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.
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.”
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!
When it comes to Augsburg’s Undergraduate and Graduate Opportunity (URGO) program, things have really come 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!
Bev (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 ReturnsCampaign. 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.
Basketball has played an important role in Patricia (Patty) Piepenburg’s ’69 life. In her small hometown of Grove City, Minnesota, Patty discovered her natural athleticism. “I grew up pre-Title IX, so the only exposure I really had to sports were through intramurals and gym class,” she shared. Her high school team was organized through the Girls Athletic Association (GAA) where she and her teammates had to work hard to find other teams to play. They eventually convinced their advisor to play a neighboring town. In Patty’s words, it could be more accurately described as “scheduling a time two schools could get together and do intramural activities.” At the time, the rules were completely different for women’s basketball. It was played on half the court and each team had 6 players. Nonetheless, Patty fell in love with the game.
While she was a student at Augsburg, she participated on the Auggiettes women’s basketball team. During her four seasons, the team only lost four games, and were completely undefeated her junior year. She was also the leading scorer her last two years in school. A big part of the team’s success can be attributed to Patty’s coach at the time, LaVonne Johnson Peterson, or Mrs. Pete, more affectionately. “She was a great teacher and friend. She played a big factor in me staying at Augsburg all four years,” Patty shared.
Patty graduated with a degree in Physical Education in 1969. She taught and coached various grade levels in Atwater, Minnesota while also working double time to help her dad with their family farm. “There came a point where I was just burned out and couldn’t do both anymore,” Patty reflected on deciding to leave coaching and teaching after over 30 years. The family farm, conservation, and wildlife remain an important part of Patty’s life – she has even won awards for her conservation projects!
In 2011, Patty was inducted into Augsburg’s Athletics Hall of Fame. Although some of her teammates were inducted several years earlier, Patty wanted to be retired when she accepted the honor. “A hall of famer is someone who not only contributed to the sports while they were in school, but it should also reflect what they went on to do after college,” she said. “I felt like I needed to earn my place.”
Patty has given a generous gift to help update the Si Melby Women’s Locker room. The dedication will take place in October during Augsburg’s Homecoming Week and All-School Reunion, where Augsburg will celebrate the 50th anniversary of Title IX. When reflecting on what inspired this decision, Patty shared, “Trying to figure out your estate plans is difficult when you aren’t married and don’t have kids… you want to channel it to where you think someone made a difference. I chose the women’s locker room because I would love to see a legacy.” The advice Patty has for current and future generations of women athletes at Augsburg is, “Always be prepared, be yourself, and willingly accept opportunities for leadership.”
Augsburg is proud to announce a new endowed scholarship has been set up by Auggie friend Betty Shaw, in honor of her daughter: The Laura Shaw-Wright Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities
Betty Shaw and her late husband, Earl, had four daughters. Their daughter, Laura (Shaw) Wright, attended Augsburg in the early 90’s, graduating with honors in 1996 with a B.A. in Studio Art, and a B.S. in Social Work.
Laura has lived with severe dyslexia her entire life. She credits the supportive, affirming, and encouraging faculty, staff, and learning environment that she experienced at Augsburg, along with the support services provided by the CLASS office, as being integral to her positive, successful college education and experience.
It is for this reason that Betty – with the encouragement and support of Laura and her husband Alfonzo “Al” Wright ’97 – would like to establish The Laura Shaw-Wright Scholarship for Students with Dyslexia and Reading Disabilities. The goal of this endowed scholarship will be to help provide access to an Augsburg education for students who may be challenged with dyslexia or other reading disabilities. The scholarship will be awarded with preference given to those students with dyslexia who utilize the CLASS office to address the challenges that their reading disability may otherwise impose on their ability to successfully learn and achieve success in their academic endeavors.
Thanks to the supportive environment she found at Augsburg, Laura went on to a successful career teaching art in the Burnsville Public School District and then South Washington County in Woodbury. Laura and Al met at Augsburg their freshman year and are now married and have two daughters, Lilly and Stella.
Betty, Laura, and Al were presented with a Water Droplet in late October as a thank you establishing a new endowed scholarship. Augsburg is sharing these original Water Drop sculptures with the first 150 benefactors who choose to invest in an endowed scholarship, whether that investment is in a new endowed scholarship or a gift towards an established endowed scholarship.
Betty finds great joy in what she calls “paying it forward.”
“It makes me somewhat uncomfortable when people thank me for making a gift or supporting a cause,” says Betty. “I believe it’s a privilege to join in the work of a place like Augsburg, and it brings me great joy to know that I can help make it possible for future students to have the kind of education that Laura and Al had here at Augsburg. I truly believe that it is in giving that you receive…I have experienced that my whole life!”
Lee ’88 and John planned early on in their lives to give back to a program that affected them so dramatically: Augsburg’s Center for Global Education and Experience (CGEE).
“It’s where we met and fell in love! John was a student at Pacific Lutheran and I was at Augsburg,” says Lee. “Our experiences in the program allowed us to recognize our shared values and commitment to equity, while enjoying life.”
Lee and John made lifelong friends through their CGEE trip to Central America, people who are still their good friends today. Their experience had a major impact on both of their careers. Before the trip, John planned on getting his PhD in plant ecology and doing research. However, he was so drawn to what he learned in Central America that he decided to become a teacher instead.
