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Auggie Spotlight: Devoney Looser ’89

Meet Devoney Looser ’89, BA (English) minors in French and communication, summa cum laude, with Honors. Devoney is an internationally recognized expert on the history of women’s writings, feminist literary criticism, and Jane Austen—has worked in higher education for thirty years. She is Regents Professor of English and Global Sport Scholar at Arizona State University, where she’s taught since 2013 and a recipient of this year’s Augsburg Distinguished Alumni Award.
What keeps you busy these days? I’m working on a new book, Wild for Austen, for St. Martin’s Press, for publication in fall 2025, to coincide with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of Austen’s birth. For play, I’m skating with a wonderful roller derby team, Roughneck Roller Derby, in Tulsa, OK. (I work in Arizona, but I spend weekends with my husband and our younger son in Tulsa.)
How did Augsburg shape your path? Augsburg completely transformed my path. I was a first-generation college student, who needed (and received!) not only financial support but a lot of guidance. I started college as a shy and quiet student; I ended up with so many opportunities to grow, through student leadership roles in the newspaper, yearbook, and literary magazine, as well as the orientation program and the library, where I worked. Augsburg’s faculty and staff shaped—and still shape—my path, through their generous sharing of wisdom, support, and opportunities.
Who is an Auggie (alumni, faculty/staff, friend, etc.) that has impacted you and why? The fact that there are so many Augsburg faculty and staff I could name who had a positive impact on me is inspiring, right? The one I’d like to mention here is English Professor Cathie Nicholl. Cathie is the person who first suggested I should go to graduate school. What she said during an advising session was, “Don’t drop your French class. You’ll need that for graduate school.” I always joke that, at this moment, I thought to myself, “Wait a minute! I’m going to graduate school?” But there’s some truth to that! It’s a moment that felt like a light bulb going off in my head, and her support and encouragement is what set me on the path to the PhD and to a career as an academic and a writer.
What is a fun or favorite memory of your time at Augsburg? I have very happy memories of our rushing to meet late-night editing and production deadlines for the Echo newspaper. That’s where I first started to drink coffee but, more importantly, made lifelong friends. I also remember fondly a winter night hanging out with Echo staff, including co-editor Steve Aggergaard, that ended with our making snow angels in Murphy Square.
Thank you Devoney!

Give back to Augsburg by joining the Alumni Board

Augsburg is looking to add additional members to it’s Alumni Board starting this summer. Are you passionate about keeping alumni connected to Augsburg? Do you want to think creatively about ways to connect alumni with current students? Do you like helping to bring Auggies together at various events? If you’re interested, please reach out to Nate Berkas at berkasn@augsburg.edu to learn more.

The Augsburg Alumni Board is an opportunity for alumni from all programs and class years to build relationships with each other and the University today. Members connect with institution leaders, faculty, and students to better understand and support the mission. For more information, visit the Alumni Board page.

Auggie Spotlight: Navid Amini ’19, MBA

Navid Amini
Meet Navid Amini ’19, MBA. Navid is serving his third year on the Alumni Board and is the Augsburg Alumni Board President 2023-24.
What keeps you busy these days? Spending time with my children (12, 10, and 5). I current serve as the Director of Client Strategy for Laguna Health which is a Healthtech AI company transforming care management. I enjoy playing the piano when I find time and traveling to my second home in Florida.
Who motivates you? I have seven brothers who serve as my personal “board of directors” and they inspire me immensely and push me hard to continue thriving.
How did Augsburg shape your path? Attaining my MBA from Augsburg taught me a lot about myself as a person and instilled the spirit of paying it forward. I am honored to continue remaining connected with the institution through the Alumni Board.
What is a fun or favorite memory of your time at Augsburg? Slamming coffees late at night with my team as we figured out how to draft the best market analysis report out there!
Thank you Navid!
Auggie Spotlight is a new project that will feature Augsburg Alumni in all walks of life, and further connections in our Augsburg Alumni community. If you would like to be in the spotlight, or if you’d like to nominate another alumni, please fill out this form.

