Alumni Spotlight: Tyler Heaps ’13 on Using his Math Major for the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team

Tyler Heaps at training in the UK prior to the opening of the World Cup competition in France
Tyler Heaps at training in the UK prior to the opening of the World Cup competition in France.

Tyler Heaps ’13 has loved soccer since he was a boy, kicking a ball around the back yard with his older brother and three sisters. The memories don’t get much better, however, than those made this summer, when his professional work in data analysis allowed him to be embedded with the U.S. Women’s National Soccer Team as it competed for the World Cup in Lyon, France.

On July 7, all the hard work paid off when the U.S. team triumphed over the Netherlands, 2-0, winning its second consecutive World Cup championship. Heaps says playing a tiny part in helping the U.S. win the seven-game series—and the World Cup—was “one of the most challenging and rewarding experiences” of his life—and something he will never forget.

Not unlike football and baseball teams’ use of video coverage and data analysis to enhance skills on the field, coaches and staff at U.S. Soccer are discovering the value of reviewing their own team’s playing habits, as well as those of their opponents, through data collection, video, and studying trend lines. As Heaps says, “No one can recall every action that happened during a game (and especially not 10-15 games), so being able to apply objective data to identify key areas can help in preparation.”

Heaps, who played soccer as an Augsburg student, is now manager of analytics and research for U.S. Soccer, where he oversees the initiatives of the organization to both analyze sports data and help staff scout potential talent. While he loves the excitement of the uncertainty, flow, and freedom of soccer, Heaps feels that the development of new technology—iPads on the bench, data availability, VAR (video assistant referee), etc.—makes for greater precision, helps referees make the correct decisions, and ultimately improves the game.

Heaps with Coach Jill Ellis and the World Cup trophy.
Heaps with Coach Jill Ellis and the World Cup trophy.

Jill Ellis, head coach of the U.S. Women’s National Team, is one of the soccer coaches who has developed an appetite for this information and has worked to apply it and learn more from it. Ellis, who just announced her retirement from U.S. Soccer on July 30, is only the second coach (first female) to have led a soccer team to two consecutive World Cup championships (Pozzo—Italy, 1934, 1938).

Heaps feels very fortunate to have this opportunity to explore the sports analytics world, especially after having spent most of his time at Augsburg either on the soccer field or behind a computer or math book.

Prior to taking on his responsibilities with U.S. Soccer in 2016, Heaps worked in the human resources firm, Ceridian, where he fine-tuned his skills in programming and data management. During his off-hours, he coached soccer teams—an experience that he finds very helpful in creating relationships with the technical staffs at U.S. Soccer.

As with many college athletes, he continues to enjoy friendships forged on the Auggie soccer field—a great benefit that he credits to the leadership of head coach Greg Holker and his staff. He takes particular satisfaction in seeing the game continue to grow here in the U.S. What better way to see it generate excitement in the U.S. than a huge win in France?

—by Cheryl Crockett ’89

Ankita Deka: Lifelong Learnings in Social Work, S2E12 of The Augsburg Podcast

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

Ankita Deka
Associate Professor of Social Work Ankita Deka guides her students to new insights about society, privilege, and the unique position of social workers to be agents of positive change in their communities.


Lori Brandt Hale: Lived Theology, S2E11 of The Augsburg Podcast

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

Lori Brandt Hale
Lori Brandt Hale, Associate Professor of Religion, believes all questions have answers: that curiosity and inquiry across traditions can bring about insight that informs, inspires, and activates.


Jill Dawe: The Connectivity of Music, S2E10 of The Augsburg Podcast

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

Jill Dawe
Jill Dawe, Associate Professor of Music, shares her fascination with the connective power of music: its capacity to share, express, and bring together communities across cultures and centuries.


Vivian Feng: Chemistry & Curiosity, S2E9 of The Augsburg Podcast

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

Vivian Feng
Vivian Feng, Associate Professor of Chemistry, is eternally curious about the world around her. She reflects on formative experiences with chemistry, shares student stories, and explores the impact and importance of research and experiential learning in the sciences.


Alumni Spotlight: Ross Murray ’00/M.B.A. ’09

Receiving the Living Loehe Award

Murray ’00 receiving his award.

A few months ago, when Ross Murray ’00/M.B.A. ’09 received a letter to his office at GLAAD, he was astonished to discover he was about to be granted an award. He had been selected by Wartburg Theological Seminary to receive the Living Loehe Award, honoring his work on behalf of LGBTQ communities through GLAAD, the Naming Project, and several other LGBTQ programs. Overwhelmed by what he calls a “huge honor,” he traveled to Dubuque to receive the award at Wartburg’s commencement. The award, established in 1973, honors individuals who have given distinguished service to and through the church, and exemplify Christ’s call to be disciples in the context of their own daily lives and professional commitments.

