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The Augsburg Associates Fall Event: High Tea

All Augsburg Associates and those who are interested in joining the Associates are cordially invited to a High Tea on October 19 from 1 to 3 p.m. in the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, Room 150.

This event will feature guest speaker, Minnesota’s First Lady Gwen Walz, who will share her initiatives in correctional education. Following her presentation will be a High Tea and brief annual meeting.

Please RSVP by October 11 on our events page or by mailing in a $20 check to Augsburg University indicating your reservation.

Check-in for the event begins at 12:30 p.m. in Hagfors.

About First Lady Gwen Walz

Gwen Walz is Minnesota’s 39th First Lady. As a lifelong Minnesotan, she is excited to work on behalf of all Minnesotans. Gwen was born in Glencoe, Minnesota, and grew up in western Minnesota. Alongside her three sisters, Gwen was raised by her parents, Val and Linn, who were educators and small business owners. She has received degrees from Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter and Minnesota State University in Mankato. Gwen began her English teaching career in western Nebraska, where she met Tim Walz. Soon after they met, Gwen and Tim established a summer trip to China for their students and traveled there nearly every summer through 2003. In 1994, Tim and Gwen married and even “honeymooned” on one of these trips, with 60 students in tow.

Educating Minnesota’s children is one of Gwen’s passions. Throughout her career, Gwen has taught in public, alternative, and migrant schools; this has shaped her vision. For more than two decades, Gwen served as an administrator/coordinator in the Mankato Area Public Schools, working to eliminate the achievement gap and strive for more equity and access within education systems. Gwen knows that a strong public education system, encompassing birth through senior citizens, is critical to empowering every Minnesotan to succeed.

Celebrate Augsburg’s Gospel Quartet Tradition with the Centennial Singers

The Augsburg Centennial Singers, a senior men’s, 50-voice chorus, would like to invite alumni and friends to attend their fall concert series.

Carrying on the rich tradition of quartets from Augsburg’s past, The Centennial Singers were founded in 1993 to celebrate the centennial of the first singing tour of Norway by an Augsburg College Gospel Quartet. Centennial Singers concerts feature well-known gospel music, spirituals, folk, and patriotic songs, familiar hymns, sacred selections, and a barbershop tune or two.

Centennial Singers 2019 Fall Schedule

Saturday, September 21 at 6:30 p.m.
United Redeemer Lutheran Church
560 West Third Street, Zumbrota

Sunday, September 22 at 3 p.m.
Bethel Lutheran Church
810 Third Avenue SE, Rochester

Saturday, September 28 at 10:30 a.m.
Augsburg Homecoming Chapel

Saturday, October 5 at 6:30 p.m.
St. Philip’s Lutheran Church
1401 15th Street W., Hastings

Sunday, October 6 at 4 p.m.
Christ the King Lutheran Church
1900 7th Street NW, New Brighton

Sunday, October 20 at 7 p.m.
House of Prayer Lutheran Church
7625 Chicago Ave S., Richfield

Sunday, October 27 at 1 p.m.
Normandale Hylands United Methodist Church
9920 Normandale Blvd., S., Bloomington

Saturday, November 2 at 7 p.m.
Oak Grove Presbyterian Church
2200 Old Shakopee Road, Bloomington

Sunday, November 3 at 3 p.m.
St. Philip the Deacon Lutheran
17205 County Road 6, Plymouth

A free-will offering is received at each concert to defray expenses and advance our mission of encouraging our listeners to establish and deepen their personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

You can find more information about the Augsburg Centennial Singers on their websiteTo arrange an appearance by the Singers, email manager, Mike Walgren at

1959 Augsburg Male Quartet to Sing at Silver Auggies Lunch, Sept. 28

the quartet
The 1959 Augsburg Male Quartet

The full and melodic harmony reminiscent of male quartets that represented many Lutheran colleges in the first half of the 20th century will be on full display at the Silver Auggies lunch on Saturday, September 28, when the Augsburg Male Quartet from 1959 provides special music.

