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 Wayne Kendrick ’68, a religion and math major, enrolled at Augsburg as a junior, he was in the process of change.
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 NorthMinneapolis 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!
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.
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.”
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.
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!”
Mark Raabe started at Augsburg in 1949 with the idea of becoming a teacher.
“I loved school, but I didn’t have a clear direction. If you ask me today what I want to be when I grow up, I still don’t know,” Mark says with a chuckle.
He spent two years at Augsburg and played second base on the baseball team. However, his interests shifted at the end of sophomore year and he transferred to the University of Minnesota, where he received his undergraduate and graduate law degrees. Yet after spending only two years at Augsburg, one influence always stuck with him: Coach Edor Nelson.
When Mark started college, WWII had just ended. Edor Nelson ’38 was a war hero and recent addition to the Augsburg faculty.
“He had been a part of Patton’s Army, a German prisoner, and he escaped. To me he was larger than life in every way and such a good man.”
Mark became a lawyer with a career in Washington D.C. He kept an eye on Augsburg from afar with a focus on Coach Nelson’s activities. In 2001, Mark and his wife Jean attended an A-Club luncheon celebrating the naming of Augsburg’s athletic field in Coach Nelson’s honor. Mark had only visited Coach Nelson once since his time as a student, but, as Mark remembers, “When we were still 30 feet away, our eyes met, and he said, ‘Here comes my second baseman!’ The fact that he would remember, 50 years later, who I was and what position I played for only two years is just amazing. What it says to me is that he cared about his kids. Edor is legendary in that regard.”
In 2013, the Raabes made a significant gift to the Center for Science, Business, and Religion campaign, naming a faculty office after Coach Nelson. Then in 2015, they pledged a future estate gift to the CSBR campaign, naming the science lab in Coach Nelson’s honor.
“Coach Nelson had a profound impact on me.”
Two of Mark’s nieces would eventually graduate from Augsburg and both spoke highly of the university to him. Ann Morrice Allenson ’92, who now has a family law practice in Minneapolis, and Norah Anderson ’21, who just graduated summa cum laude.
“Norah kept me up to date on Augsburg’s happenings. She credits me with being important in her decision to go to Augsburg. Now she’s on her way to law school.”
At the end of 2020, Mark again connected with Augsburg with hopes of supporting students through an endowed scholarship.
“I have always thought Augsburg served its community well. Now in recent years, especially under President Frame and President Pribbenow, that definition of community has expanded far beyond its original meaning to include the world. I love the university’s openness and its focus on diversity and inclusion, and its appeal to students with economic needs. It projects a caring, not unlike what I felt from Coach Nelson. I am excited about giving back to Augsburg as it prepares its remarkable students to help make our world a better place.”
Mark established the Mark ’53 and Jean Raabe Endowed Scholarship in 2020-2021 to support students who demonstrate financial need and academic achievement.
Linda ’85 and Ron Ott chose to give a Charitable Gift Annuity to Augsburg to support Augsburg’s nursing students.
“I was always grateful for my time at Augsburg and wanted to give back,” says Linda.
Linda was already working as a nurse for a few years when she decided to go back to school to earn a baccalaureate. There weren’t many programs that had what she was looking for, until she found Augsburg.
“Augsburg faculty and the school meets students where they are. One example of this was with my transfer requirements for a physical education course. I was in a golf league and my professor said, ‘The spirit of this requirement is met.’ Not all schools will work with students like that.”
After graduation, Linda worked as a nurse for the VA hospital for many years. When Linda and Ron found themselves in a position to give back to their alma matters, they decided to set up Charitable Gift Annuities.
“A Charitable Gift Annuity is a way for us to do something now that ensures Augsburg has funding. It also provides tax advantages, and a little income back to us each year. Quite frankly, Augsburg made the whole process very easy, even to split our gift between a few different programs we want to support.”
Linda requested their gift to Augsburg be split between the nursing program and nursing student scholarships. She wants other students to be able to achieve higher degrees in nursing, since she was able to advance her nursing career through Augsburg’s program.
