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Giving Back to the Place that Invested in her

Christina OlstadChristina Olstad ’00 ’05 demonstrates what being “All In” for Augsburg can look like. She earned both her undergraduate and graduate degrees in social work from Augsburg and remains committed to the university in a multitude of ways. She serves on the board of Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE) and has contributed to the Augsburg Fund and the women’s soccer and hockey programs.

Christina grew up in Apple Valley with the dream of playing soccer in college. Her traveling team in high school played occasional games on Augsburg’s campus. When she began looking into colleges, the Augsburg Women’s soccer coach at the time, Scott Hansing reached out to her. Christina’s connection to Scott, Augsburg’s Lutheran roots, and the close proximity to her family made Augsburg an easy choice. 

In addition to athletics, one class that made a profound impact on Christina was her freshman January term class. “My friends and I did an ‘exploring human services’ course. We would take the bus to go to the MS Achievement Center every day to volunteer. It was because of that class that I knew I wanted to go into social work and I met some of my closest friends,” she reflected. 

Shortly after graduating, Christina secured a position as a hall director and student activities advisor at Augsburg. “I feel like Augsburg has given me so much. They invested in me as a young professional and mentored me through the early stages of my career.” Christina is currently the Dean of Students at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and continues to carry the valuable experiences she had at Augsburg with her.  

When Christina heard about the opportunity to participate on the board of Augsburg Women Engaged (AWE), she was eager to help out her alma mater in any way she could. “In my role as Dean of Students, I get the opportunity to interact a lot with our advancement team, so I understand the importance of cultivating a culture of philanthropy.” One initiative she found noteworthy was a campaign they held in collaboration with Augsburg’s Campus Cupboard. “I’m really passionate about food security and ensuring no student goes hungry at my school, so it was rewarding to be a part of that effort.”

Along with her position with AWE, Christina has made gifts to various programs and initiatives at Augsburg. When it comes to giving she is adamant about the belief that any amount of giving helps. “It’s all about how you want to give back and how you want your gift to help leave a legacy,” she said. For Christina, getting in the habit of giving is crucial and it helps to think about what drew her to Augsburg in the first place. “For me, it was my class sizes and the ability to get to know all my professors. Augsburg is an incredible institution that provided me with a lot of opportunities. It’s important to reflect on where you are today and how places like Augsburg helped you get there.”

The Great Returns: We’re All In campaign concluded on May 31 and raised more than $128,000,000 thanks to our generous benefactors, alumni, and partners! Read more about the Great Returns campaign and RSVP for our September 29th celebration event!

Restorative Justice and Healing in Healthcare

Timaka Wallace HeadshotTimaka Wallace ’23 is a Chicago native who earned her Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) degree through Augsburg’s DNP Transcultural Nursing Leadership tract and serves as an adjunct professor. Her connection to Augsburg goes back to 2014. “I was already in a psychiatric nurse practitioner program on the East Coast, however, I wasn’t having a good experience at the school,” Timaka recalled. “I thought because I was a bit of an older student, the culture of the school and seeing a representation of myself wasn’t important. But I learned a valuable lesson in never going to a school I didn’t visit.” 

She decided to take a leave from school and, during that time, visited Minnesota to check out Augsburg. After spending two days on campus with Department Chair and Associate Professor Joyce Miller and retired faculty member Janet Lee Stockwell, Timaka knew Augsburg was the right place for her. “Even though this trip was in 2014, every so often over the years they would reach out to me to see how I was doing.” Timaka ended up completing her graduate program and when COVID hit in 2020 she had already been accepted to Augsburg. “It was difficult,” she shared candidly. “The Transcultural Leadership group was going to visit countries and assist with nursing from a variety of cultures and we were robbed of that opportunity because we couldn’t travel, but I ended up getting the community my spirit yearned for so it’s still been a great experience.”

A pivotal moment for Timaka came when she gave a presentation in April 2022 on how daily activities connect to the cross-generational trauma transmission in African American culture. “It was a heavy topic, but the feedback I got from my professor and Joyce demonstrated to me that they understood the change that needs to happen. I knew I was in the right place on that day.” As the nursing program continued to increase its efforts towards dismantling racism in healthcare, leadership intentionally sought out African American representation and leadership in these conversations. Later, Timaka was asked if she would be interested in co-leading a course with Dr. Katie Clark, which she eagerly agreed to.

