FALL–WINTER 2019 | VOL. 82, NO. 1
Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer
Rebecca John ’13 MBA
Associate Vice President and
Chief Marketing Officer
NOTES FROM PRESIDENT PRIBBENOW
On s... Show more
FALL–WINTER 2019 | VOL. 82, NO. 1
Vice President and
Chief Operating Officer
Rebecca John ’13 MBA
Associate Vice President and
Chief Marketing Officer
NOTES FROM PRESIDENT PRIBBENOW
On seeing and being seen
We see you!
This summer, Assistant Professor Joaquin
Muñoz from our education department
greeted our incoming students with a
powerful message. He said that every one
of them deserved an adult who loved them
unconditionally. He then looked out at our
remarkable students and told them that he
loved them. He said, “I see you,” and “I will
do all I can to ensure that you are successful
at Augsburg and beyond.”
Joaquin was speaking to students of color
and indigenous students in particular, but
this is our promise to all our students: “We
see you” is at the center of Augsburg’s
commitment to meet students where they are
and walk alongside them as they pursue their
educational goals. What does it mean to say
that “we see you”? It means that your life
experience, your vocational journey, your path
to Augsburg is important to us and will be
taken seriously as we work together to ensure
It seems especially fitting as we launch our
150th anniversary—our sesquicentennial—
that we renew our promise to meet our
students where they are, to see them in all of
their astonishing and diverse life experiences,
and to accompany them as they pursue an
Our promise to see our students is evident
in all of our celebrations of our 150th
anniversary. For example, the remarkable
“Each, Together” art project—part of an
international initiative known as “Inside
Out”—is featured in this issue of Augsburg
Now (see page 16). More than 1,200
photographs are displayed on buildings
across campus: images of current students,
faculty, staff, and alumni alongside those of
historic figures like Bernhard Christensen ’22,
Augsburg’s fifth president, who looks at me
each day as I pull into my campus parking
spot! Every time I look at those photographs, I
think about how they reflect our commitment
to seeing each other, to recognizing that our
various journeys to Augsburg and beyond
are part of a remarkable narrative that has
unfolded over the past 150 years.
Since our founding in 1869 and through
the decades that followed, our institution has
grown and changed, yet our commitment to
our foundational promise has remained the
same. We see you, we love you, and together
we will fulfill our abiding promise that
Augsburg is “small to our students and
big for the world.”
PAUL C. PRIBBENOW, PRESIDENT
Director of Marketing
Laura Swanson Lindahl ’15 MBA
Director of Public Relations
and Internal Communications
Assistant Director of
Denielle Stepka ’11
Senior Creative Associate, Design
Social Media Specialist
Briana Alamilla ’17
Kate H. Elliott
Jen Nagorski ’08
Augsburg Now is published by
2211 Riverside Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55454
Opinions expressed in Augsburg Now
do not necessarily reflect official
During Augsburg’s annual community
engagement and service event—now
known as City Engagement Day—first-year
students volunteer at Twin Cities-based
organizations at the start of the academic
year. On September 3, more than 650
students in Augsburg T-shirts worked
alongside faculty and staff. Some sites
included community gardens and a river
cleanup with the National Park Service.
The Class of 2023 is Augsburg’s largest ever.
See the back cover.
02 Around the quad
16 Face value
Annual report to donors
A September to remember
26 Auggies connect
Building on an early lead
Balancing the books
28 Class notes
32 In memoriam
On the cover: Portraits of community
members—past and present—create a
tapestry of faces that celebrate, recognize,
and honor the individuals who have
contributed to Augsburg University during
the past 150 years. Read more on page 16.
All photos by Courtney Perry unless
Send address corrections to
Send comments to
PHOTO BY REBECCA SLATER
AUGSBURG’S LARGEST CLASS KICKS OFF
ACADEMIC YEAR WITH VOLUNTEERING
PHOTOS BY SHAWN NIELSEN
TRANSIT PASS FOR UNDERGRADUATES
Augsburg University now offers the Auggie Pass, a universal transit
pass that gives undergraduate students unlimited rides on buses
and light rail in a first-of-its-kind partnership between Metro Transit
and a Twin Cities university.
Augsburg’s student government approved increasing the green
fee by $5 to $20 per semester to pay for the Auggie Pass in order
to reduce students’ out-of-pocket costs while improving their
chances of accepting jobs and internships that involve a commute.
Day Student Government is officially responsible for overseeing the
green fee that supports sustainability efforts.
The Auggie Pass is valid throughout the school year and is paid
for from both the student green fee and university operating funds.
All traditional undergraduate students who pay the semester green
fee are eligible for the pass at no additional cost.
“As someone who uses the bus every day, it’s great not to have
that financial burden,” said Skye Ryge ’20, who advocated for the
pass. “It’s really economically advantageous to students who pay
for school, like me, to not have to choose between textbooks and
President Paul Pribbenow named
FUNDRAISER OF THE YEAR
Augsburg University President Paul
Pribbenow was named an Outstanding
Fundraising Professional for his effective,
creative, and inspiring leadership.
The highest honor bestowed upon one of
its members, the award was presented by
the Association of Fundraising Professionals
at the International Fundraising Conference
in San Antonio this spring. “The impact
of Paul Pribbenow on the organizations
he has served is only exceeded by the
impact he has had on the entire fundraising
profession,” said AFP President and
CEO Mike Geiger. “It is fair to say that
fundraising—and how we look at ethics
and philanthropy—would look differently
without the contributions of Paul. His work
will serve as one of the cornerstones of the
profession for years to come.”
VARSITY WOMEN’S WRESTLING TEAM
Augsburg announced earlier this year the addition of a varsity women’s
This new team continues the pioneering tradition in women’s athletics
at Augsburg, which now has the only varsity women’s wrestling team in
Minnesota. In 1995, Augsburg became the first college in the Midwest
to sponsor a varsity women’s ice hockey team. Then, in 2014, Augsburg
became the first collegiate institution in Minnesota to sponsor a varsity
women’s lacrosse team.
The women’s wrestling team is competing this academic year under
head coach Max Mejia, who most recently served as women’s and
developmental coach at the Sunkist Kids Regional Training Center in
Mejia, a 2015 graduate of Harvard University, has helped coach a
World Team Trials champion and another finalist; two senior national
team members; a U.S. Open champion, finalist, and placewinner; and
four Arizona high school state champions.
The first recorded baseball
Abolitionists Frederick Douglass
and Harriet Tubman are born.
Leaders sign Norway’s constitution.
Abraham Lincoln serves as
president of the United States.
Victor Hugo publishes the novel
Pharmacist John Pemberton invents
The first automobile with an
internal combustion engine is
Answers: 1. Older; 1846. 2. Older; 1818 and 1822.
3. Older; 1814. 4. Older; 1861–65. 5. Older; 1862.
6. Younger; 1886. 7. Older; 1807.
In honor of Augsburg’s founding in 1869,
the university is celebrating the past and
the present with sesquicentennial events
all year long. Think you know history?
Test your knowledge: Identify whether
each of the events below is older or
younger than Augsburg.
German scholars and artists join
PHOTO BY STEPHEN GEFFRE
Augsburg University’s third River Semester launched in August as part of
a prestigious German initiative to explore the Mississippi River.
“Mississippi. An Anthropocene River” is a German research project
involving many communities and initiatives along the river with a focus
on climate change. Joining Augsburg students are German travelers,
including artists, authors, journalists, and scholars from the Max Planck
Institute and the Goethe Institute.
This year’s River Semester voyagers departed from Lake Itasca in
northern Minnesota and, for 100 days, are paddling portions of the
Mississippi River to reach New Orleans. The students will earn 16 to
AROUND THE QUAD
BOARD OF REGENTS MEMBERS
At its annual September meeting, the Augsburg Corporation
elected four new members to the Board of Regents and
re-elected three members.
Elected to their first term on the Augsburg Board of Regents:
Sylvia Bartley, senior global
director, Medtronic Foundation
Ellen Ewald, co-owner and
executive advisor at Tysvar LLC
and mobileAxept in Minneapolis
John O’Brien, president and chief
executive officer of Educause;
former president of North
Hennepin Community College in
John Schwartz ’67, retired hospital
administrator at Advocate Trinity
Hospital in Chicago and former
general manager of SmithKline
Beecham Clinical Laboratories,
Upgraded training room
boosts athletes’ efficiency
Augsburg’s athletic training room has moved to a larger,
substantially upgraded space in Si Melby Hall.
In this new space, sports medicine support staff from on
and off campus—including team physicians, chiropractors,
physical therapists, and dietitians—can work collaboratively
with athletic trainers to better serve Augsburg’s more than
500 student-athletes from 22 varsity sports. Philanthropic
gifts paid for the upgrades, with student-athletes gaining the
benefit of more efficient scheduling.
