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Augsburg Alumna Joins U of M’s Board of Regents

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 (Contributed photo by Mayo Clinic)
Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74
Contributed photo by Mayo Clinic

Dr. Ruth Johnson ’74 has been elected to the Board of Regents of the University of Minnesota, representing the First Congressional District. She credits her time on Augsburg’s board as a major contribution to her being elected to the U of M’s board.

Augsburg University

Ruth had a number of influences that led her to choose Augsburg as an undergraduate. She grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs, so she knew of Augsburg. Her family was also active in their large, vibrant Lutheran congregation, where Dr. Ted Hanwick, Augsburg’s first chairman of the Physics Department, was also a member. Ruth sought a college with excellent academics, a Lutheran faith background, with a preference for an urban location. Dr. Hanwick encouraged her to explore Augsburg.

Halfway through her senior year of high school, Ruth’s father passed away. During his illness, she spent time in hospitals with her father. Also, since age 16, she had worked in the hospital pharmacy where her father was Chief of Pharmacy. All these experiences pivoted her interests to pre-med.

“My first love was languages and I planned to pursue a Ph.D. in English or Spanish. But all I saw in hospitals moved me to a career in medicine. There’s so much a person can do in terms of advances in science and in patient care, all of which can make such a difference in people’s lives,” says Ruth.

After graduating summa cum laude with majors in chemistry and biology and a minor in religion, Ruth went on to graduate from Mayo Medical School and completed her internal medicine residency at Mayo Graduate School of Medicine.

Ruth was the first woman associate director of the Internal Medicine Residency program at Mayo Clinic and chaired the Bioethics Courses at Mayo Medical School. She later devoted 17 years to the Mayo Clinic MD-PhD Admissions Committee. She founded the Mayo Diagnostic Breast Clinic in 1993. It was shortly after this that then Augsburg President Charles Anderson invited Ruth to join the Board of Regents. Dr. John Holum, an Organic Chemistry professor and one of Ruth’s favorite professors at Augsburg, recommended her.

“I thought, ‘I love Augsburg and this is a great chance to re-engage in a new way and contribute to the college.’ It was a very meaningful experience,” says Ruth.

Early on in her stint as a board member, Ruth was involved in the fundraising and celebration of the Lindell Library, which opened in 1997. By the late 90’s, she was helping with foundational work that would lead to the creation of the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion. Among the work Ruth is proudest of during her time as a Regent is sparking the idea for Augsburg’s Rochester Campus.

“My work with nurses at Mayo Clinic made me aware that many nurses in Rochester were certificate RN’s without a baccalaureate degree. Because of this, their career advancement was limited and there was no readily available way to complete a BSN. Augsburg’s Weekend College had already had years of experience offering degree programs for adults. I went to then President Bill Frame and suggested Augsburg create a degree program in Rochester.”

University of Minnesota

In 2020, Ruth was approached by the alumni and friends of the University of Minnesota to join their Board. Her educational leadership at Mayo Clinic was well known, as was her 16 years on Augsburg’s Board of Regents.

“When you’re on a board, it’s about governance, higher level, big picture thinking. It’s not managing, that’s the administration’s job. My 16 years with three different presidents at Augsburg meant I knew how a board functions, this was a strong background for me,” says Ruth. “Augsburg also has a really excellent reputation among legislators, they know Augsburg has done good work and they know those values are part of my work.”

Ruth was elected in a joint legislative session held on March 15, 2021 for a six-year term.

Augsburg will always be part of Ruth’s life, though. At Augsburg, Ruth loved getting to know fellow regents, alumni, faculty, and students. Ruth is also married to Phil Quanbeck II, Ph.D., Associate Professor in the Department of Religion at Augsburg University.

“It’s a great place and a privilege to be involved with such an incredible group of people.”

She is now looking forward to her work with the U of M, and to connecting to the people she will work with over the next six years.

3M’s CFO Nick Gangestad ‘86 Shares Sound Advice for Augsburg Business and Accounting Students

Nick Gangestad talking to students and facultyEarly in his career, 3M’s CFO Nick Gangestad ‘86 created an excel spreadsheet to map out his professional development and possible future jobs. As a planner and an accountant, Gangestad jokes that excel seemed like the only application to use.

Augsburg’s Business Administration Department recently welcomed Gangestad to campus to share with students his advice as they begin their careers. The room was eager to hear about Gangestad’s vocational journey and the steps he found most valuable during his impressive career at 3M. Gangestad encouraged the students to have goals and a plan in mind and to share those goals with their future supervisors. He said there were a number of times in his career when sharing his future hopes opened doors to new and fruitful experiences.

Among the key takeaways from Gangestad’s talk were to establish a personal brand. Gangestad said there were more than 1000 accountants working at 3M back when he was just starting out at the company. He worked to establish a brand that was true to him but also differentiated him.

“I had a brand around being a teacher,” Gangestad said, “and that I could explain concepts to people that most other people couldn’t and I could do it in a way that people could understand.”

