his insights are profound.”

Phil Quanbeck in robes speaking at a podium
Quanbeck reading at Advent Vespers services in 2004.

Now in his mid-90s, Quanbeck still attends church on many Sunday mornings. He is known for arriving at 8 a.m. to hear the sermon, then adding its points to his Bible study discussion at 9 a.m. Forty to sixty people have often packed the room to participate in the lively conversations he guides.

“When Augsburg applied for a grant, we knew we wanted to honor him,” Leaf says. Although the $10,500 grant was approved a year ago, it was last November when Augsburg displayed more than 25 signature art concepts chosen for the Hagfors Center and invited potential sponsors to meet the artists. The Bethlehem Lutheran arts committee wasted little time deciding which to sponsor.

“We all immediately agreed on the sunburst. Then one of our committee noticed a beautiful woodsy landscape that reminded us of Phil and Dora and the cabin they love. The more we looked at it, the more intrigued we became, and we made a unanimous decision about 15 minutes later to also purchase that one,” Leaf recalls. “That was a fun process.”

the word "light," written in a dozen different languages, grouped inside a circle. From the border of the circle spirals a web of earth-toned cells with the look of stained glass
Let There Be Light, by Kristin Opalinski ’03.

The sunburst, titled “Let There Be Light,” will be a large three-dimensional piece of ceramic, glass, grout, and fiberglass by Kristen Opalinski ’03. The fine and studio arts graduate became a graphic designer and marketing expert and now uses her expertise to explore faith and social justice. Leaf says the piece reminded them of Quanbeck’s interest in and great respect for the world’s many religions.

A painting in different hues of green, portraying a lush growth of plants and ferns. Interspersed are various small symbols drawn in white. A pentagram, a labyrinth, and a yin and yang are among them.
Observation, by Tiit Raid.

The landscape artist is Tiit Raid, who hails from Estonia, earned his BA and MA degrees from the University of Minnesota, exhibits widely, and has worked from his Fall Creek, Wisconsin, studio for the past 40 years. His piece, “Observation,” is a 23” by 68” acrylic on paper piece mounted on a wood panel. It includes phrases along the borders, and he has agreed to incorporate some of Quanbeck’s words in the finished artwork.

Leaf said that the group was thrilled to learn, after choosing the pieces, that both were already slated for display in the religion wing. “As you come down the hallway, you’ll see the sunburst at the end. We loved that impact,” she says. “The other will go above a study shelf, where students will be able to study, philosophize and daydream while looking up at it.”

Leaf said the group is looking forward to meeting with Quanbeck to procure his favorite sayings. “He is so humble but so pleased that we are honoring him with this award,” says Leaf. “And we all hope to be there for the dedication in September or October.”

— Cathy Madison

A Year at Augsburg, and an Impact for Life

 

marlysmorlandIt took just one year for Augsburg to make its indelible mark on Marlys Morland ‘54, who has pledged a sizeable increase to the Marlys B. and Robert Backlund Morland Scholarship, established in 2011 as part of the couple’s estate plan.

“I really did like Augsburg. The Christian influence was so sincere, and faith entered into everything,” says Marlys. “I was there when Bernhard Chistensen was president. His wife used to come over to the dorm for an evening talk with us. They were just good, kind people.”

One thing she remembers about her year at Augsburg was a dentist’s visit to her health class, where he had to listen to student complaints about rising dental care costs. Coincidentally, she had to have three wisdom teeth removed that summer. The $150 bill meant that she had to drop out of school, even though she was working 20 hours a week at Swedish Hospital, making 93 cents an hour.

“I found out partway through the year that other college students only got 76 cents an hour, so I was lucky. But I never got a penny from my parents—they couldn’t afford it—and I knew I wasn’t going to be able to go back to school,” she says. Instead, she took a national Lutheran youth leader’s advice to move to Helena, Montana, where she discovered her love for working with young people and also taught adult Bible classes. She went on to become a parish worker in Portland, Oregon, where she met her husband. The couple settled in Newberg, Oregon, in 1971.

When the youngest of their three children entered school, Marlys finished her degree at Portland State University and taught elementary and junior high school for 25 years. She retired early to travel with her husband, Robert, until he died in 2008.

