Eleanor and John Yackel first became acquainted with Augsburg through the Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE). They took a trip to Nicaragua with the CGEE founder and first director, Professor Joel Mugge, and loved the connections they made with Auggie students through travel. When they returned from their trip, they discussed ways to stay connected with students, stay connected with Augsburg, and ways to encourage travel in higher learning.
“Eleanor had the heart for sharing with others,” says John. “She was the driving force in guiding our philanthropic interests and goals.”
In 1998, Eleanor and John established the first of many endowed scholarships to support students engaging in educational experiences through CGEE. Both believe that higher education serves a purpose greater than just getting a job and making money. Higher education is where students discover their passions and commit to social justice and service to the world.
“My first reaction when hearing about the Students of Color crowdfunding campaign was, ‘Oh I like that!’ It’s timely and necessary right now. Eleanor and I believed in Augsburg. Augsburg is a shining example of an institution that really cares. Their acceptance for all goes way back. Augsburg reaches out to those who are typically ignored. Their focus on their urban neighbors, reaching out to students of color, as well as students in recovery and students with disabilities. Racial and social justice was always important to my wife especially, which is why I’m offering $50,000 as a matching challenge for the Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies Scholarship initiative in her honor.”
John is calling on the Augsburg community to support students through the new Critical Race and Ethnicity Studies program. You may give online by clicking here, or you can contact Ilse Rolf ‘93 in our Institutional Advancement office at 612-330-1512 or email@example.com.
Kris attended Augsburg carrying on a family tradition of Auggies majoring in Psychology. Her parents Jim E. Peterson ’50 and Gladys M. Dahlberg ’52 met at Augsburg, fell in love, and were married after Jim completed seminary at Luther Seminary.
“I remember my first week at Augsburg I called and said I want to come home. I missed my mom’s home cooked meals, I hated living in the dorms. My dad said no, you have to live there at least one year and have that college experience and then you can decide next year. He was right. Two weeks in I absolutely loved it,” says Kris.
Kris pursued a career with the airline industry for many years. Then in 2009, she left to pursue a career in real estate with faith-based company Keller Williams. Faith has always been important to Kris and her family. Kris’s grandfather, uncle, and great-uncle were also Lutheran ministers.
“My parents tithed 10% regardless, before food or anything else. That was instilled in me very young. To the church, Augsburg, etc. In order to keep things running, they need money. I think it’s important for all alumni to give at any level. You don’t need to give $25K. Even $20 is important. If everyone gave that much, think of what that adds up to,” says Kris.
Over the years, Kris has continued to stay involved with Augsburg, serving on the Board and Augsburg Women Engaged Advisory Council. And now she has established a new scholarship – the Kristine Pearson Endowed Scholarship – to support women becoming ordained ministers in the Evangelical Lutheran Church of America (ELCA).
“My parents have a scholarship at Augsburg in memory of their parents, in Physicians’ Assistant studies. As I was doing estate planning I was thinking about where I would want some of my money to go. Augsburg means a lot to me because I’m an alumna, but also because my parents met there,” says Kris. “I’m an ELCA delegate to my church, we have a female bishop which I love, and we don’t have enough women going into seminary.”
Kris hopes her scholarship will help students overcome the financial burden of a higher education. She also hopes her scholarship will encourage others to think about endowing scholarships – now or as part of their retirement or estate plan.
“Thankfully we have those that can give big gifts and we need them, but in order to serve our students, we need everyone to participate. My generation, the Boomers, are not the tithers our parents were. But I think we need to get back to giving more. I would encourage people to look at what $20/month would look like in their budget.”
“I love Advent Vespers. I’ve been going for 30+ years. This year, we’re not going to have Vespers, Velkommen Jul, and some of those things that rejuvenate us as an Augsburg community. So I would encourage people to take some time to go back and study the history of Augsburg and how Augsburg was founded, the campus, Murphy Square, and Luther Seminary’s affiliate history with Augsburg and be proud of the fact that you are part of a great institution.”
Karen’s family has a long history with Augsburg. She attended Augsburg, graduating in 1967. Karen’s brother and nephew also went to Augsburg. Her uncle, Conrad Sunde, left his estate to Augsburg after multiple conversations with Jeroy Carlson, a senior development officer for Augsburg known as “Mr. Augsburg.”
“I have always thought of giving to Augsburg,” Karen says.
Philanthropy also runs deep with her family. When Karen was 10 years old, her small town raised money to build a hospital. She remembers her family not having much money, but her parents still made a pledge.
David was the first in his family to go to college. Growing up in Minneapolis, Augsburg was the obvious choice for higher education because he could live at home and still work while in school. David’s parents also regularly gave to their church and supported missionaries, instilling a sense of philanthropy in him at a young age.