For Timaka, the opportunities she has received as a student and adjunct professor in the nursing program are centered around stewardship and what it means to give back. She is a recipient of the Lloyd A. and Barbara A. Amundson Nursing Scholarship Honoring Dr. Paul Mueller ’84. “This scholarship is really a full circle moment,” she shared. “It warms my heart to hear they [The Amundsons] formed a connection with Dr. Mueller on their healing journey and paid homage to him through this scholarship, and now Dr. Mueller is leading the Great Returns campaign effort! This is what paying it forward looks like.” Timaka hopes she can find ways to continue these acts of kindness by supporting future nursing students. “It’s so important to have conversations with students like me who are beneficiaries of these scholarships of how to pay it forward as you get yourself aligned to financially do so.”

To learn more about the Great Returns campaign efforts visit our website

Supporting the Needs of Students in STEM

Keneeshia WilliamsDr. Keneeshia Williams, MD ’03 knows that when a student encounters a bumpy college ride full of twists and turns and more downs than ups, helping hands are crucial. That is why she is donating $25,000 to support the Office of Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) and aid for STEM students.

Now a critical care surgeon at Wellstar Trauma Acute Care Surgery in Marietta, Georgia, Williams has impressive credentials, not only as a trauma surgeon but also as a director of medical student education and an activist for violence prevention. But her path was not always clear or easy.

Growing up in Chicago, Williams was 14 when she witnessed the gunshot murder of a neighbor and determined that her brother, then in prison, was probably safer than she was. A student at Kenwood Academy on the south side, she was plagued by nightmares, depression, and anger. She needed a change and found a sympathetic ear in the Augsburg recruiter who had stayed in touch since her sophomore year.

“When they put me in touch with the basketball coach, I thought it would be a nice possibility for me. I liked playing basketball, and I really did not want to stay in Illinois at all,” she says. She was already familiar with the Twin Cities, having visited with her high school choir.

But academic goals? She wasn’t sure. She had enjoyed being part of a citywide creative writing program so thought English and/or history might work. “Pediatric surgeon” was the goal she’d noted in her high school yearbook, in light of a friend who’d had open heart surgery, so she put “premed” on her application but thought it unrealistic. Her parents had college degrees in theater arts, but her father’s vocation as a hotel bellman and her mother’s as a model turned hairdresser promised limited means.

Augsburg offered her a chemistry scholarship. “I loved school, but chemistry was my least favorite subject,” Williams recalls. She accepted anyway.

“Sometimes it is all about confidence,” she adds. “If you ever needed help, you could go find a professor. There were only three of us in our analytical chemistry class, and the quality was superb. Professor (emerita) Arlin Gyberg even made me like chemistry after all those years.”

Biology proved a better fit, however, and her summer research program studying the coral reef aquarium with associate professor Bill Capman proved pivotal.

“It pushed me more toward medicine. I couldn’t imagine a career in research,” though the experience became key in later medical school interviews, she pointed out, and definitely “made a difference.” Capman’s enthusiasm for his subject matter was infectious, and she loved how he taught and encouraged her to play with ideas, to explore and make them her own.

Capman was only one example of the support Williams discovered in Augsburg friends and faculty. She cites the contributions of now URGO director and former McNair Scholars director Dixie Shafer as well as English professor emerita Cass Dalglish, whose kindness and special attention helped Williams not only improve her writing but also tackle mental health challenges. The campus was much less diverse then, and she often felt isolated. In retrospect, however, she recognizes the positive aspects of such a defining period in her life.

“Something about it makes me want others to experience it,” she says. When her first medical school entrance scores fell short and she could not afford to test again, a benefactor stepped in to pay. She hopes her gift will encourage STEM students and ensure that their essential needs are met.

