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Bruce ’71 and Pam Santerre Believe in Second Chances

Bruce and Pam smile at the camera in formal wear.Bruce ’71 and Pam Santerre believe in second chances, leading them to help others who want to evolve, and that’s why they give to the StepUP Program at Augsburg University.

Bruce, a biology and education major, said growing up in northern Minnesota he felt like there were few career paths if he stayed, but he had other plans.  

Upon visiting Augsburg, Bruce like many “Auggies” fell in love with the campus and city life. He would go on to enroll at the university and join the football team, playing for four years while finishing his studies.

Unlike Bruce, Pam, an English major, was native to the cities. She lived in South Minneapolis, knew people who attended Augsburg, and her church had an affiliation with the school.

Pam said she knew she wanted to go to college, but at the time there weren’t many career opportunities for women. However, Pam would find her opportunity at Augsburg and work for a number of organizations while putting herself through school.

“We [Bruce and her] formed many lifelong friendships at Augsburg,” Pam said. “That’s just one of the reasons why Augsburg is at the forefront of our minds’ when it comes to giving back.”

The Santerres met at Augsburg and were married shortly after Bruce graduated. Six weeks later, he was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, MO, for National Guard training. 

When he arrived back in Minnesota, Bruce began teaching as a substitute teacher for the Minneapolis school system. And Pam was working at the Lutheran Brotherhood, now Thrivent, which started her longtime career in information technology.

Pam received her master’s degree in theology and a certificate in spiritual direction, while working at Andersen Windows, where she later retired from. She continued her spiritual direction practice, companioning people who are exploring a deeper experience of the divine presence.  

“A lot of what we do is at a spiritual level and basis,” Bruce said. “This aligns with a core value in the StepUP program.”

While completing his doctorate degree, Bruce, now a retired high school principal, wrote his dissertation on spirituality and leadership. He said part of that experience helped him understand the impact of spirituality in our [people’s] lives’.

“There’s a soft spot in our hearts for the work that the StepUP program is doing,” they said. “So many of those kids are overcoming some of the most incredible odds, and what we’ve seen from Augsburg, in helping their students, we want to be a part of.”

You too can play an integral part in helping Augsburg University students on their growth and evolution toward a brighter future. Learn more and get involved.

Justin Grammens ’96 Helps STEM Students By Giving

Justin smalls for the photo in front of a blurred backgroundJustin Grammens ’96 is a mathematics major who grew up in Minneapolis. His mother was a teacher for Minneapolis public schools, and his father worked as a doctor at Fairview Riverside, located across the street from Augsburg.

Grammens said he was familiar with the area and Augsburg, and one aspect that drew him to the school were the small class sizes which gave him a better connection to his classmates and instructors.

“My original plan was to start at a liberal arts school [Augsburg], then transfer to an engineering school,” Grammens said. “But when I transferred from Augsburg, I was sitting in a classroom with hundreds of other students and being taught by a TA, and I felt like why am I here?”

He ended up transferring back to Augsburg and completing his degree. But Grammens said it wasn’t just the small class sizes that inspired him to return to Augsburg, it was also the urban environment and the abundance of diversity that Augsburg offers.

At Augsburg, Grammens was able to build relationships with many different people that he maintained after graduation. He has even come back to campus on multiple occasions and spoken with students majoring in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields about his career.

Grammens is an adjunct professor at the University of St. Thomas, teaching a class for their masters of software engineering program. He said that he is proud to bring the skills that he learned at Augsburg and share them with his students.

“A lot of the classes at Augsburg were exploratory and non-traditional,” Grammens said. “It was really about thought process, application, collaboration, and problem solving.”

Around 2006, he started a company that was one of the first in the Twin Cities to develop mobile apps for major companies, and that’s when he said he felt like he had the income to give back.

“It breaks my heart if somebody is kicking butt in math, chemistry, or physics, and they know they want to be an engineer, but the barrier is just that they don’t have the money,” Grammens said. “I’m passionate about giving to STEM programs because those students are working with technologies that are changing our lives, and I want to support that.”

Grammens continues to make a positive impact on the lives of Augsburg students with annual donations to STEM programs, and you can too.

Donate to STEM programs and support Augsburg students as they conduct research with faculty, attend and present at national conferences, and hear from leading researchers.

Any gift made to any program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge!

Learn more ways to give.

Lewis Nelson ’00 Encourages You to Get Involved with Giving

Over one thousand miles away Lewis Nelson ’00, a history major, sat in front of a map in his office, which was posted behind him on the wall, meticulously pinned with various places he had visited.Lewis Nelson kneels on a football field with football and a helmet posing for the photo

Graduating high school from a small town in Wisconsin, Nelson reflected on why he initially chose Augsburg University–because of the urban environment, sense of community, and football.

But during his freshman year, Nelson, like many freshmen, felt the struggle of adapting to the new environment at first.

“And then, I started meeting more people,” Nelson said. “I began to participate in activities and student organizations, and I just got more involved on campus.”

His pitch rose with excitement, speaking about how he became an orientation leader and joined the Augsburg Student Activity Council.

Once he was fully immersed in the culture, Nelson said he was enamored by Augsburg’s diversity, and through it he learned that he could get along with anybody from anywhere.

Not long after graduation, Nelson joined the U.S. Army, where his experience at Augsburg gave him a leg up on his peers, he said.

“Augsburg helped me cultivate vital skills such as critical thinking and leadership,” said Nelson. “Skills that continue to serve me today, and that’s why I give.”

Lewis in a cap and gown holding his diploma poses for a photo under a tree with his mom.Nelson’s giving journey began when he received a call from a student about the Augsburg Fund. Since then, Nelson has made a habit of giving.

He said giving to Augsburg gives him a sense of pride and keeps the legacy alive, and upholds the value of a degree that has meant so much to all the students that attend Augsburg University.

“The feeling of giving back to the place that made me who I am today not only gives me personal pleasure, but it brings joy to other people’s lives’,” Nelson said. ”I encourage anyone to give what they can.”

You can donate to the Augsburg Fund and/or student organizations like the ones that made such an impact on Nelson’s life by visiting Augsburg’s giving page.

Any gift made to any program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge!

Experience a life of giving with Wayne Kendrick ’68

When Wayne Kendrick ’68, a religion and math major, enrolled at Augsburg as a junior, he was in the process of change. Wayne Kendrick smiles for a photo in front of a wooden backdrop

He spent years working towards becoming an actuary, but not long after his adult baptism, Kendrick would hear life calling him in a different direction. 

That’s when he started searching for Lutheran schools to attend. Kendrick said he wanted one with a different atmosphere than that which he had been accustomed to, mostly growing up in western South Dakota. 

Before even visiting Augsburg, Kendrick was drawn to the idea of a Lutheran college located in an area with vast cultural diversity and educational opportunities.

“I had a saying that I went by when I was in college,” Kendrick said. “Education shouldn’t get in the way of your life’s education.”

Kendrick recounted doing volunteer night patrols with the Way Center on the troubled streets of North Minneapolis and participating in a march for fair housing in Milwaukee with his college roommate and Father Groppi. He attributed these memories to an enriched college and life experience. 

“Although I only attended Augsburg for two years, it had a real profound impact on my life,” Kendrick said with a look of fondness and appreciation. 

After graduating, his giving journey began when he purchased a life insurance policy with Augsburg as the beneficiary. Kendrick would go on to enroll at Luther Seminary in Saint Paul and would later become a pastor. 

Kendrick continues to give back to the community that has influenced his life so immensely with multiple donations to the StepUp® program and an annual gift to the Augsburg Fund. 

“I know without our [donor’s] gifts, large or small, Augsburg simply wouldn’t exist,” Kendrick said. “It’s not just enough to be appreciative, one must also make sure that others can enjoy the benefits that we, ourselves, have enjoyed.”

Join Kendrick and ensure students have an opportunity to receive the educational and life experiences they deserve by making your donation today! 

Any gift made to any program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge!

Learn more ways to give.

ANNE RICHTER SUPPORTS THE TEAMWORK IN GIVING

Like many Augsburg University alumni, Anne Richter 86 said she was thankful to have professors and mentors that were passionate about teaching and giving students opportunities to excel in academics and athletics. Anne Richter smiles for a photo in a dark room on the couch

Now, Richter wants to give present and future students the same opportunities and wonderful experiences she had at Augsburg.

“Augsburg helped me grow up and experience the world and was an important next step in my life,” Richter said. “It’s a place where you find community, friendship, and a foundation.”

This is the 40th year anniversary from when Richter chose to attend Augsburg in 1982 for academics and to play volleyball and softball. She graduated with a degree in psychology and would later go on to be inducted into the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012.  

After graduation, Richter got a graduate assistantship at St. Cloud State as an assistant volleyball coach. A position that her volleyball coach at Augsburg, Marilyn Pearson Florian, helped her secure.  

Richter started giving back to Augsburg a few years ago when a gift officer approached her about supporting construction for a new volleyball women’s locker room, a cause that spoke to her.

Since then, Richter has given to the women’s softball and volleyball programs. She also made contributions to the Patricia Piepenburg ’69 Women’s Locker Room, which recently opened during the Great Returns: We’re All In – All School Reunion.

Richter knows that giving is a team effort, that’s why she reaches out to other Augsburg alumni, friends, and athletes and encourages them to give.

One of her favorite giving campaigns is Give to the Max, Augsburg’s annual day of giving. Richter said she enjoys seeing all the different opportunities there are to give and is excited to know that Augsburg students are receiving help from people who care.

“Our [donor’s] gifts are critical to the foundation of Augsburg,” Richter said. “They allow the university to provide the best professors and facilities to support the best students.”

Give to the Augsburg University Volleyball program and/or join A-Club and support Augsburg athletes as they strive to excel on and off the field, and any gift made to any program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge!

Learn more ways to give.

Remembering Sylvia Ann Sabo

Sylvia Ann Sabo (nee Lee), 85, passed away on October 26, 2022. Sylvia Sabo sits at a table and does a puzzle.

Sylvia attended St. Olaf College in Northfield, MN, and became a registered nurse. Her close connection to Augsburg began when she returned to Minneapolis, after spending a year as a traveling nurse, and married her husband, Martin Olav Sabo ’59.

U.S. Representative Martin Olav Sabo ‘59, who passed away at age 78 on March 13, 2016, was a lifelong public servant who exemplified the progressive approach and personal integrity that were modeled in his Lutheran upbringing and education. 

Sylvia also found meaning in service. She was a long-time member of the Augsburg Associates, serving on the board and working on estate sales, events, and fundraising for the scholarship support of Augsburg students.

In addition, Sylvia was an active member of the Seward neighborhood in Minneapolis, a PTA president, and participated in the Seward community orchestra, an assembly of amateur neighborhood musicians. She also enjoyed singing at the Trinity Lutheran Church on Riverside Avenue. The couple had two children, Karin Mantor ‘86 and Julie Sabo ‘90, who also attended Augsburg.

Martin and Sylvia Sabo pose for a picture in front of a dark backdrop The Sabo Center for Citizenship and Learning was founded on lessons that come from Sylvia and Martin’s work. 

In 2014, the Center for Democracy and Citizenship and the Sabo Center were combined into a single entity, bringing together these two traditions of public service and citizen engagement. 

Today, the Sabo Center for Democracy and Citizenship is recognized for its innovative leadership in democracy education, public work philosophy, experiential learning, and place-based engagement.

President Paul Pribbenow shared, “Sylvia Sabo was a beloved part of the Augsburg community. After Martin retired from the U.S. House of Representatives, and he and Sylvia returned to Minnesota, we enjoyed their warm hospitality for students and faculty as they shared their passion for public service and community engagement. The Sabo name will reside permanently on our center, organized to promote democracy and citizenship – recognition of both Sylvia and Martin who modeled for all of us what it means to be good citizens. Abigail and I will miss Sylvia’s warm smile and gracious presence in our midst.

The funeral service will be held on Monday, Nov. 7, at Lakewood Cemetery Chapel, 10:00 AM, followed by a brunch and interment. 

Read Sylvia’s official obituary.

Donnie McCarthy ’09 Gives back to URGO

When it comes to Augsburg’s Undergraduate and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) program, things have really comeDonnie smiles for the picture in front of trees and wearing a suit full circle for Donnie McCarthy ’09. One of the program’s first student researchers, Donnie is now the first URGO alumnus to serve as a sponsor, making the same experience he had as an undergraduate possible for current Augsburg students. “I’m thrilled that I can help someone–and hopefully, help a lot of people over the years–get access to that kind of experience,” he says.

Donnie was one of the first Augsburg students to participate in URGO in the summer of 2008. It was his first experience undertaking research, working alongside now-retired Biology professor Ralph Butkowski. “It was really my first exposure to doing biological research; my first exposure to doing research in a lab setting, and really got me excited about that concept—being able to carve into the unknown a little bit,” says Donnie.

Donnie also went on to undertake asthma research with Biology professor Jennifer Bankers-Fulbright, sparking an interest in pharmacology and immunology. “My experiences at URGO were career-influencing and what resulted in me going to graduate school to do basic research. I was fascinated by the idea of asking questions and experimentally answering them. To be at the frontier of our understanding of a biological pathway seemed akin to being an explorer, albeit of the molecular type,” he says.

While a student at Augsburg, Donnie developed time management skills as he juggled school, a six-day work week, research, and playing on the men’s soccer team–another pivotal experience for him. “Coming from Michigan, not really knowing anyone at Augsburg, getting thrown into the first pre-season training session, you create a family away from your family, and that was super valuable to me, getting really close with the whole team.” 

Donnie has also been a supporter of the men’s soccer team over the years and admires head coach Greg Holker’s dedication to create a strong sense of community among students and alumni. “[Holker] really requires excellence, has a really strong standard for being a person–he really does foster a fantastic environment,” says Donnie.

After Augsburg, Donnie studied at Albany Medical College before receiving his doctorate in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of New York. If he hadn’t participated in URGO, Donnie says, he would have been at a disadvantage with his fellow graduate school classmates. “Having an idea of not just the scientific process, but being able to read and interpret scientific literature–there’s really no other way to get good at it, so having done it before (in URGO) definitely helped,” he says. 

Today, Donnie works at Samsara Biocapital in San Francisco, where he serves as Vice President. In his work at Samsara, Donnie works with both company creation and more traditional investing in life sciences companies, helping companies developing early-stage drugs, take an interesting idea and how it might translate into a therapeutic concept, how it will position relative to things that are already out there. His URGO research provided the skills necessary to thrive in his career–“doing research is an excellent way to learn how to think about something critically.”

Donnie believes that a program like URGO sets Augsburg apart. “It truly does differentiate from most other small liberal arts schools–it’s not an opportunity you get at every place, for sure, and enriches the overall experience for students. It was just that impactful for me, and if I can help one person in my lifetime have that same sort of experience, I’ll do it a hundred times over.” 

URGO is just one of many ways to give back, and any gift made to the program will automatically count towards your class’ total for the Alumni Class Challenge. Join the Challenge!

Learn more ways to give. 

Remembering Evangeline “Vangie” Hagfors

Evangeline Hagfors headshotEvangeline “Vangie” Hagfors passed away peacefully on October 4, 2022 at her home. 

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 tenet of Augsburg’s mission. 

Dr. Paul Mueller ’84 shared that “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
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

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. 

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.

Dennis ’78 and Bev (Ranum) Meyer ’78 Welcome the Challenge

Dennis and Bev stand next to each other smiling for the photoBev (Ranum) Meyer 78, who graduated with a degree in mathematics, paused to collect her thoughts before recounting memories of when the Augsburg Choir practiced in the Old Main Chapel, back when fans took the bus to Parade Stadium to watch Auggie football games, and students lived in the big old houses on campus before they were all torn down. 

“When I think of our era at Augsburg, I think about how much this University has evolved since then,” said Bev. “And even though many aspects have changed, much of what we appreciated about Augsburg still remains.”

Dennis Meyer 78 majored in communications and social work and is the co-chair of the Alumni Class Challenge. He and Bev met each other at Augsburg during their undergraduate studies, and both of them experienced the benefits of grants, scholarships, and the power of generosity. 

Dennis and Bev began giving back to Augsburg in 1978 when they signed up for the Senior Challenge, which encouraged them to give a small gift every year. They became even more invested in giving when their son chose to attend Augsburg. 

“There are many reasons people give,” Dennis said. “For us, we want to pay back a place that provided us with many opportunities, experiences, and lifelong friendships.”

They mentioned the importance of paying it forward and their hope that others will have a chance to experience Augsburg for themselves and create their own memories. 

The Meyers continued to ensure their dream became a reality by contributing to the Jeroy and Lorraine Carlson Atrium Lounge, a designated space in the Hagfors Center where the Augsburg community can gather, foster relationships, and build community. They also gave contributions to the Beverly Durkee Mathematics Scholarship. 

Dennis noted there are multiple ways to give such as endowments, the Augsburg Fund, professorships, and numerous other programs.