The Haugen’s both credit Augsburg’s great education as the start of their successful careers. David went to graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for biochemistry and felt he was as well prepared as any student.
“The buildings, campus, so many accommodations for people with disabilities, so much diversity. All the emphasis on working with people in the neighborhood is so inspiring. And seeing the new building and labs now is so impressive,” says David.
The couple established the David and Karen (Jacobson) Haugen Endowed Scholarship Fund through a portion of their estate. The scholarship will support students majoring in the sciences.
“For us, giving a large sum of money now is not possible. But, we’re so glad we can do it from our estate, because that is possible. I’m glad this is an option,” says Karen.
Karen and David hope that the scholarship will encourage students to consider a career in science, or at least an opportunity to be literate in science.
Approximately 4 out of every 10 college students are experiencing food insecurity because of Covid-19. Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE), together with Campus Cupboard, is sponsoring a week-long fundraiser to support these students. Augsburg’s Campus Cupboard (CC) provides food to Augsburg students by making deliveries both on-campus and off-campus. They estimate serving up to 75 students per week this fall semester. CC partners with Loaves and Fishes to purchase high quality food. Did you know a 20-pound grocery bag for an Augsburg student costs $2.60? A donation of $104 will provide grocery bags for up to 40 Augsburg students!
Please consider supporting Campus Cupboard by making a gift between September 21st-25th, in any amount online at www.augsburg.edu/giving and select the “Campus Kitchen” designation.
Your donation will make a significant difference for so many Augsburg students.
Augsburg is gearing up for this year’s Give to the Max Day! This year’s goal is to have 1,869 Augsburg donors participate during Give to the Max Day, which would make it our largest giving day ever!
Auggie passion is the fuel that drives strong donations on Give to the Max Day, and that’s why it is Augsburg’s biggest fundraising day of the year. It is exciting and inspiring to hear your personal stories about Augsburg and why you are passionate about supporting a particular cause.
So far we have the projects listed below fundraising this year during GTMD, with more participating every day. If you would like to help advocate for one of these projects, or advocate for a new project, we would love to hear from you. You can send in a 45-60 second video of yourself sharing what inspired you at Augsburg, and you can be featured in our Give to the Max Day campaign.
Please contact Chris Bogen ‘09 by October 15th with videos or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A few years ago, Mark Johnson ’75 updated his estate plans to include Augsburg. He wanted his estate gift to honor Professor Joel Torstenson, the “father” of Sociology at Augsburg who started the Metro-Urban Studies program at Augsburg in 1971. Mark was one of the first students to graduate from Augsburg’s Metro-Urban Studies program, now called Urban Studies. He also went on Augsburg’s first Scandinavian Urban Studies Semester trip to Oslo, Norway. Mark’s gift will fund a professorship for faculty in the Urban Studies or Sociology departments.
Mark has been very involved at Augsburg since graduating in 1975. Along with joining the Board of Regents, Mark has been in constant contact with the Urban Studies and Sociology departments. And his connection has gone above and beyond monetary gifts.
“Community involvement is important,” Mark said. “My job was a chance to encourage people to reach out beyond themselves and to seek ways to be a bridge builder of relationships.”
As Mark witnessed the impact of quality faculty in today’s educational environment, he wanted to support the transformational effect of an education rich in experiences. This is why he started the Torstenson Scholars in 2015.
Joel Torstenson came to Augsburg as a history major from rural West Central Minnesota. After graduating in 1938, he worked in education for farmer’s co-ops. He began teaching part-time at Augsburg upon earning a master’s degree in history and sociology. During the war years, he became involved in the peace movement and participated in establishing a cooperative farm community, which led to employment with Midland Cooperatives as an educational director and community organizer. In the fall of 1947, President Christensen invited him back to Augsburg to develop its programs in social work and sociology while completing his doctorate in sociology at the University of Minnesota.
Today, the legacy of Joel Torstenson lives on through the Torstenson Scholars program, sociology and metro-urban studies majors, the Strommen Center for Meaningful Work, HECUA, and the college-wide “Engaging Minneapolis” requirement. Torstenson’s work also gave birth to the college-wide requirement that started as the “Urban Concern,” which was succeeded by the “City Perspective,” and is now known as the “Engaging Minneapolis” requirement.
Students in the Torstenson Scholars program are financially supported for one academic year, which includes a research trip with the Sociology or Urban Studies department. Mark’s funding has been used in four significant trips: a research trip to Vanuatu in September of 2018; two research trips to Williston, North Dakota, in 2017 and 2019 to study the effects of the oil boom on a small town; and a community research project in Two Harbors, Minnesota, Mark’s hometown.
As a Regent, Mark came to understand the significant positive impact of philanthropy at Augsburg.
“The question always has been: How can we manage change for the good of all?” says Mark.
He didn’t want to wait for the day when the estate gift would arrive at Augsburg’s door. Instead, he decided to launch the Torstenson Professorship now so he can actively participate in the things that will be supported by gifts in his estate plan. Mark also wants to encourage his fellow Auggies to join him in honoring Professor Torstenson.
Mark has seeded the endowed professorship fund with a gift of $50,000 and an available match of another $100,000. He hopes others will join him by giving to the fund to remember Joel’s legacy.
“Joel touched many lives and I think a contribution to the professorship is a great way to commemorate that. All contributors to this fund – a small gift or large gift – will be acknowledged equally,” says Mark.
Until the endowed fund reaches $250,000, Mark is funding the professorship annually.
“We are so grateful to Mark Johnson for his generosity and vision in honoring the Torstenson legacy at Augsburg with this professorship,” says President Paul Pribbenow. “It is particularly meaningful to me that Professor Tim Pippert will be the first incumbent of the Torstenson Endowed Professor. I have had the privilege to teach with Tim and to witness his commitment to our students.”
Professor Timothy Pippert joined the Augsburg faculty in 1999. He holds bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degrees from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. His teaching interests center on family systems, juvenile delinquency, homelessness and affluence, statistics, research methods, and race, class, and gender. In 2011, he received the Distinguished Contributions to Teaching and Learning – Excellence in Teaching Award.
If you would like to donate to the Torstenson Professorship, or are interested in funding a new professorship, please contact Amy Alkire at email@example.com or 651-323-4844.
Dennis King ’70 credits Augsburg with helping him develop the tools and mind-set needed to succeed in life.
“I did not fully realize this during my professional career. It hit me when I retired and looked at my life in retrospect.”
His career, first in Spanish Language Education and then International Business in Latin America, stretched his mind to work successfully in other cultures, languages, and with divergent points of view.
Dennis studied at Augsburg in the late 60’s when the Canadian Philosopher, Marshall McLuhan, was widely read regarding media. He coined the phrase “Global Village” and in many respects predicted the World Wide Web and the inevitable move toward globalization.
“All of this transformed me along the way.”
Dennis established the Dennis and Anita King Endowed Fund to honor his wife, Anita. Dennis met Anita at Augsburg before she transferred to the University of Minnesota. Anita supported and participated in Dennis’s professional journey throughout their 42 years of marriage. Dennis hopes that this gift will help other Auggies on their path to find the same kind of fulfillment that he found.
“I believe the Study Abroad Program at Augsburg University is the vehicle to do this.”
When alumna Naomi ’81 and her husband, Steve, updated their will this past April, they knew Augsburg University would be part of their legacy.
“Augsburg and the people who have become my lifelong friends – both fellow students, alumni colleagues, and faculty – have been a large part of how my life continues to be molded and shaped.”
Naomi grew up in a family dedicated to faith. When she was a child, her father would often speak about stewardship and using what God gives us to continue God’s purposes here on earth.
“I recall a small white church coin bank that I received as a child. I collected my coins in that bank until it was time to make the gift to the church. Emptying the whole thing was exciting. I can see it as cathartic now, liberating in a way.”
Naomi graduated from Augsburg in 1981 with a degree in Elementary Education. As a student, she was captivated by Leland B. Sateren’s dedication to all things Augsburg music, especially in the context of sacred texts.
She reflects that, “singing for Lee made the scriptures come alive!” That experience, as well as 40+ more years of singing in several metro area choirs, is the reason she and Steve made a significant gift to the Leland B. Sateren Choral Music Scholarship.
Naomi also fondly remembers working for both President Oscar Anderson and President Chuck Anderson. “Despite their leadership responsibilities, both presidents made a point to have a working relationship with me as a student.” In addition, she was spellbound learning from and about Bernhard and Gracia Christensen through their devotion to the institution. These examples of leadership are inspiration to Naomi, enlightening how to best approach relationships of all sorts and informing the legacy gift to the Bernhard Christensen Center for Vocation.
The Staruch’s are photographed here with an Augsburg Water Droplet. Benefactors who choose to invest in an endowed scholarship receive a handmade glass water droplet crafted by Anchor Bend Glassworks.
Becky Bjella Nodland ’79 was once a young person yearning to put her passion for music into practice but lacking the means to do so. Being able to face and overcome that challenge changed her life, just as she hopes the endowed music scholarship that she and her husband, Jeffrey Nodland ’77, are donating will change other young lives.
Growing up in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, Becky was one of the “middle kids” in a family of eight. All were musicians, but college funds were lacking. Without a “great scholarship—all four years” and robust work-study program, Becky, who played string bass and organ and sang in the Augsburg Concert Choir, could not have attended Augsburg at all. She chose the school because it was then one of only two in the country that offered a music therapy program, which intrigued her.