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 and Professor Phil A. Quanbeck II Organize a Trip to Turkey

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74, and Dr. Phil Quanbeck II, religion professor emeritus, are hosting a tour to Turkey through Tutku Educational Travel on May 2- 15, 2024. The trip will begin and end in Istanbul. Participants will travel in the footsteps of the Apostle Paul as well as cities mentioned in the Book of Revelation. This is a tour of Christian homelands of the first centuries of the Christian movement. And The tour will trace those traditions into modern Turkey.

Farewell dinner during Jerusalem trip.Last year, Ruth and Phil had several alumni join them on their organized trip to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan. “It was a very meaningful trip. We visited the biblical sites of the OT and the NT and the story of Jesus and the disciples. We also met people involved in contemporary reconciliation and justice issues from Israeli and Palestinian perspectives. We met with Dr. Mitri Raheb of Dar Al Kalima University in Bethlehem. Augsburg has a long standing connection with Dr. Raheb and Dar Al Kalima. We also visited Petra, famous for its ancient importance and modern setting for Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.  These journeys are also made wonderful by sharing the experience with interested and engaged travelers,” Phil shared. Ruth and Phil have also co-led trips to Greece and Turkey in 2003, 2005, 2007, and 2008, and just returned in October from a trip to Istanbul.

Ruth and Phil welcome any Augsburg alumni and friends to sign up for this exciting adventure!

View the trip brochure.

Register today

Join the Vespers Choir

Vespers concert

Are you someone who:

  • Loves singing Christmas music in a choir?
  • Doesn’t have time to sign up for a whole season of involvement
  • Wants to join the company of musicians at Augsburg’s annual Advent Vespers services at Central Lutheran Church?

If so, then Vespers Choir is for you!

Commitment:

  • 3 consecutive Tuesday evening rehearsals starting on October 31.
  • 2 dress rehearsals at Central Lutheran Church: November 28 and 30.
  • 3 Services: December 1 at 7:00 p.m. and December 2 at 2:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m.

Open to anyone in the Augsburg community (plus your friends and family).

For details contact Dr. Kristina Boerger at boerger@augsburg.edu

Join us for Homecoming

A photo of students waving their arms in the air outdoors. There is a banner that reads "Auggie Homecoming 2023" at the bottom of the photo.

We can’t wait to have students, alumni, family, and friends on campus for all of our Homecoming events between October 8-14, 2023!

Whether you have been coming back to Augsburg every year since you graduated, or it has been a while, we can’t wait to reminisce, celebrate, and gather together as Auggies. Our Homecoming weekend includes the Athletics Hall of Fame on Thursday, October 12, the Distinguished Alumni Award Celebration on Friday, October 13, the 50th Reunion Breakfast, Homecoming Chapel, Taste of Augsburg, tours of Augsburg’s campus, and the Homecoming Football Game on Saturday, October 14

There is nothing like returning to campus, and we hope that you will join us.

Join us for the events and tours listed above by RSVPing here: RSVP TODAY!

You may know Dave Stevens ’90

Newspaper prints from Dave Stevens playing football

You may know Dave Stevens ’90 from his time playing minor league baseball for the Saint Paul Saints or when he tried out for the Dallas Cowboys, or maybe you know Stevens from his seven National Sports Emmys, which he won while reporting with ESPN for over 20 years.

And there’s still an abundance of Stevens’s accolades that could be mentioned but few people know it started with his time as a football player at Augsburg. He was and still is the only congenital amputee to ever play NCAA football. Stevens was offered a scholarship to Augsburg after his story aired on ABC’s That’s Incredible! in 1981.

“I had a job opportunity at KSTP and a scholarship that Julian Foss provided for me to attend Augsburg, and I wanted to work in television,” Stevens said. “Covering sports at 19-years-old and in a market like Minnesota when the Metrodome had just been built was a big deal.”

But not long into his first year at Augsburg, Stevens got homesick. That, and the passing of a parent contributed to him moving back to his hometown in Arizona where he got a job and soon realized that his life wasn’t going in the direction he wanted. 