The luncheon music will feature Rennard Svanoe ’59, MDiv ’62; Victor Svanoe ’62; Jim Svanoe; and Donald Gilberg ‘60. Intended for Augsburg graduates from 1968 and earlier, the luncheon is one of many events scheduled for Augsburg’s Homecoming and Reunion Week, Sept. 24-28.

In the late 1800s, Augsburg was among the first Lutheran colleges to discover the value of these “singing ambassadors,” whose four-part a cappella harmony and spiritual messages inspired many in congregations, youth conventions, and a variety of other venues. Augsburg’s history of male quartets (1885-1961) has been documented in the 2004 book, The Augsburg Quartets: A Mission-Driven Tradition, written by David M. Larson and Merton Strommen ’42. The book includes pictures of most of the Augsburg quartets, whose early participants included F. Melius Christiansen, whose distinctive mark on Lutheran a cappella choir music is indelible.

Of the three Svanoe brothers who sang with Gilberg in the 1958 quartet—Alfred, Rennard, and Victor, two will sing at the luncheon. Alfred has passed away, and his cousin, Jim Svanoe, a Luther College graduate, will fill his role on Sept. 28. Joe Nystuen MDiv ’62, who sang with the 1959 (touring) quartet, is living with one lung, and so Gilberg will take his part.

Starting Early

Growing up in a “singing family,” the three Svanoe brothers got a good head start in the art of harmonizing by performing at family gatherings, where they would sing three-part treble harmony—before their voices changed. In their high school years, their uncle Dick Svanoe sat at the piano and added his barbershop-trained voice, thus providing the fourth part.

At college, singing in the Augsburg Choir put the Svanoe brothers in touch with Don Gilberg (from Carpio, North Dakota)—a connection that led to formation of the quartet, and eventually to an audition with Augsburg’s Leland B. Sateren in order to enable them to officially represent the College as the Augsburg Male Quartet.

Often, the quartet sang at the Svanoes’ home church, Oak Grove Lutheran in nearby Richfield, Minnesota, where Merton Strommen (a member of an earlier Augsburg quartet) had served as the brothers’ high school Sunday School teacher, and as youth choir director. The relationship with Strommen led to the quartet’s opportunity in summer 1958 to sing in Green Lake, Wisc., at the convention of the Luther League Federation, for which Strommen served as director.

A year later, after worship one Sunday, the quartet gathered in the sanctuary where another Oak Grove member, Norman Kaupang, set up his equipment to record the quartet’s songs for a 33-RPM record, which was later remastered for the CD that now appears if you Google “Augsburg Male Quartet.” By then, Joe Nystuen had replaced Gilberg in the group, adding an inspirational verbal component between musical sets at each concert.


Of his experience touring with the quartet, Rennard Svanoe says his Midwestern horizons were “considerably broadened.” Their travels allowed the quartet to meet nearly all the pastors of the Lutheran Free Church (a predecessor body of the ELCA), and to explore a variety of really interesting places—the Rocky Mountains, Puget Sound, the Columbia River, Norwegian fjords, and the English Channel. Their experiences even included a visit to Svanoe Island, the brothers’ ancestral home on the west coast of Norway.

The quartet appeared at homecoming events at Augsburg (even after graduating), and at various congregations in the Twin Cities area. At one concert, traveling Lutheran evangelist Oscar Hanson heard the quartet sing and was so impressed that he offered to arrange for a tour of Norway in 1961. Hanson (late father of ELCA Presiding Bishop Emeritus Mark Hanson) had served as pastor of a church in Oslo, Norway, and had enough connections to set up a tour that included 55 appearances in the U.S., followed by 25 appearances in Norway.

Most of the group’s concerts in Norway were held in state Lutheran churches, and three in cathedrals. They found their largest crowd in a hall in Bergen, where they filled the facility. That concert holds a special memory for Rennard Svanoe as he recalls one young man climbing onto an open window sill seeking a better view of the quartet, only to land on the ground outside—unharmed, thankfully.

In the Long Term

One notable offshoot of the quartets’ success over the years has been the coming together, since 1993, of numerous former quartet members, to unite in song by participating in the Augsburg Centennial Singers, an all-male choir organized by Strommen, and for some years, directed by him. The group of about 50 continues to perform, and membership has been expanded beyond the former quartets.