Williams did eventually return home, dedicated to preventing the violence she’d witnessed and treating its victims. She earned her MD at University of Illinois College of Medicine in Peoria, intending to specialize in pediatrics or family medicine until a surgery rotation sparked her passion. After her general surgery residency at Mount Sinai Hospital, she pursued trauma and burn research training at Loyola University Medical Center and a surgery critical care fellowship at Banner-University Medical Center in Tucson before spending five years with the Emory University Department of Surgery in Atlanta.

As keynote speaker at the Agre Symposium, Williams returned again this year to Augsburg, where she enjoys sharing her wisdom and experience with future students. With her help, they, too, will be able to flourish in their chosen careers.

Supporting the Next Generation of Artists

Sheryl SharkSheryl Shark’s ’82 affection for Augsburg is stronger than ever after four decades, as she recently demonstrated by designating a $1 million estate plan gift to her alma mater as part of its Great Returns: We’re All In campaign. The musician and actress has long been committed to giving back, and the establishment of the new Schwartz School of the Arts has only fueled that passion. Her previously unrestricted gift will go there instead, ready to help the next generation of artists pursue their dreams.

“I’m just so excited for it. It also gives me a place to direct my gift that I didn’t have previously,” says Shark, who graduated with a music degree in 1982 and fully understands that “people in the arts are always in need.”

Shark’s love affair with Augsburg began in the ‘70s when she was still a student at Dassel-Cokato High School. Already a music and dance class veteran in her teens, she participated in the annual Minnesota Music Teachers Association contest, held on campus. She recalls playing piano in the old music building, then rumored to be haunted. That is where she met the late Professor Emeritus James D. Johnson, who was not only her contest advisor but also an example of the music guidance Augsburg could provide. She liked his comments and support so much that her college choice became obvious.

“Augsburg was the only place I applied,” she said.

As a freshman in 1978, Shark attended classes in the old music building for only about a month before moving to the new one, as the ghosts from the old place began making peace with the football field that would replace it. By the end of her sophomore year, Shark was not only happily taking classes but also beginning to register the benefits of a liberal arts education.

“All of a sudden everything was connected—history to biology to music to physics, even the religion courses—they all started tying together. I was not pushed or prodded. I felt like the universe was putting everything together for me. It was the most astounding experience,” she says. “Those four years at Augsburg were the best years of my life.”

Not that more recent years have been less than great, she is quick to point out. She began playing piano and teaching in Montana, then spent most of her career in southern California, where she discovered that performing for nonprofit fundraisers in famous venues such as the Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel was the most enjoyable as well as financially advantageous way to use her talents. She had always intended to return home to Minnesota, however, and recently moved to Wayzata, where she enjoys the walkability, the restaurants and coffee shops, and the chance to take acting classes and participate in the many artistic events available here.

Shark visited campus in April, noting that it seemed twice as large as it used to be. It has moved west, and the old, rundown houses have been replaced by beautiful new buildings, she says. Soon the Schwartz School of the Arts will house a dozen undergraduate majors in the performing and visual arts, as well as a master’s program in music therapy.

 “I used to go to Broadway and look at the playbill, which always included at least one actor from a famous liberal arts college on the East Coast. ‘I should have gone there,’ I used to think,” she says. “Now I’m thrilled to know that Augsburg is going to have that kind of program. I hope it brings in another group of students who don’t have to look at Julliard, who can be based in the Midwest. So many wonderful places are here—the Guthrie, the Chanhassen, Mixed Blood, etc.—and for the size of our cities, that’s rare.”

Learn more about Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign.

Pursuing a Passion for Research

Iszavier MoeIszavier Moe ’24 first stepped onto Augsburg’s campus in 11th grade when he was part of the college prep program, Advancement Via Individual Determination (AVID). “I remember being on campus with all my friends and loved how small it was,” he recalled. Although it was the close community that drew him to Augsburg, Iszavier didn’t find his place until his sophomore year. “My first year was during COVID. I had a dorm to myself and all my classes were online. In my second year, Augsburg started to relax some of its restrictions. I had classes with people and started to build a community with others who were on the same track as me, and that’s when I knew I loved being at Augsburg.”