Thanks to her career and extended family experience, she understands the special challenges and struggles that even the most academically gifted students face. “We designed our Augsburg scholarship to support the StepUP program. We also support students who are majoring in Bible and planning to go on to seminary,” she says. “There is such a need these days. I don’t want them to have a lot of debt when they are ready to start their work.”

Marlys notes how much Augsburg and its student population have changed. She grew up near Alexandria in Holmes City, population 65, where “we went to the Swedish Lutheran Church. We knew people who went to the Norwegian Lutheran Church, and some who went to the Finnish Lutheran Church, but we thought the Germans were really different,” she recalls.

She embraces the Augsburg of today. “We meant well, but we didn’t think about helping the community. We were struggling just to take care of ourselves, and everyone was just like us,” she says. “Today students are reaching out and helping others in the community who aren’t just like them. That is so important.”

— Cathy Madison

Steadfast Commitment Helps Grow the Future of Rochester

Leland and Louise Sundet
Leland and Louise Sundet

In his 88 years, Leland “Lee” Sundet has never lost sight of the basics: thrift, generosity, and, most important, Jesus. The retired industrialist and manufacturer adheres to these principles whether he is owning large companies, helping Augsburg improve its signage and redesign its logo, or pledging his most recent gift of $1.5 million to the Rochester campus.

Sundet learned the basics early, growing up in Spring Grove, Minnesota, where the Norwegian townsfolk all attended the big Lutheran church. “My father died when I was six months old and my mother was quite ill, so she had to sell everything she had to pay the bills. She got $7.43 a month, and of that, 74 cents went to the church,” recalls Sundet, who has embraced tithing ever since.

Optimism has also characterized his life. The youngest of three children, he was “the spoiled baby of the family, and I liked that,” he says. “My wife, Louise, was also the youngest in her family, and she liked it, too.” After earning an agriculture degree from the University of Minnesota in 1951, Lee owned several companies, including Century Manufacturing, Goodall Manufacturing, Britt Manufacturing, and Fountain Industries. His business acumen earned him such honors as Minnesota’s Small Business Man of the Year and the University of Minnesota’s Outstanding Achievement Award (2001).

As they prospered during peak career days, these two staunch Lutherans made philanthropy a core value. The Sundet Foundation has made large grants to Lee’s alma mater as well as the Luther Seminary, the Alliance Defense Fund, the Minnehaha Academy, the Courage Center, the Prison Fellowship, and others. And when the president of Augsburg approached him about joining the board, he didn’t hesitate.

“We had more than one employee in our company who had gone to Augsburg, so I knew all about it,” says Sundet, who served as a trustee from 1984 to 1998. “It was wonderful working with then-president Chuck Anderson. He was such a good listener. We also had very good board members. You always have setbacks, of course, but the board got things done.”

Augsburg's Rochester campus.
Augsburg’s Rochester campus.

Sundet was a strong supporter of such programs as Weekend College. Complaining that 80% of people in Minneapolis at that time didn’t know where Augsburg was or what it stood for, he helped form a marketing committee and was instrumental in choosing a new “cross A” logo. He remains steadfast in his commitment to religion and religious freedom as essential to education.

“I also believe in old-fashioned discipline—‘don’t spent it till you’ve earned it.’ That’s a major problem today. When you borrow money, then you spend more money. In my day, everybody paid their own way,” he says. “Some students still pay their way all the way. It’s fun listening to them talk about their sacrifices, and hear how proud they are because they don’t owe anybody. First you give, then you save, then you live on the rest.”

Doing their part to ease student debt, the Sundets have sponsored a business scholarship at Augsburg since 1992. They also support the Youth and Family Ministry and were early proponents of the Augsburg campus in Rochester, where companies such as Mayo Clinic share their values. “Mayo is great planning organization, and they do a lot for people. They have a good ethic and tend not to borrow a lot of money. They tend to give and they tend to save,” Lee says.