“Studying Freire and seeing the impact of liberating education in Mexico and Nicaragua opened my eyes to what education can bring about in a person’s life. CGEE allowed me to see teaching as an impactful, inspiring career,” says John.
For Lee, the experience reinforced everything she was already doing.
“I was committed to advance gender and racial equity and justice. CGEE helped me realize the importance of listening to communities and centering their wisdom as the foundation of change. I also witnessed the courage to act. I have applied these principles throughout my career,” says Lee.
CGEE also impacted how Lee and John would raise their daughter.
“We have a family mission statement! It’s written on a cocktail napkin somewhere… but basically it’s: create a family that is supportive and provides agency, love, kindness, joy, and growth as we move through the world and do our part to create change,” says Lee.
Lee and John enrolled their daughter in a global exchange program in Guatemala when she was in high school, where she helped with the local community and learned Spanish. Their daughter, Astia, had such a good experience that she went on to do a semester in Ecuador during college. Both of these experiences impacted her life and career in much the same way as her parents. Lee and John are proud that today Astia provides bilingual medical care as a doctor.
“My parents raised me with the practice of tithing. I think that’s part of the reason I have a very comfortable relationship with using money as a resource for change. Philanthropy is just tithing on a macro level,” says Lee.
Financially, Lee and John barely made their trip to Central America work. Lee was working full time and going to school full time. The reason they are giving back to Augsburg’s CGEE program today is to make the same experience available to students who might not otherwise be able to go.
“There are scholarships and grants that help with tuition, but things like living expenses, incidental money, airline tickets, and lost income from not working are generally not covered and can present a big barrier. We’re delighted to make this gift in the hope that it will help remove barriers. And we hope others will join us in supporting CGEE,” says Lee.
The Roper-Batker family wants to use their resources to create more equitable outcomes in this world.
“To me, the question is how do you align your values with your philanthropy. It’s important to John and me that our legacy changes systems in order to multiply opportunities for many people; our wealth is not for family inheritance. It feels great to know that we will have a small part in creating a more level playing field so that any student can enjoy the transformative experience of immersion study abroad.”
At the end of 2020, Lloyd Amundson decided to start a nursing scholarship at Augsburg. But this wasn’t the first nursing scholarship he’d established. It wasn’t even the second. Lloyd and his late wife, Barbara, have multiple nursing scholarships set up around the country, from Maui to Sioux Falls and now at Augsburg.
“Nursing scholarships have been our pride. My wife and I were sold on the nursing profession because we feel like they’re the masters of the health care industry. Doctors are good, of course, but when the doctor walks into a room, the nurses have everything ready for them to go,” says Lloyd.
One of Lloyd’s passions is a nursing program at Mayo Clinic in Rochester he and his wife helped launch years ago, which helps nurses continue their education.
“I have a good friend named Leeann Johnson who has really been a good pusher for these things, so now we’re doing more to urge nurses to go on to higher education to earn a master’s degree in nursing.”
Lloyd graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1951. While in school, he didn’t know much about Augsburg other than it was a smaller school near the U of M and had a good athletics program. Lloyd followed Auggie Jeroy Carlson’s career. Also known as “Mr. Augsburg,” Jeroy played baseball, basketball, and football as a student and was part of four MIAC championship teams. Years later, Lloyd and his wife started going to Mayo Clinic and met Dr. Paul Mueller ’84. Paul is a Regent Emeriti of Augsburg University, is a past chair of Augsburg’s Board of Regents, and currently serves as Chair of Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign.
“We’re nuts for Mayo since they’ve taken care of us over the years. My wife had pancreatic cancer, it was a routine checkup and Dr. Mueller caught it. He is a really, really good guy, a good doctor. He was such a supporter of my wife.”
So when Lloyd was looking to establish another scholarship, he thought of the university that Dr. Mueller loves so much and started the Lloyd A. and Barbara A. Amundson Nursing Scholarship Honoring Dr. Paul Mueller ’84.
Lloyd hopes this scholarship will inspire more students to go into nursing.
“It’s a good job, it’s a responsible job, and we need more people in there. I would like to see this nursing program get a lot bigger. We’re working our way into a bad problem of not having enough nurses. As the population is getting older, like I am, we need to be careful to graduate enough qualified nurses.”
Lloyd also hopes his gift will encourage others to create their own scholarships for students.
The purpose of this scholarship is to provide financial support to Augsburg nursing students, prioritizing students who demonstrate academic achievement and financial need, and are passionate about nursing.
“I have had the pleasure of knowing Lloyd Amundson for many years. I also knew his wife, Barbara. Their love for each other and their communities was obvious. After his wife died several years ago, Lloyd has expressed his enduring love for her and compassion for others through generous philanthropy. Lloyd is a strong advocate for education, especially of future nurses. Lloyd appreciates the student-centric values of Augsburg University and the outstanding nurses that graduate from Augsburg—many of whom now work at Mayo Clinic. Lloyd’s generous gift will support the training of many future Augsburg nursing students.”
– Paul Mueller ’84
Chair of Augsburg’s Great Returns campaign
Donors who give annually to academic scholarships or create permanent scholarship endowments reduce student debt and provide financial support to those who may not otherwise be able to afford college. These gifts encourage students in highly valued academic disciplines, reward students for high achievement, and inspire students to pay it forward.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org or 651-323-4844.