Luckily for Stevens he was given a second chance and a one-way ticket back to Minnesota when he asked his former benefactor if he could retain his scholarship and return to Augsburg, and in 1987, he was back to finish what he had started.

Stevens recalled long days in the classroom, on the field, and at work, getting off late evenings to meet up with friends for some affordable food and entertainment at the Cabooze before heading home to catch some sleep and doing it all again the next day.

“It was so awesome that this little Division III school gave me such a huge opportunity to play football and live my dream,” he said. “And to top it all off I had so many amazing professors, mentors, and resources that really helped me develop as a person and not just as a person with a disability.”

After his time at Augsburg, Stevens would go on to transition more into his career in television. He has covered NCAA Final Fours, World Series, and Super Bowls. Currently Stevens is an adjunct professor at the School of Communications at Quinnipiac University in Hamden, Connecticut, a motivational speaker, and works with a number of charitable foundations. One word that Stevens said is not in his vocabulary is “can’t”.Dave Stevens reporting on a football field.

He hopes to one day be inducted to the College Football Hall of Fame for his time at Augsburg and his contributions to the sport. Stevens said he appreciates the opportunity that Augsburg gave him and continues to give to all of its students.

“Augsburg is this amazing melting pot, and it helps you in the real world to realize there are other people out there who have different ideas, beliefs, and capabilities,” Stevens said. “It’s a school that I don’t think gets enough love for the reputation that it continues to maintain.”

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 and Philip A. Quanbeck II lead a pilgrimage tour to Israel and Palestine

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74, and Philip A. Quanbeck II, religion professor emeritus, will lead a pilgrimage tour to IA large group of people smile for the photo in front of the Jerusalem city background srael and Palestine on May 20 – 31 with an optional extension to Jordan on May 31-June 3, 2023. 

Dr. Ruth and Dr. Phil led four tours to Greece and Turkey with Augsburg University students in 2003, 2005, and 2007, and with adults in 2008. They also led an Augsburg alumni tour to Israel in 2012, and most recently, in 2017, they led their own tour to Israel, Palestine, and Jordan, which included a number of Auggies.

“We had a good group ready to go in May 2020 but COVID hit and we had to cancel,” they said. Adding, that conditions are now very favorable again for travel to the Holy Land.

Currently, they are working with a travel agency in Bethlehem called Shepherds Tours, which is closely associated with Dar Al-Kalima University and the Rev. Dr. Mitri Raheb. Mitri Raheb and Dar Al Kalima have ties to Augsburg. Several Augsburg faculty including Jacqui DeVries have been to Dar Al Kalima in recent years, and Mitri Raheb has visited Augsburg on several occasions.

Ruth and Philip smile next to each other posing for a picture outside in front of an old middle eastern building Johnson and Quanbeck’s tours visit well-known biblical sites associated with both Old Testament and New Testament stories and figures. They will visit the Galilee region and Jerusalem, the Dead Sea, Masada, and Jerusalem. And Bethlehem on the West Bank. They also engage current realities in Israel and the West Bank (Palestine). The extension to Jordan will include Petra, the area of building carved in red rock. 

“We also meet with the Parents’ Circle Family Forum which is an Israeli and Palestinian group of parents who share their losses of children in the struggle,” they said. “We visit an Israeli settlement on the West Bank and a refugee camp operated by the United Nations High Commission on Refugees, camps which are a remnant of the 1948 war.”

Johnson and Quanbeck encourage Augsburg alumni and friends to join them on the next pilgrimage and experience the tour firsthand. 

View the Quanbeck Tour Brochure

Register today!

Celebrating the Life of Dr. Peter Hendrickson ’76

Peter Hendrickson in a suit smiles at the camera sitting between stone pillars text reads Celebrating the life of Peter Henndrickson Saturday October 22 at 2 pm

Longtime Director of Choral Activities and Professor Emeritus, Dr. Peter Hendrickson, died this past June at the age of 67. A celebration of his life will be held at Hoversten Chapel on the campus of Augsburg on Saturday, Oct. 22, at 2:00. All are welcome to attend!