Murray has worked with GLAAD for eight years directing a variety of programs, including religion, global, the U.S. South, and news. Currently senior director of education and training at the GLAAD Media Institute, he works with various aspects of the media world—advocates and activists (helping them to engage the media as a tool for LGBTQ advocacy); the media industry (advising on how to be fair, accurate, and inclusive in their stories); and corporations (helping them to be effective allies to the LGBTQ community). Each workday is different from the previous one, and Murray’s tasks range from reviewing a script, to screening a film, to developing curriculum, to providing one-on-one messaging to highly visible individuals, to leading courses and workshops—to name a few.

Murray teaching in Australia.

In addition to his responsibilities with GLAAD, Murray is the founding director of The Naming Project, a faith-based ministry serving youth of all sexual and gender identities. Similar to a Lutheran Bible camp, the Minnesota-based summer youth camp has attracted over 200 campers from across the country, and continues to provide a safe place for youth to comfortably discuss faith and how they understand themselves in relation to God and the rest of the world. The coffee house talent show is always a highlight, and it gives campers a unique opportunity to express care and support for fellow campers—fully aware of the importance of feeling included. Murray has been part of The Naming Project since it began 15 years ago, and has been gratified to see many young insecure campers grow into outspoken leaders and advocates.

Working and Studying at Augsburg

Prior to his work with GLAAD, Murray worked with the Youth and Family Institute, Augsburg University, and ReconcilingWorks. Throughout these experiences, faith identity and vocation have been central to his work, and he has often found himself returning to a mantra that he heard over and over from Dr. David Anderson in his Augsburg Youth & Family Ministry classes—that “ministry is about personal trusted relationships.” The repetition of that phrase must have worked because the mantra has become increasingly meaningful to Murray in his ministry and advocacy, and he sees it as key to building bridges of tolerance and acceptance.

Murray explains the mantra: “For people to care about you and want good things to happen for you, they need to know you personally and intimately—not a caricature or stereotype or label, but the actual you.” And that means listening to them, sharing your own story, and offering the gift of vulnerability—of being known. Though time-consuming, the bond that can result from this kind of ministry has greater potential to be deeper and more durable than the connections we make on social media or through our fast-information, media-driven connections. And though a “personal trusted relationship” demands much from each person, the bond is harder to break.

At Augsburg, Murray was a Youth & Family Ministry major, and he feels that his experiences there helped him to be the advocate he is today. He is especially grateful to the Religion Department, and in particular to Janelle Bussert, who encouraged him to create a welcome statement for Augsburg’s Campus Ministry program—a statement that resulted in adding the Campus Ministry program to the roster of Reconciling in Christ congregations and ministry settings, which let it be known that people of all sexual orientations and gender identities are welcome to worship and participate. A few years later, Augsburg became the first Reconciling in Christ University.

LGBTQ Advocacy

After earning his B.A. from Augsburg, Murray earned an M.A. in Christian Education from Luther Seminary, as well as an M.B.A. from Augsburg; and in 2016 he was consecrated as a deacon in the ELCA. His synodically authorized Call was to do LGBTQ advocacy through GLAAD—a reality made possible only 10 years ago by the ELCA Churchwide Assembly when it voted to open the ministry to clergy in same-gender relationships and other professional workers living in committed relationships.

In 2017, Murray celebrated his 40th birthday with a party at the Stonewall Inn in New York City. He chose the Stonewall because of its significance as the site where the modern LGBTQ movement is seen to have begun 50 years ago, when members of the gay community rioted and staged a three-day protest to urge the NYPD to maintain peaceful and quiet conduct on the streets. To Murray, the Stonewall protests and the ELCA policy shift are watershed events—and are reminders of what it means to be part of a “living history.” Much has been done, but much remains to be done.

In April 2016, the same month that Murray was consecrated as a deacon at Advent Lutheran Church in New York City, he married Richard Garnett in the same church. Richard is also an Auggie, having received his B.A. in 2007 and his M.B.A. in 2009.

“We participate in the Easter Parade in New York, and the tradition has been to walk 5th Avenue (in front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral) in your best Easter bonnet. I’m usually the assisting minister at the 9 a.m. worship, and then we head over to the Easter Parade. This year, we put heads on the hats,” Murray said.

A native of Littlefork, Minnesota, a small town near the Canadian border, Murray is amused that a boy whose home had no telephone until he was a junior in high school now finds himself living and working in a bustling metropolis like New York City, surrounded by a remarkable mix of people. And he loves it.

