Dr. TJ Bramwell ’03, a biology major, has native roots in Tomah, WI, but when he chose to attend Augsburg, he was not unfamiliar with the area. Bramwell’s father, Thomas D. Bramwell ’78, also graduated from Augsburg.
He recalled his parents and grandparents watching him play running back for the Auggie football team throughout his four years of college.
“Part of my interest in joining the football team was that it was right after Augsburg won the conference title,” Dr. Bramwell said. “That excited me, as well as the academics.”
His interest in science, specifically biology, emerged during middle school, developing further in high school, and culminated with his time in the classroom and on the football field at Augsburg.
“Being on the football team and seeing people get hurt, treated, and being able to come back and play again helped me realize that I wanted to be a doctor,” Dr. Bramwell said. “It helped me identify my ultimate goal of being an orthopedic surgeon and helping people.”
He went on to do a few years of research at the Hennepin County Medical Center before getting accepted to medical school at Des Moines University and eventually completing a five-year orthopedic residency at Ohio University/Doctors Hospital, a journey that took nearly 15 years.
“A lot of what shaped my journey at Augsburg is the relationships I formed with my professors, specifically in the biology department,” Dr. Bramwell said. “They helped me navigate the waters of constructing a resume and getting into summer research programs, things that are so important and at the heart of URGO.”
Dr. Bramwell said he gives to URGO because he wants to ensure students have the support they need to succeed, whether that’s MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) practice tests, study materials, or other contributions that will aid the next generation of medical professionals, and you can too.
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 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!
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!”
In 2019, Augsburg University established Interfaith at Augsburg: An Institute to Promote Interreligious Leadership. This program illustrates the many ways in which our commitment to interfaith learning and leadership can shape our work on campus and in the wider community, and this work requires a strategic leader and distinguished scholar to provide direction. Today we are pleased to announce that a significant gift has been made to make this leadership position possible: the El-Hibri Endowed Chair and Executive Director for the Interfaith Institute.
Fuad and Nancy El-Hibri first learned of Augsburg while researching higher education options for their son Karim, who was in recovery from substance issues. The family was looking for a university that could provide both a college education and a supportive program.
“Nancy and I diligently explored universities for our son which offered programs like StepUP. We were surprised that we could only find a handful of schools that had anything close to what Augsburg offers. StepUP clearly stood out with its reputation, scale, and program scope,” says Fuad.
Once Karim graduated from the StepUP program, Fuad and Nancy continued to stay engaged with the university. Initially, their support was focused on StepUP, including a significant gift towards the Oren Gateway Center where the program is housed. Fuad was among the sincere supporters who encouraged the university to create a StepUP Program Endowment, a fund that has since raised nearly $10 million to support the program’s unique offerings and outstanding staff.
“We are grateful for the StepUP program and the opportunities it provides to students in recovery. Karim is now the President of East West Resources Corporation, a business development and private equity firm. We are proud of his leadership skills and successful management of the business,” says Fuad.
As they learned more about other programs at Augsburg, the El-Hibris were impressed with how the university cares about its incredibly diverse student body. They were inspired by Augsburg’s philosophy which is embodied by the newly built Hagfors Center for Science, Business, and Religion, integrating three crucial pillars of study.
“Our family values higher education tremendously. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of engaging with several academic institutions, including American University and Yale School of Management,” says Fuad.
Augsburg holds a special place in their hearts though, and they have admiration for its leadership, including its tenth president, Paul Pribbenow.
“Paul is an extremely impressive and effective president. He is community-minded, strategic, and a true visionary.”
The El-Hibris aim is to support the university’s overall strategic direction, not just individual projects. They encouraged President Pribbenow to form the President’s Council, a small group of professionals and industry experts who serve as advisors to Paul and provide insights on strategic and operational matters. Fuad and Nancy currently serve as co-chairs of the council and have enjoyed getting to know the members and connecting more deeply with Augsburg’s programs and possibilities.
Now, Fuad and Nancy are generously establishing the El-Hibri Endowed Chair and Executive Directorship for the Interfaith Institute. President Pribbenow plans to launch a comprehensive search for a candidate who will serve as a national ambassador of the interfaith movement and partner with campus leaders as a change agent for interreligious learning and living. This position will lead the Interfaith Institute while simultaneously participating as a member of the faculty.
Fuad and Nancy’s gift will help to fulfill one of the goals of Augsburg150, the strategic plan, to advance the public purposes of an Augsburg education by enhancing interfaith leadership on campus and nationally.
“We live in a world that is religiously diverse, and allowing religions to thrive is a step in the right direction. But it is not enough. Interfaith dialogue, learning from one another, and engaging together in meaningful work is what it’s truly all about. The timing now is critical and we hope this is just the beginning,” says Fuad.
This sort of strategic philanthropy will help to fulfill Augsburg’s vision: As a new kind of urban, student-centered university, we are educating Auggies as stewards of an inclusive democracy, engaged in their communities and uniquely equipped to navigate the complex issues of our time.
“We have a unique opportunity to build an interfaith learning community that will be a model for all of higher education. The combination of Augsburg’s interreligious student body, with Fuad and Nancy’s support and counsel, will create the sort of academic and community leadership the world needs today,” says President Pribbenow.
The El-Hibris believe interfaith competency increases social capital and creates a thriving society. They see this gift as a catalyst for interfaith dialogue on campus and hope more people will become involved in supporting Augsburg’s Interfaith Institute, both as advisers and with financial contributions.
“The Interfaith Institute at Augsburg is not just about one individual or two or three, but a whole critical mass. The tools gained will not only solve immediate problems, but empower a whole generation of young people to respect one another’s differences, find commonality, and connect with one another for the greater good,” says Fuad.
Fuad and Nancy are delighted with what this gift will mean for the Interfaith Institute at Augsburg. They have given special praise to President Pribbenow, Matt Entenza, and Sarah Erkkinen for offering an opportunity to create what they believe will be a significant impact on society.
“This gift could have a real ripple effect,” says Matt Entenza, Chair of Augsburg’s Board of Regents. “The El-Hibris have a remarkable vision for Augsburg to lead the way by valuing faith within a pluralistic world and actively working together to create a better society. I know this is just the beginning, and look forward to growing this effort collaboratively.”
El-Hibri Endowed Chair and Executive Director
The El-Hibri Endowed Chair and Executive Director position is now open. You may view the position details through Augsburg’s HR website here: http://augsburg.interviewexchange.com/jobofferdetails.jsp?JOBID=137435. Interested candidates may apply for the position here: http://augsburg.interviewexchange.com/candapply.jsp?JOBID=137435
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.