Join the Augsburg community on Saturday, January 27 for the grand opening festivities of the Hagfors Center. The public is welcome to attend the alumni and community open house from 3.30-5 p.m. Enjoy food stations, building tours, and activities.
Please allow for extra travel time as we expect extra traffic due to pre-Superbowl activities.
Free valet parking will be provided in the roundabout in front of the Hagfors Center on 21st Avenue.
Throughout the afternoon, students and faculty will be on hand to provide laboratory tours and to share the transformational difference this new facility makes to their educational experience.
Food and refreshments will be available throughout the afternoon including a mac and cheese bar, roasted vegetables and dip, a dessert bar with choke cherry ice cream, meringue and fruit purée, mini lemon tartlets, and more.
Many adults would likely freeze in place if asked to teach a middle school class, much less try to interest those students in theater. Then there are those special people for whom such work just comes naturally. Ertwin “Ert” Jones-Hermerding ’69 was such a person.
Ert’s Augsburg mentor, the late Ailene Cole (who taught theater at Augsburg for 29 years), saw it early on, insisting that his talent was definitely with the younger kids—the high-schoolers, sure; but more so, the younger ones. It was at Augsburg that Ert knew he wanted to be a teacher.
Football and Theater
When Ert found an opening for a speech teacher at Plymouth Junior High in the Robbinsdale, Minn., school district, he jumped at the chance because it gave him the opportunity to also coach football. As a speech/communication teacher and football coach in Robbinsdale for 34 years, Ert endeared himself
to countless junior high (middle school) and high school students, and many of them went on to pursue interesting professional careers due to his strong influence. His students included Darcey Engen ’88 (Theatre Arts professor at Augsburg), Mad TV’s Mo Collins, and actor Steve Zahn, who once donned a curly wig in junior high and did a memorable, gut-splitting impersonation of TV exercise personality Richard Simmons.
“Herm,” as he was affectionately known by his students, found ways to interest athletes in the drama program, and speech students in the football program, increasing the pool from which to draw and surprising many students who may not have otherwise considered such involvement.
Herm was, most notably, the first to teach improvisational theatre at the junior high level, creating a new model that was replicated in many other schools. When he died suddenly in a one-vehicle motorcycle accident two years after retiring, the online posts from former students said it all—“Brought me out of my shell.” “Favorite teacher.” “Made learning fun.” “Creative and passionate.” “I was fat and unpopular…he cast me in the lead…he lit me up.” “Great mentor to so many kids.”
Herm’s students would often sit together at school lunch to write their own plays. With parental permission to miss some school, they would crowd into a conversion van to take their shows to local elementary schools. Using only milk crates as sets, and maybe a mic for the narrator, they often drew huge groups of youngsters.
When asked how her late husband came to have such a heart for young people, Pat Jones-Hermerding says she isn’t sure how you can understand what’s at someone’s core, but she knew Ert had found his calling. He opened up his ideas to his students, and he had the kind of personality to which they gravitated—a big personality that could take over a room. Everything became a story, says Pat, and it usually grew into an even bigger story. He was energetic and funny—and fit right in with the kids. She takes special pleasure in reminders of Ert’s legacy, particularly when encountering former students who have gone into theater, or played sports for a college, or become teachers.
The Apple Tree
In October, when more than 20 family members and friends of Ert gathered next to Foss Center to dedicate a young apple tree in his memory, those attending were unaware of the tree’s interesting history. They were just grateful for the tree’s healthy start, and for the opportunity to designate a different tree on campus since the tree they had originally dedicated to Ert’s memory in 2009 had become diseased and died.
The history of the replacement tree, they later learned, was tied to Augsburg student Emily Knudson ’15, who had planted three apple trees as part of her senior Keystone p
roject. With this project, and through the Minnesota Project’s Fruits of the City program, Knudson was able to enter the network of hundreds of other tree owners and volunteer gleaners statewide who donate tens of thousands of pounds of fresh fruit each year to local food shelf partners. The newly placed plaque by the tree honors both Knudson’s project and Jones-Hermerding’s memory.
The Auggie Friendships
Among those who gathered at the tree’s dedication were two of Ert’s long-time Auggie friends, Glen J. Peterson ’69 and Karl Sneider ’71. All three had been members of Gamma Phi Omega, a campus/community service fraternity active on campus in the late ‘60s and ‘70s. Though participation in athletics was not a requirement for membership, many Gammas were involved in sports, which served to deepen many of the friendships. Peterson says that he and Ert were dorm mates as freshmen, and decided to join a third friend to live in a house by Riverside Park for their remaining three years. Peterson chuckles as he recalls that, since there were only two beds in the house when they moved in, Ert was content to sleep temporarily on a mattress on top of the kitchen table.
As Peterson reflects on those college days, he is reminded of how diligent a student Ert was, studying long hours for his language course. He was introspective, hard-working, and intense—in the best sense of that word—and those qualities applied to all areas of his college life: academics, football, track, and theater. He also exerted outsized influence in the life of his young brother, Mike.
If Peterson were to summarize Ert’s legacy in a few words, “integrity” would quickly come to mind. Ert was honest and trustworthy, says Peterson, and dedicated as an educator and as a person. Then he adds, “People would strive to be like him because Ert was adamant about caring about people.”
Augsburg celebrated the holiday period in true Norweigian style, and nearly fifty Augsburg Associates volunteered at the 2017 Velkommen Jul festivities on December 1. Many volunteers were busy putting in extra days to make special Norwegian treats, and arrived early to help butter bread and lefse, and ensure that the event was a huge success.
There was exceptional student participation, including the Associates scholarship students who served waffles to hungry patrons. The event celebrated long-standing Augsburg friendships, and encouraged guests to create new friendships from our diverse community. Guests expressed their appreciation with kind words and contributions, and the scholarship baskets gathered a superb $1190.
Paul and his wife Maxine Fridlund were important donors to “Old Science Hall”.Paul graduated from Augsburg College with a degree in Chemistry in 1942 and then served four years at sea during World War II as a lieutenant with the U.S. Navy. After his service, Paul returned to education and received his Master of Science in 1952 shortly followed by his Doctorate of Philosophy in 1954, both from the University of Minnesota. He achieved distinction throughout his career and research in plant pathology, which included international work and travel to many countries such as South Africa, Australia, and Romania. He was a long time faculty member at Washington State University and later in life he used his location to his advantage by writing several historical books about Prosser, Washington where he lived when he sadly passed away in 2000.
As donors to Augsburg College, Paul and Maxine not only started a scholarship endowment for biology majors, but Paul’s financial gift and gift of equipment to the biology department gave students a unique opportunity to pursue and study plant biology at an earlier stage in their academic careers than most other biology students. A plaque honoring this financial contribution to Old Science is still standing and is located near room 214. Paul eventually received Augsburg’s Distinguished Alumni Award in 1980 in recognition of significant achievement in his vocation, for outstanding contribution to church and community, and for a life that exemplified both the ideals and mission of Augsburg College. While the records don’t show much about Maxine’s accomplishments, we remember them both today for their generosity.
If you are interested in more of Paul Fridlund’s work with plant biology, he also edited a book called “Virus and viruslike diseases of pome fruits and simulating noninfectious disorders” which you can learn more about here.
Luther A. and Clarette (Jorenby) Arnold were Augsburg graduates from the class of 1929 and donors to the “Old Science” Building. Today, we remember them with a plaque outside Science 108, but they also gave generously to the college, including significant gifts to the Augsburg Fund, the Foss Center (where the atrium is named after them) and the Lindell Library.
We have little information regarding Clarette’s career, but we know her hobbies included reading, writing, travelling and music. After the couple married in 1928, they both graduated from Augsburg in 1929 and started their lives together. Luther then went on to receive a Masters in Philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and later his Doctorate from the University of Florida-Gainesville. His career spanned science teaching and science education from public schools to the university level, where he was a Chemistry professor and instructor of sciences at the University of Florida.
Outside academia he was the first executive secretary emeritus of the Executive Committee of the Florida Foundation for Future Scientists, served on the board of directors for the International Fair, and was an adviser for the World Science Fair. They were members of Zumbro Lutheran Church and were married for 65 years.
Leif Johan Sverdrup and his son Johan N. Sverdrup left their mark on Augsburg in “Old Science” Hall. Leif who was also known as Jack, was born on January 11, 1898, in Norway and he emigrated to the U.S. in 1914 to live with relatives. He started attending Augsburg in 1916 and graduated in May 1918 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. After his graduation, he served in the army in WWI.
Leif Johan Sverdrup eventually returned to education after he finished his military service and earned a civil engineering degree from the University of Minnesota in 1921. After completing his engineering degree, Leif Johan went into business with his University of Minnesota professor John Ira Parcel, and together founded Sverdrup and Parcel (a civil engineering firm specializing in bridge construction).
His career eventually led him to rejoin the army and eventually (between the years 1942-1958) he led engineering construction projects in Europe.
In the 1990’s his son, Johan N. Sverdrup, gave financially to establish the Johan N. Sverdrup Ozone Photophysics Laboratory, the Sverdrup Advanced Physics Laboratory, and the General Leif J. Sverdrup Visiting Scientist Program in honor of his father. These plaques are situated in the basement of “Old Science” Hall.
One of the current physical centerpieces of the campus, Science Hall, was constructed in 1947-1948 and opened for fall semester classes in 1949. Like the new Hagfors Center, which will realign how the campus is used, this multi-functional building became a hub, not only for science classrooms, laboratories, and lecture halls, but also for campus life.
It was home to administrative offices, faculty offices, the student lounge, student org offices, the home economics department, and a prayer chapel on the fourth floor. Originally a library was envisioned as a part of this capital project, but was built separately years later. The Lisa Odland Observatory, which was constructed on the roof and accessed by an exterior stairway, was added in 1960. The building cost $450,000 and was supported by Lutheran Free Church members, as well as alumni and other friends. It was reported that part way through the fundraising campaign, 350 students gave a total of $3,611, towards their overall goal of $6,000. Alumni who gave financially to make this building an integral part of the Augsburg experience include Luther A. ’29 and Clarette (Jorenby) ’29 Arnold, Paul R. ’42 and Maxine Fridlund, Lisa Odland, Johan N. Sverdrup, and General Leif J. Sverdrup ’18.
As we eagerly await the grand opening of the Hagfors Center, this series we will pay homage to the important people who made the original science hall a possibly. In “Did you know? Alumni behind the Science Building” we will explore each week specific generous donors of “Old Science” Hall, and highlight the importance of the building to Augsburg College.