“The ability to serve multiple teams at the same time in
the larger space, with state-of-the-art equipment, will be the
biggest advantage and benefit for the student-athlete,” said
Missy Strauch, Augsburg’s head athletic trainer.
Augsburg hosts inaugural
HUMAN RIGHTS FORUM
Elected to a third term:
Karen Durant ’81, retired vice
president and controller of
Tennant Company, Golden Valley,
Matt Entenza, attorney in private
practice in St. Paul, Minnesota,
and former Minnesota state
Jeff Nodland ’77, retired president
and chief executive officer of KIK Custom Products
The Human Rights Forum at Augsburg University welcomed
about 800 students, thought leaders, global changemakers,
and activists this fall. In partnership with the Human Rights
Foundation, which also produces the Oslo Freedom Forum,
the two-day event at Augsburg brought together participants
from a variety of institutions and locations around the world.
The first day explored human rights issues in authoritarian
regimes, and the second day focused on racial justice,
indigenous rights, and environmental sustainability.
John Schwartz ’67
See the full list of Board of Regents members
2019 Media Sponsor
Learn more at augsburg.edu/humanrightsforum.
OREN GATEWAY CENTER
lobby renovation provides
The Oren Gateway Center lobby and adjoining Nabo cafe were redesigned and
renovated during the summer, creating more inviting campus meeting spaces.
The Nabo security gate was relocated to allow access to the bookstore and seating
area beyond the cafe’s hours of operation. Key pieces of kitchen equipment also
were upgraded. This project was funded by A’viands, Augsburg’s food service
provider, as part of its most recent dining contract with the university.
Augsburg names inaugural
This fall, Augsburg named Business Department Chair Jeanne Boeh the
Sundquist Endowed Professor of Business Administration.
The Sundquist professorship supports business administration,
Augsburg’s largest academic department with the most undergraduate
students on campus. Boeh, a professor of economics, has been teaching
at Augsburg since 1990 and often appears in media interviews and on
business panels using her talent for bringing complex business concepts
“Jeanne Boeh will lead Augsburg’s efforts to attract top business
faculty, thanks to this generous endowment,” said Augsburg
University President Paul Pribbenow. “She is known as a faculty
leader on campus and for her strong commitment to students as they
prepare for careers in business.”
This endowed professorship is named for alumnus Dean Sundquist ’81,
an Augsburg Board of Regents member and chairman and CEO of
Anoka, Minnesota-based Mate Precision Tooling. Sundquist and his
wife, Amy, have made several major investments in Augsburg.
The Forum on Workplace Inclusion has a new
home at Augsburg University. Previously based
at the University of St. Thomas, the forum is the
nation’s largest workplace diversity, equity, and
inclusion conference designed for national and
The forum has served as a convening hub for
those seeking to grow professional leadership and
effective skills in the field of diversity, equity, and
inclusion by engaging people, advancing ideas,
and igniting change.
“The Forum on Workplace Inclusion is excited to
begin a new chapter at Augsburg University,” said
Steve Humerickhouse, executive director of The
Forum. “We look forward to the amazing things we
can create with our new Auggie family.”
From disease to remedy: How
nostalgia offers a psychological boost
A special vacation with family members you miss. That unforgettable meal at your
favorite restaurant with your favorite person. The album you used to listen to nonstop
during the ups and downs of high school. You’re happy you have those pleasant
memories, but you’re also sad they’re over. You are experiencing nostalgia.
Throwback TV shows, retro fashion, and reboots of toys, trinkets, and stories from decades ago have people wondering
if American culture is at its peak in terms of nostalgia—and how long it can last. Bridget Robinson-Riegler is a professor
of psychology at Augsburg University. Taking a moment between writing a cognitive psychology textbook, research, and
teaching and learning with her students, she explores what psychology can tell us about nostalgia’s appeal.
What is nostalgia? How does it
relate to memory?
Nostalgia is a sentimental longing
for one’s past. The emotion is deeply
social and bittersweet but predominantly
positive. Nostalgic memories are
recollections of atypical life events (e.g.,
vacations) that involve close relationships
(e.g., family, friends) or events from
childhood. We view these experiences with
rose-colored glasses so negative aspects
are often not remembered. We miss those
experiences and yearn to relive them.
Where did the idea of
The word “nostalgia” is a compound
of two Greek words that essentially
mean a sad mood originating from a
desire to return to one’s native land. The
word was coined in the 17th century
by a medical student who was helping
Swiss mercenaries working in France.
He observed symptoms of sadness,
loss of appetite, insomnia, cardiac
palpitation—things we would diagnose
as post-traumatic stress disorder today.
Much of the early interest in nostalgia
focused on how to stop these thoughts
because it was considered a disease
and the resulting symptoms prevented
individuals from performing at their
How does nostalgia affect people
Nostalgic remembering is
most likely to occur in times of
loneliness, negative moods, or feelings of
meaninglessness. It is basically a coping
mechanism to deal with distress. Rather
than being the problem (the disease, as
it was conceptualized when the term was
first coined), it is the way we cope (more
like the remedy or cure). Even if we may
feel bad and disconnected in our current
life, we can “relive” a time when we felt
good and were not lonely. Reconstructing
memories and projecting ourselves into
the future are interdependent cognitive
processes that share a system in the brain.
So, when we think about a time when
we were socially connected and at our
“personal best,” these feelings stretch out
into our future, and we become hopeful
and consequently feel better.
How is nostalgia active in
Given the state of the world—
climate change, ups and downs in
the economy, racist acts, problematic
government leadership—it is not surprising
that nostalgic thinking is common.
This type of societal distress can lead
to personal nostalgia and to collective
nostalgia in which people long for a time
when they viewed the world as a better
place, even if it wasn’t. So there is a
resurgence of old TV shows, vinyl records,
throwback uniforms for athletic teams,
retro clothes, and other products. We
seek comfort with familiar products from
childhood or from a time when the world
was viewed as “better” or “easier.”
Visit augsburg.edu/now to read more
2019–20 CONVOCATION SERIES
Augsburg University’s annual convocation series provides
dedicated time during the academic year to hear from
outstanding leaders and visionaries.
In October, this year’s series kicked off with the Bernhard
M. Christensen Symposium featuring Munib Younan,
retired bishop of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in Jordan
and the Holy Land and former president of the Lutheran
World Federation, and Hamdy El-Sawaf, founder and
psychotherapist at the Family Counseling Center and imam
of Masjid Al-Iman in
Hamdy El-Sawaf Minneapolis. Through
their presentations, each shared personal
experiences and religious perspectives
Join us January 20, 2020
on hope, reconciliation, and resiliency
for the Martin Luther King Jr. Convocation.
All convocation events are free and open to
in the midst of suffering and struggles
the public. Visit augsburg.edu/convo.
that often are intensified by religious
convictions and differences.
SAVE THE DATE:
PHYSICIAN ASSISTANT STUDIES PROGRAM
moves to new Minneapolis location
The physician assistant studies graduate program moved into a renovated, leased
space in the Riverside Park Plaza building.
The building’s location, at 701 25th Avenue South in Minneapolis, puts it
among the medical facilities of the University of Minnesota Medical Center
and the Masonic Children’s Hospital and just a short walk from the Augsburg
University campus. The program’s move in August came after four years at
Luther Seminary in St. Paul, Minnesota.
The new space, which features an increased footprint for classroom and clinical
lab instruction, supports potential future departmental growth and allows the
program faculty, students, and staff to engage with Minneapolis campus activities.
“The curriculum was redesigned to be more case-based and hands-on, and this
new space will allow for a more creative and innovative learning environment,”
said Alicia Quella, the physician assistant studies program director and
AROUND THE QUAD
AWARDS AND HONORS
Best Regional Universities by
U.S. News & World Report:
U.S. News & World Report again
named Augsburg one of the Best
Regional Universities in the Midwest in
2019. This year, Augsburg is No. 13,
which makes it the top Minnesota school
on the list. Augsburg is also ranked ninth
for undergraduate teaching, eighth in its
support for veterans, top in the state and
sixth overall for innovation, and fourth
in promoting social mobility. Rankings
are based on average first-year retention
rates, graduation rates, class sizes,
student-to-faculty ratios, and
Best in the Midwest by The Princeton
Review: The Princeton Review
again named Augsburg one of the Best
in the Midwest for academic excellence
25 LGBTQ Friendly Colleges: College
Consensus, a new college review
aggregator, recognized Augsburg in its
survey of 25 LGBTQ Friendly Colleges of
2019. College Consensus works to bring
attention to schools that other ranking
Top Schools for Indigenous Americans:
In 2019, the American Indian
Science and Engineering Society’s Winds
of Change magazine selected Augsburg
as one of the Top 200 Schools for
Indigenous American and Alaska Native
students pursuing degrees in science,
technology, engineering, and math.