“I have met people at Mayo who have gone through the Augsburg program, and I’ve seen what’s it’s done for them. It’s a wonderful thing,” he adds. “It wasn’t easy to get it started, but it’s fun to look back on. Augsburg has come a long way, and I would love to see it grow there in Rochester.”

— Cathy Madison

Mailing year-end gifts

Thank you for thinking of Augsburg in your end-of-year giving. The Augsburg campus will be closed on December 30 and 31. If you mail a check or make a gift online by December 31, your gift will be processed in 2016. If you intend to mail a credit card gift to Augsburg by the end of the year, your gift will need to be received by the office of Institutional Advancement no later than December 29 in order to be processed for 2016.

 

Distinctive Sculpture Articulates Augsburg Identity

Sponsored by Jeff Nodland ’77 and Becky Bjella Nodland ’79Trans:Perspective: Bebe KeithChapel glass sculpture sponsorship.Sponsorship Level: $150,000
Trans:Perspective: Bebe Keith

“From the moment I heard that a chapel would be included in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, I wanted to design a piece of art for it,” said artist Bebe Keith. Her large 3-D glass sculpture will become a featured element of the building’s roof top chapel thanks to the sponsorship investment by Jeff Nodland ’77 and Becky Bjella Nodland ’79.

“One of the things that drew my attention to this opportunity is that Augsburg is recognized as the fourth most diverse and inclusive campus in the United States. The idea that people of all faiths and backgrounds will use the chapel space interested me while also presenting a challenge to me as an artist.”

Bebe Keith has been creating art professionally for about 12 years, mostly in the public art realm. “I usually create stained glass mosaics by hand for public spaces, primarily in health care. “When I got the Art and Identity committee’s call for artists I wanted to do something distinctive.”

Drawing on inspiration from scripture, her original design was all about diversity, connections and networks between people.

“When I presented my first 2-D design to the Art and Identity Committee, they really latched on to the idea but wondered if it could actually be produced in three dimensions, so I figured out a way to make that happen.”

She found a computer program that helped her illuminate what was in her mind’s eye. It worked. The design addresses the networking of the three disciplines of science, business, and religion was at the origin of her idea.

“I started with the idea of networks—dots with lines connecting with other dots with lines which connect to others and so on. The negative space is all triangles. So the idea of people as networks becomes forms.”

As Keith puts it, “Acceptance is the most important value to me. I love to imagine people coming together in harmony and peace. Acceptance is the ideal. I want to promote places and spaces where people come together and listen to one another. This chapel is a place for sharing ideas and taking them along with them into the world. It will be a quiet place and those ideas are all there for the visitor.” Continue reading “Distinctive Sculpture Articulates Augsburg Identity”

Lindstrom ’73 Supports Summer Research for Students

 

160609-chemistry-219
Terry Lindstrom visits a chemistry lab and meets the students whose research he helped fund in the summer of 2016. Taylor Mattice ’18, Adam Pancoast ’18, Ellyn Peters ’18, and Josh Kuether ’18 all received funding from Lindstrom for their 10-week research experiences.

It makes perfect sense that Terry Lindstrom ’73 and his wife Janet look forward to funding Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) Summer Research students for the next three years, just as they have since 2013. Lindstrom found his passion while doing undergrad research at Augsburg, and he wants to make sure others have the opportunity that meant so much to him.

“Everyone deserves a passionate career,” says Lindstrom, who in 2010 retired his post as Distinguished Research Fellow at Eli Lilly and Company, Indianapolis, where he spent 31 years doing drug discovery and development.

160609-chemistry-071Like many young Auggies, he had no obvious career path in mind when he first ventured onto the Augsburg campus. He thought he might like to major in science, and Augsburg had a good science department. But would he choose biology? Chemistry? Physics? He wasn’t sure. He was sure of one thing: chemistry was a challenge.

“I loved it, but it was hard,” he says. “Within just a few weeks, it was very clear that the chemistry professors and staff were very personable, approachable, and interested in teaching. Their willingness to help really solidified its appeal for me, although it was still difficult.” By the time he was a senior, he was also doing biochemistry research, isolating a virus in fruit flies, studying the intersection of biology and chemistry in living systems.

Bingo.