Iszavier is pursuing a biology degree with a minor in psychology and hopes to earn his Ph.D. someday. “One of my favorite classes has been developmental biology, it’s this perfect mix of molecular biology and genetics,” he shared. When Iszavier first had the chance to take part in summer research through the Undergraduate Research and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) program, he initially hoped to pursue a career in genetic counseling, but it wasn’t long before he realized his passion for research. “Being able to conceptually think about genetics is something that I would only get to do if I went the research route, thanks to URGO I’ve been exposed to different areas and can see all the possibilities of what I can do with my biology degree.”

Summer research enables students to explore topics in-depth and discover their interests, build professional relationships with faculty mentors, and prepare them for future success. Stipends are given to students conducting these research projects so they can focus on their work. Funding these opportunities alleviates the financial stress of finding outside work. 

During Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign, over $1,000,000 has supported student research. One of those benefactors was Terry Lindstrom ’73, who funded the research Iszavier completed. “When I looked into who Terry was, I realized he was a big deal at Augsburg!” Iszavier said. “Terry made it a point to sit down with all the researchers he funded. It was nice getting to meet someone who cared about applied research and also shared his failures with us. It helped me overcome the obstacles I faced during my project.”

Research funding and opportunities like the Summer Bridge Promise Grant, and Honors Regent Scholarship have impacted Iszavier’s experience at Augsburg. “I’m so fortunate to receive a full ride for my education,” he shared. “I wouldn’t have the opportunity to go to school if I didn’t have this grant. My parents didn’t go to college, but they worked hard so I could focus on my studies and not have to have a job in high school. Because of these opportunities, I’m able to break this generational barrier.” 

One aspect of Augsburg Iszavier wanted to stress was the student-professor relationship “The relationship that I have with the faculty here, is unmatched like anywhere else. I’m so fortunate that my professors not only know me by my first name, but also know who I am. Augsburg is a small school with big opportunities for development for our future.” One of those opportunities for Iszavier will be conducting research over the summer at John Hopkins University, an institution where Chemistry Nobel Laureate Peter Agre ’70 works and campaign chair, Dr. Paul Mueller ’84 graduated from. 

Learn more about the Great Returns campaign. 

Paving the way for Interfaith Peacebuilding

Najeeba SyeedNajeeba Syeed joined Augsburg in August 2022 as the inaugural El-Hibri Endowed Chair and Executive Director for the Interfaith Institute. She recalled hearing about the national search for this position through a direct message on Twitter from an adjunct faculty member. “One day I received a message saying ‘there’s a position opening and it sounds like your life story written in the job description!’” Najeeba reflected amusingly. After learning more about the role, she realized how reflective it was of her life’s work.

Although she hadn’t spent much time in Minneapolis, Najeeba was familiar with Augsburg through her interfaith work and noticed the cultural and demographic changes that had taken place over the years. “For a lot of us who are Muslim American, it [Minneapolis] has become this dynamic place that is a center for culture and community, as well as political organizing,” she said. 

This observation was reinforced through Augsburg’s demonstrated commitment to various communities on campus and its core mission support surrounding equity and inclusion. “What makes Augsburg special is how its diversity connects students to the neighborhood and really the world.” After a campus visit and lunch with students, Najeeba felt called to this opportunity. 

Najeeba brings her non-profit background and expertise in working with cross-cultural and interreligious groups to her role at Augsburg. “Ultimately, we all want similar things,” she stated. “Safety, a place of belonging… At the Institute we talk about the idea of pluralism. How do we bring different people together and find common purpose?” This overarching inquiry is what Najeeba hopes to explore and find tangible solutions to. “The work is never done, but by harnessing the power of different viewpoints, faith traditions, and moral perspectives, many of our problems can be solved.” Examining these complex topics and creating sustainable outcomes is a privilege that comes with an endowed position.

Endowed positions strengthen Augsburg’s financial resiliency, attract and retain talented faculty, and expand our capacity for leadership in specific areas. Since the inception of Augsburg’s Great Returns: We’re All In campaign, there have been five endowed positions established by incredible donors and seven endowed positions created overall. 