With the income that comes back to them each year through the charitable gift annuity, the Ott’s love to travel. They routinely travel to new places and enjoy visiting Switzerland in the summer.
Interested in learning more about a charitable gift annuity?
If you are interested in learning more about using a charitable gift annuity to establish a gift at Augsburg, please visit Plan My Legacy. Institutional Advancement Director Heather Riddle has also recorded a video about what CGA’s are and how they work. You can view it on her YouTube channel.
If you would like to speak with someone about giving, please contact:
Lou Anne and Tim Sexton believe philanthropy is based on a personal experience with an organization. They experienced this connection with Augsburg after their son, Shea ‘19, joined the StepUP Program.
“Shea’s experience with StepUP and Augsburg was transformational,” says Lou Anne.
Shea learned about StepUP while at a Hazelden Fellowship in St. Paul. A group of clients from fellowship were going to tour the StepUP dorms and Shea went along.
“He had kind of given up on the notion of pursuing a four-year degree while staying on a college campus.”
Shea attended Luther College and Inver Hills Community College where he struggled to stay sober. But after learning about StepUP, he realized there was a way he could get a degree and stay sober.
“He was mainly concerned about finding a place to live that would allow him to continue his recovery.”
Tim and Lou Anne appreciated the community aspect of StepUP for their son. They also liked the mission of StepUP: being able to live in recovery and pursue a higher education in a university, a university that also focused on diversity and non-traditional students.
So when Lou Anne and Tim learned of students who loved Augsburg and StepUP but had to leave because they couldn’t afford it, they knew they could help.
“We want to be part of the solution, to help students realize their potential. StepUP parents have already spent a lot of money on treatment and often can’t afford to send their kids to Augsburg also.”
The Sexton’s set up a StepUP Endowment Fund in 2020. It is a blended gift which includes a cash gift, a future IRA distribution, and a bequest in their estate. They hope their gift will help future StepUP students who can’t afford to go to or stay in StepUP.
“StepUP actually helped our entire family. It’s a great investment.”
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.”
Carol Seiler’s personal mission is to contribute to the greater good. Whether this is through her job, through volunteer work, or through donations, she feels she must contribute through all aspects of her life. Her Augsburg experience, particularly in her undergraduate courses, affirmed this.
“I always need to feel like I’m contributing to something. I think we would all like to leave the world a better place,” she says.
Carol has been supporting women’s organizations since the 70’s. Having a service frame of mind is something she remembers from an early age, and something she learned from her father through his involvement in their local government.
When she graduated from high school, Carol was not encouraged to go to college. Instead, she was told what many women were told in that time: become a nurse, a secretary, or a teacher. But Carol wanted more. After working for many years at Honeywell, she wanted a change.
“I just woke up one morning and decided it was time [to go to college]. I looked at a few schools and found Augsburg. Augsburg was perfect for me because it was urban, diverse, had a small campus, classes were available nights and weekends, and I liked the curriculum. Once I stepped in a classroom I didn’t want to leave.”
Carol joined Augsburg’s Weekend College and earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Communications in 1990. She continued at Augsburg to earn a Master’s Degree in Leadership, graduating in 1993.
“The whole experience was really life changing. That’s why I want to leave this gift so that other people can have that experience. Especially women, and especially women of color who are historically underserved.”
Carol is gifting a portion of her estate to the Augsburg Women Engaged Endowed Scholarship.
“I want to leave my estate gift to an organization that’s going to do good things in the world. I had such a wonderful experience at Augsburg and to help give someone else that opportunity is very rewarding.”
When asked what she wishes to pass along to future generations, Carol said to never stop learning.
“Recognize and acknowledge your value in the world.”
Carol worked for Honeywell for 35 years in their human resources department and credits Honeywell’s excellent education benefits for her success. She hopes that her estate gift will enable young women in the future to earn a degree and follow their passions.