160609-chemistry-023“After that, my career was a foregone conclusion. I was fascinated by biochemistry,” says Lindstrom. He was also intrigued by the teaching methods of his chemistry professor, Courtland Agre, who never gave him a straight answer, thus prompting him to find his own. “He’d always push back with another question, an orienting question. It was very frustrating at first, but he was teaching me to think critically. He’d draw it out of you, and you gained confidence. It made an indelible mark on me.”

As much as he loved the sheer fun of learning science, he also realized he wanted to find real-world applications to benefit society. After earning his PhD in pharmacology and biochemistry at the University of Minnesota and completing a biochemistry postdoc at Michigan State University, he joined Eli Lilly. He now holds at least six patents for life-changing drugs, including Evista, for osteoporosis, and Cymbalta, an antidepressant also used to treat bone and muscle pain.

Still enthralled by complex science, Lindstrom is retired only technically; he is busy consulting and advising in numerous capacities. He also volunteers for URGO’s summer program, giving seminars, meeting students, and collaborating with science faculty members such as Assistant Professor Michael Wentzel, Associate Professor Vivian Feng, and Assistant Professor Matt Beckman. He notes

Augsburg College funds 21 summer research slots each summer through the Office of Undergraduate Research & Graduate Opportunity (URGO).
Augsburg College funds 21 summer research slots each summer through the Office of Undergraduate Research
& Graduate Opportunity (URGO).

that students are working with PCR (polymerase chain reaction), a DNA synthesizing technique that made headlines not that long ago. “It was state-of-the-art only in the best molecular biology labs in the country, and now it’s actually being taught and done in Matt’s lab,” he says. “I was thrilled to see that.”

By fully endowing several students for URGO’s 10-week program, which costs $5,500 per student, he hopes that they, too, get a chance to discover their passion. “I understand how things take hold. Fundamentals are absolutely essential, but it was the research experience, free of academic book-learning, that convinced me what I wanted to do. If someone wants to test it out and see if it interests them, I’m extraordinarily happy to make that opportunity available.”

— Cathy Madison

A Stairway to Art and AWE 

 

hawksheadshotSomething special happens when three things come together.

  • Science, business, and religion.
  • An artist, a group of engaged Augsburg women, and dedicated financial resources.

At least that’s what Lisa Svac Hawks ’85 thinks.

The idea that art will bring lasting inspiration to the new Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion motivated Lisa to make the lead gift to help fund one of the two large-scale murals planned for the Center. She and the members of AWE (Augsburg Women Engaged) have set a goal to secure the $150,000 required to fully fund one of the planned stairwell murals.

In designing the new building, HGA’s architects and a team of college leaders set forth a central principle for it: to ensure it considered the neighborhood. The Center must express and reflect the importance of community and hospitality, values that live at the heart of Augsburg’s mission. The Center’s two external stairwells will serve as both beacons and open arms to the community.

These same ideas attracted Lisa and other members of AWE to explore what it would take to support the artist’s installation of one stairwell mural. AWE was founded on the idea that women want to connect and serve in different ways.

“Women think about connection and the social and collaborative nature of learning and living,” says Lisa. “What better way to express those principles than through a mural that is all about connection?” The resulting mural design is titled “Emergence.” It incorporates the image of a monarch butterfly along with references to symbiosis, textile traditions, geometry, faith, home, prayer and identity.

Sponsored by Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE).

Sponsored by Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE).
Sponsored by Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE).

Muralist Greta McClain, the artist selected by the Augsburg Art and Identity committee, which is working to bring art into the Center, looked deeply into the challenge of combining three disciplines in one building. In shaping the design for her two stairwell murals she asked, “Do those “conflicting/disparate” ideas, all housed together, stand as a reflection of our community, Cedar Riverside? Are they a dynamic social experiment, and a view our very human experience?”

In McClain’s words, “The collaboration between space and artist, community and construction, can take many forms depending on the project. Inevitably it includes a close collaboration between me as artist, and those closest to the project. Together we gather history, ideas, and images. These conversations are the key to the development of a site/content specific work for the finished mural.” (learn more about Greta McClain). Continue reading “A Stairway to Art and AWE “

Giving Back to a Transformative Education

Shelby Andress ’56 has believed in the transformative power of an Augsburg education since she was a student. She has stayed engaged with the College by continuing to connect with students, and she hoped to support them in the future. Augsburg was life-changing for her husband, Jim Andress ’51, as a student who came to campus after service in the World War II.