“Augsburg was so innovative that way,” she recalls. “But the program was so new that it scared me. I talked to the seniors, and they were not finding jobs. I really needed a job when I graduated, so I switched to music education.” Today, of course, music therapy is a vibrant field. “There is a real need for it in the world,” Becky adds, although she has no regrets. Music education proved a flexible and rewarding choice; she taught for 10 years before her son was born. She is a choral arranger, organist, and accompanist as well as a music educator, has directed adult and youth church choirs, and currently serves on Augsburg’s Music Advisory Council. She has also instilled a love for music in her son and daughter, Emily Nodland ’18, an elementary education major.
Her years on campus were a “very positive experience. I made lifelong friends. The professors were incredible and very strong mentors for me,” says Becky, citing choir with Leland Sateren, organ with Stephen “Gabe” Gabrielsen, and orchestra with Robert Karlén, all now deceased but renowned for their decades of service to Augsburg’s music department. She was also involved in Lutheran Youth Encounter, and, as a freshman, met transfer student Jeffrey Nodland, a junior business major immersed in campus leadership activities. After graduating, Jeff attended night classes to earn his MBA at the University of St. Thomas. He and Becky married in 1980.
Jeff spent the first 17 years of his career in various management positions with the Valspar Corporation, which transferred the young family out of Minnesota in 1982. He recently retired as the president and CEO of KIK Custom Products (CIP), one of North America’s largest manufacturers of national-brand consumer products, such as Johnson & Johnson, Procter & Gamble, and L’Oreal. Although the Nodlands have lived in The Woodlands, Texas, since 2001, Jeff joined the Augsburg Board of Regents in 2010 and is happy to once again be involved with their alma mater.
“I have been extraordinarily impressed with President Paul Pribbenow’s leadership and how they have leveraged themselves in the marketplace,” Jeff says. Such innovative programs as CLASS (Center for Learning and Accessible Student Services) and StepUP are “very inspiring. It’s so great to see the commitment. Paul has done an amazing job.”
When the couple began talking about endowing a scholarship, music made perfect sense. “Becky got her music degree at Augsburg, and music is a part of my life, too,” says Jeff. Adds Becky: “I am so happy to be able to do it. Hopefully it will help someone else the way someone helped me.”
While Jay Brizel ’87 sat at the defense table in a Florida courtroom in 2019, helping to keep defendant Jimmy Rodgers off death row, he was wearing an Augsburg lapel pin. Years earlier, while serving with the U.S. Army in Desert Shield and Desert Storm, he wore an Augsburg t-shirt under his chemical suit. His college days may be long gone, but his relationship with his alma mater is here to stay.
He contends that he is hardly alone. “If you dig deep enough, everywhere you look, there’s going to be an Augsburg connection,” says Brizel.
Back in the day, he was the rare freshman who had never laid eyes on the Augsburg campus until the day before he was slated to show up for football camp in Willmar. Born and bred in Miami and recruited by head coach Al Kloppen for his punting prowess, the young athlete knew little about Minnesota’s terrain or formidable winters, but he knew hospitality when he saw it. Charles S. Anderson, Augsburg’s president at the time, used to seek him out, as did the late campus pastor Dave Wold.
“It was a very welcoming place, and I always knew that people wanted me to succeed up there,” Brizel says. He is honoring that legacy with a recurring gift to the sports medicine department.
“I wasn’t the best student, but I liked playing football, and the people who took care of me were the sports medicine people,” he explains. “They were always there, no matter how early I got to the locker room. They trained us, they taped us, and when we could barely move our bodies, they got us ready to play again.”
Just a few credits short of graduation, Brizel left Augsburg in 1987 to join the army and work as an armorer on Apache helicopters. After serving in the Gulf War, he finished school and earned his law degree at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale. He started out as a public defender in central Florida, then spent 16 years in private practice. Eventually, he returned to public service, where the paycheck is reduced but the endeavor rewarding. A Ft. Myers resident since 1997, he now devotes his time to handling homicide cases and death penalty challenges while also mentoring young attorneys. He claims that retirement is out of the question; he is too busy having “an absolute blast” training the newbies.
“I’m having the time of my life getting the next generation of lawyers ready to defend the Constitution,” he says. “I can tell you that there is a bright future for freedom in this country. A whole group of young people are not going to freely give up their rights or the rights of others.”
Brizel also coached high school football for 13 years. Although he worries about concussions and wishes the game were safer, he does not want it to die. He treasures the memories. “I loved playing the game and I loved playing it for Augsburg. It was an awesome, awesome experience. This is the best way to give back to both,” he says about his ongoing philanthropy. “I love the school, I love its mission, and I love what Augsburg has turned out to be. I have always believed that an Auggie is going to change the world.”