Such opportunities can build memories for a lifetime—not to mention long-term friendships. Musical groups tend to have powerful potential to do so. Rennard Svanoe says that singing in the quartet with brothers and a best friend “built in a long-term effect, as we often referred to our experiences over the years.”

When asked if any particular quartet experience stands out as something to truly relish, Rennard Svanoe described a Sunday afternoon concert in Abercrombie, North Dakota, in 1959. As an electrical storm brewed during the first set, the quartet was singing the classical number, “Creation.” As they sang about darkness covering the face of the deep, the lights in the sanctuary went out. Nonetheless, they continued singing—memorization does pay off! The piece continued with words about the Spirit moving over the face of the waters in a prolonged passage that ended with the quartet singing in unison, “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light, light, and there was LIGHT.” At that moment the lights came back on in perfect timing with the song.

As the saying goes, God has a sense of humor—and certainly delights in music. The sense of timing on that blessing was absolutely perfect to the Quartet.

—by Cheryl Crockett ’89

150 Sesquicentennial Norway Arts & Culture trip in May 2020

Led by Darcey Engen ‘88 & Luverne Seifert ‘85

About five years ago, I fell in love (again) with Henrik Ibsen. As an Augsburg graduate, theater artist and Professor, I’ve been reading his plays for over 30 years, but after re-reading An Enemy of the People, my passion for Ibsen’s plays gave me a big mid-life boost. 

It happened shortly after hearing about the Flint Michigan’s water cover-up. My husband, Luverne Seifert who is also an Auggie and a professional actor in the Twin Cities said: “do you remember that play about contaminated water that Ibsen wrote”? Sure enough, after reading our little weathered paperback version, we were forever changed. Turned out that Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People had an uncanny similarity to the contaminated water problem that occurred in Flint Michigan. 

For those of you who need a little reminder, Ibsen’s An Enemy of the People examines how a community responds when a local doctor threatens to expose that the water it relies upon for tourism is being poisoned. The play questions how far a community will go to protect their town’s secret in order to avoid financial ruin. 

The re-read inspired us so much that we created our own adaptation and produced it. Supported by the MN 

State Arts Board, our Sod House Theater Company (Luverne and my theater company we formed in 2011) has performed our unique bluegrass music-infused adaptation to over 15 communities in greater MN. 

Our renewed love of Ibsen also spurred our interest in traveling to Norway in order to experience not just Ibsen’s artistry but all the arts that Norway has to offer!  We are so delighted to be asked to lead the 150 Sesquicentennial Norway Arts & Culture trip in May 2020! Both Luverne and I, as Augsburg Theater graduates (’85 and 88’), find it so meaningful to have the chance to explore our institution’s origins. Both Luverne and I had life-changing experiences at Augsburg—we, like you, had professors that significantly influenced who we are today.  We’re humbled to be leading this trip, for Augsburg, together. Full circle. 

We’d love for you to join us in experiencing all of the amazing activities we have planned in Norway! We’ll visit The National Theater, the Ibsen museum, the incredible Opera House that seems to emerge from the ocean, The Viking Ship Museum, a Stave Church and celebrate Syttende Mai Festival! Come join us in the land the inspired one of the greatest playwrights of all time.  

Pastor Sonja Hagander on Becoming a Pilgrim in Norway – Augsburg Travel Opportunity

Sonja Hagander
Pastor Sonja Hagander

Careful travelers search the internet for maps, cruise over to AAA for their fancy brochures with highlighted directions, giving details on gas stations, food, rating campgrounds, and hotels. If you’re a careful traveler, you probably clean out your refrigerator, dump the garbage, pay your bills, upload all travel apps—and complete this in good time before you depart.

And then there are the spontaneous types—the adventurous ones who prefer to hop in the car and take off out of town, buying licorice and chips and string cheese on the way, making no arrangements about where to lodge– and forgetting toothpaste.

We are pilgrims, those who will hike with me on the 2020 Norway Pilgrimage. Daniel Taylor writes, “What does it mean to say one is always on a pilgrimage? It means, among many things, that one must always be alert. The pilgrim is on the lookout for significance, for signs and rumors of transcendence . . . It means I must look for the holy within the mundane,” (In Search of Sacred Places).

Join me and other pilgrims in this rare opportunity to hike with companions in some of the most gorgeous landscape in the world; we will traverse rivers, be awed by mountain ranges and woodsy paths, and finally set foot in Nidaros, the northernmost cathedral in Europe and our destination in Trondheim, Norway. Our route is the Gudbransdalen Path, which during the Middle Ages was the main road from Oslo to Nidaros (Trondheim).

No matter what kind of traveler you are, you will become a “pilgrim” and experience the holy ground of this route.  Your footsteps, at times challenging, will have the grounding of our travel company who provides expert planning and support, the friendship of other Auggie pilgrims, and the hospitality of our Norwegian hosts throughout the trip.

pilgrimage sign
The Pilgrims Path. Photo: Mattian Jansson /

Two years ago, I led this pilgrimage and here is one participant’s reflection:

Today’s hike was absolutely breath-taking. No pun intended… And the beauty was objective. It was the type of beauty everyone can agree on, not to be portrayed by words or even pictures. I found myself wishing that my mom, dad or close friends could’ve been there too. How am I supposed to have this magic all to myself? When I return home (yuck), I’ll try to share my experience in words, but again, it won’t bring this experience justice – not even close.

We started the hike from Skaun Commune. This space has been popular among fellow hikers, or “pilgrims,” that travel along Pilgrimslea. We followed the blue, “Pilgrimslea” sign up a large, paved road visible from the commune. Slowly, we made our way into the mountains. The trail started off as a leisure walk. The ground was solid and we were able to observe our surroundings as we moved along. This was easy! “Follow the orange, wooden stake, follow the orange, wooden stake.” (That was my attempt at mimicking the “yellow brick road” bit from The Wizard of Oz, however, my version feels much more forced.)

The wooden stakes were marked with red-orange tips and a small marking we called a “squiggle.” Yes, we’re intellects. One of these sat on the outskirts of a heavily wooded area, and we had no choice but to accept it’s invitation.

We made our way down the mountain, each turn instilling us with hope that our destination was near. Well, the trees were probably laughing at us. Towering above, they could see we wouldn’t reach our bed and breakfast for another several hours. And to the trees, we said, “who’s laughing now!” The group was relieved to find our new friend, John. For his presence signified the end of our 10-mile hike. John was the husband of Karen. John and Karen owned a bed and breakfast across the river from where we stood, and it looked promising. We followed John down to the river where we expected to board a ferry. But alas, the ferry we chalked up to be large and Victorian was a small, wooden, five-person boat just wider than a canoe. But at this point, our bodies were sore, knees weak and feet swollen to the point where chuckling was a natural reaction. All aboard!

Across the river, we entered our farmhouse sleeping quarters. Karen opened the green and white striped barn door. Inside, was a room constructed entirely of wooden beams. The dining room was extravagant, with chandeliers hanging about and candles lit up and down the tables. The building was taller than it was wide and with each set of stairs leading to a new level of charm. Trinkets played on every surface, and memories of the past draped the walls. If hobbits were to occupy this town, this would be the hobbit Castle. I don’t think I’ve ever slept in a place so perfect.

Right now, I feel so lucky. I’m in Norway, which is across the world. The bed I’m laying in has been appreciated by so many before me, all with their own reason for sleeping here. That realization alone could set my mind wandering for hours! Each with their own interpretation of the pilgrimage and this gorgeous space that welcomed our desperate bodies. Although, I bet we could all agree on one thing. Today was beautiful.

Contact Katie (Koch) Code ’01, Director of Alumni and Constituent Relations, at or 612-330-1178 if you are interested in learning more about Augsburg’s travel opportunities or to be placed on a list to receive the most up to date information about the trips.

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.

All Are Welcome to the 612 Football Spring Scrimmage

Augsburg vs Carleton Football. Courtesy of Kevin Healy 10-13-2018

You are invited to join Auggie Football for a final practice/scrimmage before the Auggies International Spring Game.