An important part of the memorial service will be a special choir made up of Augsburg alumni and former Masterworks Chorale singers who had the privilege of singing under Dr. Hendrickson. A short rehearsal, led by Mark Sedio and Nancy Grundahl, will take place at 12:30, just prior to the memorial service in Hoversten Chapel.

Tina Brauer in the Augsburg Music Department can be contacted with questions as needed (brauer@augsburg.edu). Music to be sung will be emailed to you in advance.

Register to sing in the alumni choir- https://forms.gle/tDJemuQDwviJueDG6

If you would like to be part of the memorial service choir, please RSVP- https://forms.gle/RPTZMD9JDzKEBBYs5

The Passing of Evangeline “Vangie” Hagfors

Evangeline “Vangie” Hagfors passed away peacefully on October 4, 2022 at her home. Evangeline Hagfors smiles in front of flowers for the photo

Vangie’s deep connection to Augsburg began when her father, Elnar Gundale ’33, emigrated from Norway and attended Augsburg Seminary. Vangie attended classes on Augsburg’s campus from 1957-1959 as part of the Nurse’s Training Program through the Lutheran Deaconess Hospital. And three of Vangie’s siblings – John Gundale ’67, Stephen Gundale ’70, and Ruth Gundale ’73 – also attended Augsburg.

Vangie married Norm, a University of Minnesota graduate, and together they had two children, Mark and Rachel. Norm joined Augsburg’s Board of Regents in 1989 and both Norm and Vangie have faithfully served on Augsburg’s President’s Council since its inception in 2018. They embodied Christ’s teaching to love your neighbor, a core tenant of Augsburg’s mission.

Dr. Paul Mueller ’84 shared, “We are saddened by the passing of Mrs. Vangie Hagfors and extend our condolences to our friend, Norm, and the entire Hagfors family. Vangie understood the tremendous value of an Augsburg education rooted in our Lutheran faith. Over the years, the Hagfors have been leading benefactors of Augsburg University. Their lead gift in 2015 resulted in the construction of the campus’ signature building, the Hagfors Center for Science, Business and Religion, in which our students—and future leaders—learn about and explore the intersections of these three disciplines.”

The Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion is a multi-discipline complex that opened in January of 2018 and serves more than 3,000 undergraduate and graduate students each year.

Norm and Vangie Hagfors visiting the construction site of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion with President Paul Pribbenow and architect Bill Blanski.
Norm and Vangie Hagfors visiting the construction site of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion with President Paul Pribbenow and architect Bill Blanski.
Vangie is pictured above ready to cut the ribbon and officially open the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.
Vangie is pictured above ready to cut the ribbon and officially open the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion.

 


Vangie’s gentle and generous spirit will be missed dearly by the Augsburg community. She truly clothed herself in “compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience” as we read about in Colossians 3:12.

Evangeline “Vangie” and Norm Hagfors pictured together in the Gundale Chapel in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion on Augsburg’s campus.
Evangeline “Vangie” and Norm Hagfors pictured together in the Gundale Chapel in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion on Augsburg’s campus.

President Paul Pribbenow shared that “It is a most sad day for all of us who have come to know and love Vangie. Her historic ties to Augsburg through her father, the Rev. Elnar Gundale ’33, are fittingly celebrated in the beautiful Gundale Chapel in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, and her deep faith was an inspiration to all of us. One of the greatest joys of my time at Augsburg has been to witness the remarkable vision and generosity of Norm and Vangie, whose legacy is forever secure in the remarkable Hagfors Center – a transformative academic building that still takes my breath away with both its architectural beauty and its impact on our students and faculty each day. Along with her family and friends, we grieve Vangie’s death and celebrate a life so faithfully led.”

The funeral service will be held at 11:00 AM on Monday, October 24, at Saint Andrew’s Lutheran Church, 900 Stillwater Road, Mahtomedi. Visitation will be held from 3 PM to 6 PM on Sunday, October 23, at Bradshaw, 4600 Greenhaven Drive, White Bear Lake, and one hour prior to the service at church. Read Vangie’s official obituary.