Early in their lives, Shelby ‘56 and Jim ‘51 Andress made a commitment to give back. At age 12, Shelby began to tithe as a young member of the Luther League, and she and Jim continued to give away 10% of their earnings during their lives. After Jim passed away, Shelby established a scholarship in his memory.

Augsburg Associates support Christensen Scholars

For more than 30 years, Augsburg Associates have raised funds to support Augsburg University and today’s students. Their hard work and commitment has enabled more than 50 students the opportunity to live out Augsburg’s motto, Education for Service, as they work towards their degrees. Besides sponsoring the Christensen Scholars with annual gifts, they give to capital projects, including sponsoring a space in the Hagfors Center, and have established an endowment for students and committed to service or participating in campus-wide interfaith programs. Thank you to the more than 90 Augsburg Associates!

Vision BagonzaNoah BrownVision Bagonza, Class of 2017
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Karagwe, Kagera, Tanzania
Major: Biology
Minor: Chemistry and Religion
My proudest academic achievement is excelling in classes and then being able to provide academic support for new students by tutoring and mentoring incoming first-year students.

Noah Brown, Class of 2017
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Bloomington, Minn.
Major: Biology
My favorite thing about Augsburg is the community of students and professors who are active and engaged in their communities.

Kayla GroverKayla Grover, Class of 2018
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Blanding, Utah
Major: Sociology
Minor: Religion
Augsburg has shaped me by encouraging me to open my mind and pursue a wide variety of interests. After graduation, I plan to work with AmeriCorps for one year.

owen-harrisonOwen Harrison, Class of 2018
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: New Hope, Minn.
Major: Psychology
Minor: Studio Art
My proudest academic achievement is making the Dean’s List every semester. I am also involved with the StepUP Leadership Team and the Mindfulness Club.

Leah McDougallLeah McDougall, Class of 2017
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Arden Hills, Minn.
Major: Youth and Family Ministry
Minor: Spanish
Augsburg has made me more aware of the world I live in. My proudest academic achievement was studying abroad in Central America and after graduation I plan to work with youth at a camp, church, or other organization.

Hannah SchmitHannah Schmit, Class of 2017
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Tomahawk, Wisc.
Major: Religion and Sociology
Minor: Biology
Thank you for your continued support of Augsburg and for your support of my education! You have helped make my experience possible and I cannot thank you enough.

Rebecca SchroederRebecca Schroeder, Class of 2018
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Giddings, Texas
Major: Management, Social and Artistic Entrepreneurship
My favorite thing about Augsburg is how diverse and well-rounded the curriculum is. I’ve been able to tailor my college experience to what I feel I’ve been called to do after college and to my future career.

Blair StewigBlair Stewig, Class of 2018
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Oakdale, Minn.
Major: Biology and Chemistry
Minor: Environmental Studies, Physics, and Religion
Thank you so much for providing me with this engaging experience. I am looking forward to growing both as a person and in my relationship with God.

Hannah ThiryHannah Thiry, Class of 2017
Christensen Scholar

Hometown: Stanchfield, Minn.
Major: Biology
Minor: Religion and Psychology
Through various experiences, debates, discussions, and philosophical thought, I’ve come to find a home in the ‘grayness’ of life—there’s no distinct ‘black and white’ side to anything. People, opinions, feelings, and passions are fluid, flexible, and unique.

Briana EkstromBriana Ekstrom, Class of 2018
Augsburg Associates Endowed Scholarship

Hometown: Chaska, Minn.
Major: Music Performance (vocal emphasis)
Minor: Music Theater
I sang in the Praise Band at my home church of St. Victoria for multiple years before leaving for college. Currently I cantor and sing for Augsburg daily chapel on occasion and am a box office volunteer at Theatre in the Round located in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood. I am incredibly honored to be receiving this scholarship again this year.