The importance of philanthropy remains at the forefront of Najeeba’s mind as she envisions the future of Augsburg being a central leader for interfaith leadership, dialogue, and peacebuilding. “I feel blessed in this role. The El-Hibris’ [Fuad, Nancy, and Karim] vision for this chair to have a place both in academics and the campus life of students, faculty, and staff is exciting.”

Since beginning her role, Najeeba has found ways to engage in Interfaith discourse with students in class and through experiential opportunities including, guest lecturing in classes across campus, traveling around the country to educate on the importance of interreligious dialogue and leadership, and teaching the Interfaith Scholars course. “Our students are so eager about the opportunities they have been given, there is so much energy and hunger to learn!” 

Augsburg’s first Interfaith Symposium took place on March 2 where Najeeba served as the keynote speaker and addressed the topic of interfaith leadership and healing in times of crisis. “My hope is that this annual tradition will attract intellectual leaders from around the globe and bring their voices on campus,” she said. 

“We’ve accomplished a lot already! The diversity of our student body coupled with a long-term investment in helping our students, faculty, and staff build intentional and caring communities will further amplify the work we’re doing.”

Learn more about Endowed Professorships or visit our website.

Remembering Inez (Olson) Schwarzkopf ’59

Senior Portrait of Inez

Inez (Olson) Schwarzkopf ’59 passed away on June 24, 2023.

Inez’s connection to Augsburg dates back to her father, Iver Olson ’35, who taught Norwegian and theology at Augsburg for over 20 years. A self-proclaimed “faculty brat,” Inez graduated from Augsburg College, cum laude, with a degree in English in 1959. During her time in school, she was named to the Lambda Iota Tau Literary Honor Society and The Augsburg Guild of Honor, and served as an editor of the school yearbook. All of her siblings (Magne Olson ’58, Jeanette Locke ’57, and Merlin Olson ’64) attended Augsburg, along with several extended family members. One of her daughters, Ilse Rolf, graduated from Augsburg in 1993. Ilse and her daughter Nissa Rolf work in Augsburg’s Institutional Advancement department. 

Inez with her husband LyleInez met her husband Lyall Schwarzkopf when she worked at Messenger Press Bookstore on 22nd and Riverside while she was a student. They were married for 65 years. While raising four children, Inez continued her education and received an MA degree from the University of Minnesota, where she was awarded first place in fiction writing by the Minnesota Daily. Inez built a freelance career in writing and editing before moving into adult education, communication, organizational development, and marketing in the American Lutheran church. 

Throughout the years, Inez acquired many accolades for her work and support of Augsburg, including being named an Augsburg Distinguished Alumna in 1991 and serving as a regent between 1982-1990 and 1992-1998.

Her unwavering faith and generosity led her and Lyall to support many of Augsburg’s efforts over the years. She was a key player in planning for and establishing the Bernhard Christensen Endowment, along with establishing the Inez Olson Schwarzkopf Scholarship, which supports undergraduate students majoring in English.

Inez spent the better part of her later years with her six grandchildren and traveling. She traveled to all seven continents. Her most memorable trips include riding the Trans-Siberian Railroad from Beijing to St. Petersburg and a cruise from South America to Antarctica.

Check out some of Inez’s memorable moments over the years:

 

A memorial service will be held on Friday, July 7, at 11:00 a.m. at Bethlehem Lutheran Church, 4100 Lyndale Ave South, Minneapolis. Visitation will take place Thursday, July 6, from 4–7:00 p.m. at the Washburn-McReavy Nokomis Park Chapel and one hour prior to the funeral service at the church. Additional details can be found in her obituary.

Please join us in holding all of Inez’s family and friends in prayer as we grieve her loss and celebrate her life.

Honoring the Family That Helped Her

Ann with Ilene and Luther's son, John Forde
Ann with Ilene and Luther’s son, John Forde

A serendipitous meeting nearly 35 years ago has led to a promising future for new generations of international students through the Forde Family Endowed Scholarship, which Ann Nagendran ’92 has established with an initial gift of $100,000 as part of Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign.