Murray recently returned from Thailand, a country he first visited 20 years ago with Augsburg Professor Emeritus Brad Holt, who was leading a J-term class entitled, “Buddhism and Christianity in Thailand: Spirituality and Dialog.” This time around, Murray has been working on sabbatical projects—most notably, a book about The Naming Project. Stay tuned for word of its completion.


—by Cheryl Crockett ‘89

Jeremy Myers: Pathways in Public Theology, S2E8 of The Augsburg Podcast

The Augsburg Podcast features voices of Augsburg University faculty and staff. We hope this is one way you can get to know the people who educate our students to be informed citizens, thoughtful stewards, critical thinkers, and responsible leaders. Subscribe on Itunes.

Jeremy Myers, Associate Professor of Religion, explores how early encounters with the wonder and mystery of faith led him to his work with youth, current coursework in public theology, and involvement in the Riverside Innovation Hub.


Augsburg’s 155 All-School Reunion Volunteers

All School Reunion Volunteers
Volunteers at the first meeting on May 20, 2019.

We are so thankful for the 155 enthusiastic volunteers who have committed to helping us plan Augsburg’s first-ever All-School Reunion. Their involvement is crucial to our journey ahead. During our first volunteers meeting on May 20, it was exciting to witness old friendships and developing relationships among Auggies from the Classes of 1955 to 2020 — and that’s why reunions matter!

Volunteers are the core this upcoming year, and our work is not only more fun but exponentially strengthened by their participation and input. Our volunteers help us with Homecoming 2020’s schedule, entertainment, venues, marketing and more. We look forward to diving into all of this over the next 15 months to make this Sesquicentennial year the most epic one at Augsburg to date.

If you are interested in joining the following group of volunteers, please contact Katie (Koch) Code ’01 at or call 612-330-1178.

We have plenty of work to do, and we look forward to hearing from you!

Augsburg All-School Reunion Volunteers (Sesquicentennial Stewards):

Annika Hegrenes ’20

Joseph  Amrhein ’19

Eli Baker ’19

Willie Giller ’19

Grace Lindgren ’19

Brandon Williams ’19

Gabriel Bergstrom ’18

Abe Johnson ’18

Kevin Tran ’18

John Boyd ’17

Megan Carrell ’17

Thomas Kukowski ’17

Chau Nguyen ’17

Jack Swift ’17

Lauren Hurley ’16

Jaquan Kline ’16

Atlese Robinson ’16

Reies Romero ’16

Nadine Ashby ’15

Kendall Christian ’15

Nikolas Linde ’15

Hassan Sankoh ’15

Felecia Zahner ’15

Lia Capaldini ’14

Jasmine Grika ’14

Gary  Mariscal ’14

Katie Nelson ’14

Zaurean Nickens ’14

Jakkee-Patricia Phillips ’14

Patrick DuSchane ’13

Alyssa Fichter ’13

Beau Hansen ’13

Kris Vick ’13, MAE

Helen Truax ’12, MBA

Evan Decker ’12

Fardosa Hassan ’12

Lauren Lesser ’12

Aldo Lopez ’12

Shane Pantila ’12

Katie Radford ’12

Marty Wyatt ’12

Alex Beeby ’11

Laura Lou DuSchane ’11

Lucreshia Grant ’11

Van Hong ’11

Seth Lienard ’11

Ted Nielsen ’11

Lani Roldan ’11

Quinton Stibbins ’11

Kennitra Terrell ’11

Stefani  Zappa ’11

Irene Abdullah ’10

Taylor Davis ’10

Joshua Holmgren ’10

Matthew McEnery ’10

Jill Watson ’10

Shonna Fulford ’09

Raymond Kidd ’09

Agnes Kigwana ’09

Caitlin Lienard ’09

Derek Francis ’08

Joshua Harris ’08

Bryan Ludwig ’08

Brian  Bambenek ’07

Erik Helgerson ’07

Maria Helgerson ’07

Charlie Scott ’07

Babette Chatman ’05

Hannah Dietrich ’05

Sheryl Wallace-Holman ’05

Mel Lee ’04

Mathew J. Shannon ’04

Jamie E. Smith ’04

Jarret Howard ’03

Nick Rathmann ’03

Brent Peroutka ’02

Nick B. Slack ’02

Erica Bryan-Wegner ’01

Erica Huls ’01

Jason  Beckendorf ’00

Kirsten Kelly ’00

Stephanie Lein Walseth ’00

Ross Murray ’00

Meg Schmidt Sawyer ’00

Brandon Hutchinson ’99

Guillaume Paek ’99

Terry Marquardt ’98

Jessica Wahto ’98

Amy Bowar Mellinger ’97

Nancy Holmblad ’95

Jay Lepper ’95

Liz Pushing ’93

Heather Johnston ’92

Kristen Hirsch Montag ’91

Greg Schnagl ’91

Drew Privette ’89

Tracy Sundstrom ’89

Jerry Dieffenbach ’88

Darcey Engen ’88

Jenni Lilledahl ’87

Lisa  Anderson ’86

Nancy Mueller ’85

Norm Okerstrom ’85

Lisa Kastler ’84

Jenny Kelley ’84

Karen Casanova ’83

Joan Evans ’83

Karsten Nelson ’83

Cinthia W. Sisson ’83

Lori Moline ’82

Eric Anderson ’79

Becky Bjella-Nodland ’79

Sally Daniels Herron ’79

Jeff Swenson ’79

James Bernstein ’78

Rick Bonlender ’78

Beverly Meyer ’78

Dennis Meyer ’78

Jeff Nodland ’77

Roselyn Nordaune ’77

Jeffrey Mueller ’76

Kathryn Wahl ’76

Norm Wahl ’76

Merilee Klemp ’75

Linda Holmen ’74

Bob Strommen ’74

Linda Andell ’72

Saul Stensvaag ’72

David Andell ’71

Wayne Jorgenson ’71

Bonnie Niles ’71

Bob Stacke ’71

Dennis King ’70

Richard King ’69

Peter Strommen ’69

Karolynn Lestrud ’68

Lennore Bevis ’66

Richard Mork ’66

Allen  Anderson ’65

Eunice Dietrich ’65

Joyce Pfaff ’65

Livi Smith ’64

Barbara Larson ’63

Dean Larson ’62

Lawrence Gallagher ’61

Winnie Nordlund Anderson ’61

Dale Hanka ’60

Robert Herman ’55

Michael Bloomberg – Staff

Frank Haege – Staff

Paul C. Pribbenow – President

Margaret Bostelmann – Friend

Lois Swenson – Friend


Augsburg’s Sesquicentennial Gala – Join the Waitlist

Update: This event is now sold out. If you are interested in being added to the waitlist, please follow the registration link and add your name. We will let you know as soon as possible if we have ticket(s) available!

Join us for a once-in-a-lifetime event. On Friday, September 27, 2019, we kick off Augsburg’s sesquicentennial with a gala in downtown Minneapolis. This gala will acknowledge our history of pursuing the calling to serve the community, and it will rally our energetic support for the next 150 years of Augsburg University.

During this unprecedented evening, we will share stories of gratitude and hope for the future. We will celebrate with friends who have been a part of the community: alumni, parents, faculty, and staff. We’ll enjoy moments to reflect, share, and give while surrounded by the relationships that have always been at the heart of Augsburg.
We look forward to seeing you there.

—Darcey Engen ’88 and Jeff Swenson ’79
Sesquicentennial Committee co-chairs

Event Details

Friday, September 27, 2019

4:30 p.m. Reception, 6 p.m. Program

Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel, The Depot

225 3rd Ave. S., Minneapolis, MN 55401

This event will likely sell out. Order today to reserve your place.

Learn more about the Sesquicentennial and subscribe to our calendar.

Celebrating the Faces of Augsburg with “Inside Out”

Inside Out Rendering
A rendering of what part of the installation may look like.

Augsburg Community: We need your help!

In 2019, Augsburg celebrates 150 years as a University. Our sesquicentennial will be a year-long opportunity to reflect on our past and present – to honor our leaders and legacies, and also to discover our roots.

As part of the Sesquicentennial celebration, Augsburg has commissioned several public art projects around campus lead by Kristin Anderson and Christopher Houltberg. The main installation is a participatory art project called “Inside Out” that will cover 4 city blocks and showcase over 1,869 faces of people part of the Augsburg community.

Let’s celebrate the faces of current and historic members of the community with this ambitious public installation! Woven together, each black and white portrait will create a mesh of faces celebrating, recognizing and honoring the core of the institution: its people. This textile of woven portraits will be a unique opportunity to take part in an international art project empowering community actions.

Augsburg is everywhere.

faces of Augsburg photo shoot
The Faces of Augsburg photoshoot set up

Having the whole Augsburg community represented in this installation is very important to us. That includes Rochester campus, weekend university students, international students, faculty, staff, and alumni. So we want to invite YOU to participate by sending in your photo from wherever you are through this form. The deadline to send in these photos is Friday, May 24.

Let’s show who we are behind the walls of the institution and each of our roles within it for the past 150 years. Whether to pay tribute or simply pay attention, this project creates the opportunity to recognize how many shoulders it takes to create a strong and successful academic community in every single realm existing in a university.

Beyond getting your portrait taken or sending in a photo, this is about shared moments, pride, and seeing yourself appear side by side with around 3,000 other faces with the same pride and commitment to Augsburg.


Submit your photo