Gangestad talks to students and facultyHe told students that it’s important to try to be the first to do something and to think about what you want to be known for. He also encouraged them to take risks. Gangestad has enjoyed the times in his career when he has worked abroad and found value in the challenges and opportunities that made him uncomfortable allowing him to grow as a person.

Gangestad also mentioned the ways in which he has chosen to get involved and give back to his community which includes serving on the Board of Regents at Augsburg.

“The Business Administration Department is very grateful that a man as busy as Nick Gangestad would take so much time to share his extremely impressive vocational journey with our students,” Professor of Economics Jeanne Boeh said after the talk. “Our students left with so many good ideas and strategies for their career moving forward in addition to the important meta message of giving back to the community.”

About Nick Gangestad (from 3M’s Corporate Officer’s page)

Nick Gangestad, 3M’s chief financial officer, grew up on a farm in Iowa intending to pursue a traditional accounting practice. That’s certainly the path he started down, earning a bachelor’s degree in accounting followed by an MBA. But when he was in college, Nick participated in a corporate student program at 3M that started him down a different path. That was almost three decades ago.

“Three aspects of 3M changed my mind,” Nick recalls. “This place operates like a family. I saw opportunities to do it all while working for one company. And I liked how 3M developed people.”

Now, he’s such a big believer in the company that he has a framed copy of the McKnight Principles hanging on his wall at 3M headquarters. William L. McKnight was a longtime 3M CEO whose management philosophy – of allowing room for the kind of experimentation that leads to breakthrough innovations – has shaped the company.

Innovation is clearly appealing to Nick, who was the first student in his high school to buy a computer. He was almost certainly the first student to start his own business, when he began programming videogames and selling them to his classmates. But he also hasn’t wandered too far afield from his first love of accounting.

Nick began at 3M in 1987 as a systems analyst in the company’s finance office. He became a plant accountant a few years later, followed by financial analyst and financial manager roles in various divisions in the U.S., Latin America, and the Asia Pacific regions. In 2003, Nick was named vice president of Finance and Information Technology for 3M Canada. In 2007, Nick returned to Minnesota to direct corporate accounting for the company, followed in 2011 by a new role as corporate controller and chief accounting officer. In 2014, he was named 3M’s chief financial officer.

Outside of work, Nick and his family enjoy sailing, supporting the arts, home renovation, traveling and hosting travelers and – of course – cheering on the Minnesota Twins.

Remembering Martin Sabo

2011 scholarship brunch photo, (from left) Martin Sabo, Juventino Meza Rodriguez, Sylvia Sabo, Renee Van Siclen, and Ben Krouse-Gagne for the Martin Olav and Sylvia Lee Sabo Scholarship for Leadership in Public and Community Service.
2011 scholarship brunch photo, (from left) Martin Sabo, Juventino Meza, Sylvia Sabo, Renee Van Siclen, and Ben Krouse-Gagne for the Martin Olav and Sylvia Lee Sabo Scholarship for Leadership in Public and Community Service.

With great sadness, Augsburg College announced the loss of U.S. Representative Martin Sabo on March 14, 2016. Sabo, a 1959 alumnus of Augsburg College, was a national leader and public servant, and an inspirational legend dedicated to revitalizing the role of higher education in equipping students for active engagement in citizenship and democracy.

Sabo led a full and accomplished life, and the many heartfelt remembrances that have been shared since his passing are a testament to the impact he made in our community and nation as a member of the Minnesota House of Representatives and the College’s Board of Regents. On the College’s website, you’ll find a tribute to the remarkable work and contributions that Martin and his wife, Sylvia, have made to Augsburg.

Augsburg has been blessed by the life and work of Martin Sabo. He will be greatly missed and long remembered. Our thoughts are with his family, including Martin and Sylvia’s daughters, Karin (Sabo) Mantor ’86 and Julie Sabo ’90, and their families.

President Paul Pribbenow spoke about the enormous impact of Martin Sabo with WCCO, and the state, and local and national media covered Sabo’s passing extensively.

Augsburg is deeply honored to be able to carry on Sabo’s legacy with the important work of the Martin Olav Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, where he remained active. Since 1995, 96 Auggies have had the distinction of being Sabo Scholars, awarded to juniors and seniors who have interest in and a commitment to engagement in the political process, public policy, and/or careers in public service.

Professor Phil Adamo learned about Martin Sabo’s passing while he was in the midst of writing a piece about Sabo that describes Sabo’s history, time at Augsburg, and run “For members of the College community,” Adamo writes, “Representative Sabo will always be a part of Augsburg. We knew him when.” Please enjoy this excerpt from professor Phil Adamo’s sesquicentennial history of Augsburg College. Harry Boyte, senior scholar in public work philosophy for the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship, shared in a recent Huffington Post article his experiences working with the late Martin Olav Sabo ’59. Continue reading “Remembering Martin Sabo”