Top Military Friendly School:
Augsburg was again named a
Military Friendly® School, a list compiled
through extensive research and a free,
data-driven survey of more than 10,000
2018–19 AUGSBURG UNIVERSITY
You are a part of a large
community of Augsburg donors.
We are so grateful for the
generosity of this community of
people who support our mission.
AUGSBURG BY THE NUMBERS
16.2 average class size
13:1 student-to-faculty ratio
50+ undergraduate majors
10 graduate degrees
traditional undergraduate students
of traditional undergraduate
first-year students live on campus
Data from 2018–19 academic year
of Augsburg undergraduates
are first-generation college students
of traditional undergraduates
are students of color
U.S. states represented by the
undergraduate student body
countries represented by the
undergraduate student body
of traditional undergraduates
receive some form of financial aid
AUGSBURG DONORS ENSURE OPPORTUNITIES
Hazen and Kathy Graves
• Hazen: Retired partner at Faegre Baker Daniels
• Kathy: Principal for communications and
planning firm Parenteau Graves
• Priority: Support higher education institutions
that serve students with physical disabilities
When Hazen and Kathy Graves toured Augsburg with
their son, Sam Graves ’16, they found that it offered
the unique assistance Sam needed as a young man
with cerebral palsy who uses a power wheelchair. “As
we learned more about the support Augsburg offers
to students with various kinds of challenges, we
came to understand that Augsburg had been doing
this for a long time,” said Hazen.
Sam graduated with a degree in psychology.
The idea of supporting Augsburg financially
occurred to both Hazen and Kathy independently,
and they decided to donate $50,000 to endow a
scholarship. “Access to higher education is a big
issue,” Hazen said, “and we’re just doing our
Find more donor stories at
AVERAGE GIFT SIZE
NUMBER OF DONORS LAST YEAR
Brian Anderson ’82 and
Leeann Rock ’81
• Brian: PhD in physics at the University of
Minnesota, taught at Augsburg, joined Johns
Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory
• Leeann: MD from the University of Minnesota,
pathologist at Frederick Memorial Hospital
• Priority: Expand students’ academic
opportunities and multidisciplinary efforts
Husband and wife Brian Anderson ’82 and
Leeann Rock ’81 are donating $50,000 to endow
the Raymond E. and Margaret J. Anderson
Scholarship in honor of Brian’s parents’ legacy, as
well as in honor of Brian’s brother, Augsburg Physics
Professor Emeritus Stuart Anderson ’78.
Brian’s father, the late Raymond E. Anderson,
joined Augsburg in 1949 as a speech and
communications professor. Brian’s mother, the late
Margaret J. Anderson, came to Augsburg in 1967
and became library director.
Endowing a scholarship is “a formal way of
maintaining our relationship with Augsburg while
ensuring more opportunities for students in the
future,” Brian said.
• Retired clinical psychologist who studied at
the State University of New York—Buffalo and
Michigan State University
• Priority: Equitable representation of women in
education and leadership, including in faculty
roles, administration, and political offices
Linda Giacomo was the first in her family to attend
college. She empathizes with immigrant struggles,
recalling impoverished grandparents who left
southern Italy to become naturalized U.S. citizens and
parents who could not afford their children’s college
tuition despite holding four jobs combined.
“Education is transformative in a way that gives
you so much power and choice. People should not
be denied that opportunity because they have no
money,” she said.
Noting that women earn 26% less than men but
carry two-thirds of the nation’s college debt, Giacomo
designated a $30,000 outright gift to the Augsburg
Women Engaged Scholarship as well as a generous
“To not be generous, to not share what you have
with those in need, is heartbreaking,” she said. “In
making these gifts to Augsburg, my heart is full.”
ENDOWMENT MARKET VALUE
May 31, 2019—$49,644,712
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 2017 2018 2019
REVENUE BY SOURCE
EXPENSES BY SOURCE
39% Salaries and benefits
34% Financial aid
19% Operating expenses
3% Utilities and insurance
2% Debt services
2% Student compensation
1% Capital improvement
WHERE GIFTS ARE FROM
8% Room and board
6% Gifts and private
3% Government grants
2% Endowment income
GALA AT A GLANCE
• 1,000 Auggies attended the gala.
• Thanks to our generous guests, we raised a total of
$1.4 million in support of Augsburg’s mission.
• Paul Mueller ’84 and Nancy (Mackey) Mueller ’85
issued a challenge and pledged to match every gift
at the $1,000 level dollar for dollar up to $100,000.
It wouldn’t be right to mark 150 years of Augsburg with a
small affair—so we threw a huge, once-in-a-lifetime party.
On Friday, September 27, Auggies of all kinds dressed up
and headed to Renaissance Minneapolis Hotel—The Depot in
downtown Minneapolis for the Sesquicentennial Gala, a night of
dinner, dancing, revisiting the university’s history, and rallying
support to propel Augsburg into the next 150 years.
1) Gala attendees pose for a photo.
2) Minnesota Governor Tim Walz, a guest speaker for the evening,
takes a selfie with Augsburg Day Student Government leaders
Arianna Antone-Ramirez ’20 and Lucia Davila ’20.
3) Provost Karen Kaivola and students dance to live music.
PHOTO BY LAUREN FALK
Auggies continued the celebration Saturday, September 28,
with a full day of Homecoming festivities, including Taste
of Augsburg, a chapel service, the football game, and the
Augsburg Music Department Collage Concert. The classes
of 1969, 1979, and 2009 celebrated milestone reunions.
Donte Collins ’18 embraces
English Professor Doug Green.
“Auggie, you are called into the world.
Into your wonder. Your why. To wrestle
with reason. To spot the problem. And propose new
parts. To walk toward your fears. To find the heart.
We are Called. We are Auggies.”
—from “We Are Auggies,” a spoken-word piece
written and performed by Donte Collins ’18
PHOTO BY BOB STACKE '71
Campaign Chair Paul Mueller ’84 joins
President Paul Pribbenow on stage.
“Augsburg is astonishing. Which is really to say that
the people of Augsburg are astonishing—Brilliant.
Committed. Resilient. You might try to hide it or
downplay it, but it is undeniably, unequivocally,
tangibly bursting forth from everything you do. It has
been nearly 15 years since I first stepped on campus.
And, today, the world is noticing Augsburg, what it is,
and does, and stands for. Not just in the Twin Cities,
but nationally and internationally.”
—from President Paul Pribbenow’s gala remarks
AN EARLY LEAD
BY KATE H. ELLIOTT
Athletics secures NCAA grant to fund first-of-its-kind position supporting culture of inclusion
Hop, step, and jump. Hop, step, and jump.
Training for the 2004 Summer Olympic Games, Chris Dixon
could think of little else than the triple jump cadence.
Hop, step, and jump. Hop, step, and jump.
Then at practice, hop, step, and crack—followed by intense
pain, doctors, and confirmation that his Olympic dreams
shattered along with his ankle.
Dixon spent the next few years figuring out who he was off
the field—the place where athletic ability and subsequent
praise had become closely linked to his sense of identity. It was
a journey as difficult—if not more so—than his climb to peak
performance. During that dark, confusing time, he promised
himself: If I’m ever in a position to help others transition to life
after sports, I will.
Since July, Dixon has served as Augsburg University’s director
of athletic diversity and inclusion and assistant coach for the
men’s and women’s track and field teams. He is eager to return to
the field as a coach, and he has a game plan to use the new role
to promote a culture of inclusion. This job is personal, Dixon said.
“I was one of only a few African American kids in elementary
school. People would ask to touch my hair, and I felt different
until fifth grade, when I performed in front of my peers and
teachers at a district track meet,” he said. “For the first time, I
felt accepted and embraced, and from then on, my identity was
as an athlete. I loved it, don’t get me wrong, but it was difficult
to adjust once I left the arena.”
Dixon never had an African American teacher or coach other
than a friend’s dad who, after selling insurance all day,
volunteered for Dixon’s high school track and field team.
“I had amazing coaches and teachers, but I never saw
myself in those roles,” he said. These and other life
experiences inform his outlook on this new role
and emphasize the importance of his presence at
Augsburg, where he also teaches Introduction
“I am meeting student-athletes and talking
with them about the challenges they face. I
am working to be a presence on campus—
to break down stereotypes for some and
to be a role model for others,” he said.
“Alongside student-athletes and our athletics
administration, I want to create or enhance
academic resources, life-skills development,
and networking opportunities.”
Personal connections and consistent,
centralized support are critical to the
success of underrepresented studentathletes, Dixon said. “Augsburg is already
ahead of the game. The student body is
diverse, and there are many resources across
campus that support inclusion. I plan to work
with and build on what’s already there.”