Ann was a medical student in Kandy, Sri Lanka in 1989, when her mother, Anula Lawrentz, traveled to the U.S. for Ann’s sister’s wedding and wound up spending six months in Minnesota. Not one to sit around and waste time while waiting to return home, Anula began volunteering, taking care of a terminally ill Sri Lankan woman who lived here. Ilene Forde was a volunteer with Meals on Wheels, so the two met often as food was delivered to the ill woman’s home. When she needed to go to the hospital, both volunteers were there to take her, and they got to chatting in the waiting room. Anula told Ilene about Ann’s studies as well as her own fervent wish to help her children escape their war-torn homeland and pursue their educations abroad.

Anula was back home when she received a letter from Ilene and her husband, Luther, offering to sponsor Ann in the U.S. The Fordes would handle all the documentation and help Ann get set up in a new home. They could also recommend a good college: Augsburg. 

“I was so excited! I was 24 when I came, and it was my first time out of the country as well,” says Ann. “I was nervous because I didn’t know the system at all, but it was a small college and manageable.”

Perhaps blessed with her mother’s energy and sense of purpose, Ann settled in, making friends, taking classes, and working 20 hours a week at various jobs, including in food service, at a deli, and as a phone operator. While earning her psychology degree, she also interned as a counselor, working with sexually abused teenagers and the mentally disabled.

Meanwhile, the Forde family—Ilene and Luther as well as their children, John, Jim, and Martha—stayed close, offering friendship as well as kindness and support.

“We had a wonderful relationship, always great,” Ann says, recounting how the two families eventually crossed oceans and continents to visit each other. “John especially was like my big brother, always there for me. He took me on my first camping trip, into the Black Hills, and to a hippie festival once. He showed me so much. Even simple stuff, like going to an Army surplus store for inexpensive clothes. I wore that sweater for years.”

Now married, the mother of three sons in their 20s, and living in New Jersey, Ann is busy running a laundromat and an Airbnb when she is not traveling or ballroom dancing. She has recently visited the Augsburg campus, where she was impressed by the new buildings as well as the growing diversity, religious and otherwise, of the student body. She also was thrilled to meet President Paul Pribbenow, whom she praised as “a down-to-earth gentleman.”

She has not forgotten what it meant to be a foreign student on an unfamiliar campus, and she wants her gift to help those who follow in her footsteps. At the same time, she wants to honor the Forde family that has meant so much to her. She stays in touch with John and his wife, Catherine, as well as Jim and his wife, Sandy. Ilene, Luther, and Martha have passed away.

“In hindsight, I wish I would have done this while they were alive. Just before my father passed away just a few years ago, he told me how important it is to make the people you are honoring aware of what you have done. Although I had always meant to donate, that had never occurred to me,” she says. “But it’s never too late. The Fordes opened doors for me, and I should do likewise for someone else.”  

Learn more about Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign.

Building Community in Athletics

Grace Eastman headshotGrace Eastman ’23 grew up in a small town north of the Twin Cities. Upon reflecting on her decision to attend Augsburg Grace shared, “Augsburg gave me the vibes of a small town in a big city setting. It was important to me to have small class sizes and actually know my professors.” Another driving factor was being able to play on the basketball team. In fact, pursuing an athletic career at Augsburg isn’t something new to Grace’s family. “My uncle Randy Eastman ’95 wrestled here in the ’90s,” she excitedly shared. 

Although she was excited to be recruited for basketball, she admitted she didn’t know too much about Augsburg before the Student Orientation and Registration (SOAR). “I had only toured a couple of times before then, so I was unsure of what it would be like. But it was great meeting all the people and realizing I would enjoy what Augsburg has to offer.”

Like many students, Grace’s Augsburg experience was possible in part due to the generosity of benefactors who support scholarship opportunities. Throughout the Great Returns campaign, donors have given to 150 endowed scholarships. “Without financial aid, I don’t think I would have been able to come here. It really took the stress of student loans off my back and helped me be a successful student all four years,” Grace said, who is graduating with a degree in finance. 