Currently, Dennis and Wayne Jorgenson 71 are on the Board of Regents, and co-chairs of the Alumni Class Challenge, which is a part of Augsburg University’s Great Returns Campaign. The Almni Class Challenge kicks off at the All-School Reunion on Friday, Oct. 7, 2022, and will last for three months. 

The goal of the larger campaign is to raise $125 million. The Alumni Class Challenge is a competition to see which class will have the highest participation rate with the winning class receiving bragging rights. A gift of any amount is appreciated and counts toward that class’ total. 

Learn more ways to give.

Sparking Innovation: The Thomas ’72 and Karen Howe Endowed Professorship for Entrepreneurship

Karen Howe and Tom HoweWhen Tom ’72 and Karen Howe were thinking about how they could support Augsburg, they wanted to spark possibilities for the next generation of entrepreneurs and leaders. They decided to establish the Thomas ’72 and Karen Howe Endowed Professorship for Entrepreneurship at Augsburg University. Tom graduated from Augsburg in 1972 with a degree in business administration and he and Karen both have extensive leadership experience in the business sector. Tom was the owner and CEO of SwansonFlo Co from 1991-2022 while Karen was an account executive at the creative brand agency, Yamamoto, and later went into business with their daughter, Liz, owning a pet boutique, LuLu & Luigi, in St. Louis Park and Wayzata.

Although he was studying business, Tom also participated on the wrestling team, made lifelong friends as a member of Gamma Phi Omega, (known today as the Gammas) and enjoyed taking classes that were outside of his major. Upon reflecting on what he took away from his time at Augsburg, Tom explained what the Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion represents to him. “Although the building was built forty years after I graduated, the three disciplines taught in that space illustrate exactly what made a lasting impact on me,” Tom shared. “My business courses prepared me for a career, but I uniquely remember a religion class that explored all faiths and an astronomy class that examined our physical origins. They challenged my beliefs and expanded my mind. I may not have known it at the time, but Augsburg gave me much more than a degree. Augsburg taught me critical thinking which is applied to every area of my life.”

Business and entrepreneurship followed Tom and Karen after graduating. Tom began working for his father’s company, Howe Inc. – a business that had been in the family for three generations. “It was a great learning experience where I could contribute ideas and be part of the decision-making process, but I also had opportunities to fail and learn from my mistakes.” Karen’s focus in home economics at the University of Minnesota contributed to her interest in the field. “I enjoyed the marketing classes,” Karen stated. “Understanding its [marketing] many facets became highly important in my day-to-day work.” It was at Yamamoto where Karen honed her skills that prepared her to own her own business. 

Throughout the years, Karen and Tom have supported Augsburg in instrumental ways. At the heart of their philanthropy is their connection to Augsburg’s mission. “Augsburg was founded as a Norwegian Lutheran college and provided an education to first-generation students. Today it continues to carry out that objective and provide students a three-dimensional education: make a living, make a life, and build a community,” Tom said. 

Paul Mueller ’84, chair of Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign shared, “We are all grateful for Tom and Karen’s very generous gift to Augsburg. The Howes believe an Augsburg education will produce the next generation of business leaders who manifest ethical and conscious entrepreneurship—business leadership that makes the world a better place.” 

Through the newly established Thomas ’72 and Karen Howe Endowed Professorship for Entrepreneurship, they hope to strengthen Augsburg’s business department and inspire innovation and leadership. “Two-thirds of all students take classes or major in business. It introduces them to the free-market system, the positives of capitalism, and the power of freedom,” Tom shared. Their accomplishments and desire to help current and future Auggies find success can all be tied back to the American dream. “You have to believe in yourself, get inspired, and figure out how your unique ideas can benefit society,” Tom said. “There are many ways people can find success and not everyone has the same starting point. You don’t have to know everything, but identify your talents and surround yourself with people who will complement your strengths.” Karen added. For Tom and Karen, supporting Augsburg is an investment in future generations that has unlimited potential.

Provost and and Senior Vice President for Academic and Student Affairs, Paula O’Loughlin shared, “We are incredibly grateful for the Howe’s generosity in establishing this endowed Professorship. Developing leaders through entrepreneurship among our students has been a signature commitment in Augsburg’s curriculum since our beginnings. The Thomas and Karen Howe Endowed Professorship in Entrepreneurship will enable us to broaden our offerings for students interested in starting their own businesses for years to come.”