A plan—starting with breakfast
Student-athletes attend a networking event hosted by Chris Dixon.
As the sun rose on the second Thursday in October,
Dixon greeted several tables of student-athletes seated
in The Commons in Christensen Center. The young men
of color connected with each other over breakfast before
hearing advice from Jareck Horton, district sales manager
at PDC IDenticard, and Augsburg Football Assistant Coach
Keanon Cooper. Dixon plans to invite successful men of color
from a range of professions to these monthly networking
socials, and he will hold similar events with other groups.
Alicia Schuelke ’20 MAE, graduate assistant coach for track
and field, said she and other students are thrilled with Dixon’s
enthusiasm and vision for the role.
“In a world where, many times, the odds are stacked
against us, leaders of color provide hope and strength,”
said Schuelke, a student in the Master of Arts in Education
program. “I came to Augsburg for the MAE program, but I was
pleasantly surprised to find how diverse the campus is, and it
is my absolute favorite part of my learning experience.
“If we can move the needle toward a more diverse group of
leaders that better represent our country’s demographics, then
students of color will begin to understand that the
sky’s the limit in terms of their own hopes,
dreams, and aspirations.”
, I want to
Position the result of
NCAA diversity grant
Dixon’s position is largely made
possible through a two-year NCAA
Ethnic Minorities and Women’s
Internship Grant, which provides
financial assistance to member
institutions who create full-time,
entry-level administrative positions
for people who identify as an ethnic
minority and/or a woman, according
to federal guidelines. The grant also
supports professional development and
Augsburg was one of only 20
institutions and conference offices
selected to receive the grant this cycle,
and it is the third award for Augsburg
in the past decade. The university first
secured the Ethnic Minorities and
Women’s Internship Grant during the
2012 to 2014 cycle to fund Jennifer
Jacobs’ role as assistant director
of NCAA compliance and assistant
volleyball coach. In 2014, Augsburg
received the NCAA’s Strategic Alliance
Matching Grant, which funds fulltime, mid- to senior-level athletics
administration positions during a fiveyear commitment. Jacobs’ role then
evolved into assistant athletic director
of external relations and diversity and
inclusion, in addition to her role as
assistant volleyball coach. She is
now head volleyball coach at
Augsburg’s Associate Athletic
Director Kelly Anderson Diercks said
the department is driven to advance
diversity and inclusion. “Embracing
and connecting students of all
backgrounds and experiences is the
right thing to do, but it is also smart,”
she said. “More diverse teams are
often stronger teams. They produce
student-athletes who are better
prepared to excel in play and in life.”
Anderson Diercks is a product of
the NCAA’s diversity grants, first as an
intern for the Minnesota Intercollegiate
Athletic Conference and then as an
assistant director. The experience,
Anderson Diercks said, transformed
how she operates as a leader in a maledominated profession. More than a
decade has passed, but she remains in
contact with the mentor assigned to her
during the internship.
“These are critical opportunities for
women and minorities to enter into
leadership positions with tremendous
personal and professional resources
designed to equip them with the tools
and outlook to navigate difficult roles,”
said Anderson Diercks, who formerly
served as chair of the NCAA Ethnic
Minority and Women’s Internship
selection committee. “We are
particularly excited about Coach Dixon’s
position because, to our knowledge, it is
the only role of its kind.”
Augsburg is ‘ahead of the game’
Ali Spungen, associate director of
Division III for the NCAA, said that
about 130 positions have been
awarded through diversity grants during
the past five years—that’s more than
$36 million in funds for positions and
professional development. Augsburg,
Spungen said, stands out as a leader in
the division, which is well positioned to
meet the needs of diverse populations.
“Division III allows student-athletes
to play the sports they love within
departments also focused on their
academics and social engagement,”
said Spungen, also a past grant
recipient. “These positions empower
leaders like Coach Dixon to thrive,
which inspires and encourages
students. Augsburg clearly cares for
its student-athletes and is willing to
dedicate time and resources to ensure
they are successful and well-rounded.”
Dixon is ready and grateful to come
full-circle—to be the coach and teacher
he never had and to prepare others for
the transitions he never saw coming.
Merton Strommen ’42 and
Gladys Strommen ’46
Merton Strommen ’42 and Gladys Strommen ’46 were a part of a
family legacy at Augsburg that has spanned generations. The
Strommens have widely shared their gifts and talents with the
university, and their impact on the Augsburg community will be
felt for many years to come.
Mert Strommen died September 2. Youth ministry was the core
of his life’s work—as campus pastor at Augsburg and founder of
Search Institute, which has an international impact on youth work
through research. Mert and his wife, Irene (Huglen) ’44, started the
Youth and Family Institute at Augsburg and also created the David
Strommen Endowed Fund for youth ministry. Mert also served on
Augsburg’s Board of Regents, founded and directed the Augsburg
Centennial Singers, and was awarded Fellow status by the
American Psychological Association for his pioneering research in
psychology and religion.
Gladys Boxrud Strommen passed away May 26. Gladys and
husband, Clair ’46, who passed away in 2001, have served and
supported Augsburg in many significant ways over their lives
and created a lasting legacy through their work and dedication.
Gladys was a supportive partner to Clair in developing his career
in business and leadership with Strommen & Associates and
Lutheran Brotherhood, now known as Thrivent Financial. Gladys
served on the Board of Regents, co-founded the Augsburg
Associates, and hosted many alumni gatherings in her homes in
Minnesota and Florida.
Through a generous gift, the family established the Clair
and Gladys Strommen Center for Meaningful Work in 2014 in
recognition of their personal commitment to create meaning and
purpose in work and life.
“Clair and Gladys Strommen are forever woven into the
fabric of Augsburg through their commitment to lives filled with
purpose and meaning,” said Lee George, executive director of the
Strommen Center. “Through the Strommen Center for Meaningful
Work, Clair and Gladys’ legacy is realized in students who commit
themselves to exploring their values, passions, and skills and
understanding how they can be put to use in the world.”
The Strommens also commissioned a sculpture in front of
Christensen Center and have two endowed funds: a scholarship
fund and a program fund for the Strommen Center.
As President Paul Pribbenow said in his campus announcement
of Gladys’ passing, “Her loss is a big one, but her legacy will
continue to be felt by generations of Auggies to come.”
BY LISA RENZE-RHODES
Dakota and Ojibwe.
Norwegian and Irish.
Art installations celebrate
individuals, expound on
Augsburg’s history, and
expand the boundaries
Somali and Ethiopian.
On and around the land that today houses Augsburg University’s
Minneapolis campus, they celebrated births and mourned deaths.
They spoke languages of love and laughter, stress and sorrow. They
built families, businesses, and dreams.
They were here and many are gone, at once everywhere and
nowhere because in the blistering pace and abundant distractions
of the human ecosystem we all inhabit, it’s natural that we forget
who came before us.
But what if—even for a moment—we turned our attention to
who we were and who we are right now? To who worships next to
us, or walks by us in the grocery, or shares an apartment wall?
“On This Spot” and “Each, Together”
bring into focus the history of the campus
and the surrounding neighborhood, and
the people who are the Augsburg of
yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
What would we discover if we intentionally took notice of who
we are and where we’ve come from?
This idea is at the core of new art and historical exhibits that
cover collectively four city blocks on 12 of Augsburg’s building
facades and 37 window panes around campus. As part of
Augsburg’s sesquicentennial celebration, artists and designers at
the university wanted to give the community a chance to reflect on
their history and their people. So the works, dubbed respectively
“On This Spot” and “Each, Together,” bring into focus the history
of the campus and the surrounding neighborhood, and the people
who are the Augsburg of yesterday, today, and tomorrow.
‘Humans at the center’
Photographers capture portraits at Augsburg events to use in
“Each, Together,” the larger of the two projects, is a Group Action of
the international “Inside Out: The People’s Art Project” initiative that
launched in 2011 after a French street artist, known only as JR, won
that year’s TED Prize. First awarded in 2005, the TED (Technology,
Entertainment, and Design) Prize has become synonymous with
visionary thinking meant to spark change throughout the world.
Winners of the award—including educators, artists, chefs, journalists,
and even former President Bill Clinton—have used the $1 million
prize to fuel specific community projects, like healthy food initiatives
and educational innovations. The winning projects all have one
thing in common: They are designed to make people engage in
In the case of artist JR’s project, his vision was to create works
that “shine a light on the unsung and give everyone the dignity they
deserve.” And he hoped that beyond his capacity as one artist, people
around the world would join in the celebration of others.
To date, more than 260,000 people in 129 countries have
participated in different versions of the project featuring faces
displayed on billboards, buildings, sidewalks, and in digital
collections. Augsburg is one of the latest communities to answer the call.
“We saw that invitation, that there was a related, common ethos to
what we have here at Augsburg, and that the project was similar to
public works we’ve done here,” said Christopher Houltberg, Augsburg
associate professor of art and design. “It’s really about putting
humans at the center.”
My former college roommate had
eagle eyes today and found me!
Responses edited for length and clarity.
—ERICA HULS ’01
Hey, look who I found! #AugsburgFamous
Look ma I made it!!!!! @AugsburgU
—APRIL JOHNSON ’18
So a team that included a curator, nine photographers,
and three designers—Houltberg, Maggie Royce ’15, and
Indra Ramassamy ’18—worked for several months between
Fall 2018 and Summer 2019. The photographers attended
between 15 and 20 campus events, all working to capture as
many faces as possible to best tell the Augsburg story.
“The way we went about it was really organic,” Houltberg
said. “We started going to events around campus in Fall 2018
and then in the springtime, trying to get to as many different
ones as possible. There’s a really big holiday event called Advent
Vespers, and a lot of alumni come to that.”
All told, the group took more than 900 photos and gathered
about 300 additional images of historic Auggies.
“It’s very democratic; everyone is given the same amount of
space,” Houltberg said. “From our president, Paul Pribbenow, to
people who work on our janitorial staff, to our students, to our
former mayor, R.T. Rybak.
“As we were defining the parameters [of the ‘Each, Together’
project] it was a fun surprise for us to see who self-identified as
part of Augsburg.”
Bigger dose of Augsburg
R.T. Rybak, current president of the Minneapolis Foundation,
was the mayor of Minneapolis from 2002 to 2014. He said it
would be impossible to think of the growth and development of
the city without considering the role Augsburg has played in
“I’ve conservatively said 1,000 times in public speeches
that the neighborhood where Augsburg is, is our Ellis Island.
One wave after the other washes in and the next wave builds on
top, and it’s something that no one wave could have created in
isolation,” Rybak said.
That’s most certainly the story of the Cedar-Riverside
neighborhood that surrounds Augsburg and the story of
Minneapolis as a whole.
“... I often think we just need a bigger dose
of Augsburg. We need to realize that offering
that ladder of opportunity to someone else
makes all of us able to climb higher. We are
—R.T. Rybak, former Minneapolis mayor
“Augsburg is a shining example of the very best parts of
Minneapolis’ history. The university represents opening doors to
people with strange names like Johnson or Anderson or Rybak,
and keeping those doors open for people with names that come
from Africa, Asia, and places across the globe.
“When I get down about what’s fracturing our deeply divided
country and world today, I often think we just need a bigger
dose of Augsburg. We need to realize that offering that ladder
of opportunity to someone else makes all of us able to climb
higher. We are better together.”
Houltberg said the “together” ideal is at the heart of the exhibit.
“As individuals we are showing up, and collectively we can do
something greater than what we can do on our own,” he said. “I
loved seeing the portraits blocked together, seeing people stop and
take selfies. There are people who say, ‘I recognize who that is!’”
Forward facing, historic reflections
Kristin Anderson, a co-creator of these projects as well as a
professor of art history and Augsburg archivist, said she’s only
heard good things about the exhibit.
“I have seen emails and tweets—sometimes emotional—with
people responding to the wall as a whole, as well as to their
individual images,” Anderson said.
The community is responding to the historical revisit that
“On This Spot” installations provide, too, she said.
That exhibit features enormous panels that share Augsburg
moments that photographers captured decades ago. The campus
life of yesteryear includes images of young bobby soxer women
from the 1940s in saddle shoes and flowing skirts in contrast
with men wearing formal suits while tramping across a snowcovered campus.
I’m so proud to be part of the @insideoutproject at
@augsburguniversity in honor of the Sesquicentennial!
—NIK LINDE ’15
“It has been a fun way to bring some old photographs to life
and to show how the campus is layered on the site. Those ‘lost’
buildings displayed on the walls of the current buildings help
to connect us to our past, reminding us of the imagination and
commitment of our predecessors,” Anderson said.
The two exhibits are being admired by community members
who see the campus regularly and by those who keep up with
Augsburg from a distance.
Killa (Martinez Aleman) Marti ’08 came to Augsburg from her
home in Honduras. Marti said she brought her own values with
her when she enrolled, “but Augsburg put them to work. The
Auggie community showed me that I wasn’t crazy to want a
career with meaning.”
“Those ‘lost’ buildings displayed on the walls
of the current buildings help to connect us to
our past, reminding us of the imagination and
commitment of our predecessors.”
—Kristin Anderson, university archivist
For Marti, “Each, Together” perfectly sums up her experience
“My career is an intersection of what I love to do with the
opportunity to serve,” said Marti, an attorney in Atlanta. “To
think critically, to be socially and community-minded—all of the
things I exercise in my life were supported and further developed
Houltberg said it’s difficult not to consider the greater impact
that art, especially a work like “Each, Together,” has.
“Having a group of artists, designers, and photographers come
together to make something this beautiful and to see it up and
fully functioning is pretty great,” he said.
“It has created a tangible thread between all of us, which
transcends 150 years and all our history,” said Ramassamy, who
worked with the team to design “Each, Together.”
“We live in a visual world yet we can be unaware of each
other,” she said. “This project is making us aware of one
another, making us pay attention, making us curious about the
person in the portrait above or to the left or right of us.”
“I love watching people who are walking down the streets
looking at the portraits,” Houltberg said. “There’s an element of
surprise to it that’s really fantastic. Sometimes the tendency is
to put people in big groups. But if you look at these portraits, look
at the eyes, and look at the humans who are represented here, you
see just how wide a spectrum of humans we are. Anytime we can
show the humans and not the institution, we win.”
“On This Spot” installations show how Augsburg’s landscape, architecture, and people have changed in the past 150 years.
BY THE NUMBERS
A crew works to install a portion of the 1,246 portraits
that make up “Each, Together.”
SQUARE FEET curator
BY THE NUMBERS
On This Spot
Members of the university’s faculty and staff launched a
number of special projects, including “Each, Together”
and “On This Spot,” to commemorate Augsburg’s
See other sesquicentennial projects at augsburg.edu/150.
Catch a glimpse of the Augsburg of yesteryear, thanks to “On This Spot”
displays on window panes around campus.
Mary Taris ’04 is a graduate of Augsburg’s Adult
Undergraduate program, which was ranked ninth in
Best Colleges’ 50 Top Colleges for Older Students.
BY KATE H. EL
Augsburg alumna starts a publishing
company, creates the diverse book list
she wished she had
oung Mary Taris ’04 was so
thankful to be a girl. The Minneapolis
Public Housing Authority required children of
different genders to have separate bedrooms, so
while her brothers had to share a room, Taris had
her own. Through reading, her bedroom walls grew
into a mythical grove where she’d encounter a
prince or sit for tea with Frog and Toad.
“I escaped into books. Or maybe,” she said, “I
disappeared in them.” Books gave her the life she
longed for, but those beloved tales were someone
else’s story. She was 20 before she read a book with
Now 55, the retired teacher is driven to change
that narrative. Last August, at the historic James
J. Hill Center in St. Paul, Minnesota, Taris stood in
front of family and friends to voice her dream, Strive
Publishing, into existence. The startup—based out
of her Twin Cities home—supports emerging authors
of picture books and young adult novels that are
culturally relevant, contemporary, and relatable to
kids of all shades, abilities, and experiences.
“Everyone has a story, and those stories build
bridges to connect us all,” said Taris, a graduate of
Augsburg University’s Adult Undergraduate program,
a flexible degree program that pairs on-campus
classes with online coursework
in a dozen undergraduate
majors. “Too often, authors
conform to narrow industry
standards driven by profit, but I
refuse.” At Strive, Taris and her
team work to create pathways
for writers and artists from all
backgrounds to write about
their own experiences and a
wider array of identities.
Publishing stories that
represent and connect
Strive Publishing has released
three titles by local African
American authors, and several
more books are in the works
with upcoming launch dates.
Taris’ efforts have been featured
nationally and celebrated
locally, with invitations to
conduct workshops at schools,
partner with established
publishing companies, and
co-sponsor the inaugural African
American Voices in Children’s
Literature Contest in partnership
with Free Spirit Publishing.
“Strive is more than a
company; it’s a mindset,” she
said. “I was a runaway teen
mom who finished high school
while striving to raise a son
and work for a better life.”
That determination led her to
enroll in Augsburg’s elementary
education program. Juggling
work and family, it took Taris
eight years to graduate,
but she walked across the
commencement stage and into
the classroom where she taught
a range of grades and subjects
(mostly English) for 15 years.
“I became the first person in
my family to earn a college
degree,” she said. “It had been
my dream since childhood.”
Augsburg left a mark on
Taris, as classes exposed her
to inequities in education and
literature. Taris reframed those
inequities as opportunities.
Now, years later, Barbara West,
director of student teacher
placement at Augsburg,
recalled Taris’ embrace of
story-filled, relevant learning.
While student-teaching, Taris
invited a Japanese friend to talk
with students who were reading
a novel about a Japanese girl
during World War II. On her
lunch hour, Taris met with
eighth-graders to advise on a
She sought to incorporate
diverse voices and stories into
“Augsburg taught me to
consider the whole child and
to understand the classroom as
a life-giving space where you
can listen and let people tell
their stories,” she said. “As
a teacher, I struggled to find
Taris also struggled when
administrators brought speakers
and books that reinforced
cultural stereotypes and
limited experiences rather than
providing real cultural and
ethnic diversity. “I wish they
would have, instead, given kids
diverse books or brought in
local authors who looked like
Celebrating voices that
Taris launched Strive in 2016
while teaching full time, but
three years later, she took early
retirement to dedicate herself
fully to the publishing company.
Taris remains an educator,
though, as a mentor to young
authors and as an advocate
for change. She challenges
communities, schools, and
publishing houses to invite new
titles that can find their way
onto more readers’ nightstands.
Ricardo Peters is among
Strive’s “founding authors,” as
Taris calls them, and he
says he is indebted to “Miss
Mary” for her guidance and
encouragement. Peters’ book—
the first in a fantasy series—
sold out within months. The
35-year-old stands out, Taris
said, because he is a black man
who loves and lives the arts like
“Plenty of black men are
deeply connected to their
artistic side, but society doesn’t
celebrate that expression,” Taris
added. “Our sons are not all
basketball and hip hop. Ricardo
defies that stereotype, and his
work will lead others to do the
Peters had been dreaming up
stories since he filled stapledtogether notebook paper
with “Transformers” stickers.
Publishing a book remained
his dream, but it wouldn’t have
happened without Taris.
“I had been working on
this series for nine years and
likely would have sat on it
forever,” said Peters, who
works as a reading instructor
at Kumon Math and Reading
Center of Maple Grove. “But
Mary presented me with this
opportunity, she believed in me,
and I am eternally grateful.”
Strive Publishing’s Book List
“Under a Cloven Sky” and
“A Wild Nature Embraced”
by Ricardo Peters
Books one and two in the
young adult fantasy series,
“The Scorched Heavens,” in
which the fate of two nations
rests on the city’s young
princess and her protector.
“Red’s Adventures: The Egg
Pie” by Donna Gingery
The hilarious first book in
a picture book series for
children, this story follows
the precocious Red, who
grows up in Alabama under
the watchful eye of her
“Story to Story: A Strive Short
Story Series,” Volume 1
by Linda Miller
This collaborative book
A short, rhythmic story for
project aims to celebrate and
children about family, hope,
empower emerging authors
acceptance, and learning
about different types of people. and illustrators.
“Who Can I Be?” by
Created by Strive’s founding
illustrator, this is a story of
a girl who sees her potential
through the example of women
in her community.
literature on the rise
but has ‘a long way to go’
Mary Taris ’04 with two of her children, Jermaine Taris and LaToya Taris-James, who both work with
Making stories more accessible
runs in the family
This sentiment is shared among the
authors who work with Taris. Her
children are equally inspired by her,
so much so that they joined the Strive
team. Her oldest son, Jermaine Taris,
is a book illustrator. Her 16-year-old
daughter, Grace Taris-Allen, serves
as “quality control,” happily reading
manuscripts; and her eldest daughter,
LaToya Taris-James, assists with
marketing and social media.
“My mom makes things happen,”
said Taris-James, a student leadership
program coordinator for Augsburg’s
Sabo Center for Democracy and
Citizenship. “She is resourceful and
passionate, with a unique way of
connecting with and inspiring others.
“When I was 12, she introduced
me to ‘Things Fall Apart’ by Chinua
Achebe. It was the first piece of African
literature I had read on my own, and
it shaped my view of black people
across the African diaspora and helped
connect me with my heritage.”
Through Strive, her mother is
making those connections on a broader
scale, said Taris-James, who hasn’t
fallen far from the tree. Along with a
friend, Taris-James created a social
impact initiative known as Rooftop
(or RFTP) that uses storytelling to
engage communities in dialogue
around difficult, often polarizing,
issues. Mother and daughter are both
driven to make stories of all kinds more
accessible and communal.
“I felt called to create Strive, and to
be honest, it’s been difficult to wear so
many hats and break through,” Taris
said. “Where I have come to see the
greatest need is for a safe space for
all people to tell their stories, whether
they get published or not. I’m working
with PopUp Think Tank to gather ideas
for how Strive can make the greatest
impact, and it’s feeling more like a
social enterprise than trying to operate
as a traditional publishing house.
Whatever Strive looks like in a year—
or five years—I know it will be moving
The Cooperative Children’s Book Center
researched and compiled statistics about the
number of children’s books and young adult
literature published by and about people of color,
American Indians, and those of First Nations.
“Every year, we see amazing books by and
about people of color and first/native nations.
There just aren’t enough of them,” CCBC Director
Kathleen Horning reflected in the ongoing study’s
abstract. “The more books there are, especially
books created by authors and illustrators of color,
the more opportunities librarians, teachers,
parents, and other adults have of finding
outstanding books for young readers and listeners
that reflect dimensions of their lives and give a
broader understanding of who we are as a nation.”
Children’s books published in the United States
Children’s books written or illustrated
by black people
Children’s books published in the United States
By or about Asian Pacific people
By or about black people
By or about Latinx people
By or about American Indians/First Nations
Create inclusive and engaging
experiences for fellow Auggies
The Alumni Board is
the governing body of
the Augsburg Alumni
Association. The board
exists to guide the Office
of Alumni and Constituent
Relations in serving the
valued alumni, parents, and
friends who make up the Auggie community.
All alumni are welcome and encouraged to join the
Alumni Board. See the job description and apply at
augsburg.edu/alumni under “Leadership Boards,” or
contact Katie (Koch) Code ’01 at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New video available: MARTIN SABO ’59
Video of an interview with late Congressman Martin Sabo,
whose rise to politics was supported by Augsburg University
students, will be available later this year at the Sabo Center
for Democracy and Citizenship website, augsburg.edu/sabo,
thanks to an Augsburg Sesquicentennial Project award that
paid for an updated video description and closed captioning.
One year after graduating from Augsburg, Sabo —then 22—
was elected to the Minnesota House of Representatives.
During his tenure, he became the first member of the
Democratic-Farmer-Labor Party to serve as Speaker
of the House, and he went on to the U.S. House of
Representatives, retiring in 2007. Sabo died in 2016.
Serve on Augsburg’s Alumni Board
Mark your calendar for the All-School Reunion
during Homecoming: September 26, 2020.
More than 150 enthusiastic Sesquicentennial Stewards have
committed to help plan Augsburg’s inaugural All-School
Reunion. Volunteers are the heart of this sesquicentennial
year of events, and this work is not only more fun but is
strengthened by their participation and input. Volunteers
assist with the All-School Reunion’s schedule, entertainment,
venues, and marketing.
YOU CHIMED IN:
Augsburg Now staff asked the
university’s Facebook followers for
their most memorable professors.
Here are a few of their responses,
edited for length and clarity.
NORWAY ARTS AND CULTURE
May 8–18, 2020
“Mary Lowe—I had a lot of memorable professors, most of them
dear to me, but she and I worked so closely together in my last years of
my degree that I cannot think of Augsburg without thinking of her. She
is a wonderful, insightful, funny mentor who held me accountable and
helped me reach heights I wouldn’t have dreamed of initially.”
—TIMOTHY PAUL BISHOP JR. ’18
July 15–26, 2020
“Merilee Klemp ’75—So many lessons learned from her, both
music and life. It’s impossible to forget those in your life who have taught,
pushed, encouraged, and mentored as well as she does. She’s an incredible
human being with such a kind, wonderful soul. Thank you for everything!”
—JENNIFER SCHMITT ’04
Hosted by Religion Department
faculty Lori Brandt Hale and
“Oh, do I have to choose? Matthew Maruggi in the Religion
Department—he completely changed how I looked at religion, opened my
mind to new perspectives, and taught me the meaning of ‘vocation.’”
—GINA MARIE GAINOUS ’15
Hosted by Theater Professor
Darcey Engen ’88 and
Luverne Seifert ’85
National Theater, Norway
“Kristin Anderson—I wouldn’t be where I am in my career without
her! She taught me how to think critically about the built environment, ask
the hard questions, and think about all of my research from the standpoint of
race, class, and gender. She’s one of the smartest women I’ve ever known.”
—KACIE LUCCHINI BUTCHER ’13
Take a limited-edition
In honor of Augsburg’s 150th
anniversary, three trips hosted
by expert faculty guides will
celebrate the university’s
heritage in Germany and Norway.
August 4–13, 2020
Hosted by Vice President for Mission
and Identity Sonja Hagander
Nidaros Cathedral, Norway
Learn more at augsburg.edu/alumni/travel or contact
Katie (Koch) Code ’01 at email@example.com.
Two walking tours are available on campus this year: “Augsburg Nooks and
Crannies” and “Augsburg Campus: Past and Present.” Led by Kristin Anderson,
university archivist, each tour lasts one hour and is limited to 20 people. The tours
move through indoor and outdoor spaces to learn about the evolution of the campus
from 1872 to the present. The Nooks and Crannies tour includes a visit to the old
chapel and gymnasium in Old Main, the Old Main attic, an Art Deco filling station,
and other little-known spots of interest.
Augsburg Campus: Past and Present
Augsburg Nooks and Crannies
Wednesday, April 8
Wednesday, April 22
Tuesday, May 5
Wednesday, April 15
Wednesday, April 29
Wednesday, May 6
Save your spot on a tour.
RSVP required: firstname.lastname@example.org or 612-330-1104.
ALUMNI CLASS NOTES
Jim Holden ’61 wrote a new
book called “Heron Thieves,
a Bat Out of Hell, and Other Flyfishing
Stories, Essays, and Poems.” Holden
has been a fly fisherman for more than
40 years, and the book highlights his
experiences on trout streams.
Dwight Olson ’65 presented
President Paul Pribbenow a
copy of his book “Northern Lights: The
Beauty of the Forgotten Scandinavian
Enamel Artisans” for Augsburg’s
library in celebration of the university’s
Cheri (Kraskin) Best ’69,
Pam (Fredrickson) Gunderson ’69,
Sue Kelly ’69, Linda (Stewart) Miller ’69,
Margi Ness ’69, and Anna (Stivland)
Olsen ’69 celebrated the 50th anniversary of
their graduation from Augsburg with a trip to
Boulder, Colorado, in May.
David Colacci ’73 and partner
Susan Ericksen, both classically
trained theater professionals, were featured
in a Star Tribune news story that detailed
their success as audiobook narrators. The
couple records their audiobook narrations in
their St. Louis Park, Minnesota, home. They
have each narrated more than 500 titles.
Novak Jr. ’78.
Novak led high
school boys basketball teams at Blaine and
Hopkins to 17 state tournaments, the most
of any boys basketball coach in Minnesota
history. After winning three consecutive state
titles and seven in a 10-year span (2002–
11), Novak was named ESPN RISE National
Coach of the Year. He was inducted into the
Minnesota Basketball Coaches Association
Hall of Fame in 2013, and in 2019 he was
inducted into the second class of the
Minnesota High School Basketball Hall
Andrew Altenburg ’87 joined
KPMG in a senior associate
role in May 2019. He previously worked
as an events manager for The Bank of
Tokyo for three years. As a freelance event
planner, his clients included MNG, Louis
Vuitton, Colgate-Palmolive, and The Carlyle
Group. From 2005 to 2015, he produced
and emceed 470 bingo events, which
raised $250,000 for dozens of LGBTQIA+
organizations. He also is a wedding
officiant and cartoonist, posting his work
at jumpingforjoy.net. He lives with his
partner, Matthew, and their parrot, Lulu,
on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in New
Award in honor of
student-athletes and coaches. A custodian
in Augsburg’s athletic facilities, Theophilos
has grown close to many people in Auggie
athletics including the men’s hockey team.
He came to Augsburg as a student in 1983
from Ethiopia and had not been able to
return to his home for more than 30 years.
In 2017, after the death of his mother, the
men’s hockey team raised more than
$7,500 to fund a trip for Theophilos to see
his family, who now live in Norway.
Tanya Schwartz ’93 was named
the seventh police chief of
Burnsville and is the first woman to hold
the post. Schwartz has been with the police
department for 23 years, beginning as a
patrol sergeant and then serving as detective
sergeant and captain.
Lori Higgins ’94, ’12 MAL
became president of Augsburg’s
Alumni Board. She currently serves on
several boards including the Minnesota
Amateur Sports Commission. She joined the
Alumni Board in 2016 because of her deep
connection to the university and support of
The first NCAA
Division III player
to be selected in
the first round of
the NBA Draft,
Devean George ’99
was inducted into
the Augsburg Athletic Hall of Fame. George
led the Auggies to two Minnesota
Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
championships and berths in the NCAA
Division III national playoffs, earning
conference MVP honors both times. He
finished his college career with 2,258
career points and 868 career rebounds,
both second in school history, and a 23.5
points-per-game average, the best in school
history. George has played with three NBA
teams and works to develop affordable
housing in North Minneapolis.
Hall of Fame
well an AllAmerican wide
receiver on the football team. He was the
first player to break the NCAA career
receiving yardage record held by NFL
legend Jerry Rice, finishing his career with
285 receptions for 4,696 yards. He now
stands 14th in NCAA all-divisions history in
career receiving yardage. Hvistendahl was
named Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic
Conference Player of the Year, twice earned
CoSIDA Academic All-America honors,
and won the Gagliardi Trophy for his
performance in academics, athletics,
and community service.
Qiuxia (Xia) Welch ’99 and Kevin Welch,
co-founders and owners of Boom Island
Brewing, hosted Augsburg’s first “beer
choir” in the spring. The couple started
their company in 2011 focusing on
Belgian-style beers, and they recently
relocated the business to a new space in
Crescent Cove, a hospice
home for children founded
by Katie Lindenfelser ’02, was featured
in a New York Times story. Lindenfelser,
the executive director and an Augsburgtrained music therapist, opened the
St. Louis Park, Minnesota, care facility
in 2018. Crescent Cove offers respite
and hospice care to children and is the
only facility of its kind in the Midwest.
Kristen Opalinski ’03
began a new professional
chapter as the manager for Ecumenical
and Inter-Religious Relations for
the Evangelical Lutheran Church in
America. This role includes managing
communications, providing staffing for
EIR committees and events, extending
hospitality to ecumenical and interreligious partners at the Lutheran
Center in Chicago, and serving as the
ELCA representative at various EIR
meetings held both domestically and
internationally. This is a new position
designed to meet the needs of the everchanging ecumenical and inter-religious
landscape and the expansion of the
church’s ecumenical and inter-religious
commitments. Opalinski also serves as a
writer for Living Lutheran Magazine.
Max Langaard ’04 was
featured on “Good
Morning America,” where he shared
his journey as a teacher and also
his time as a mentor and coach at a
nonprofit called Playworks in Oakland,
California. Playworks helps schools and
youth organizations create a place on
the playground for every child to feel
included, be active, and build valuable
social and emotional skills. Langaard
also received NBA Finals tickets from
the television show.
Adam Langer ’12 and wife, Alyssa,
welcomed their first child, Addison, in
Lideen ’04 was
Athletic Hall of
Lideen was the lone Auggie to hit better
than .400 in their career (.444). Her 38
career doubles remain a school record,
while her 18 doubles and 89 total bases
in 2003 are both single-season school
records. In soccer, Lideen played as a
sweeper for an Auggie defense that
recorded a 1.04 goals-against-average in
her four seasons. Lideen earned
All-MIAC Honorable Mention honors
three times as a soccer athlete and
earned All-MIAC first-team honors four
times as a softball player.
Greg May ’08 was hired
by the University of
Minnesota’s hockey program as the
new director of hockey operations.
May spent the previous three years as
the hockey head coach and associate
athletic director at the Blake School
in Minneapolis. While playing hockey
during his time at Augsburg, he was a
MIAC All-Conference honoree.
Christina Olstad ’00, ’05 MSW began her new
role as dean of students at the University of
Wisconsin—Madison in July. Olstad previously
was the interim assistant vice president for
student affairs, housing, and residence life at
Towson University in Maryland. She has worked
in higher education administration for nearly
two decades, beginning with her time
Caitlin (Hozeny) Lienard
’09, ’16 MSW passed her
Licensed Independent Clinical Social
Worker exam in April.
The late Donny Wichmann ’89—a three-time
Minnesota Intercollegiate Athletic Conference
champion, a national tournament All-American,
and a longtime assistant coach who was a part
of 10 NCAA Division III national championship
teams with the Auggies—was inducted into the
National Wrestling Coaches Association Division III
Hall of Fame in August.
Augsburg Men’s Wrestling Co-Head
Coach Tony Valek ’12, ’14 MAL and wife,
Kassi (Goranowski) Valek, welcomed a
son, Hudson Ricke, in June.
Denielle (Johnson) Stepka ’11 and Timothy
Stepka welcomed a daughter, Halle Jo Jean,
on September 30.
ALUMNI CLASS NOTES
Bobby Rose ’16 married fiancée, Amber, in Cottage
Grove, Minnesota, in May.
Mara (Breczinski) Barrozo ’14 and
Enrico Barrozo ’14 welcomed a
daughter, Ryna, in June.
Carlson Inc. announced the
appointment of Richard “Rick”
Gage ’96 as its non-executive
chair of the board in August.
Gage is the founder and
former CEO of YourMLSSearch.
com, a director of the World
Childhood Foundation, and
is on the board of the Carlson
Family Foundation, where
he has served for more than
Tyler Heaps ’13, manager of
analytics and research for U.S.
Soccer, was on the staff of the
USA national women’s soccer
team that celebrated a World
Cup Championship victory in
July. Heaps, who helped play a
part in the team’s seven-game
win series to clinch the title,
said it was “one of the most
challenging and rewarding
experiences” of his life. Heaps’
work in data analysis and use
of video coverage enhances
skills on the field and helps
athletes better prepare for their
Read more of this story at
Hayley (Thomas) Ball ’12 and Emerson
Ball ’14, ’19 MSW welcomed a
daughter, Zara, on March 13.
Jessica Barker ’97, Amy (Bowar) Mellinger ’97, Tara
(Cesaretti) McLeod ’97, Christa Winkelman ’97, and
Jane (Ruth) Zirbes ’97 gathered for their annual girls’
trip in Las Vegas. Since their days at Augsburg, they’ve
planned yearly trips and remained close friends.
Two rural Osakis, Minnesota, churches—with roots dating
back to the early days in the state’s history—are thriving
with the help of their new intentional interim pastor John
Douglas Hopper ’68. Hopper, who lives in Delano, Minnesota,
and spends weekends at Salem and Sauk Valley Lutheran
churches. He began a one-year pastorate on October 21, 2018.
Stephanie Putzier ’16 MBA serves
Minnesota Women of Today at
the state level as the internal vice
president, a position in which she
oversees the organization’s internal
programming. Putzier received the
Programing Award of Excellence for
her commitment and efforts. She
has been an active member of the
organization since 2002.
Ross Murray ’00, ’09 MBA
received the Living Loehe
Award at Wartburg Seminary’s
commencement in May. The
award was given in recognition
of the 50th anniversary of the
Stonewall uprising, the 10th
anniversary of the Evangelical
Lutheran Church in America’s
steps toward inclusion for
LGBTQIA+-identified people, and
his calling as a deacon to engage
in LGBTQIA+ advocacy in the
church and the world. Murray is
the senior director of education
and training at GLAAD Media
Institute and is the founding
director of The Naming Project.
Read more of this story at
K. Marshall Williams Sr. ’78 received the Herschel
H. Hobbs Award for Distinguished Denominational
Service from Oklahoma Baptist University. Williams,
who has served as pastor of Nazarene Baptist Church in
Philadelphia for more than 35 years, accepted the award
on June 10 during the Southern Baptist Convention’s
annual meeting in Birmingham, Alabama.
SUBMIT A CLASS NOTE
Tell us about the news in your life—your new job, move,
marriage, and milestones. Visit augsburg.edu/now to
submit your announcements.
Kristy Millering ’06 became
the new director of finance at
Winona Area Public Schools.
Millering began this role after
eight years in finance at Mayo
Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota,
most recently as a senior internal
auditor. She also worked as an
accountant for McNeilus Truck
and Manufacturing and owned
her own dance studio.
Jason Oare ’05 and wife, Erin,
welcomed a daughter, Remedy
Faith, in April.
Amber (Stransky) Caswell ’07 and husband,
Tavid, welcomed a daughter, Olivia Sandra
Donna, in June.
Mary Christine Kane ’94
released her first book
of poems, “between
the stars where you
are lost.” Kane also
works in marketing and
volunteers for the arts and
animal rescue initiatives. Her poetry and nonfiction
works have appeared in journals and anthologies
including Bluestem; The Buffalo Anthology, Right
Here, Right Now; Ponder Review; and Sleet.
Gladys I. (Boxrud)
Strommen ’46, Edina,
Minnesota, age 93,
on May 27.
Gladys H. I. (Vigen)
Hallstrom ’56, Thief River
Falls, Minnesota, age
87, on March 27.
Omar N. Gjerness ’47,
Fergus Falls, Minnesota,
age 97, on July 19.
Sylva M. (Dahl) Kubicek ’56,
Lake Crystal, Minnesota,
age 83, on March 18.
Prudence V. (Hokanson)
Nystuen ’47, Lakeville,
Minnesota, age 93,
on July 3.
Mary J. (Christiansen)
Meyer ’56, Miami,
age 84, on April 7.
Barbara (Ekse) Carlson ’48,
Minneapolis, age 92,
on April 1.
Catherine A. (Mork)
Kordahl ’48, Fertile,
Minnesota, age 96,
on June 28.
Lorraine W. (Weltzin)
Peterson ’49, Hastings,
Minnesota, age 94,
on May 28.
Sheldon L. Torgerson ’49,
Minneapolis, age 92,
on May 26.
Gordon N. Berntson ’50,
Fargo, North Dakota,
age 93, on April 25.
Wayne H. Wickoren ’50,
Fargo, North Dakota,
age 92, on July 7.
Elizabeth A. Becken ’51,
age 90, on June 3.
Harriet M. (Haller)
Brown ’52, Hastings,
Minnesota, age 89,
on May 11.
Evonne L. (Emerson)
Johnson ’52, Faribault,
Minnesota, age 88,
on March 9.
Duane L. Addison ’53,
Minneapolis, age 88,
on April 18.
Robert L. Lindquist ’53,
age 87, on April 28.
Arthur V. Rimmereid ’53,
St. Paul, Minnesota,
age 87, on June 24.
Jeannine L. (Torstenson)
Blanchard ’54, Fresno,
California, age 86,
on March 6.
Oliver K. Vick ’54,
age 88, on March 22.
Marvin L. Dooley ’59,
Eagle Grove, Iowa,
age 95, on July 20.
Edean A. Berglund ’73,
age 67, on April 11.
Nancy J. (Thompson)
Peterson ’75, Minneapolis,
age 65, on May 27.
Bonnie M. Goetzke ’76,
age 65, on April 19.
Pamela S. Slette ’76,
Albert Lea, Minnesota,
age 65, on June 21.
James A. Hanson ’59,
Dodge Center, Minnesota,
age 88, on July 6.
Marcia G. (Thompson)
Turcotte ’78, Chanhassen,
Minnesota, age 97, on
Donald E. Jorenby ’59,
age 81, on March 19.
Michael J. Riley ’84,
age 58, on July 25.
Bonnie J. (Martinson)
Storley ’59, Minneapolis,
age 81, on March 31.
Donald D. Wichmann ’89,
Minneapolis, age 53, on
Arden S. Flaten ’60,
age 82, on May 4.
Thad D. Firchau ’92,
age 48, on March 23.
Marlin B. Aadland ’62,
Delta, British Columbia,
age 82, on May 30.
Marna R. Brown ’93,
Fergus Falls, Minnesota,
age 49, on March 28.
Jerome C. Barney ’62,
Fergus Falls, Minnesota,
age 81, on July 9.
Theresa D. (Holt)
Wimann ’94, Baraboo,
Wisconsin, age 60,
on May 7.
LeRoy E. Lee ’63, Solon
age 79, on March 25.
Gerald A. Carlson ’64,
Pine, Arizona, age 78,
on June 19.
Lennore A. (Bylund)
Bevis ’66, Minneapolis,
age 75, on July 28.
Verland E. Kruse ’66,
age 83, on March 23.
Richard E. Andersen ’68,
Phoenix, age 73, on
Russell K. Jones ’69,
Mercer, Maine, age 71,
on May 9.
Raymond J. Wesley ’69,
Maple Grove, Minnesota,
age 77, on July 27.
Daniel L. Knak ’72,
age 69, on July 19.
Mary S. (Wozniak)
Sergeant ’99, Kansas
City, Kansas, age 61,
on May 25.
Mauris N. De Silva ’00,
Jackson, New Jersey,
age 46, on July 31.
Robin A. Olsen ’01,
St. Paul, Minnesota,
age 48, on April 28.
Amanda J. Kelley ’09,
Ave Maria, Florida,
age 38, on May 25.
Patrick J. Inman ’11,
age 41, on July 9.
Matthew C. Blackburn ’15,
age 36, on August 19.
The “In memoriam” listings
in this publication include
before September 1.
Augsburg community – 1931
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Permit No. 2031
Augsburg enrolls historic first-year class
A record-setting 636 undergraduate first-year students started at Augsburg University this fall. The Class of 2023 marks the
third year in a row in which a majority are students of color. All told, the university now has 2,159 students in the traditional
undergraduate program, which is also a record for Augsburg.