The 2019 spring semester is a unique one for the Augsburg football team because it will culminate with international travel to face the Winnipeg Rifles on Sunday, May 5, at 11 a.m. Before that game takes place, the team will complete their NCAA allotment of padded practices, which is what really makes this situation unique.

In a normal spring semester, NCAA Division III football universities are not permitted to conduct padded practices. All practice must be in shorts and a t-shirt. No contact at all is permitted. The only time a provision is made is if an institution is playing an international spring game. Thus, Augsburg football is one of very few Division III teams that will get an opportunity to practice in full pads this spring.

Our final practice/scrimmage will be on Saturday, April 27, at 1 p.m. There is an open invitation for any alumni (including those who did not play football or any sport) to come and enjoy the scrimmage. We also plan on inviting recruits and parents of our current student-athletes. It will be a great day with a lot of energy and excitement in the air. Please join us for this unique opportunity!

Schedule of Events:

12:30: Arrival and Check-in

1:00: Fast Pace & High Energy-Practice Starts (Fast start – OL vs DL 1v1/Skill 1v1 catch & shake)

2:30: Game Ends

Please register for this event so we know how many to expect. If you have any question, please contact Tunde Agboke via email at

Join the Inaugural Auggie Beer Choir

beer choirDo you like to sing? Do you like to support Auggies?

We hope that you will join us for the inaugural kick off of the Auggie Beer Choir on Tuesday, April 16 from 6:30-9 p.m. open to all Augsburg alumni. We are delighted to be able to gather at the Auggie alumni-owned Boom Island Brewing Company. This event is free to all participants. The option to upgrade for purchase of a meal will be available through Tuesday, April 9. Please note that all beverages (both beer and non-alcoholic choices) are available for purchase on your own. Register today to help us keep an accurate count for music.

The song selection will be a mix of Auggie choir favorites and drinking songs led by Augsburg music directors.

We hope you will “Stay with Us”, and “Look to this Day” as we remember that “In Heaven, there is no Beer”…Manga Tussen!

More Than 1000 Alumni and Community Members Gathered for the Aquarium Expo 2019 in the Hagfors Center

If you missed your chance to visit the Aquarium Expo 2019 in the Hagfors Center this year, you can catch the highlights reel here! The Hagfors Center was packed with more than 1000 people on Saturday, March 23. Attendees of this free event enjoyed creative displays of more than 100 aquaria, presentations from local experts, live demonstrations, and a marketplace.

The Augsburg University Biology Department offered a behind-the-scenes tour of the Hagfors Center to small groups. Professor Bill Capman led the tours showcasing the design and function of the state-of-the-art coral reef/marine aquaria he maintains in the lab. Capman also highlighted the up-and-coming marine breeding lab he is currently setting up. Capman shared his thoughts after the event:

“It really seemed like our visitors were enjoying themselves and were impressed by what they were seeing and experiencing, and by the quality of our facilities. It is one thing to do a lot of publicity and draw people in, but it is another thing to have them actually be happy that they came.” – Bill Capman, Associate Professor of Biology

Check out some great footage from the event courtesy of Natural Dental’s Chue Cha:


A-Club Hosts Happy Hour at Finnegan’s Brewery for Alumni and Auggie Athletics Supporters

Spring Happy HourIt’s been a record-setting year for Augsburg Athletics and we can’t wait to celebrate the kick off of the Spring Season.

The A-Club is hosting its third Happy Hour at alumna-owned Finnegan’s Brewery in the beautiful Brewers Den on Wednesday, March 27 from 5 to 7 p.m. At the event, you will have the chance to hear from Baseball Coach Keith Batman, Softball Coach Melissa Lee ’04, Lacrosse Coach Kathryn Knippenberg, and Track and Field Coach Keith Barnier.

A-Club members, athletic alumni and Auggie Athletics supporters are invited to enjoy complimentary food, beer, and parking. Attendees are invited to bring a nonperishable food item for the Finnegans Reverse Food Truck. Please RSVP your attendance.