Grace also shared what being on the basketball team has meant to her and how it enriched her college experience. “We’re like our own little family,” she said. “Beginning college can be scary, it’s like starting over, but I didn’t feel that way because I had already met my coaches and teammates ahead of time. I felt like I already had friends that I could talk to and could go to my coaches if I needed anything.” Grace feels the tight-knit community and communication attributed to the team’s success.

Another contributing factor to success is found in the renovated women’s locker room. During Augsbrug’s Great Returns campaign, a significant initiative was updating the women’s locker room. Through the generosity of Patricia Piepenburg ’69, the renovated space was unveiled in October of 2022. “It’s definitely improved our experience and makes us feel valued as athletes. I used to think locker rooms were just for changing because that’s what it’s been like my whole life, but now that we have this new space, it became a place where we could build community. We’re able to hang out, watch TV, and create bonds after practice or games,” Grace said. 

This initiative was especially significant because it happened 50 years after the passage of Title IX. When thinking about the legacy of people like Patricia who came before her, Grace shared “It gives us a sense of pride to be part of something so historical, and motivates us to play because we understand and acknowledge the struggles women before us. When we won a championship last year it was the greatest feeling and I want to leave behind a legacy for future generations too.” As she thought about how philanthropy has life-changing effects, she shared, “Gifts like these send the message that students like me matter and drive me to be the best version of myself. It is a blessing to have peoples’ support.”

Learn more about Augsburg’s Great Returns efforts on our website

Continuing the Legacy Her Husband Left at Augsburg

Cathy WoldPastor Dave, as he was known throughout his three decades at Augsburg, was a larger-than-life presence whose legacy will continue to nurture and support future students through the Pastor Dave & Cathy Wold Endowed Scholarship.

Although he retired in 2013 and died unexpectedly in 2018 at age 72, the former campus pastor is still fondly remembered by many. He was famous for the jokes and puns he inserted into conversations and the enthusiasm he brought to his various campus pursuits, from presiding over daily chapel and weekly Eucharist services to coordinating Advent Vespers and announcing athletic events such as football, men’s basketball, and wrestling. He founded the Holy Hoops basketball league and led the “World Famous Bunch of Guys Chorus” in their performances around campus. Along with providing spiritual guidance, he built and cherished relationships with everyone he met, meanwhile developing a special connection with Augsburg itself.

“He was an encourager,” says his widow, Cathy, who has designated a $100,000 planned gift to establish the scholarship. “He believed in Augsburg so much. He was the campus pastor, but he immersed himself in everything there as much as possible. He tried to get to know every student—their name, something about them.”

Neither Dave nor Cathy were alumni. The two were childhood family friends who reconnected at Concordia College, where Cathy was earning her education degree and Dave was visiting with student groups as part of his ministry. A St. Olaf graduate, he had been ordained at Luther Seminary and was serving Calvary Lutheran Church in Golden Valley when they married in 1974. He became director of the Youth Ministries Division of the American Lutheran Church, but his national and international responsibilities required such extensive travel that the young family yearned for an opportunity closer to home. 

Dave was named Director of Campus Ministries at Augsburg in 1983. “He was elated. He just loved it,” Cathy recalls. Their three children also spent much of their time on campus as they were growing up. “Everybody loved Augsburg, and we still love it.”

As a teacher and specialist in early childhood family education for 16 years, Cathy shared Dave’s respect for and devotion to higher education. “He was a big believer in liberal arts, and this is a pretty special place. It’s unique, it’s in the city, and it offers programs that not every college has, such as those for students with special needs. It also draws a really diverse population of students who don’t necessarily have the means to go to college,” she says.

Because Dave spent thirty years getting to know students, providing programs to help them, and watching as they graduated and established successful lives, Cathy thinks he would be pleased with the family’s decision to create an endowed scholarship as part of Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign. It will support students who demonstrate financial need and, preferably, intend to live out their Christian vocations through serving others and building community. During this campaign, more than 150 benefactors have either started a new endowed scholarship or made a gift of $25,000 or more to an existing one.

“Dave positively impacted so many students, and I know that because so many of them have written letters to him over the years,” Cathy says. “I want to be able to have his memory live on at Augsburg in some way, and I believe this is the best way to do that.”

Learn more about Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign.