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FALL 2015

Hanna Jensen ’15 learns how Ultimate brings sparring cultures together 22

Editor Ellen Modersohn Luther Magazine Volume 49, Number 1, Fall 2015

Managing Editor Kate Frentzel

Published by Luther College

Designers Michael Bartels A.J. Perling

Contributors Sherry (Braun) Alcock ’82 Dave Blanchard Sue (Franzen) Drilling ’78 Eric Ellingsen ’99 Alexandra Fitschen ’15 Kalla Galyon ’16 Kirk Johnson ’82 Mike Kilen Aaron Lurth ’08 Judy Riha Ann Sponberg Peterson

Luther Alumni Magazine welcomes articles and signed letters to the editor; submissions may be edited for style, clarity, or length. Inquiries and submissions may be sent to the Editor, Luther Alumni Magazine, Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101-1045;; phone (563) 387-1350. Class Notes submissions and changes of address may be sent to the Alumni Office at the address above. Alumni news may be emailed to the Alumni Office at alumni@ Questions and concerns about the magazine may be emailed to

Contents Features Commencement 2015


Looking back on their college careers


What the numbers say


17 natural areas support research, wonder


Team of brothers


Michael Danforth ’95 sends this year’s graduates into the world with wise and witty words.

Eight graduating seniors who took unique paths on their journey through college talk about the past four years.

To determine the value of a Luther education, just look at the numbers on our two-page infographic.

Luther’s hundreds of on-campus acres offer an outdoor classroom few schools can match.

In July, 159 descendents of the Sorlien 9 gathered at Luther for a family reunion that marked the 100th anniversary of a baseball game between the Sorlien brothers and the Luther team.

Departments President’s Letter


Campusq 3 Development News............................................ 10 Athletics.............................................................. 13

Alumni 40


Class Notes.........................................................43 Marriages............................................................59 Births/Adoptions................................................60 In Memoriam.......................................................62

Alumni Office (800) 225-8664; (800) 2 ALUMNI Admissions Office (800) 458-8437; (800) 4 LUTHER Web Copyright Luther College 2015

Endpage 64 Calendar

inside back

Share magazine stories online The alumni magazine is online in a mobile and shareable format. Share stories through email, Facebook, Twitter, or Google+. Cover: Hanna Jensen ’15 volunteered for Ultimate Peace, an Ultimate Frisbee nonprofit, during her study-abroad experience in Israel. Read about her experiences on page 22. Evan Sowder ’15 photo. Left: Student musicians perform for the FOCUS concert outside the Center for Faith and Life during first-year student orientation in August. FOCUS is Luther College’s student-led, Christian, nondenominational Sunday night worship service.

President’s Letter

Graduates’ stats show success, but their stories show students are more than numbers

[At Luther,] each [student] is not numbered, but known. Not only are their faces known, but their families, their qualities, their troubles and their dreams.” —Eric Sevareid, 1965


Luther Alumni Magazine

On Commencement Day in May, I was delighted and proud to shake hands with each new graduate as Kevin Kraus, vice president of academic affairs and dean of the college, announced each one’s name. After their years of discovery, exploration, discernment, and life in community at Luther, these new alumni stepped off the dais to begin their new vocations and careers as college graduates. Our new graduates are entering the job market and starting graduate school at a time when the value of their liberal arts degree is being debated and tested. In a competitive environment, some question whether a liberal arts degree is good preparation for the careers of 21st-century America. In this issue of the Luther Alumni Magazine, we have gathered data and instances that attest to the value of the distinctive liberal arts education Luther offers its students. For a decade, Luther’s Career Center has collected robust information about our new graduates’ outcomes for employment and graduate school. The graphs and charts on pages 28–29 provide a colorful snapshot of how well Luther’s newest alumni have fared. Our graduates’ successes in their first destination after college are impressive and heartening. Our Career Center’s two most recent Post-Graduation Activities reports (www.luther. edu/outcomes/after-luther/statistics) are typical. Within 6–9 months of graduation, the classes of 2013 and 2014 reported impressive outcomes. With response rates of 95 percent and 91 percent in the two classes, 99 percent of these new graduates reported they were employed, seeking further education, pursuing volunteer opportunities such as Americorps and Lutheran Volunteer Corps, or intentionally not seeking employment. These outstanding results are strong testimony to the value of Luther’s distinctive education in a competitive environment for our new graduates. The impressive numbers, though, tell only part of the Luther story. In the “Senior Stories” on pages 20 to 27, eight of our class of 2015 graduates reflect on the rich, abundant opportunities they found and embraced at Luther. They tell of Luther faculty who inspired, advised, and mentored them. They recall staff

who guided and supported them. They point to peers who became close friends and colleagues. The Luther experiences of these new alumni and the relationships they formed as students shaped who they have become and set them on the paths they are pursuing now. The eight featured here studied the sciences, the arts and humanities, and the social sciences at Luther. They participated in athletics, music organizations, and student activities and affinity groups. They are first-generation and many-generation Luther alumni. They hail from nearby Postville, Iowa, and faraway South Africa. Their “Senior Stories” present a montage of the many ways Luther offered them opportunities to grow in a community of caring, committed teachers and engaged learners. Luther has long served its students as it served our graduates in the class of 2015. Fifty years ago, the famous CBS journalist Eric Sevareid gave the Commencement Address at Luther’s graduation ceremony. Soon after his visit to campus, he published an essay in which he reflected on the value of a Luther education. In 1965, as now, the value of a liberal arts degree from a small college was being debated and questioned. After his experience at Luther, Sevareid concluded, “It seemed to me that current public opinion has missed the point about some of these small colleges like Luther.” He wondered how many Americans “understand the quality of scholarship in these rare little places.” The distinctive, defining quality of Luther, Sevareid explained, is the nature of the community. At Luther, he said, “each [student] is not numbered, but known. Not only are their faces known, but their families, their qualities, their troubles and their dreams.” In 2015, as in 1965, Luther offers an extraordinary, distinctive education in a community that values the whole person—mind, body, and spirit. Now, as then, this makes all the difference. Soli Deo Gloria!

Paula J. Carlson President

Campus News

Todd Pedlar, Luther associate professor of physics, received a $150,000 grant renewal last spring from the National Science Foundation for his research in elementary particle physics. Todd Pedlar This is Pedlar’s fourth consecutive three-year grant from the Elementary Particle Physics subdivision of the Mathematics and Physical Sciences division of the NSF, and it will support his work and the work of his research students at Luther. “Elementary particle physics is a field of fundamental physics studies. We are looking at the properties of the smallest building blocks of matter,” Pedlar says. “Our studies are aimed at understanding just what the universe is made of, and often lead us to discoveries of elegant symmetries in nature that are not apparent to the naked eye but that make the fundamental structure of normal everyday matter understandable. “Understanding the fundamentals of nature is the first step before we can even think about applications that might be useful in everyday life. One of the side benefits—but a very helpful one—is that technology we develop for studying elementary particle physics often makes its way into the hands of you and me. Significant advances in medical technology and the electronics and computing industries have been greatly fueled by the advances necessary to study what we do as particle physicists.” Pedlar’s grant will fund research in the study of heavy quarkonium under the NSF’s Research at Undergraduate Institutions program. Heavy quarkonium is a system composed of quarks bound together by the strong nuclear interaction, one of four fundamental forces that are responsible for the structure of matter. The funding enables continued research at Luther as part of ongoing work on experiments of the Belle Collaboration, which


Searching for the building blocks of the universe

The Belle detector at KEK, Japan’s national high energy physics laboratory, where Todd Pedlar, Luther associate professor of physics, is involved in particle physics research. consists of more than 600 physicists from around the world working together on large particle physics experiments—Belle and Belle II—based at KEK, the national high energy

physics laboratory in Japan. Pedlar, who heads one of 12 U.S. college and university groups contributing to the Belle/Belle II effort, will be assisted by his

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Campus News

undergraduate students at Luther in analyzing data from the first Belle experiment, which ran from 1999 to 2010, and preparing simulations and writing software necessary for upcoming experimental runs for Belle II, which will begin data-taking in 2017. Pedlar joined this collaboration in 2010, after having worked for 10 years with the CLEO Collaboration, whose work was based at an accelerator at Cornell University. Pedlar says the NSF grant enables him and his students an extensive research experience and allows them to make substantial contributions toward the refinement and extension of the understanding of the strong interaction. The funding also provides a rare opportunity for undergraduate physics students to become meaningfully involved in every aspect of data analysis and contribute to the important work of preparing and operating Belle II hardware and software systems. The NSF funding also allows the Luther research group to offer greater exposure to scientific research among students and teachers in rural northeast Iowa. Pedlar’s plans include outreach programming that combines visits of the research group to local middle and high schools, and visits by local students and teachers to Luther to participate in workshops. Area students and teachers will learn about the group’s research and take part in activities that give them experience analyzing and interpreting data from the group’s analysis efforts. “We’re ready for the opportunity to effectively communicate the excitement and experience of scientific research, and enrich the education of local students and educators alike,” Pedlar says. This grant also continues Pedlar’s longterm goal of broadening undergraduate student experiences in physics research to increase exposure to and understanding of science. His faculty-student mentoring has more than a decade-long record of success in involving students in the study of heavy quarkonium physics. His undergraduate researchers have made significant contributions to several CLEO-c and Belle analyses and are coauthors on a number of peer-reviewed publications. For details on the Belle collaborations and the results of recent work done by Pedlar and colleagues, see, as well as the Belle II Facebook page, For Twitter updates on Belle II, follow @belle2collab. For more specific information on Pedlar’s research group at Luther, see research.


Luther Alumni Magazine

New administration leaders Runestad new finance VP Eric J. Runestad became Luther’s vice president for finance and administration on July 1. In announcing his hire, President Paula Carlson said Runestad brings more than 20 years of experience and success in financial, program, and operations management in higher education and nonprofit organizations. Runestad succeeds Diane Tacke, who served 18 years as Luther’s vice president for finance and administration. For the past three years Runestad was the director of business services at Southwest Minnesota State University in Marshall, Minn. At SMSU, Eric J. Runestad he led the operations of the Office of Business Services, with responsibilities for developing and implementing fiscal management policies and procedures, providing financial forecasting, overseeing audit activities, and supervising risk management, sponsored program accounting, and financial reporting. Prior to working at SMSU, Runestad was director of cultural events, music organizations, and program operations at Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota. He has also served as executive director of the Wisconsin School Music Association, Wisconsin Music Educators Association, Wisconsin Foundation for School Music in Madison, and Minnesota Music Educators Association in Minneapolis. Runestad graduated magna cum laude with majors in business administration and mathematics from Concordia College, received a master of business administration degree from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, Minnesota, and earned a doctorate of education in higher education administration from St. Cloud State University. Runestad will serve as the college’s chief financial officer and be responsible for leading and directing Luther’s financial planning, as well as serving as adviser to the president on the administrative support operations of the college.

Hartl named athletic director Renae R. Hartl took over as Luther’s athletic director beginning July 1. She succeeds Joe Thompson, who served the college for 20 years as athletic director. Hartl has been head softball coach at Luther since 2001. She will continue in that role in addition to leading the athletics department, with more than 40 staff and 19 varsity sports programs. “Renae Hartl has a record of success as a head coach, administrator, and instructor at Luther. She knows the college well, and she has a deep commitment to students, to the athletics program, and to Luther’s misRenae Hartl sion,” says President Carlson. For the past four years Hartl has also served as associate athletic director at Luther, and as such she was the senior women’s administrator and the NCAA compliance director for the athletics department. She was interim athletic director for five months in 2014 and has been Luther’s Title IX coordinator and adviser to the Student Athlete Advisory Committee and Norse ESPY Awards. As associate athletic director she coordinated NCAA eligibility and Iowa Conference eligibility of 500-plus student-athletes annually and served on the home event management team. In her role as head softball coach Hartl amassed a 433-161 record and reached the IIAC postseason tournament every year since its inception. This season Hartl led the Norse to a fourth Iowa Conference Championship and was named Iowa Conference Coach of the Year for the third time. Prior to Luther, Hartl worked as assistant volleyball and softball coach at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minnesota. She received a bachelor’s degree in psychology and fitness management from Wartburg College and a master’s degree in human performance from Minnesota State University at Mankato.

Campus News

Taylor-Browne interim director for Diversity Center President Paula Carlson appointed Wintlett Taylor-Browne as interim executive director of the Diversity Center in May. TaylorBrowne had previously served as director of student services for the Diversity Center. The center’s former executive director, Sheila Radford-Hill, left Luther in May. Taylor-Browne joined Luther’s staff in 1999 to direct the Multicultural Center. That center has since been replaced by the Diversity Center, whose mission is to promote a deeper understanding of diversity on campus, improve access to multicultural perspectives in Wintlett Taylor-Browne the liberal arts, and advocate for a culture of inclusion. A native of Jamaica, Taylor-Browne discovered Decorah while visiting a Jamaican friend who lived in town. Having taught U.S. geography in Jamaica, Taylor-Browne was curious to see the Midwest for herself. She and her children, Nigel and Sharlene, had just immigrated to the United States and were living in Newark, New Jersey, at the time. When their vacation was over, Taylor-Browne says, 14-year-old Nigel begged his mother to move the family to Decorah. Summer days of fresh air, wooded trails, and fun along the river had made an impression. Taylor-Browne granted his wish, and Nigel eventually even became a Luther graduate, class of 2005. Taylor-Browne says her main role in the coming year as interim director will be “to assist in discerning the process of next steps” for the Diversity Center. “I have institutional knowledge. I’m a resource for the people talking about what diversity should look like at Luther in the 21st century,” she says. She’d like to further the Connect for Success initiative, a semester-long program that orients students to Luther’s academic and campus culture. Taylor-Browne says data from a recently completed three-year pilot period showed that the program helps students stay engaged and enrolled at Luther. She also anticipates serving on the Diversity Council and helping form its agenda, as well as continuing the Don’t Shoot series. Don’t Shoot sponsors discussions, student activities, public lectures, and a resource library to challenge racial inequality through the pursuit of knowledge and the power of dialogue. Taylor-Browne majored in social studies and political science at the University of the West Indies–Mona and later taught there as well. She has also taught at two teachers colleges in Jamaica, authored textbooks on social studies and geography, taught high school, and served as consultant to the Jamaican, Dominican, and Belizean governments on social studies curriculum.


Congratulations to the following retired faculty members granted emeritus/ emerita status: Mary Lewis, Tex Sordahl ’73, Carolyn Mottley, Chuck Christianson, Odette Bruneau, Nick Preus ’69, John Goodin, Steve Hubbard, Ruth Caldwell, Marjorie Wharton ’66, Jim Griesheimer, Donna Kubesh, and Joe Thompson.

Swanson becomes registrar Kristin Swanson is Luther’s new registrar. She succeeds Kristi Haindfield, who served as acting registrar after Doug Koschmeder left the position. Swanson has been a member of the Religion Department faculty since 1999, focusing on the study of the Hebrew Bible. She currently serves on Luther’s Faculty Organization Committee and as chair of the Humanities and Fine Arts Division. Swanson is a member of and frequent speaker for the Society of Biblical Literature. Before coming to Luther, Swanson taught at Vanderbilt UniverKristin Swanson sity, Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and Methodist Theological School, and served as campus minister at Ohio University and Zanesville and Muskingum Area Technical College. She received a Ph.D. in religion from Vanderbilt University, a master of theological studies from Trinity Lutheran Seminary, and a bachelor’s degree in music from California Lutheran University. Swanson received an Associated Colleges of the Midwest/Teagle Grant for the 2013—14 academic year to develop “Introducing Change: Introductory Courses and the Nature of Faculty Work,” which served to inform Luther’s faculty and Board of Regents about the importance of change in coursework.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Campus News

Melanie Batoff

Marie Drews

Ronald Ferguson

Mike Garcia

Carly Hayden Foster

Joseph Kremer

New faculty on tenure track

Washington State University, and a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in English, from Western Oregon University.



comes to Luther from Baldwin Wallace University, where she was a lecturer in music history and literature. She has a Ph.D. in musicology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; a master’s in musicology from the University of Western Ontario; and a bachelor of music degree from Queen’s University, Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Batoff specializes in medieval music, ethnomusicology, and Renaissance music. MARIE DREWS ’02, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH,

was director of the Women’s and Gender Studies Program at Georgia Regents University from 2011 until joining the Luther faculty. She was a visiting assistant professor in English at Luther, 2009–10. Drews earned a master’s degree and Ph.D. in English from Washington State University. As an undergraduate at Luther, she majored in English and music. RONALD FERGUSON, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY,

Jill Leet-Otley

Thomas Occhipinti

Dawn Reding

Ryan Torkelson

Molly Wilker


Luther Alumni Magazine

taught sociology at Ridgewater College since 2005. He earned a Ph.D. in educational research methodologies, a master’s degree in sociology from the University of North Dakota, and a bachelor’s degree in sociology from North Dakota State University. Among Ferguson’s research and teaching areas are race and ethnicity, research methods, criminology, multicultural masculinity, identity development, social inequality, social problems, extremism, African American education, Native American education, and religion and spirituality. MIKE GARCIA, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ENGLISH,

was an assistant professor of English since 2010 at Georgia Regents University, where he also directed the College Composition Program. Garcia also taught in the English Department at the University of New Hampshire, 2004–8. He earned a Ph.D. in English from the University of New Hampshire, a master of arts in English from

joined the political science faculty of Southern Illinois University, Edwardsville, in 2007. She earned a Ph.D. in political science, a graduate certificate in women’s studies, and a bachelor of arts, majoring in political science, from the University of Kansas. Among course topics Hayden Foster has taught are American national government and politics, political theory, politics of poverty, women and lawmaking, public policy, and women’s studies. JOSEPH KREMER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF SOCIOLOGY,

has been an instructor, teaching assistant, and guest lecturer in sociology at Washington State University. He earned a Ph.D. and master’s degree in sociology from Washington State, and a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in sociology and psychology, from Western State College of Colorado. Kremer’s areas of interest include sociological criminology, white-collar crime, environmental justice, environmental crime, and environmental sociology. JILL LEET-OTLEY, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF EDUCATION,

has been an assistant professor at Saint Mary’s University, Winona, Minn., since 2013. She has also served as a staff development instructor at Rochester (Minn.) Math and Science Academy; a Diversity Council facilitator in Rochester; a middle school, high school, and special education math, science, and reading teacher; and an ESL instructor in Japan. LeetOtley has a Ph.D. in education from the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities; a master of education degree in special education from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill; and a bachelor of arts degree, majoring in religion, from Williams College. THOMAS OCCHIPINTI, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF MATHEMATICS,

comes to Luther from Carleton College, where he was a visiting assistant professor since 2013. Before that he taught at the University of California, Irvine. Occhipinti earned

Campus News

a Ph.D. in mathematics from the University of Arizona and a bachelor of science degree, majoring in mathematics and economics, from the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. Among his research interests are arithmetic geometry, algebraic geometry, number theory, discrete mathematics, group theory, mathematics education, and mathematical economics. DAWN REDING, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF BIOLOGY,

has taught at Luther since 2013 and is now moving to tenure track. She has developed and taught laboratory and lecture courses in genetics, genetics and society, principles of biology, and genomics. Before joining Luther’s faculty, Reding was a lecturer at Iowa State University. She earned a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Iowa State, a master of science degree in zoology from the University of Hawaii at Manoa; and a bachelor of science degree, majoring in environmental science, from the University of Dubuque. RYAN TORKELSON ’07, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF ACCOUNTING,

is a certified public accountant. He was a senior internal auditor at CHS Inc., 2013–15, and at Green Tree Credit Solutions, 2011–13, and an auditor and senior auditor at Ernst & Young, 2008–11. Torkelson has a master of science in accountancy from the University of Notre Dame. At Luther, he majored in accounting with a minor in music. MOLLY WILKER, ASSISTANT PROFESSOR OF CHEMISTRY,

has been a teaching assistant and tutor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and Gustavus Adolphus College. She has conducted research on synthesized, modified surface functionalization, and characterized semiconductor nanocrystals using electron microscopy and optical spectroscopy, and has conducted experimental studies to optimize a noncrystalenzyme assembly for photochemical hydrogen production. Wilker earned a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and a bachelor of arts degree, ACS chemistry, from Gustavus Adolphus College.

Professor, alumna reunited at summer academy in Germany When Elizabeth Steding, Luther associate professor of German, read the description of the 2015 Summer Academy in Leipzig for U.S.-American Faculty in German, she immediately knew she wanted to apply. The two-week program, jointly funded by the German-American Fulbright Commission and the German Academic Exchange Service, provides an opportunity to learn more about the German higher education system as well as participate in workshops on the most current methods of teaching German as a foreign language. “As someone who is deeply interested in education, teaching language, and Eastern Germany, it almost seemed as if the summer academy had been designed just for me,” Steding says. Chosen from applicants across the U.S., the group of 15 participants enjoyed presentations by professors from the University of Leipzig, class visits with teachers at the interDaF Language School, and day trips to Berlin and Dessau. “Many of us teach at small colleges, so this was also a great opportunity to network with other professors. I learned a lot from our conversations about teaching, and I enjoyed the sense of camaraderie,” Steding says. This sense of camaraderie took on a personal note for Steding, who found out a few days before the academy began that a former student, Karin Maxey ’07, would also be participating. “Karin was part of the 2006 Münster Study Abroad Semester, which was the first group that my husband (Sören Steding, associate professor of German) led after coming to Luther. I was able to accompany him and had Karin in an advanced literature class. She was also the first student whose senior paper I advised.” The two kept in touch while Maxey completed her M.A. (Illinois) and Ph.D. (University of Texas–Austin) in German. She is currently at the midpoint of a two-year Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at Vassar College, but Steding was unaware that she had applied to the Leipzig program as well. “Having Karin participate in this program was a great surprise and was incredibly meaningful to me. Knowing that the German program played at least a small role in where she is today is truly gratifying.” The summer academy was a positive expe-

Elizabeth Steding and Karin Maxey ’07 at the Bauhaus Museum in Dessau, Germany rience for Maxey as well, contributing to the first-year curriculum development work she is doing at Vassar. “I became familiar with new materials for teaching German and got several ideas about incorporating technology into my classroom.” She says that her experience at Luther was one of the major reasons she decided to apply for the position at Vassar. “Working closely with professors, taking part in small classes, and feeling like I was really part of a community were all important parts of my own undergraduate education. Given how much this experience impacted my own educational path, I knew I wanted to teach in such an environment. What particularly attracts me to places like Vassar and Luther is the fact that German professors all take turns teaching at all levels, so it’s possible to have the same professor for first-semester German and an upper-level cultural or literary studies seminar.” Steding and Maxey will reconnect again this fall when they both take part in the seminar “Integrating Language, Culture, and Content Learning across the Undergraduate German Curriculum” at the German Studies Association Conference in Washington, D.C.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Campus News

Energizing with ELCA Youth

In July, Luther students, faculty, and staff traveled to Detroit to attend the 2015 ELCA Youth Gathering. The triennial event is “meant to support young people and give them power and renewal in their faith journeys,” says campus pastor Mike Blair. The event offered a chance to meet, learn, have fun, share stories, and participate in service over six days. “The energy is hard to describe,” Blair says. “With that many young people, there are moments that feel like a rock concert but also profound spiritual moments when a speaker is sharing. It holds such a wide spectrum. If I had gone as a high school student, I would have drawn on it for a long time. Students often cite the ELCA Youth Gathering as a pivotal point in their faith journeys.” Kelli Gapinski ’17 attended the gathering as a high school student in 2012 and returned to represent Luther at this year’s event. “It is so exciting to see young people engaged with their faith through service and learning,” she says. “I got to hear so many stories about the gathering and how this experience impacted the youth, just like it did for me. I feel blessed and honored that Luther allowed me to go on this trip because it opened my eyes to the amazing city of Detroit, renewed with muchneeded hope and an amazing group of young people inspired to make a difference.” Among the service opportunities at the gathering were hair- and blood-donation stations, a Habitat for Humanity outpost where students could assemble walls that were then transported to home-building sites for Detroit families in need, and an interactive exhibit by Walk4Water, a well-drilling project that brings clean water to global communities. The Walk4Water exhibit, designed to bring awareness to the fact that some people

Luther students and campus pastor Mike Blair represented Luther College at the 2015 ELCA National Youth Gathering in Detroit, Mich. The Luther team from left to right: Austin Pickup ’16, Kelli Gapinski ’17, Gifty Arthur ’17, Menzi Nkambule ’18, Anne Wermedal ’16, and Blair. A second Luther group of 10 students led by Jeff Boeke ’80, ropes course and climbing wall coordintor; Kirk Johnson ’82, associate director of alumni relations; and Greg Eide ’87, assistant director of admissions, staffed an indoor ropes course. have to walk three miles or more for clean drinking water, instructed visitors to carry a five-gallon container of water around a track as they traversed obstacles and encountered learning stations along the way. Donations to the nonprofit of up to $1 million are being matched by Ruth and Arne Sorenson ’80. “It was an intense, spirited week,” Blair concludes. “You’re kind of filled and exhausted at the same time. But I had a deep sense of renewal and encouragement, to be with that many young people willing to share their passions and energy and go out and serve in the

The International Music Festival of the Adriatic, a chamber music festival for strings (violin, viola, cello), piano, voice, and composition, took place in June, with 23 students attending. Photographed here at the conclusion of the festival are faculty member Steve Smith ’95, Luther web programmer analyst/adjuct faculty in music; faculty member Lianna Stewart ’17; student Logan Larson ’17; and program directors and faculty members Spencer Martin, Luther associate professor of music, and Andrew Whitfield, Luther associate professor of music. Twenty-three students attended the three-and-a-half-week festival this summer. The program is cosponsored by Luther and the United World College of the Adriatic, the host institution in Duino, Italy. The program is administered through Luther’s Center for Global Learning.


Luther Alumni Magazine

community and share their faith in creative ways. You have this vision of the church as very inclusive and caring about justice in the world and concerned for the need of its neighbors. I felt very glad to be part of the ECLA and very grateful for the gathering. But”—citing a profound lack of sleep—“also very grateful it happens only once every three years!” As part of the Walk4Water fundraising campaign, Luther is hosting a concert by the band Lost and Found, November 14, 7 p.m.


Campus News

Nordic Choir poses after its chapel service performance in the Basilica of Saint Francis in Assisi, Italy.

Nordic Choir sings its way through Italy everywhere we looked. During free time, some students took in other tours of the art museums or climbed the steps to the top of Il Duomo and the belltower in the main square of Florence. The greatest memories on the trip, I believe, were made at all the performances. The choir sang public concerts in various chapels and cathedrals throughout the tour including a Mass service in St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome, on our flight into Amsterdam, at the end of our Colosseum tour, inside the Pantheon, and in the square outside Lucca’s San Michele in Foro church. Hearing Nordic Choir sing and adapt to the acoustics and audiences of all the different venues was a true Luther experience. Many thanks to the great people we met in all the cities, and the food: gelato and bread and espresso, oh my! —Eric Ellingsen ’99, coordinator for music organizations and marketing—choirs Hear Nordic Choir members singing in Italy at

Left to right: Kirby Stalley ’17, Matt Knutson ’15, and Zach Stottler ’14 enjoy the view from a boutique hotel in Assisi, Italy.


“Andiamo, tutti!” I think I uttered that phrase at least 200 times during our travels to Italy this past May with Nordic Choir. And it’s no surprise when you are showcasing a country for the first time to 69 students. Thank goodness we had our city guides, Giovanni and Sabrina, to shepherd us through our whirlwind tour of Italy. We took an overnight flight from Chicago to Amsterdam and then on to Rome. We were quickly whisked away on a city tour of Rome and the Vatican City so we would forget about our jet lag. Altogether we spent four days in Rome and four days in Florence—with side trips to Assisi, Pisa, Siena, and Lucca—and two days in Venice before flying home. Favorite moments in Rome included viewing the Sistine Chapel and a tour of the Vatican museums, hearing Pope Francis speak in St. Peter’s Square, and walking through the arena of the Colosseum. Assisi was a nice getaway from the hustle and bustle of urban Rome and allowed us to sing in the Basilica of St. Francis and view the saint’s tomb beneath. Florence wowed us with art and artisans

Bill Beaupre, Hanna Beaupre ’18, and Jill Beaupre participated in the companion tour to the choir’s trip. The Beaupres’ son, Ben ’16, is in Nordic Choir.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Campus News


New life members of President’s Council were honored on campus May 2. Left to right are Dick and Joan (Gunther) Niemiec ’64, Richard ’64 and Barbara (Moen) Amundson ’65, President Paula Carlson, Janet Robertson ’60, and Suzanne and Dennis Birkestrand ’64. tion; to Olson Circle ($250,000 to $499,999): Betty Hoff ’60, Victoria (Dahly) ’73 and Randal Miller ’73. Membership in the President’s Council honors those who have provided financial support to Luther of $1,500 or more—or $750 or more for alumni in their first decade after graduation—in the past calendar year. Life membership honors those whose cumulative

outright gifts total $100,000 or more, those who have established irrevocable planned gifts with remainder interest present values of $100,000 or more, those who have made irrevocable gifts of life insurance policies with cash values of $100,000 or more, or those who have contributed combinations thereof. +Deceased


New President’s Council life members Richard ’64 and Barbara (Moen) Amundson ’65, Dennis ’64 and Suzanne Birkestrand, Joan (Gunther) ’64 and Dick Niemiec, and Janet Robertson ’60 were honored for their exemplary giving during the council’s annual recognition event May 2. Also achieving this level of support were new life members Steven ’74 and Paulette (Engel) Barnes ’74, Richard ’72 and Jane Theiler, James ’86 and Kathy (Winter) Thomsen ’85, the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, Norswing Foundation, Wells Fargo, and the estate of Margaret (Barth) Wold ’41. Special acknowledgment was given to the life members of President’s Council who advanced to a new cumulative recognition level— to Larsen Circle ($1,000,000 or more): Arne ’80 and Ruth Sorenson, O. Jay and Patricia Tomson, Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust, and Howard Hughes Medical Institute; to Preus Circle ($500,000 to $999,999): Richard ’64 and Joann (Harr) Hemp ’65, Ellen (Hanson) Lindop ’46, +Sterling ’50 and +Vila (Kiel) Thompson ’51, Associated Colleges of the Midwest, and the Margaret A. Cargill Founda-


President’s Council recognizes life members

Nearly 50 student scholarship recipients gathered at the Legacy Trust scholarship recognition luncheon held on campus May 2, 2015. The Legacy Trust recognizes donors who have made gifts to Luther’s endowed scholarship program, with membership offered to donors who establish endowed scholarships of $25,000 or more. More than 1,000 Luther students receive endowed scholarship support from more than 600 endowed scholarship funds. A list of scholarship donors can be found on the Luther website at


Luther Alumni Magazine

Heritage Club

“Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path” —Psalm 119

Luther College Heritage Club Lighting the Path Like our namesake, Martin Luther, we believe education makes creation flourish. There are many worthy institutions to support, and they all depend on having what Luther described as “able, learned, wise, honorable, and well-educated citizens.” Education, therefore, is the foundation, and an education infused with faith, values, and the richness of community best prepares students for lives of purpose and meaning. Luther College is called to light a path for students; to help them discover the gifts God has given them and how they might use those gifts in service to the world. The path is always moving forward, from our lives to the lives of those who follow, guiding students we will never know and making creation flourish in ways we could never imagine.

The Heritage Club—for persons with inclination and vision The Luther College Heritage Club, currently more than 1,200 members, is an association of persons with a vision and the inclination to support the future for Luther students, ensuring future generations will benefit and be transformed by an education grounded in the light of faith. We invite you to join this association and affirm the dream of future Luther students. All individuals and couples who have established a planned gift for Luther College qualify for membership in the Heritage Club. There is no minimum amount required for a planned gift. Your future planned gift may be directed to the “area of greatest need” as determined at the time by the Luther College Board of Regents, or you may wish to designate your gift today for a favorite program, scholarship fund, or another endowed fund of your choice. Thank you for your thoughtful consideration of this gift request.

What Are Common Planned Gifts? • Will or living/testamentary trust bequests • IRA/retirement plan beneficiary designations • Insurance beneficiary designations or gifts of life insurance policies

• • • •

Charitable gift annuities Charitable remainder trusts Charitable lead trusts Remainder interests in real estate

Have You Already Established a Planned Gift? If you have previously established a planned gift or estate provision that includes Luther College, please let us know. Once Luther is informed, you will automatically become a member of the Heritage Club.

I’m Interested. What Do I Do Now? You may contact the Development Office to request additional information concerning planned gifts, or you may complete and send us the Letter of Intent for a Future Estate Gift to inform us of a previously established gift plan for Luther. The Letter of Intent form is available by mail or email through the Development Office. For more information, please contact a member of the gift planning team at (563) 387-1066, (800) 225-8664, or | 800-2ALUMNI | Development Office, Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101

Campus News

Christensen ’80 moves to Mayo Keith Christensen ’80 resigned as vice president for development at Luther last summer to join the development staff at Mayo Clinic. He led the development team at Luther for 15 years. The Clinton, Iowa, native has sunk deep roots in Decorah, and he and his wife, Dawn Deines-Christensen ’82, will continue to live in town. On the last day of his week off between jobs, we talked with him about the transition and his relationship with the college.

“I remember coming over the hill on Highway 52 in my little 1968 blue Nova with everything I needed in the backseat because my trunk had a hole in it,” he says. “Even as a 17-yearold, I was almost brought to tears. . . . It was the beauty of the place that struck me. . . . Everything that happened after that—the deep friendships and connections—these are networks that have worked for me my whole life.” FINDING HIS WAY BACK TO LUTHER

After graduating, Christensen worked for Lutheran Mutual and then Motorola Communications and Electronics. In 1986 he started working for the college in a position he says seemed tailor-made for him—director of estate and gift planning. “All of a sudden I realized this was my niche, and I’ve never been out of the development field since,” he says. After a stint as vice president for development at Augustana College in Sioux Falls, S.D., from 1994 to 2000, Christensen returned as Luther’s head of development. UNIQUE ALUMNI EVENTS

While Christensen won’t say he has favorite events among the hundreds of alumni gatherings he’s attended, he does recall a few as unique. Golfing in Arizona: “For the last 10 years we’ve done a golf event on Saturday, a Phoenix-area event on Sunday, and a Tucsonarea event on Monday. I’ve always enjoyed that because we have family and friends down there and we have lots of Luther connections there,” he says.


Luther Alumni Magazine



Keith Christensen ’80 listens to speakers during a farewell party thrown for him in July.

All of a sudden I realized this was my niche, and I’ve never been out of the development field since.” —Keith Christensen ’80

Mayflower Hotel in Washington, D.C.: A campaign event with President Torgerson, hosted by Arne ’80 and Ruth Sorenson, was special because Christensen’s daughter Chelsey saw him on the job for the first time and understood his passion for his work. “It was touching to hear her say, basically, ‘I get it now,’” he says. Chelsey is now director of development for an arts organization in Bethesda, Md. Holden Village: The Christensens hosted a couple of summer alumni gatherings at the Holden Village retreat in Washington state. When Dawn turned 50, Christensen organized a successful surprise party and card shower during one of those gatherings. “It shows how much I think of our Luther alumni as family,” Christensen says.


Christensen will be a principal gifts officer at Mayo, working an Illinois and Missouri territory. What he enjoyed most about working in development at Luther, Christensen says, was his contact with donors: “Hearing about their stories, their connections, hearing what their dream was in support of Luther College and helping them to make it come true—being a part of that is a big deal.” While he was able to spend about 20 to 40 percent of his time working directly with donors as a V.P. at Luther, he says, his new position will increase that number to 80 or 90 percent. At his farewell gathering on campus, Christensen said, “My role changes now, and I am excited for what lies ahead with the opportunity at Mayo, but I am still the cheerleader for the Norse and this area of so much bounty —both the natural resources and good people.”

Campus News


Luther team tackles tour of Norway Luther’s football team partnered with Global Football to travel to Norway in May. The trip included visits to Copenhagen, Denmark, and Oslo, Norway, an excursion to a Norwegian fjord, and a stop at the Viking Ship Museum in Roskilde. The team played an exhibition game against the Norwegian national football team, defeating them 45-0.

Women’s soccer team ventures to Costa Rica for competition, recreation, and service Eighteen members of the Luther women’s soccer team spent spring break 2015 traveling between San Jose, Arenal, and Flamingo Beach in Costa Rica. The Norse played three games, going 2-01 in international play. First the Norse tied Alajuela Soccer Club, 2-2, in their 40,000-seat stadium. Rachel Skolaski ’15 was named player of the game. In the second game, Luther defeated the San Carlos women’s team, 3-0. Melisse Chasse ’17 was named player of the game. In their final match, the Norse defeated Liberia Soccer Club, 8-1, and Ellie Bunz ’17 was named player of the game.

The players, along with head coach Russell Schouweiler and assistant coaches Laree Schouweiler, Julie Shockey, and Christina Soward, also went on a catamaran tour, which included paddleboarding and snorkeling; a zip-line adventure complete with tram ride through the rain forest; and a white-water rafting trip. The team also participated in a community service day at a children’s center for underprivileged youth. The tour was arranged through Costa Rica Soccer, whose goal is to provide high-quality and affordable soccer for players of all ages.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Campus News


14-14, earning no. 5 seed in IIAC; 20-3 overall


Picked to finish last in the Iowa Conference preseason coaches poll, Luther’s baseball team finished fifth, posting a 14-14 record and earning the no. 5 seed for the six-team league tournament. Following an opening-round win over Buena Vista University (5-1), the Norse were eliminated from the tournament after losses to Wartburg College (7-6) and Loras College (2-0). They ended the year with a mark of 20-23. First-year head coach Bryan Nikkel had five players recognized on the all-conference team. First-team selections included designated hitter Andrew Burgmeier ’15 and pitcher Teddy Klingsporn ’17. Second-team honors were presented to David Lowe ’15 as a relief pitcher, first baseman Aldon Severson ’15, and outfielder Matt Larson ’15. Outfielder Alex Weber ’16 was named honorable mention. Klingsporn, who led the Norse pitching staff with an ERA of 1.73, was named the team’s Pitcher of the Year. Severson, who drove in a team best 36 RBI, was named Most Valuable Player. MEN’S GOLF

5th in IIAC The men’s golf team capped its season with a fifth-place finish at the 72-hole Iowa Conference Championships. Originally scheduled to play 36 holes on two weekends, the league was only able to complete 18 holes during the opening weekend due to severe weather at Finkbine Golf Course in Iowa City, Iowa. Play continued one week later at Thunder Hills Country Club, Peosta, Iowa. The field played 36 holes on Friday and 18 holes on Saturday. The Norse jumped from seventh after the first 18 holes to fifth, posting a 72-hole total of 329-300-297-313—1239. Central College won the team title, carding an 1192 and finishing 29 strokes ahead of runner-up University of Dubuque at 1225. Pete Kephart ’17 earned all-conference honors for the first time. Kephart finished in the top 10, shooting rounds of 77-75-71-80— 303, finishing in a tie for seventh. Forty-one golfers played in the tournament. SOFTBALL

IIAC Champions, 12-0; 38-6 overall The 2015 campaign proved to be another outstanding season for the Luther softball team.


Luther Alumni Magazine

Teddy Klingsporn ’17 was a first-team all-conference selection and was named Norse Pitcher of the Year. Nationally ranked in the top 10 the entire season, the Norse won the Iowa Conference championship with a perfect 12-0 record, earning the right to host the league’s six-team single elimination postseason tournament. In the semifinals, Luther defeated Coe 1-0 but was defeated in the championship game by Central, 8-2. One week later, Luther hosted a four-team NCAA III National Tournament Regional. The Norse advanced to the championship game thanks to a 9-3 victory over St. Scholastica in the opening round and a 3-2 decision in eight innings over University of St. Thomas in the semifinals. Needing one win to advance to the Super Regional, the Norse dropped backto-back games to Linfield College 8-0 and 4-2, ending the season with a mark of 38-6. Eight members of the team were recognized on the all-conference team, and six were also named all-Midwest Region. First-team all-conference honors were

awarded to pitcher Amanda Witzlib ’17, catcher Carli Radil ’16, outfielder Ashley Burrows ’18, and shortstop Katie Wieland ’15. Selected second team all-conference were Alise Miller ’15 at first base, Miranda McCay ’16 at third base, outfielder Lindsey Uphoff ’16, and designated player Anna Strien ’18. Witzlib was also named the league’s Pitcher of the Year. She posted a record of 6-0 in league play that included five complete games, one shutout, and 54 strikeouts in 39 innings of work en route to an ERA of 2.51. Head coach Renae Hartl was named the league’s Coach of the Year for a third time (2007, 2012, 2015). Postseason honors outside the Iowa Conference were presented to Radil, Wieland, Witzlib, and outfielder Hiliary Pennington ’15 as first-team all-Midwest Region selections, while Miller and Burrows were second-team honorees. Radil and Pennington were also named National Softball Coaches Association

Campus News

(NFCA) All-Americans. Radil was a secondteam selection and Pennington was a thirdteam selection. Kelsey Rose ’15 was named to the Capital One Academic All-America® Division III Softball Team as a first-team selection. The 2015 Capital One Academic AllAmerica® Division III Softball Team, selected by the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA), recognizes the nation’s top student-athletes for their combined performances athletically and in the classroom. Rose, a 2014 National Fastpitch Coaches Association (NFCA) third-team All-American, completed the 2015 campaign batting .476 with 27 RBI. Defensively, she was credited with 20 putouts, one assist, and no errors for a fielding percentage of 1.000. Unfortunately, she missed a large portion of the season because she was hit by a pitch and injured during Luther’s spring trip to Florida. She returned to the starting lineup for Luther’s final four games of the season during the NCAA III Decorah Regional. Rose completed her career as one of the top hitters in Luther history. She batted .410 with 60 RBI. Her 33 doubles ranks tied for sixth all-time. In 2014, she was named the Iowa Conference Position Player of the Year and first-team All-Midwest Region.



6-1 in IIAC, 15-12 overall

6th in IIAC Indoor Championships, 7th in IIAC Outdoor Championships

The men’s tennis team posted an overall record of 15-12, 6-1 in the Iowa Conference and finished the 2015 campaign ranked 19th in the Central Region. Finishing second during the regular season schedule, the Norse earned the no. 2 seed for the six-team Iowa Conference NCAA III Qualifier Tournament. Earning a bye in the first round, the Norse advanced to the championship match thanks to a 5-0 decision over Central College in the semifinals. In the title match, Coe College defeated the Norse 5-1. Four Norse were named to the all-conference team. Sam Cychosz ’15, Kyle Appel ’17, and Trent Scheider ’18 were named allconference in both singles and doubles, while Anders Jensen ’18 was recognized in doubles. The Intercollegiate Tennis Association (ITA) announced that Appel and Isaiah Mayerchak ’17 were named ITA ScholarAthlete award winners. To earn ITA Scholar-Athlete status, a player must meet the following criteria: be a varsity letter winner, have a grade point average of at least 3.50 (on a 4.00 scale) for the current academic year, and have been enrolled at their present school for at least two semesters.

The men’s track and field team placed sixth at the Iowa Conference indoor championships and finished seventh at the outdoor championships. At the indoor championships, the distance medley relay and 4 x 800 relay earned allconference honors. Both relays placed third. John Donovan ’16, Raleigh Sims ’16, Parker Beard ’17, and Isaac Jensen ’17 made up the distance medley, while Beard, Kurt Hellman ’16, Andrew Johnson ’15, and Donovan made up the 4 x 800. Joel Clarke ’15 qualified for the finals of the 60 hurdles, setting a school record of 8.39 in the prelims. At the outdoor championships, Nick Sigrist ’18, who was named the team’s Most Valuable Field Events/Multi-Events and Rookie of the Year, earned all-conference honors in the decathlon with a third-place finish, posting a point total of 5767. Cole Hocker ’15, who advanced to the finals in the 60-meter dash indoors and the 100-meter dash outdoors, was named the team’s Most Valuable for Running Events.

Kelsey Rose ’15 earned a number of honors during her Luther career, among them being named to the Capital One Academic AllAmerica® Division III Softball Team as a first-team selection.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine



Campus News

Tricia Serres ’16 won both the 1,500 and 5,000 and ran the anchor leg for the runner-up 4 x 800 relay at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships last spring. WOMEN’S TRACK AND FIELD

I5th in IAC Indoor, 3rd in IIAC Outdoor The women’s track and field team finished fifth at the Iowa Conference indoor championships and improved to third place at the outdoor championships. Highlighting the year was the effort of

Tricia Serres ’16 at the NCAA III Outdoor Track and Field Championships. After missing the indoor season while battling injuries, Serres returned with a vengeance to the outdoor schedule, capturing Iowa Conference titles in both the 1,500 and 5,000 and running the anchor leg for the runner-up

4 x 800 relay. For her efforts, she was named the IIAC Outdoor Championships Most Valuable Performer and, a week later, the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association (USTFCCCA) Central Region Women’s Track Athlete of the Year. She went on to claim her first NCAA III national title, crossing the finish line in the 1,500 at 4:26.30, a mere .46 seconds ahead of Emily Gapinksi from University of St. Thomas. Two hours later, she continued the championships by finishing as the runner-up in the 5,000, increasing her total number of All-America honors earned in track to seven. Also qualifying for the national outdoor championships were Leah Broderick ’15 and Anna Burke ’15 in the heptathlon and Jackie Hoyme ’16 in the discus. Broderick was making her second consecutive trip to the national outdoor meet, and she placed 13th (4444), while Burke placed 18th (4326). Broderick also qualified for the national indoor championships in the pentathlon, placing tenth with a point total of 3363. Burke earned her first trip to the national finale after posting the IIAC title in this event to her resume with a personal best point total of 4620. For her efforts, she was named the league’s Most Valuable Performer for Field Events. Hoyme was making her third appearance in the discus and placed 18th with a mark of 140-11.

Phone (563) 387-1036 or (888) 521-5039

Saydi Stewart ’16 K–12 Music Education major, Spencer, Wis. Josh Olson ’16 K–12 Music Education major, Spencer, Wis.


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Commencement 2015

Rain kept commencement exercises inside the Regents Center on May 24. Above, graduates spell out messages and goals on their caps. Right, faculty await their cue to begin the processional.


Luther Alumni Magazine


Speaker Mike Danforth ’95 sends graduates into the world with words of wisdom gained from a career in humor

How to survive after Luther Mike Danforth ’95 (right, middle) presented the 2015 Commencement address, drawing on his expertise in radio comedy and his professional experiences to give a speech full of humor and relevant advice for graduates. Danforth is an executive producer for the NPR show Wait Wait . . . Don’t Tell Me and cohost of the podcast How To Do Everything. In his address, Danforth used topics from How To Do Everything to share tips with the graduates, such as: “How to look professional wearing kids’ clothes,” or, you’re going to want to show everyone what you know, but remember that there’s so much you don’t know. “How to learn to ride a bike when you’re a 30-year-old man,” or, don’t be afraid to admit you don’t know something; it shows you have strength and courage. “How to survive an encounter with a bear,” or, how to handle it when your hard work isn’t good enough: don’t dwell on it, and remember what your mentors would do. “How to survive in the desert,” or, when everything is going wrong, the answer is always within you. Turn to your friends, the people who will stick by your side through everything. Danforth ended the speech by encouraging graduates to never stop asking questions: “There’s a lot you’ve gotten out of your four years here at Luther. I know, because I got it too. I hope, as you leave here, you take all that with you: take all that you know—but also take with you what you don’t know. No one is expecting you to know how to do everything and—believe me—no one wants you to. Be open. Be honest. Best of luck.”

Chris Norton shakes hands with President Paula Carlson, accompanied by his fiancée, Emily Summers. Norton was paralyzed by a football injury during his first year at Luther but overcame the paralysis enough to walk across the stage to receive his diploma with help from Summers.

The class of 2015 voted to name Libby Logsden this year’s recipient of the Jenson Medal. The award honors an outstanding senior who demonstrates service to students and the college community. Corey Landstrom, vice president and dean for student life, read Logsden’s citation, saying, “Whether through her leadership in Student Senate, the Student Activities Council, or Dance Marathon, Libby dedicated herself to fostering a community where individuals could grow as persons and be allowed to make mistakes.”

The 2015 Young Alumni Award was presented to Charles Leonard ’00. Leonard founded Blue Water Theatre, a children’s theatre in Wayzata, Minn. He has directed more than 50 musical productions, each involving 40 to 60 young people, ages 6 to 12. Lisa (Schneider) Strube ’87, president of the Luther Alumni Association, said Leonard was selected for the honor for how he fulfilled his role as a dedicated teacher, director, and mentor to young people, and for the way he has so perfectly blended his passion for the work he does with service to others.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Senior Stories 2015 graduates look back on key experiences at Luther that helped shape who they’ve become and where they’re going

Dan Gibson Biology major nurtures love of plants, “that lightbulb moment” Dan Gibson, a biology major from Urbandale, Iowa, was homeschooled through the eighth grade. He took advantage of the flexible schedule to help a neighbor with her two-lot garden, which germinated a lifelong interest in plants. At Luther, he participated in required first-year community service by joining a buckthorn blitz. “Whole floors of first-years would go out with herbicide and hands and attack a hillside to clear the buckthorn,” he recalls. He ended up working two hours past the required time, and so began his love of land stewardship. Sophomore year he started working as a land stewardship intern on campus. The summer after his junior year, Gibson raised his involvement a notch, securing a research experience for undergraduates (REU) at the Blandy Experimental Farm at the University of Virginia. He set up aquatic microcosms of different insects in large plastic bins and then calculated predation rates and noted who ate whom. “It wasn’t the most glamorous REU ... but my experience was phenomenal. It’s a gorgeous, public space, so you’re sharing it with tourists and dog walkers every morning. The faculty offices are in the same building as our dorm—which is in the same building as the gift shop and dining area. So rather than being in this secluded area with just researchers, you’re doing all these interactive things. And you maybe have to explain what you’re doing to some random passerby. It’s a lot more educational and interesting.” Gibson gets excited about whatever he’s working on at the moment. When he was taking micros-


copy, it was microscopy. Same for restoration, botany, entomology, and ornithology. So when it came time to consider post-college plans, he was stymied. “I knew I wanted to do something with conservation and ecological restoration, but I didn’t really know where I wanted to go with it. Lo and behold, [professor of biology] Kirk Larsen sent me an email one day about a project in entomology that was looking at using beneficial insects and plants for a cropping system.” Reading through the abstract, he said, “It was this amazing mesh of the things I was looking for.” This fall, Gibson started his graduate

program—which generally accepts one student per year—with the Landis Lab at Michigan State University. He’s part of a team investigating which native plant species can facilitate native insect pollination and pest control for which crops. Gibson loves the applied-science aspect of the program, but he also loves the outreach, educating farmers and land managers about how they might solve the pest and pollination problems while limiting pesticides and labor-intensive strategies. “I love to teach people and help them to get to that lightbulb moment,” he says. “I find that extremely satisfying.” —Kate Frentzel


Luther Alumni Magazine

Maggie Steinberg Peace Scholar finds way to further social justice dialogue When it came time for college, says Maggie Steinberg of Damascus, Ore., “I could go anywhere I wanted as long as it was Luther.” Her parents, Mary (Edwards) ’76 and Rich Steinberg ’74, are Luther grads, and all three of her siblings attended. Joking aside, she thought it would be a good place for academic exploration. And while she explored broadly, the milestones of Steinberg’s academic life trace a definite arc, describing a young woman passionate about social justice. Steinberg calls the Peace Scholars program, which she attended in 2013, a monumental experience. “I was all of the sudden thrust into this whole field of peace studies and conflict resolution and dialogue studies, and I had never been immersed in that as an academic form,” she says. As her Peace Scholars group engaged with Bosnian and Serbian students, “I found myself in conversation with people who had witnessed genocide, people who had witnessed war, people who loved the U.S. and hated the U.S. That was my first role as an international student,” she says. During a J-term in 2014 studying peace and reconciliation in South Africa 20 years after apartheid, Steinberg heard the same complaints about race and racism that she encounters in the U.S. That was my parents’ generation. Racism is over. I have black/white friends. Can’t we just move on? “It was a little chilling to hear,” she says. “It’s been a hundred years for the U.S., and we’re still not over it. Since we’ve had this transition from slavery to equality, there are still problems we’re not addressing because we refuse to see them. “During my first three years at Luther,” she says, “I really shied away from identifying myself as a person of color, because I come from an all-white family [Steinberg is adopted], an all-white town, an all-white school. But I have Scandinavian heritage through my father, and I’ve been to Norway, so it was a good way to fit in. Still, I began to notice more and more how unhappy it was making me. I didn’t feel like my whole self.” As stories like Ferguson hit the news, Steinberg grew frustrated. “Almost all of my peers were completely silent,” she says. “There was no discussion, no willingness to engage, no protest for or against— whatever the debate was. I’m very into current events, and I honestly just wanted to talk about it.”


Steinberg got her wish when she joined the committee overseeing the Don’t Shoot discussion and events series at Luther. “It was a journey of discovery for myself,” she says, “for understanding racism today and the structural nature of it, because I hadn’t studied the theories and connected the dots the way some other people had. It gave me a lot of empathy to have just gone through this learning process. I understood how difficult that process and that conversation

was and how it messes with you emotionally in a lot of ways.” Steinberg put her years of peace dialogue studies to work moderating a community-wide conversation for the series last spring. This fall, Steinberg joined the Lutheran Volunteer Corps, working to protect the dignity and human rights of immigrants in detention centers along the U.S. border and also with refugees who are survivors of torture. —Kate Frentzel

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Hanna Jensen Ultimate player discovers how to use game as bridge to peace Hanna Jensen is an Ultimate Frisbee evangelist. To be on Luther’s UF team, you sort of have to be. It’s a yearlong sport that practices four or five days a week and participates in eight or nine tournaments per year. There are no coaches and few resources, so players have to be invested enough to build the program themselves. But what Jensen, team captain for the past two years, loves best about the sport is that it’s self-refereed, governed by something called “spirit of the game.” Players call their own fouls and discuss each foul with the other team, which makes it a trust-based game, unlike any other sport. It also makes for a perfect bridge between sparring cultures, as Jensen learned while volunteering for Ultimate Peace, an Ultimate Frisbee nonprofit, while studying in Israel in spring 2014. Jensen, daughter of Kari (Hermeier) ’83 and Dave Jensen ’83, had previously studied abroad in Jordan, where she volunteered in a Palestinian refugee camp amid squalid conditions. “I’d never experienced poverty like that,” she says. “I was just taking it in that this is a lot of people’s lifelong reality.” Feeling upset afterward, Jensen realized that “if I was ever going to be a respectable, empathetic sort of person, I had to understand the other side of things.” So the econ/international studies double major enrolled in the study-away program in Tel Aviv, Israel. Her first day with Ultimate Peace, Jensen says, “I got in a car with a bunch of strangers my age who were Frisbee players from all over the world, and we drove about two hours to an old Arab village in northern Israel.” Every Saturday, Palestinian, Israeli Arab, and Israeli Jewish kids are bused into this village and others throughout the country to play Frisbee together. “A lot of them don’t go to the same schools or have the same first language, and some are physically segregated by being in the West Bank and not really allowed to leave without this sort of pro-


Luther Alumni Magazine


gram,” Jensen says. “There are so many things that should separate them, but there are also just these moments when you see kids having successes and having conversations and trusting one another on the field—kids that without this program would never have reason to trust each other. But when a kid throws a great throw into the end zone, and the friend who’s on their team but from a different life catches the disk, and they hug, there’s that moment, and you know that no matter what happens, they’ll always have had that friend who was on the other

side, so to speak. No matter how heated things get—which happens a lot in Israel—it’s a lot harder to villainize a group of people when you have friends within that group.” Jensen, who would love to work in policy or Middle East relations, believes that grassroots efforts like Ultimate Peace have the power to effect great change: “It’s kind of the bottom-up approach in terms of solving conflicts, but I’m a big believer that the masses have to want change for it to be real and lasting.” —Kate Frentzel

Evan Obert Hard work brings success in class, on the mat Two-time All American. Three-time Academic All American. Team MVP. Hardest-Working Norse Wrestler. Evan Obert graduated from Luther with plenty of wrestling accolades, which came through a healthy dose of determination and whole lot of hard work. “I was horrible,” he candidly recalls of his first days competing in the sport as a third grader in Genoa, Wis. “But my parents encouraged me to stick with it, and I wanted to be the best.” Obert’s diligence paid off, and before long, he was succeeding on the mat beyond even his own (high) expectations. As a DeSoto (Wis.) High School student, he set the record for career wins (154) en route to three appearances at the state meet. Obert captured the state title at 103 pounds in 2010. “Wrestling taught me work ethic and selfdiscipline,” he says. “I knew that if I didn’t put in the hours, it would come out on the mat—and I learned that’s true in most every aspect of life.” Obert carried that winning attitude with him to Luther, where he says he appreciated the professors’ dedication and the small class sizes. Entering Luther with an interest in political science, he ultimately declared a philosophy major after taking a class with Holly Moore, assistant professor of philosophy, his second semester on campus. “Philosophy really taught me how to think,” Obert says. “It pushed me to examine the question and not just search for the answer.” He had just finished his first year at Luther when perhaps his biggest supporter—his mother, Lori—died of breast cancer. Her death was devastating to Obert, the oldest of five children, but, much as he had done so many times in competition, he pushed through the pain. “Instead of dwelling on our loss, I just kept my head up and thought of what she would want me to do on and off the mat,” he says. “I knew she would have wanted me to lead by example.”


In May Obert began work as a business support specialist with Allsteel in Muscatine, Iowa. He hopes one day to assume a managerial role within the company—known for its functional office furnishings—and to coach wrestling at the high school level.

“Anyone can achieve their goals if they put their mind to it,” he says. “I always have believed that and hope I always will.” —Sara Friedl-Putnam

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


James Odegaard Nordic president makes his mark through leadership, philanthrophy “Love at first sight,” James Odegaard says when asked to describe his first impression of Luther. Many on campus return the compliment. “James’s dedication to Luther is evident in all he does,” says Kate (Trigger) Duffert ’11, Luther assistant director of annual giving. “He’s quick to share the impact Luther has had on his life and the motivation he has to give back to the Luther community after graduation.” In truth, Odegaard began giving back well before he graduated with a music major and management minor in May. Within months of setting foot on campus, he had signed on with the Student Philanthropy Council (SPC), an organization that connects students with potential alumni donors. Through SPC, he spent many hours raising funds for the college through Phonathon, the Senior Giving Campaign, and, really, every opportunity that presented itself. “I have deep gratitude for the alumni and friends who make it possible for current students to afford Luther and find their callings by exploring the liberal arts,” he says. “That’s what drives me to give back my time and energy to the college.” This high-energy Hiawatha, Iowa, native has a history of making the most of his waking hours. As a student at Kennedy High School, Odegaard earned top grades while participating in drama, show and jazz choir, tennis, and student council. “I was running from seven in the morning until nine at night,” he says. “I thrive on stress—it exhilarates and energizes me.” That was certainly true at Luther, where, in addition to his SPC involvement, he served as a resident assistant and as assistant hall director in Brandt Hall his junior year, and sang in Nordic Choir, the Undeclared a cappella group, and the Jubilus chamber ensemble. His senior year he also served as Nordic Choir president. The position—in which he served as a liaison between director Allen Hightower and his fel-


Luther Alumni Magazine


low choir members—helped him hone valuable networking, management, and leadership skills. “It could involve some interesting diplomacy,” says Odegaard, a tenor. “But I learned a lot in the position and really enjoyed it.” It also helped him pinpoint the path he hopes to take away from the college. “I love music but don’t want to pursue performance as a career,” he says. “Luther helped me discover that my strengths lie

in relationship building and administration—my dream is to put those strengths to work as a talent or band manager one day.” Over the summer, Odegaard accepted the position of student engagement coordinator, working in Luther’s Development Office. —Sara Friedl-Putnam

Marley Crossland Diversity advocate helps smooth way for LGBTQ students Marley Crossland has been a pioneering force on a campus that, like most, is seeing an increase in students who don’t perceive gender in two distinct and opposing categories—male or female—but that doesn’t necessarily have the infrastructure to support them fully. Seeing a need for more housing options, the Holmen, Wis., native helped write a proposal for coed units in Baker Village. Crossland also designed an internship with the Diversity Center to better train allies of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and queer (LGBTQ) students and establish more safe zones on campus. “I don’t think it’s that the administration doesn’t want to be well equipped to handle LGBTQ students, but they don’t always know how,” Crossland says. “I want to lay the groundwork for them so that they can get there.” A key member of the student group PRIDE, Crossland aims to spread understanding: “One important thing for PRIDE has been pairing with other groups on campus, like Philosophy Society, SAC Cinema, Active Minds—that’s been really helpful in reaching out to people who might not come to PRIDE and helping them learn about us.” Crossland attended the Midwest Bisexual Lesbian Gay Transgender Ally College Conference (MBLGTACC, or “Mumbletack” among attendees). “Mumbletack gave me the opportunity to learn academically about my own community,” Crossland says. “To be surrounded by that many people, you finally get to see people like you in real life, and you’ve maybe never met someone like you before.” As a women and gender studies major and English minor, Crossland tries to dispel this sense of isolation through writing. In a senior project, a work of creative nonfiction, Crossland gathered the narratives of more than two dozen LGBTQ students at primarily small, Midwestern liberal arts colleges. “Giving queer narrative a place to exist and be heard is so powerful,” the author says. “It’s really easy to think that Luther is this paradise, but that’s not everyone’s experience. And that’s not to say that we don’t do some things right, but sometimes when people think it’s a paradise, they don’t bother to really listen. And saying, ‘I don’t care if you’re


gay’ is a lot different than saying, ‘That’s a part of you I lack, and I want to listen.’” Intertwining personal narrative through the project has been important to Crossland. “If I’m going to make all these other people vulnerable, I have to be willing to put myself on that same line and be as vulnerable about things that were hard for me or that that I’m

ashamed of. It allows me to risk something, and that’s when you have a lot to gain in terms of letting people in and letting them hear your stories. You’re giving them a chance to say, ‘You’re a human being, and I can relate to what you’ve gone through.’” —Kate Frentzel

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Marlon Henriquez First-generation student paying forward his DREAMer experience, education El Salvador native Marlon Henriquez had no idea what kind of turnout to expect when he volunteered to help organize and take part in a panel discussion on immigration in spring 2014. “I didn’t know if we would draw 20 people or 200, but we ended up packing the CFL Recital Hall,” he says. “My professors showed up, my Admissions Office and Diversity Center coworkers showed up, my classmates showed up, and my friends showed up—it was an incredible experience.” For Henriquez, the panel provided the opportunity to put a personal spin on a very public issue—the struggle of “DREAMers” to access higher education. DREAMers are young immigrants brought to the United States as children, named for the Development, Relief, and Education for Alien Minors Act. “My experience is rare,” he says. “Like all DREAMers, I don’t qualify for federal financial aid, but unlike most, I was able to attend college because of Luther’s creativity in putting together an aid package, including a McElroy grant, and the generosity of donors who value education and understood my financial situation.” Henriquez was just three when he immigrated to the United States in 1996. He and his family—mom Rosa, dad Jovy, and younger siblings Blake and Karen—settled in Postville, Iowa, before moving to Decorah in 2006. “I was amazed by all the opportunities in Decorah,” says Henriquez, who participated in speech, played trumpet, and competed in soccer and football at Decorah High School. “My parents never even had the chance to attend high schooI in El Salvador.” Upon graduation, Henriquez applied to (and was accepted at) several colleges, but soon learned he could not afford to attend them. “I never even thought about applying to Luther because I knew what the tuition was,” he says. “As it turned out, my future was in my own backyard.” Even as Henriquez pursued that future, he never forgot his past. While at Luther, he regularly joined other members of the student group HOLA-Enlaces to teach English as a second language some 20 miles down the road in Postville. “As an immigrant myself, I understood firsthand the struggle of others acclimating to a new country,” he says of his involvement in those efforts. This fall Henriquez begins work at Gage


Luther Alumni Magazine


Elementary School in Rochester, Minn., teaching kindergarten students enrolled in a Spanish immersion program. “I’m going to be a teacher,” he says with obvious pride. “What better way for me

to pay forward the opportunities that were given to me than to pass on the knowledge I have gained?” —Sara Friedl-Putnam

About the photographer Evan Sowder ’15 created six of the portrait photographs in this collection. The art major says his passion for photography began at Luther with an interest in capturing macro images of bugs. Ten thousand insect images later, he tried his hand at portraits for a class assignment. Recipient of the 2015 Daryl and Audrey Erdman Prize for Entrepreneurship, Sowder launched his freelance photography business based in the Twin Cities, shooting weddings, headshots, portraits, and more. Sowder credits his Luther work-study and internship experiences, as well as mentoring and support from Luther faculty, staff, fellow students, and alumni as instrumental to his career. Some of his work is slated to appear in the 2015 Fall/Winter Wyoming issue of Rocky Mountain Bride magazine.

Thando May South Africa native steps out of her element to explore the world It’s perhaps not the best time for Thandokazimay “Thando” May to be interviewed—she is, after all, in the midst of touring Cape Town, South Africa— but one would never guess that by the bubbly tone of her voice. “No worries,” she says upon answering her cell. “I’ll just step away from the group for a bit.” South Africa may be May’s native country, but family isn’t what brought her home last March. Instead, the stop was one of 14 she made as a passenger aboard the Semester at Sea cruise ship World Odyssey. “I applied for the Semester at Sea program because I felt too comfortable in my surroundings,” says May, a biology major. “There was a whole world out there waiting for me to explore it.” She describes the experience in superlatives— “amazing,” “enriching,” “life-changing”—and says it forced her to take a long, hard look at where she came from and, perhaps more importantly, where she’s headed. “This experience really shook me out of my privilege,” she says. “It made me realize the many advantages I’ve had thus far in life.” Those advantages include living abroad for six years, two as a student at the United World College in Swaziland (where she first heard about Luther) and another four in Decorah. “My first year on campus was daunting,” she allows. “It took me a while to acclimate, but being in completely unfamiliar surroundings also forced me to immerse myself in college life.” Indeed, May was a familiar and friendly face about campus—in Preus Library, where she worked in technical services and chaired the African Book Club; in the Diversity Center, where she served as president of the International Student and Allies Association; and in Sampson Hoffland Laboratories, where she conducted research on gray fox population genetics and took most of her classes. “We’re constantly discovering something we didn’t know about life,” she says of her longtime interest in the life sciences. “It’s fascinating just to think about how much more we have yet to learn.” Upon graduating last spring, May returned to


The Semester at Sea program held a commencement ceremony last spring on board the M/V Explorer, whose colors are also blue and white. South Africa, where she plans to spend the next year reconnecting with family and friends and applying to doctoral programs in biology. To the surprise of no one who knows her, this inquisitive world traveler has set her long-term goals even higher.

“I hope to continue to develop my country,” May says. “My dream is to open a hospital for rural South African people so that they have better access to health care.” —Sara Friedl-Putnam

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine



How is Luther different from other liberal arts colleges? Almost all tout their faculty, study abroad, career assistance, athletics program, and sense of community. But Luther puts it all together in a way that propels its students to stunning successes. For instance, as New York Times writer Frank Bruni wrote recently, Luther “has proven to be a surprisingly sturdy cradle for winners of some of the most prestigious academic prizes.”1 At Luther students get the resources and academic challenge needed to map their own future, and to develop the discipline of work and the habit of critical thinking.

of a Luther education


2014 Luther Graduates First seven months after graduation2

+78808487 77 68% 17% 6% 6% 1% 2%

Among May 2014 graduates, 70% had engaged in applied learning experiences (internships, student teaching, discipline-related research, or other clinical/practicums).

! Employed ! Grad./professional school ! Volunteer/service ! Continuing education ! Still seeking ! Other

Alumni Survey Fall 2013: Classes of 2003 & 20083



use skills gained as an undergraduate3

of alumni reported securing their first paying job within six months of graduation, 27.3% of those while still enrolled at Luther3


find their current job satisfying3



report current job allows them to continue to grow and learn3

of respondents are employed full time, only 0.6% unemployed and seeking work3


of alumni are very satisfied or generally satisfied with their undergraduate education3



feel very strong or some connection to Luther College3

2014–15 Student Interns by Major Field4 Accounting ............... 5 Africana studies ........ 3 Anthropology ............ 2 Art ............................. 8 Athletic training ..........1 Biology ............. 62 Chemistry ................. 2 Classics .....................1 Communication studies........... 23

Computer science ...11 Dance ....................... 2 Economics .............. 10 Education ..................1 English ...................... 6 Environmental studies ................... 9 French/MLL .............11 Health .............. 19 History ...................... 3

International studies ................... 4 Library science......... 2 Management .... 32 Mathematics ............. 2 Museum studies ....... 6 Music ........................ 6 Nursing ..................... 6 Physical education ... 3 Physics ..................... 2

Political science ....... 8 Psychology ....... 22 Religion .................... 3 Social work ............... 3 Sociology .................. 3 Theatre ...................... 3 Women and gender studies ....................1 Total ..................... 285

1. Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania (Grand Central, 2015) 2. Luther Career Center Post-Graduation Activities Report 2014 3. HEDS Consortium Alumni Survey 2013–14 4. Luther Career Center 2014–15 Internship Review 5. The Chronicle of Higher Education 6. National Survey of Student Engagement, spring 2014 7. American Assoc. of University Professors 8. 9. Luther Center for Global Learning


Top Fulbright producer Luther has made the list of top Fulbright producers three times in the past five years: 2010, 2011, 2014

Rhodes Scholars

Luther has produced 8 Rhodes Scholars. Among other schools with 7–9 Rhodes Scholars are Boston University, Brigham Young University, Wellesley College, Rutgers University, St. Olaf College, Lawrence University, and Macalester College.8

Among other schools on the 2014 list with similar numbers of Fulbrights for that year were Carleton College, Macalester College, St. Olaf College, Colgate University, Lawrence University, and Swarthmore College.5

Rhodes Scholars since 2000, among schools who have ever had winners:


assigned pages of writing as a first year6

I remember showing up unannounced at a professor’s office many times with new formulations of my senior paper, and he would sit and talk with me for an hour. I found this level of dedication to hold true for nearly all of my professors at Luther, and I believe that it was invaluable to my education.

—Nick Andreson ’13

of seniors worked on a research project with a faculty member outside of regular coursework6

St. Olaf College


University of Minnesota


University of Wisconsin


Luther College


Augsburg College


Carleton College


Drake University


Grinnell College


University of Iowa


Coe College

of faculty live within five miles of campus


Cornell College


Gustavus Adolphus College



Iowa State University


University of Northern Iowa


assigned pages of writing as a senior6


of faculty hold the highest degree in their field



NCAA Postgraduate Scholars

of faculty are tenured or tenuretrack, providing consistency and expertise7

One of the Luther experiences that had the greatest impact on me was the Vienna residency J-term trip I took with the Symphony Orchestra. The cultural experiences in the music capital of the world along with the community within the ensemble made it a once-in-a-lifetime experience.”



— Madeline Davidson ’14

Every year


international students from 60 countries made the journey to Luther last year


over students explore the world through off-campus programs—65% study away before graduation9


of Luther students receive financial aid, 68% participate in work-study

atural assets 30

Luther Alumni Magazine


uther has a stunning central campus designed by Jens Jensen, the pioneer of prairie style landscape architecture, but did you know that its wild, natural areas are seven times the size of its highly designed upper campus? At about 700 acres, these 17 named areas offer enormous opportunities for Luther students. From top-tier biology research to landmanagement internships to humanities courses bolstered by the natural world and a strong sense of place, Luther’s extensive land holdings enrich student learning in a way few colleges can match. And they transform both students and the land in the process.

Luther’s hundreds of acres offer space to research, learn, and wonder


by Kate Frentzel

SPECIES DIVERSITY MATTERS Iowa’s agricultural history has dramatically changed the state’s landscape, which used to be about 80 percent prairie. Intense land use, such as row cropping and grazing that were common on Luther’s property and elsewhere, resulted in loss or degradation of habitats. This means that there are now far fewer oak savannas, woodlands, and tallgrass prairies in northeast Iowa, and those that remain may need our help. Nonnative invasive species can take advantage of these disturbed systems, crowding out native species and profoundly changing local ecosystems. And when a big flood hits, like the one that inundated lower campus in 2008, there’s little to stop soil from washing into the river, polluting the water supply. Luther has seen the whole process as an opportunity, using the improvement of native habitats as a learning tool. Molly McNicoll, assistant professor of biology and Luther’s natural areas land manager, administers Luther’s Land Stewardship Plan, which marks its fiveyear anniversary this October. The plan outlines the goals for Luther’s 700 acres of natural areas: • to support the college’s educational mission • to nurture a connection with place • to sustain and restore our ecological communities The plan assesses different areas of campus and suggests general actions, such as removing invasive species, planting native species, prescribing fire and mowing, and establishing research plots or recreation trails. McNicoll also oversees the students who help care for Luther’s natural areas. This summer’s interns, Hannah Garry ’16, Brennen Reysack ’16, and Marissa Wales ’17, spent time clearing garlic mustard, buckthorn, and wild parsnip—an invasive species that produces sap that can blister skin when exposed to UV light. The interns also collected vegetation data on two long-term habitat restoration research projects initiated in 2014 by McNicoll and two research students, Zoe Bachman ’16 and Claire Dembsky ’15. The interns’ experience with both hands-on management and research is intentional. McNicoll says: “Native biodiversity will only be restored to these disturbed habitats by being actively involved, whether it’s removing invasive species, planting new prairies, or applying controlled burns. But to make the best restoration decisions, we use research to assess the outcome of our efforts. You can’t just arbitrarily apply management and expect to be successful; our choices must be based in understanding the ecology of the system. Doing research requires interns to use what they learn in the school year and then build on it as they collect data, synthesize, and present their research.” The interns already have a handle on why their work matters. Garry says, “If you don’t maintain these areas, there are plant species that will invade and cover them entirely, and you’ll have just one species when you could have had hundreds.”

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Luther professors love the natural areas for their accessibility.

Above: Luther’s trail system, with nearly eight miles of trails, is open to students and the community. Inset, above right: Luther’s natural areas allow students to participate in service through land stewardship. Biology major Shannon Meehan ’18 pulls an invasive buckthorn sapling as part of an annual “buckthorn blitz” volunteer event.

Right: Assistant professor of biology and land manager Molly McNicoll (center) and student interns Brennen Reysack ’16 and Marissa Wales ’17 assess the growth of an oak tree planted as part of a 14-acre bottomland forest restoration along the Upper Iowa River.


Luther Alumni Magazine



RESEARCH MADE EASIER Brian Eachus ’15 also worked as a stewardship intern and says he learned a lot about being a team player and working efficiently in a team. “It spurred my interest in climate change and nonnative invasive plants and allowed me to develop my own sense of stewardship and understanding of the need for conservation now more than ever,” he says. Eachus collected data on the effects of different management techniques on wild parsnip, then presented his findings at a Society for Ecological Restoration annual meeting. Eachus’ strong conclusions were possible because he built on research that interns had conducted in 2011 and 2012, emphasizing the importance of multiple years of research. He plans to pursue an advanced degree in wildlife ecology next fall. Like many Norse who become field biologists, Marissa Schuh ’14 first encountered land stewardship during a first-year service project pulling buckthorn (see also Dan Gibson, page 20). “I saw how different the areas we were clearing out were from areas that hadn’t been infested with buckthorn,” she says. “When I took entomology my second year, I did a small project exploring the effect of buckthorn on ground-dwelling insects with another student, and then I was able to obtain a summer research grant from the Dean’s Office to carry out the project at a larger scale. The process of applying for a grant, then writing the proto-

cols and doing the planning, then doing the actual sampling was such good preparation.” Schuh now studies switchgrass and cereal aphids as an entomology graduate student at the Landis Lab at Michigan State University, and this spring she published, as lead author, the results of her summer research project with Luther professor of biology Kirk Larsen in the scientific journal Environmental Entomology. “Most students don’t get a publication until they are a couple of years into graduate school,” she says, “so getting a publication—as a first author!—during my first year has been invaluable. I’m really proud of it.” Luther professors love the natural areas for their accessibility. Associate professor of biology Eric Baack says, “I get to work in this vast space, but it’s only five minutes away from upper campus. When other places do these big field experiments, they often have to travel two hours away.” Kirk Larsen, professor of biology, echoes, “It’s unique because most schools, especially if they’re in a large city, don’t have any natural areas on campus or even close to campus, so they waste a lot of time in their field biology classes traveling. We can walk out the door with our Bio 151 class, and within two minutes we’re in Anderson Prairie and up into Hickory Ridge Woods, and we take advantage of these areas for three or four weeks of labs.”


In-service biology teacher Jacob Wittman ’12 and biology student Emma Stivers ’17 survey for butterflies as part of an HHMI summer research trio that pairs an in-service or preservice science teacher and a current Luther science student with a science professor for a summer research experience.

SEEING THE BIG PICTURE OVER THE LONG TERM “So much science is carried out on a decadeslong scale,” Baack says. “It’s such a different timeline than the academic calendar that students are accustomed to. Working on these projects at Luther, in which a field season gets us another data point, so one data point per year, makes the slow pace that research can take very apparent” to students considering a career in research. Larsen agrees that it’s valuable to expose students to long-term research. “It gives students a better handle on what’s involved in research, especially significant ecological research that’s going to take time and a lot of effort and a lot of sampling,” he says. “It’s important for them to see some of the struggles involved in that and realize what a little picture they get of the bigger picture that’s out there. They can start framing their work in the con-


ROOM TO EXPERIMENT Another benefit of owning vast acreage is that it makes certain kinds of research possible that might be tricky to pull off in tighter quarters or on private or more developed land. For example, McNicoll and Larsen study the effects of fire on plant and insect populations, respectively. They’re able to do this research on campus because Luther has the space and autonomy to do prescribed burns, which help stimulate native prairies. Similarly, Baack and his students study sunflowers. In one experiment, they are attempting to redomesticate the sunflower from the wild. “The crop and wild sunflower are the same species—they can fertilize one another,” Baack says. “They differ in the size of the seed, which we expect—humans bred for that—but what’s interesting is that they differ in other ways too. So the question is why these other traits change as seed size changes.” Baack’s research depends on some amount of isolation—as he notes, the sunflowers can cross-pollinate, and it’s imperative that his control plots and experimental plots have some distance between them. “My control plot is 40 yards from the first selected plot, and the second selected plot is another 200 yards away. Bees are doing the pollination, and most of the time they’re going to travel between near flowers. Having a bit of separation means that most of the pollen is coming from the right plot and not between plots,” he says. And because Baack is spoiled for choice among Luther’s natural areas, he was able to set up the three plots for this experiment on top of a hill in the Roslien Woodlands, where they won’t meet interference from sunflowers in the Luther gardens, for example. In addition to his three plots in Roslien, Baack has two at the top of Hawk Hill. “There aren’t that many places in the U.S. where I could have another plot more than a half mile away,” Baack says. “Some schools have only an area where they can do field experiments— and it can be tricky for a faculty member to keep a plot for several years because other people need them for experiments.”

text of a bigger series of work that’s been going on for a long time, and then try to use that to answer their questions.” And with long-term research come important insights. Larsen and his students have been studying ground beetles, which are indicators of environmental change, for 20 years. “Even on campus, we’ve been seeing insects start to show up that were never here before, that were south of us,” he says. “Over time, things seem to be moving north.” This kind of research could be indicative of widespread climate change. It also provides a barometer of how Luther’s restoration efforts are doing. Right now, Larsen and his students are looking at ground beetles, butterflies, and native bees relative to available floral resources and comparing Luther’s planted prairies with remnant (i.e., unplowed, pre-European) prairies elsewhere in northeast Iowa to see how effective our restoration efforts are.

Left: Jennifer Dechaine ’03 harvests sunflowers in one of Luther’s natural areas. Dechaine and associate professor of biology Eric Baack (inset) have collaborated on sunflower research since the spring of 2008.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine



GROWING A RESEARCH COMMUNITY What’s easy to overlook in all this is the sheer time that students and faculty spend together during field research. Baack makes the point: “There’s a rhythm to doing field work that lends itself to conversation about all sorts of things. There are opportunities when we’re germinating or counting seeds to talk about science and career goals. We can have a two-hour conversation that doesn’t necessarily fit into a class period or office hours. For some, those conversations have been really valuable.” Baack’s former student Kate Freund ’11, who earned her M.S. in ecology, evolution, and behavior from the University of Minnesota in 2014 and started her Ph.D. in applied plant sciences there this year, concurs. “I had many insightful conversations about evolution and ecology with Eric,” she says, “and through observation of the way Eric understood and questioned the natural world, I began to do the same. “One of the values that Luther emphasizes is community, and working in the Baack lab allowed me, for the first time in my life, to be a part of a formal scientific community,” she says. “It was one of the most influential experiences of my time at Luther because he encouraged me to keep questioning, keep researching, and keep learning.”

FIELDS FOR ALL FIELDS If you think natural areas benefit only future conservationists, think again. Students in disciplines from art to English to anthropology to physical education and beyond learn through Luther’s land holdings. Jeff Boeke ’80, an instructor in physical education, uses the areas for his adventureeducation courses, and Colin Betts, professor


Luther Alumni Magazine

of anthropology, takes students into Lionberger Preserve and Norski for two of his courses. In Experimental Archeology, students harvest materials from the areas to replicate prehistoric technologies—for example, stone tools, basketry, or fire-making. In his Archeological Field Methods course, Betts and his students identify possible archeological sites and then excavate and record them. Betts says, “For me, there’s a strictly academic part of these courses: using the resources to answer a research question. But I think it’s equally important to actually see the real-world part of it, to go beyond the theoretical—okay, this is what this kind of tree looks like, this is where you might find it—and to say, you actually have to go out and find this. It develops that sense of how to see things. It requires a different mindset or perspective. To start looking at it with a different eye or different purpose changes the way you perceive the landscape.” Amy Weldon, associate professor of English, sends her students into Luther’s prairies, woods, and valleys to complete creative writing exercises. “Since creative writing in any genre is founded on sensory, precise language—which is rooted in the ability to observe your surroundings closely—Luther’s beautiful natural setting helps my students and me hone this ability in and out of the classroom,” she says. Jessa Anderson-Reitz ’14, a former student of Weldon’s, reflects on her outdoor classroom: “Stepping out of the academic buildings and into the prairies, woods, and rivers was the best thing I could do to become a creative writer. I was surprised by the natural world’s minute beauties and tried to pay homage to them by writing stories and poems that were alive

and rich. Engaging with nature is a restorative practice that strengthens a writer’s observational skills by teaching them to be quiet and still. I learned not to bring an agenda with me into the natural spaces, because the inspiration of swaying prairie grass, a pair of dragon flies twirling through the air, or the moon shining on rounded stones at the rivers’ edge will lead you down a new path every time.” Luther’s campus also serves as inspiration for the visual arts. In addition to providing a powerful subject for student artists, it has acted as the backbone of assistant professor of art Kate Elliott’s 19th-century art history course. Elliott’s students recently curated an exhibit of Decorah-area works that depicted elements of the writings of Jens Jensen, a great lover of woodlands and prairies and of Luther’s campus itself. Riley Samuelson ’16 says, “As both an art major and an environmental studies major, incorporating the natural areas of Luther and Jens Jensen’s campus vision did a lot to enrich Dr. Elliott’s course. It gave me a new perspective and understanding about the Luther landscape and how it affects us as people living and growing within it. Along with this, it helped me understand that living with this landscape is an integral part of the experience and education that one can only get from Luther College—and it is one of the very things that connects us (in a way in which only nature can) with Luther’s past as well as its future.”

TRANSFORMING STUDENTS Samuelson’s reflection reinforces an important point, which is that while the natural areas foster student learning, they also foster student connection to place.

Biology professor Kirk Larsen (right) makes an important point about the visibility of Luther’s natural areas: because students live in such close proximity to them, they can’t help but learn about ecology.


“We have some restoration, like the Yvlisaker Slope clearing we’re doing— turning that into oak savanna—and students are saying why? So it’s an opportunity to educate them that it’s part of the historic landscape of northeast Iowa, and we’re tying to restore that,” Larsen says. “Everybody sees Anderson Prairie—they see us burning it in the spring, or they see us burning Gateway Prairie when they’re sitting up in the Union eating dinner and see all these big flames, so they poke their heads out: What’s going on? There’s actually a lot of learning associated with having these areas right on campus.”


Aikman Prairie Anderson Prairie Flying Squirrel Forest Freeport Marsh Gateway Prairie Hawk Hill Hickory Ridge Woods Hoslett Field Study Area Jewell Field Lionberger Preserve Norski Bottoms Norski Hill/Slope


Roslien Woodlands South Park Spilde Woods Sunflower Summit West River Corridor

During professor of anthropology Colin Betts’s Archeological Field Methods course, Molly Kline ’12 and Haaken Hagen-Atwell, son of LIS public services coordinator Eddie Atwell, excavate a test unit in Lionberger Preserve to look for evidence of prehistoric habitations. From their preliminary work, the site appears to have been a small campsite that was periodically used around 2,000 years ago.

In addition to a better appreciation of the natural world in general, Beth Lynch, associate professor of biology, says students learn to particularly appreciate this place, northeast Iowa. “It would be easy to overlook the particulars of this place in the classroom, where examples from other parts of the world dominate textbooks, lessons, and readings.” But learning

the cultural, entomological, artistic, prehistoric, agricultural, and botanical history of this place keeps students connected to it. And this connection changes them. As Lynch reflects (Agora, Spring 2011): “This practice of attention to the natural world is transformative. It pulls us beyond the physical limits of our bodies, beyond the confusion of

human relationships and social mores, out into the world of damp soil, chilly breezes, muddy rivers, lichens on tree bark, and kettles of turkey vultures soaring on a warm updraft. This attention to the world beyond fills us with wonder, love, and sorrow.”

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine



The nine Sorlien brothers of Bode, Iowa, left to right, Magnus, James, Albert, Leon ’21, Carl (1907–8), Henry (class of 1905), Olvin ’22, Arne ’21, Oscar (class of 1912).

A team to remember Descendents of the Sorlien 9 reunite at Luther 100 years after momentous game By MIKE KILEN It would seem improbable today. Nine boys in one family who all play baseball? But it happened in 1915. The Sorlien boys from Bode, Iowa, came to Decorah and took on the Luther team in a memorable baseball game that was noted across the Midwest. The Decorah Public Opinion claimed at the time that it was likely a national record for brothers on one team. What happened 100 years later was improbable too. Late this past July, descendants of the original Sorlien nine, along with their spouses—totalling 159—traveled to Decorah from 15 states and one foreign country. They aimed to relive the game and show that baseball and tradition still ran strong through their family. Forty-two members, ages nine to 73, suited up and tossed baseballs, preparing for the game in the sunshine, while the other Sorliens—and related Blanchards, Kvales,


Luther Alumni Magazine

Skatruds, Larsens, and more—cheered them on in the stands. “If those guys are watching this from above they won’t believe what happened,” said Dale Pedersen of Algona, a grandson of Albert Sorlien, one of the original nine. “This many offspring and they all play ball like them.” Pedersen played ball in high school and college decades ago, but his aging “frozen shoulder” kept him in the dugout as his younger relations—wearing special “Sorlien 9” jerseys and hats bearing an S—ran onto the field. “Albert played left field and was the best hitter. My brother Wayne is 62, and he’s out there in left field,” Pedersen said. The memories were thick as infield dust. The Sorlien brothers worked hard on the farm but really wanted to play ball. They constructed their own baseball diamond near the home place and after chores played every night until dark. Father John Sorlien, an im-

migrant from Norway and a successful farmer, brought home baseballs and mitts from his travels to sell cattle. The boys would stick the floppy old mitts in their back pockets and pull them out to play catch when the work horses needed a rest. They treasured those old mitts and baseballs for years, said Lois Sorlien Fossen, daughter of Olvin, another of the original nine, one

“I will never forget my father holding a baseball in front of our eyes, moving it to the right and left, training us to watch the ball.” —Susan Sorlien ’73, granddaughter of Arne Sorlien ’21

in 1907 and the boys and mother Bertha had to work hard to hold the farm together, they still managed to play ball, making up a good portion of the Bode town team for years. Their notoriety spread. Luther got wind that Oscar was set to marry in Decorah in 1915 and all nine brothers would be together again, so the Sorliens were challenged to a game. Ranging in age from 15 to 32, they put forth a memorable effort. Tied 1-1 in the 11th inning, a ball hit by James Sorlien rolled under a car. With no ground rules, he ran all the way home. But Luther came back in the bottom of the inning and scored two runs on four errors to win the game 3-2. The Sorliens soon got offers to form a

barnstorming team but played only a few more games together. By then, many were successful bankers and farmers. Olvin and Arne, a star pitcher, got professional baseball offers but chose to finish college. Baseball stayed with the family in the years that followed, though. Arne’s son Arne Jr. ’51 preferred winter sports, but baseball was so vital to the family that he taught his own children the game, including daughter Susan Sorlien ’73, a Luther Board of Regents member, who helped organize the reunion and today lives in Florida. “I will never forget my father holding a baseball in front of our eyes, moving it to the right and left, training us to watch the ball,” she said.


of five generations at the reunion. “What hurts most is watching pro baseball games—which I do every day— and they use a new ball after every pitch! In our family, our baseballs and softballs were saved and used year after year, and they were harder each year from being wet and used so much.” Henry (class of 1905), Carl (1907–8), Oscar (class of 1912), Arne ’21, Olvin ’22, and Leon ’21 were good enough to play for Luther during their time at the college. Rounding out the Sorlien nine were brothers Magnus, Jim, and Albert. Arne, Olvin, and Leon were inducted into the Luther Athletic Hall of Fame. What got them there was hard work and a love of the game. Even when their father died

Dennis Blanchard, right, gives a pep talk to the Sorlien family baseball team before the game. Blanchard managed the Sorlien team and umpired the game. Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine



Class year or dates attended

Henry Sorlien—1905 Carl Sorlien—1907–8 Oscar Sorlien—1912 • Kristen (Sorlien) Frank—1972 • Gerald Frank—1969 • Derek Frank—1997 • Coreen (Ameter) Frank—1997 • Don Sorlien—1954 and 1974 Arne Sorlien Sr.—1921 • Stephen Blanchard—1969 • Gracia (Kraabel) Blanchard—1969 • Alan Blanchard—1971 • Christopher Blanchard—1996 • Clarice (Wulf) Blanchard—1996 • Ann (Blanchard) Kvale—1986 • Mark Kvale—1984 • Aaron Kvale—2015 • Arne Sorlien Jr.—1951 • Audrey (Hanson) Sorlien—1949 • Susan Sorlien—1973 • Mark Sorlien—1971–72 • Joyce (Sorlien) Larsen—1953 • Suzanne Larsen Busta—1990 • Marilyn (Sorlien) Skatrud—1958 • Roger Skatrud—1957 • Arne Skatrud—1980–81 • Eric Skatrud—1982–83 • Kara (Skatrud) Baylor—1992

In later years, Olvin became a pastor and organized games after services in the church yard. Others taught their offspring the game as the family spread across the U.S. So they took to the field with great enthusiasm this past July, organizing a game with recent alumni of Decorah High School, who served as cheerful substitutes for the college team, which was done with its season. A choir of family members sang the national anthem. It was not a low, murmuring rendition of the song, but typically strong Norwegian-Lutheran harmony. Dennis Blanchard (grandson of Arne Sr.) gave the dugout pep talk. The Roanoke, Va., 55-year-old had his own successful stint playing baseball in a high school state tournament, while son Michael pitched in college. “I know everyone has been working out for six months to get ready for this. I can tell by the physiques,” he said to laughter. “One hundred years ago we lost; today we have to make up for that.” Michael Blanchard took the mound, his uncle Steve Blanchard ’69, of Iowa City, announcing the game from the press box. “It’s just a good game,” said Steve, 68, noting his son Matt and grandson Chase, 9, play

baseball competitively. “Baseball has given us a rallying point.” Sorlien grandmothers tune into games every day and Sorlien great-grandsons suit up for Little League every summer. The game goes on. Along with their affinity for baseball, the Sorlien family also inherited the tradition of a Luther education. Forty family members have attended, and that tradition helped grow the branches of the family tree. Oscar wasn’t the only one to meet his wife here in 1915, said Kris Frank ’72, a granddaughter of Oscar. “My grandparents met and married at Luther, and so did my son Derek ’97,” she said. Several other family members met their future spouses at Luther as well. As the game progressed and the Sorliens fell behind 4-0 in the fourth inning, Frank and the rest of the family ramped up their cheers in the stands. Maren Jones, granddaughter of Olvin, lives in Australia and is into sailing but brought along daughter Megan, 33, to learn to make traditional Norwegian flatbread lefse and understand the game of baseball. In turn, Megan taught the Americans cricket.

Syver Olvin Sorlien—1922 • John Sorlien—1943 • Naomi (Sorlien) Jasmer—1947 • Grace (Sorlien) Johnson—1952 • Linda Johnson—1983 • Ruth (Sorlien) Larson—1955 • Teresa (Larson) Kimble—1980 • Paul Sorlien—1961 • Sandra (Olson) Sorlien—1961 • Kirk Sorlien—1978–79 • Eunice (Sorlien) Chomicz—1959–60 Leon Sorlien—1921


SORLIEN SCHOLARSHIP During the Sorlien family reunion in July, an offering was taken to advance the Sorlien Family Scholarship. The scholarship was established in 1990, and the endowed fund annually offers financial assistance to Luther students.

, races to tag a player

lien Sr. at-grandson of Arne Sor Beau Blanchard, a gre base. as he slides into third


Luther Alumni Magazine

from the Decorah team


Sorlien 9 players face the flag during the sin ging of the national anthem.


“I just love the game,” she said. “It sounds corny, but there is something about the smell of grass and dirt. That’s why we do this, for the love of the game. The Sorliens rallied for two runs before losing 4-2. Then oldest and youngest Sorliens charged the field to play a bit more on their own. Like the first nine brothers, they didn’t want to leave the ball field.

Mike Kilen writes for the Des Moines Register. Another story he wrote on the Sorlien reunion ran on the front page of the paper in July.


Caleb Kvale ’19 carried on the baseball tradition behind the plate, as the great-grandson of Arne. Kvale, 18, was a catcher for Decorah High School and this fall becomes the 41st family member to attend Luther. “Baseball is great because it’s such a fun game to play,” he said. “It’s a sport for everybody.” Including Sorlien women. Amy Feiman of Denver, Colo., played softball for Sam Houston State.


Dave Larson directs reunion participants in singing The Star Spangled Banner before the game.

One hundred and fifty-nine members of the extended Sorlien family attended the reunion at Luther in July. Here, nearly all of them gather in Bentdahl Commons. Six generations were present as Charlotte Fagersten, daughter of Joe and Taylor Fagersten and great grandaughter of Steve ’69 and Gracia Blanchard ’69, was in attendance and is the first of the sixth generation of descendants of John Sorlien. Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News “Everything has a season” When Mary Elizabeth Williams ’97 played Leonora in Il Trovatore, Opera News declared that she could be “the next great Verdi soprano.” The Washington Post has called her presence on stage “at once regal and human.” The Independent (UK) raved that she “stole the show” as Nabucco’s Abigaille, “inhabiting with relish every clear, sensuous note.” Despite all the accolades, Williams puts her work in perspective with clarity, humor, and grace, and says the best is yet to come. How English class helps a singer


Growing up in Philadelphia as part of a small church with no children’s choir, Williams sang with the adults. She began voice lessons at age 11, but says, “I didn’t think I was going to sing as a career because it didn’t seem practical. I started out just as a very fervent amateur.” Williams heard about Luther from her church organist, Jon Spong, now deceased, who occasionally taught and played at the college. Williams planned to become a lawyer and eventually a judge, to which Spong replied, “That’s fine, you can go to college for whatever you want, but you’re going to be a singer. You need to be in a place where you can study singing at the same time.” By the time she got to Decorah, Williams was having second thoughts about law. She took a poetry class her second semester, loved it, and ended up declaring an English major. “I think it has really helped me in my musical career to have a strong connection with texts


Luther Alumni Magazine


Mary Elizabeth Williams ’97 talks about her life in music

Williams shared the stage as Abigaille with the High Priest of Baal (played by Jonathan Silvia) in the Seattle Opera’s production of Nabucco in August. and to be good with language and the analysis of plots and storylines,” she says. “It comes in good use in opera because often you have to work hard to fill in the holes that are left by what’s sometimes a substandard libretto, or you have to figure out a way to fill your character in with information that’s historically accurate, and I find that kind of exploration interesting. . . . I get a real kick out of building characters and building relationships with the other characters, the other players on stage, and I think I’m better at it than I would have been were I not an English major.” From Show Boat to Tosca

By the time she graduated, Williams had also participated in Nordic and Pike Kor (a firstyear female choir) and musical theatre, and it was clear she was destined for professional singing. However, she was graduating at age 20 (having entered Luther early), which was very young for her voice type. “I was just a big ball of potential. I was very nervous about going out in the world and very aware that I wasn’t ready to lead,” she recalls. She started a master’s program at Northwestern but, she says, “I didn’t want to talk or write about singing—I just wanted to sing.”

She seized an opportunity to audition for a touring Broadway production of Show Boat and landed a part as a swing, which meant she had to cover the roles of nine people. “It was hard work,” she says, “and it took me three months to feel comfortable. Once I had to go on as two people at the same time. I remember sitting with the dance captain and figuring out in each scene which person I needed to be, which role was more important.” But once Williams had mastered the show, she grew restless. Whenever the tour pulled into a new town, she’d call the local universities and arrange for a lesson from the voice faculty. Eventually her voice matured enough for her to feel comfortable making the transition to opera, and she landed a spot in Seattle Opera’s Young Artists Program. Williams has since sung iconic roles. She’s played Tosca in Tosca, Leonora in Il Trovatore, Abigaille in Nabucco, Wally in La Wally, Adriana in Adriana Lecouvreur, Serena in Porgy and Bess, and Aida in Aida. She’s performed lead and title roles in Italy, Switzerland, France, Wales, Germany, Belgium, and various cities across the U.S., including Seattle, where she won Seattle Opera Artist of the Year in 2011. During the 2015–16 season, Williams will assume five or six roles, debuting in four of

Alumni News


been more willing to give up opportuthose—Lady Macbeth in Macbeth, Norma nities. Sometimes I say no. Sometimes I in Norma, Queen Elizabeth in Maria say I don’t want to be away from home Stuarda, and Chimène in Le Cid. While for four months, but I’ll be away for Williams is the first to admit that singtwo. Ten years from now, I’ll be wraping four new roles in one season is ill ping it up, and I want to start transiadvised, she’s been working on the matetioning now and investing in a life now rial for years and couldn’t pass up the so that when I am ready to hang it up, opportunities. I’ll have something to hang it up for. “After Norma it will be all downhill,” Some people make the opposite decishe jokes. “I always figured I wouldn’t sion, and both are equally valid.” sing that role until my forties, but I She continues, “What I’d like is to have always debuted things earlier than Williams sang the title role in Seattle Opera’s Tosca last January. be in a position to take advantage of I think I should. It always happens that what I’ve learned in this crazy life of I’m asked about three or four years istrator. She says, “I went for at least 10 years traveling and languages and culture. I think earlier. There are some natural things that not doing anything except putting singing I’ve become a better and smarter person than happen to a woman’s voice as she gets older, first, and I think that’s probably enough.” Of I was 15 years ago, and it would be a real and I’m just now starting my good years. So course, anyone who tackles four debut roles in shame if I didn’t find a way to use this and I always have to remember that what I might one season must be dedicated to her craft—but pass it on. I guess I’m always looking for the be able to do at 42 will be better than 38, but Williams is intentional now about building next chapter, and I’m aware that everything I also have to accept and embrace where I am a life outside of opera. In 2014 she married has a season.” artistically and do the best I can when the optenor Lorenzo Decaro, with whom she lives But even while she’s looking—eventually— portunity arises. The Norma I will sing at 39 in Milan. toward the far-off future, it seems like is not the Norma I will sing at 45. That’s part “For me,” she says, “the big problem about Williams will be hearing brava for many of the joy of being an artist. I can listen to old being an artist is that it requires a maximum seasons to come. recordings and hear how I’ve changed, and availability. You have to stay available to go the choices I made at 27 I wouldn’t make now, wherever opportunities present themselves —Kate Frentzel but they’re authentic.” whenever they present themselves. It’s hard Seasons near and far

Williams is aware of time in the way that all singers must be, since a singer’s career is shorter than that of, say, a teacher or admin-

79 children of alumni graduate in May 2015 ILLINOIS

Chatham Connor Jones, son of Kari (Knudtson) ’79 and Steve Jones Sterling Abigail Lobdell, daughter of Lisa (Schrader) ’88 and Brian Lobdell INDIANA

Highland Dylan Winston, son of Darcy (Keehner) ’84 and Don Winston Indianapolis Carly Ellefsen, daughter of Peg (Braun) ’86 and Pete Ellefsen ’85

then to build any other thing that has equal importance in your life. We’re like tumbleweeds—we have to go where the wind blows us. But as I’ve gotten older, and now that I’m married, my priorities have changed and I’ve


Ames Jamie Consamus, daughter of Mary (Thorson) ’77 and Joe Consamus Cedar Falls Kyrie Dailey, daughter of Lisa (Palmquist) ’87 and Alan Dailey Cedar Rapids Tobiah Ziemer, son of Peggy and Gilbert Ziemer ’76 Coralville Erik Dotseth, son of Joni and Jeff Dotseth ’80 Davenport Tyler Crowe, son of Katie Hanson ’82 and Dave Crowe ’82 Decorah Elly Arend, daughter of Kristi and Karl Arend ’87 Allison Kephart, daughter of Ann (Tjostem) ’90 and Jim

Visit the artist’s website at Hear a clip of Williams singing at

Kephart ’87 Aaron Kvale, son of Ann (Blanchard) ’86 and Mark Kvale ’84 Nathaniel Lee, son of Denise and Kent Lee ’87 Chloe Meyer, daughter of Chelle (Sullivan) ’89 and Daniel Meyer Lauren Nelson, daughter of Jayme (Rutledge) ’87 and Daniel Nelson Owen Neubauer, son of Trish and Kirk Neubauer ’76 Matthew Sullivan, son of Rebecca (Ostermeyer) ’84 and Craig Sullivan ’83 Paul Vanney, son of Laura Olson ’80 and Greg Vanney ’80, Valley City, N.D. Eldora Katherine Mathis, daughter of Maria and Jay Mathis ’87

Eldridge Carrie Kilen, daughter of Kathy (Kemp) ’82 and Dan Kilen ’80 Grinnell Kyle Irland, son of Cheryl (Carstens) ’79 and Mark Irland Iowa City Elizabeth Logsden, daughter of Kara (Krummel) ’85 and Ron Logsden Johnston Erik Anderson, son of MaryEllen (Palmquist) ’84 and Jeff Anderson ’84 Marion Kari Ylvisaker, daughter of Judy (Iverson) ’84 and Pete Ylvisaker ’84 Mason City Sarah Floden, daughter of Linda and Thomas Floden ’82

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

Milo Evan Gardner, son of Leslie (Hart) ’83 and Alan Gardner ’82 Newton Anders Hopkins, son of Sara (Andreasen) ’84 and Steve Hopkins ’84 Peosta Jacob Lembezeder, son of Jennifer (Carlson) ’86 and John Lembezeder Sioux City Hannah Rowse, daughter of Marya (Meyer) ’93 and Bret Rowse ’91 Tipton Mickenzie Kruse, daughter of Sally and David Kruse ’74 Waukon Hannah Kelly, daughter of Becky (Prestemon) ’82 and Merlin Gesing (deceased) West Des Moines Samuel Grotnes, son of Julie (Gangstad) ’85 and Matt Grotnes ’86 MINNESOTA

Albertville Tara Rehovsky, daughter of Angela and Tim Murphy and Melissa (Lenz) ’94 and Brian Rehovsky, Maple Grove, Minn. Andover Phillip Johnson, son of Elaine (Olsen) ’81 and Gary Johnson ’82 Bloomington Dylan Hinton, daughter of Sue (Jones) ’84 and Mark Hinton Blue Earth Hans Kittleson, son of Lisa and Dave Kittleson ’80 Brooklyn Park Katherine Kust, daughter of Kay (Gamble) ’88 and Dave Kust ’80 Cannon Falls McKenzie Sesker, daughter of Joy (Brekke) ’87 and Todd Sesker ’85 Cedar Tanya Meyer, daughter of Theresa and Ken Meyer ’79


Luther Alumni Magazine

Cokato Annika Ring, daughter of Teresa (Derscheid) ’88 and Jonathan Ring ’86

Minnetonka Jacob Ehresmann, son of Jane (Ellingson) ’85 and Mike Ehresmann

Deephaven Shafer Stromwall, son of Judy (Broadhead) ’85 and Rich Stromwall

Montevideo Lukas Hampton, son of Beth (Hawkinson) ’88 and Dan Hampton ’87

Delano Sarah Matthiesen, daughter of Becky and Edward Matthiesen ’77

New Hope Anna Avila, daughter of Leesa (Tomlinson) ’85 and Brice Avila

Eagan Matthew Larson, son of Martha (Stadstad) ’87 and Mark Larson ’87 Eden Prairie Kirsten Norderhaug, daughter of Liv and Michael Norderhaug ’77 Falcon Heights Christian Hustad, son of Nancy and John Hustad ’76 (deceased)

North Mankato Steven Sorenson, son of Darla and Paul Sorenson ’75 Owatonna Thomas Lundberg, son of Marleen (Madson) ’87 and Scott Lundberg ’86 Plymouth Scott Raftshol, son of Michelle and Rudy Raftshol ’81

Hastings Alison Smith, daughter of Kari (Hovden) ’86 and Roy Smith

Rochester Tatyana German, daughter of Dale Nasby ’85 and Dennis German, Rochester, Minn. Benjamin Harney, son of Carrie (Phipps) ’82 and Ray Harney ’80

Hayfield Kasey Thorson, daughter of Kathy (Miller) ’78 and Mark Thorson

Spring Valley Trenton Harder, son of Denae (Erdman) ’87 and Steve Harder ’84

Inver Grove Heights Ryan Barrett, son of Connie (Huisinga) ’87 and Bob Barrett ’87

St. Peter Isaac Dontje Lindell, son of Laura Lindell ’82 and James Dontje ’83

La Crescent Calvin Waller, son of Diane (Robinson) ’83 and Will Waller ’83

Wyoming Jacob Albee, son of Janelle (Jahn) ’80 and Neal Albee ’79

GoldenValley Peter Jarzyna, son of Kari Hampton ’82 and Steve Jarzyna

Lake City Andrea Berkeland, daughter of Mel (Morris) ’77 and Luther Berkeland ’76 Mantorville Alexandra Lohrbach, daughter of Sue (Hagen) ’81 and Brad Lohrbach Maple Grove Rachel Skinner, daughter of Jenny (Onnen) ’80 and Jeff Skinner (deceased)

Zumbrota Kaia Sand, daughter of Ronda Anderson Sand ’85 and Doug Sand ’85 NEW JERSEY

Long Valley Timothy Bumpus, son of Judy (Farwell) ’80 and Brian Bumpus ’80 OHIO

Dublin Katharyn Marlow, daughter of DeeAnne (Schultz) ’88 and Rod Marlow


Damascus Margaret Steinberg, daughter of Mary (Edwards) ’76 and Rich Steinberg ’74 WISCONSIN

Beaver Dam Emily Sena, daughter of Julie and Chuck Sena ’86 Cadott Nathaniel Plass, son of Pamela and Tim Johnson ’93 and Stephen Plass, Chippewa Falls, Wis. Cambridge Taylor Kaare, daughter of Susan Kaare and Brenda and Paul Kaare ’84, Cambridge, Wis. Colgate Hanna Jensen, daughter of Kari (Hermeier) ’83 and Dave Jensen ’83 Janesville Matthew Knutson, son of Jan (Bakker) ’78 and Brian Knutson ’78 McFarland Leif Larson, son of DeAnn (Kent) ’78 and Ron Larson ’76 Middleton Nils Johnson, son of Constance and Joel Johnson ’78 Monroe Hanna Knutson, daughter of Holly (Greedy) ’86 and Brian Knutson ’86 Sussex Matthew Holcomb, son of Caroline and Patrick Sheridan and Renee and Steve Holcomb ’83, West Bend, Wis. Wausau Walter Punke, son of Jodi (Bowen) ’84 and Todd Punke ’84 ZIMBABWE

Kurayi Mahachi, son of Susan Kabiru-Mahachi and Tendai Mahachi ’80

Alumni News

Luther, Wartburg Seminary team up for Holy Land tour The Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer will lead a tour in January 2016 that follows in the footsteps of Egeria, a pilgrim nun who journeyed to the Holy Land toward the end of the fourth century. Egeria was irrepressibly curious, devoutly Christian, and a careful observer of places and peoples. The tour will visit biblical sites, explore the story of Christian existence in this place, and encounter voices for peace among the people of Israel and Palestine today. An optional Jordan/Petra extension is available. This tour, Jan. 4–20, 2016, is copromoted by Wartburg Theological Seminary and Luther College. Schattauer is professor of liturgics and dean of the chapel at Wartburg Seminary in Dubuque, Iowa. For more information and the itinerary, please visit



and RON NOWLAND live in La Crosse, Wis. They added “The Norse Presence in Greenland” to the dozen inspiration/education visual aid programs they do as a hobby.

Bach and Bonhoeffer tour: In June, 15 Luther alumni joined with 20 other friends of the college, including President Emeritus Rick Torgerson and Judy Torgerson, for a tour of Germany and the Czech Republic titled “Music and Conscience: Bach and Bonhoeffer.”

financial support for education for those vulnerable to depression, education for families who are supporting those suffering from mental illness, and education for the medical community so they can understand the needs of patients and their families. The foundation awarded more than $78,000 in grants to nonprofits in 2015.

Judges’ Education Committee, and yearbook editor. He was president of the Quarter Century Group for 10 years and continues on the board of directors. He is also on the board of directors of the Collie Health Foundation and has served on its grants committee. He has written for the AKC Gazette and Collie Expressions.

LAVONNE (LENG) and ALLAN SOLOMONSON ’60 are retired and live in Wausau, Wis.


of Castle Rock, Colo., served as an adjunct professor teaching advanced graduate choral conducting at the University of Colorado–Boulder College of Music last summer. He is also artistic director and conductor for Kantorei.


published What Kind of God? Collected Essays of Terence E. Fretheim, edited by Michael J. Chan and Brent A. Strawn, including 30 essays that focus on six topics: God and the world, God and suffering, God and wrath, God and the Pentateuch, God and the prophets, God and the Church’s book, and two introductory essays by the editors.


Mason City, Iowa, is adviser for the Jan Again Foundation, established in 1999 to honor the memory of Waldo’s late wife, Jan. It provides


Winona, Minn., was honored at the Cerner Physician Conference in Kansas City with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Cerner Corporation. Davis was instrumental

1960 BILL BROKKEN of Santa Barbara, Calif., retired as clinical associate professor of dermatology at the University of Southern California. He received the 2015 Right Stuff Award from the Collie Club of America (CCA) Quarter Century Group. Brokken has achievements as a breeder, judge, and mentor and has finished 35 collies (the Champion designation) under the Foremost prefix. He judges throughout the United States and internationally. He says his proudest assignments were judging the CCA National, which he has done four times. Brokken has served CCA as president, state director, member of

ALICE “SALLY” (PETERSON) HEAD ’55, RON BARTH ’58, and ANN ARVESON GJELTEN ’73 met for the first time on a 10-day tour of Norway in June 2015. Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

in developing an advanced electronic medical records system to improve patient care, quality, and safety. He joined the Winona Clinic in 1976 and was Winona Health’s first chief medical information officer. He retired in August. EARL LACKEY of Wasilla, Alaska, retired after 26 years selling heavy construction machinery for Yukon Equipment. He is building an oval track as an addition to Alaska Raceway Park, a drag strip that his family owns and operates.


a wine consultant for PRP Wine International in Chandler, Ariz.


KRONLOKKEN of San Rafael, Calif., is the author of Fit Company for Oneself (Lightly Held Books). The book tells the tale of what happens when Line, Marty, and Paul, the three Mikkelson siblings (first introduced in The Pastor’s Kids), head off to a Lutheran college in northeast Iowa. “A liberal education was the door to citizenship in a world which was expanding at a dizzying rate,” notes the author, “That pace has only

increased and many people wonder whether today’s education can take us there.”

1967 TIM FLEMING is retired

GEORGE KUH received an honorary doctor of letters degree from Lincoln Memorial University in Harrogate, Tenn., and delivered the school’s commencement address.

and lives in Glenview, Ill. He serves on the executive council of the Business and Management College of Northeastern Illinois University and the emeritus board of Feeding America and is chairman of the board, Le Cordon Bleu Culinary Schools of North America. LINDA KEMP of Dublin, Ohio, teaches adults how to quilt.

DAVID OLSON of Berwyn, Ill., is interim pastor at St. James Lutheran Church in Chicago. He retired from full-time ministry in 2007.


BESTMANN was inducted into the Redwood Valley Hall of Fame. In retirement she has led several classes in the Southwest Minnesota State University Senior College program and a book discussion group at the local library and is active in various activities at her church.

Northeast Iowa Community College’s Campaign for Excellence. Mark is a current member and past president of the Northeast Iowa Community College Foundation Board.

1971 LARRY MENS is field

director for Minnesota United Methodist Builders in Minneapolis.

1972 JOYCE GUNDERSON WILLIAM PETTIT was appointed provost of the Center for Health Sciences and senior associate dean for the College of Osteopathic Medicine at Oklahoma State University, Center for Health Sciences in Tulsa. DOUGLAS TORGERSON is going into his 45th year of coaching high school football for Grove City (Minn.) Public Schools.

MARK JOHNSON is executive director for Easter Seals in Montpelier, Vt.

TOM WHITE gave the graduate commencement address at Concordia University in Irvine, Calif.

is a literacy support teacher for the Department of Defense Education Activity at Andersen Air Force Base in Guam.


Chevy Chase, Md., was appointed a member of the Commission on Care by President Barack Obama. She is a physician and consultant in private practice. She served as vice president of health sciences and chief medical officer for Battelle Memorial Institute from 2003 to 2013. Prior to this, Johnson served 23 years in the U.S. Public Health Service (USPHS), as director of health and safety and chief medical officer of the U.S. Coast Guard. During her time in the USPHS, she served in senior management positions with the Food and Drug Administration and the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Johnson also held clinical positions at the National Institute of Mental Health and the Department of Veterans Affairs. She was an epidemiologic intelligence officer and staff epidemiologist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

MARY (ANDERSON) MCGUIRE owns Mary McGuire Consulting in Lexington, Kan.

Kent Finanger ’54 and Dennis Birkestrand ’64 with the keys to the Cadillac that Birkestrand won.

10th annual Finanger ’54 golf classic pockets two hole-in-one shots Luther alumni and friends gathered March 14, 2015, for the 10th Annual Kent Finanger ’54 Golf Classic at Tuscany Falls Golf Club in Goodyear, Ariz. Nearly $27,000 was raised for the Norse Athletic Association. Incredibly, there were two hole-in-one shots on the course that day, one by golfer Joe Reilly on the par three 145-yard seventh hole. The other, a “dead-on” shot from tee to cup using a no. 3 hybrid club by Dennis Birkestrand ’64 at the par three 180-yard eighth hole (which happened to be the sponsored hole of a Cadillac dealership), netted Birkestrand a brand new 2015 Cadillac Escalade. Birkestand’s foursome of his wife, Suzanne, and Rich ’64 and Babs (Moen) Amundson ’65 and another foursome witnessed the ace, Birkestrand’s sixth career hole-in-one.


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Willmar, Minn., was elected to chair the University of Minnesota Board of Regents for the next two years. Johnson has been a parish pastor at Calvary Lutheran Church in Willmar for 42 years. He served the Willmar area in the Minnesota House of Representatives from 1978 to 1982 and in the Minnesota Senate from 1982 to 2006.

1970 VICKI (MOHLIS) and

MARK DONHOWE of Decorah were recognized for their support for


of Laurens, Iowa, retired as senior district sales manager of GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals. MARY (VRIEZELAAR) BOWERMASTER retired from the Des Moines (Iowa) Schools. MARGI PREUS is the author of Enchantment Lake: A Northwoods Mystery (University of Minnesota Press). The novel follows 17-year-old Francie and her investigation in the woods of northern Minnesota.

Alumni News

Weston Noble ’43 with members of the alumni choir

Eric Cutler ’99 and Aaron Gentes ’98 sing a duet.

Weston Noble ’43 Alumni Choir meets for final performance The Weston Noble Alumni Choir met for its ninth and final concert in July. Five days of intense rehearsals culminated in the concert on July 31, conducted by Weston Noble ’43, Myron Heaton ’68, and Andrew Last ’97. In an entre’acte performance, award-winning tenor Eric Cutler ’99 sang a short solo program. Then Cutler and Nordic Choir

alumnus Aaron Gentes ’98 reprised their 1998 Concerto Competition award-winning performance of “Au fond du temple saint” from the opera The Pearl Fishers by Georges Bizet. The alumni choir formed in the summer of 2006. Heaton, director of the Myron Heaton Chorale of Las Vegas, invited Noble

to serve as guest conductor for his group’s concert tour of Europe. The two conductors invited Luther College Nordic Choir alumni to join the tour. The Luther singers returned with a pledge to organize a larger alumni event, which has taken place each summer since 2007, including a return to Europe in 2010 and a California tour in 2012.

Members of the choir perform. Among the works they sang were “Verbum caro factus est” by Hans Leo Hassler; “Give ear to my words, O Lord” by Paul Fetler; “Let the people praise Thee” by Maurice Monhardt; and “The Ground” (Sunrise Mass Mvt. 4) by Ola Gjeilo. WILL HELLER ’16 PHOTOS

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Alumni News


BARLOW is affiliate director of Wisconsin Future Problem Solving in Middleton. SUSAN (FJELSTAD) BRADFORD of Williston, N.D., is retired. RICK BROADFOOT of Honolulu is retired.

ANNE TEMTE retired as president of Northland Community and Technical College in Thief River Falls, Minn., following 30 years in higher education administration. She will continue to work as a consultant in executive search, executive coaching, writing/editing, organizational dynamics, and strategic planning.

KAREN (JOHANSEN) BROWNAWELL is laboratory lead for Allina Health Farmington (Minn.) Clinic.

CURT GILBERTSON retired as a teacher at Byron (Minn.) Elementary School.

JAY JEFFRIES is the director of human resources for the town of Collierville, Tenn.

DAVE HANSON of Oregon, Wis., is retired.

LAURIE (PAUTSCH) KLOSTERBOER is a pharmacy technician for Moser Pharmacy in Elkader, Iowa.

ANN (MAHON) HEDGES of Little Rock, Ark., is retired. DENICE HOGGATT is HewlettPackard custom services program manager for Hewlett-Packard Co. in San Antonio, Texas.

CHARLES BURSCH of Iowa City, Iowa, is retired.

MARK IVERSON is a math and science educator for Crossett (Ark.) Public Schools.

MARY (EDSON) GERZEMA is a teacher and librarian at Dallas Center Grimes (Iowa) Community School District.

MARK JANDA is a partner for Faulise, Janda & Docherty in Bloomington, Minn.

LOIS (AMUNDSON) LARSEN of Granbury, Texas, retired as an elementary school principal. BRAD LARSON is principal of ReCa Treasury Services in Lubbock, Texas. LISA (MILLS) LAVALLE is owner of the Trellis Café in the Greater Des Moines (Iowa) Botanical Gardens. NONA (HANSEN) LITZELMAN of Green Bay, Wis., is retired.

Peterson ’71 organizes Guinness World Record to raise accessibility awareness In May, Mryna Kay (Olson) Peterson ’71 and friends organized a gathering for the record books—specifically for Guinness World Records. To bring awareness to the plight of the differently abled, Peterson and Lee Isaacs, her friend and fellow wheelchair user, managed to bring 351 people together in Grand Rapids, Minn., for the longest moving line of wheelchairs on record. Peterson’s connection with Isaacs goes beyond their wheelchair use. Both of them

Lee Isaacs and Myrna Kay (Olson) Peterson ’71 share a smile on the day of the record-setting event.


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have four children of similar ages whom they coached together as friends and neighbors for many years, and on June 21, 1995, both were involved in separate accidents a half mile apart that left them wheelchair-bound for life. “Between the two of us,” Peterson says, “we’ve had more than 40 surgeries. I’ve had 19, he’s had 23, and I’m scheduled for two more. It hasn’t been an easy road.” Part of what’s made the journey difficult are the barriers to navigating outside the home. Limited public transportation, a lack of accessibility getting into and through buildings, sidewalks without cutaways for curbs, and a lack of accessible trails and recreation paths make life in a wheelchair harder than it could be, even in supportive Grand Rapids. This is why Peterson wanted to stage the record-setting event: to draw attention to what life is like for the differently abled. Peterson’s event, called MyrnaLee Mania, had 100 manual wheelchairs on hand for ablebodied people who wanted to participate, but what struck Peterson was the sheer number of

actual wheelchair users—251—who showed up. “The reason that was so impacting is that we don’t see them out anywhere,” Peterson says. “Only 25 or 30 of them were from the Twin Cities, Duluth, or out west—the rest were pretty local, but we never see them.” That lack of visibility and the lack of accessibility it implies is why Peterson and others have started a steering committee of wheelchair users, local politicians, city workers and engineers, and other prominent people in Itasca County. “A lot of people in chairs don’t have a voice or even the opportunity to have a voice, so we’re speaking for a lot of people,” Peterson says. “Our focus is that these improvements in accessibility will benefit our entire communities of all ages, abilities, and concerns, not just those of us in wheelchairs.” As for the world record, Peterson is still awaiting the official verdict—the verification process takes several months—but she’s confident they pulled it off. —Kate Frentzel

Alumni News

MARCIA (CHRISTIANSON) MAHLMAN is a certified clinical research professional for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. DICK MCKLVEEN of Prairie City, Iowa, is retired. MELODY (LARSON) MELIN of Byron, Minn., is retired. CONNIE (RINGEN) NESSETH retired from teaching elementary school music and works in accounting for NTH in Barron, Wis. BARBARA (BUHR) OKERSON is a health information manager for Anthem in Indianapolis. RENEE (MILLER) OLSON of Decorah retired from Winneshiek Medical Center after serving for more than 37 years.

country. He served as the Minnesota state epidemiologist for 24 years, is a past president of the Council for State and Territorial Epidemiologists, and has been a key public health adviser to many U.S. federal agencies and the White House. Osterholm also served as a bioterrorism adviser to the late King Hussein of Jordan and is a premier international leader regarding the use of biological agents as weapons targeting civilian populations. His New York Times best-selling book, Living Terrors: What America Needs to Survive the Coming Bioterrorist Catastrophe, became a blueprint for the U.S. government’s response to the post-9/11 anthrax attacks. Osterholm has defined critical concerns regarding U.S. preparedness for pandemics, including influenza. He is also considered one of the nation’s foremost experts on issues of food safety and the investigation and response to foodborne illnesses. He is working on a book on infectious diseases in a modern world for the general public. JANET (JAEGER) PETEFISH of Charles City, Iowa, retired as a medical technologist for the Floyd County Medical Center.

MICHAEL OSTERHOLM was named one of the University of Minnesota regents professors. This designation is the highest level of recognition given to faculty by the university. Osterholm is considered one of the leading public health experts in the

RUTH (BRUEMMER) PROCTER of Decorah is retired. JOHN RUNNIGEN is president and CEO of Commenda Securities in Atlanta.

Nearly all of the founding members of the class of 1974 Iota Sigma Omicron fraternity returned to Luther for their 40th reunion in October 2014. The ISOs and their spouses all picked up where they left off in 1974, brothers and friends, even entering a float in the Homecoming parade. Continuing the renewal of their Luther bonds, a contingent of ISOs spent a week together at Evergreen Lodge in northwest Ontario in June 2015. The fishing was great, including Doug Boleen’s 30-inch-plus walleye, which was photographed and released. Future get-togethers are being planned. Left to right: SCOTT THORSON, TOM CARRELL, DOUG BOLEEN, PAUL HENDRIKSON, RANDY SCHROEDER, RANDY GOSSELL, STEVE BARNES, and BOB CHURCHILL. DENISE (KREMIN) RUST is a preschool assistant teacher for Messiah Lutheran Church in Mounds View, Minn.

1976 CY NELSON of Decorah

GARY SABOE is flight surgeon, GP15 for the United States Air Force at JBSA-Lackland AFB, Texas.

pastor at Good Shepherd Lutheran Church in Henning, Minn.

RICHARD SCHMIDT is North America wireless market manager for HUBER+SUHNER in Charlotte, N.C. BETH (MOODY) SHIELDS of Adel, Iowa, is retired. KEITH THARP of Cheyenne, Wyo., is retired.

Luther alumni, faculty, students, and spouses joined the Luren Singers tour of Norway in June. Shown here in Olso are, left to right, Ruth Caldwell, Penny Leake, Rich Leake, Ken Larson, Pam Snell, CALEB SANDER ’15, Barbara Berg, Uwe Rudolf, DON BERG ’56, JANET (PURMORT) TOLLUND ’73, PAT (JORGENSEN) FITZGERALD ’72, David Judisch, Gail Judisch, LIZ JOHNSON ’19, BETH BJORLO ’98, KARI (MEYER) ALSTAD ’89, RICH BJORLO ’71, Dan Alstad, BOB TOLLUND ’58, and LYNN (LANDSGARD) HAUER ’84. Also on the tour were Dennis and Doris Barnaal.

DALE ULLESTAD-HENEKE is the human resources manager for Broker Dealer Financial Services in West Des Moines, Iowa. RUTH (SCHEMMEL) VAN STEENWYK of Aberdeen, S.D., retired from the United States Army.

is retired.

1978 STEVE DAHL is interim MICHAEL HURLEY is senior talent acquisition consultant at U.S. Bank in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minn. DAN JORDET is city finance director for the city of Council Bluffs, Iowa. GLENN MONSON of Austin, Minn., published his first book, Afflicting the Comfortable, Comforting the Afflicted: A Guide to Law and Gospel Preaching (Wipf & Stock Publishers). He is senior pastor at Our Savior’s Lutheran Church. CHRIS OLSEN is executive director of teaching and learning for the Vancouver (Wash.) Public Schools.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

to make communities more walkable and liveable. Mansfield’s background in healthcare will help increase change in the communities’ daily access to healthy food and physical activity for all residents.

KRISTIN (WALLESTAD) PALMER is a contracting officer for Argonne National Laboratory in Argonne, Ill.


Abingdon, Md., retired from the United States Army. CONNIE BIWER YAQUB of Catasauqua, Pa., earned a Ph.D. in language, literacy, and sociocultural studies from the University of New Mexico. She helps families cope with mental illness through her involvement with National Alliance on Mental Illness.

1979 DAGFINN HOYBRATEN is the secretary general of the Nordic Council of Ministers. He is also chairman of Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, a public-private global health partnership committed to increasing access to immunization in poor countries.


KRIS (JACOBSON) DAVISON is web coordinator for DuPont Pioneer in Johnston, Iowa.

KATHLEEN (WEGNER) HUMPHREY is the voice of the Minneapolis Metro Transit light rail, creating all recorded messages heard in the train and on train platforms. She also does voice work for Northstar Commuter Rail and Minnesota Valley Transit authority, meaning her voice has been the narration for more than 100 million trips in the region. Humphrey’s other voice work specialty is recording medical-related messages on videos and phone lines for clients such as Mayo Clinic, Medtronic, and the Minneapolis VA. Recently, she appeared in the role of Nettie Fowler in a production of Carousel with the Minnesota Orchestra. RUSSELL LEE is the president and CEO for Inland Northwest Bank. He was appointed to the board of directors for the company in Spokane, Wash. ANN (WISE) MANSFIELD of Decorah is project director for the Northeast Iowa Food and Fitness Initiative. She was awarded a Walking College Fellowship. The fellowship will allow Mansfield and 24 advocates from around the country to participate in a five-month training program designed to strengthen local efforts


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LORETTA DOOLEY WETZEL is president of the Wetzel Group in Chicago. TOM ENGLE of Cedar Hills, Texas, is a pilot for Delta Air Lines in the Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport. He is a retired CDR USNR F-14 pilot. D. NEIL ERUSHA is president of Solon (Iowa) State Bank. ANN ESPINOSA is a retired elementary school teacher in Ames, Iowa. JAIMIE (BASLER) FALL is a math assistant for the Hudson (Wis.) School District. PATRICIA (OLP) FARNSWORTH teaches third grade at Stone Creek School in Burlington, Iowa. KATE (MIDTGAARD) FRAMKE is Iowa tax adviser for Tyler Technologies in Ames. HUGH HADLUND is vice president, business banker for Citizens Independent Bank in St. Louis Park, Minn. STEPH HOFFMAN of Madison, Wis., retired as president of Enable Fuel Cell Corporation. JIM JACKSON is a teacher and coach at Rosemount (Minn.) Middle School. DANIEL JOHNSON is volunteer ambassador for Second Harvest Heartland in Golden Valley, Minn.

Luther alumni gathered in March at a Chicago Cubs baseball game in Mesa, Ariz. Back row: RICK SCHULTE ’80, MARK WERNING ’80, BYRON WOOD ’81, RICH DELK ’80, KATHY (ERICKSON) LOUX ’82, JIM LOUX ’79. Front row: Mei Mei Wood, Michele Delk, Kim Norman, RUSS NORMAN ’80. CINDY (VRZAK) KUENNEN is an assistant teacher for Hawkeye Area Community Action Program in Hiawatha, Iowa.

MAUREEN (ST. MARTIN) MCELROY is a mortgage loan originator for V.I.P. Mortgage in Salida, Colo.

JIM LABELLE is bass section leader for Bel Canto Chorus of Milwaukee.

RUSS MORRIS is president of Franconia Consulting in Lindstrom, Minn.

DIANE (VOLLUM) LIGHTBURN is an applications analyst for IWCO Direct in Chanhassen, Minn. RUTH (VAALER) LOGAR is a certified registered nurse anesthetist for Essentia Health in Virginia, Minn. TOM MAAKESTAD had an exhibition, “The Long View,” at Minneapolis’s Groveland Gallery. The paintings were inspired by aerial photographs of Minnesota landscapes. The artist was able to create this body of work thanks to a grant from the Minnesota State Arts Board. Maakestad hired small airplanes and hung out the doors, strapped in, snapping thousands of photos. “In this particular series, I was looking at how man has interacted with the landscape and affected it,” Maakestad says. “I was considering what parts are still pristine in my particular area. Some of the overlays that humans have brought to the landscape are very interesting. Pipelines, roads, and railroad tracks all can make a more interesting painting. They are the things that make ourselves more successful as humans, but they may ultimately work against us because of their impact on the earth.” DENNIS MANDERFIELD is senior agricultural economist for the California Department of Food and Agriculture in Sacramento.

ELIZABETH OPAT-WINGER is vice president of Root River State Bank in Chatfield, Minn. AMY (JOHNSON) POLLITT was awarded Iowa VFW Elementary Teacher of the Year 2013. She retired after serving 33 years teaching K–6 Vocal Music in the Belmond-Klemme School District. JEFF RIPPERTON is senior vice president of Winthrop Resources Corporation in Minnetonka, Minn. DARRELL SCHMIDT is president of Cuneo Advertising in Minneapolis. JULIE SERRA of Portland, Ore., is senior clinical research associate for GlaxoSmithKline Vaccines. ANGELA SMITH HARRIS is senior director RiverSource PMO for Ameriprise Financial Services, in Minneapolis. LINDA (MOON) VAN WOERT is injury management consultant for EMC Insurance Company in Des Moines, Iowa. DIANE VOLLUM is an applications analyst for IWCO Direct in Chanhassen, Minn. MARK WERNING is senior vice president and chief operating officer for Triumph Community Bank in Bettendorf, Iowa.

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BILL LICHTNER is regional sales manager for Carina Technology in Huntsville, Ala. ELLEN (STEIDINGER) MACOM is contracts officer at Group Health Research Institute in Seattle. JULIE (MASMAR) MEYERS is regional field manager for Decorating Den Interiors in Waverly, Iowa.


BUSCH is project manager for Kaiser Permanente in Denver.


GREEN is senior development officer and director of planned giving at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. BRAD LEWIS is director of marketing for the Quad City Symphony Orchestra in Davenport, Iowa. CRAIG DAIKEN NELSON started a nonprofit organization, Mandala Café, which helps the homeless in New York City.


NANCY (HERMEIER) HERSHFIELD is regional vice president of Opportunity International in Chicago.

KJAR is a board-certified chaplain through the Association of Professional Chaplains. She is the visitation pastor for Bethlehem Lutheran Church in Fargo, N.D.

STEVEN MYERS was appointed president of Aegon USA Real Estate Advisors in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.


SUSAN (ICE) SHUTE of Peterborough, N.H., earned a certificate in web design and print design from Mount Wachusett Community College.


HOPKINS is a self-employed spiritual director in Newton, Iowa. BOB REESE is the VFO at Advanced Wireless Communications in Lakeville, Minn. SARA (BEARD) REVELL is assistant director of the program review divisions for the Federal Bureau of Prisons in Washington, D.C.

was named St. Cloud Area Small Business Owner of the Year. He is the owner and CEO of Executive Express in St. Cloud, Minn. JAY MATHIS is superintendent of schools for the Eldora-New Providence (Iowa) and Gladbrook-Reinbeck (Iowa) School districts. JOHN NIEMI is the assistant director of the First Year Experience at the University of Texas-San Antonio.


an enforcement officer and senior immigration inspector for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security

and U.S. Customs and Border Patrol in Seattle. SUSAN MORSE is the coordinator of disability services for Howard County Social Services in Cresco, Iowa. JIM QUERY of Glen Arbor, Mich., is the owner at VIBE (Virgin Islands Boat Excursions) Charters.


is manager, financial analysis for Lee Enterprises in Davenport, Iowa. MARK GUSTAFSON of Seguin, Texas, is the author of A Naturalist’s Guide to the Texas Hill Country (Texas A&M University Press). He is professor of biology at Texas Lutheran University. DAVID SMITH is the director of marketing for Bird B Gone in Irvine, Calif.

RACHEL (LINDGREN) EVANS is financial services assistant for Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa.


SUSAN (LORENZEN) FISK is an RN for Children’s Hospital Colorado in Aurora.

BARNARD is the high school secretary for Clarke Community School District in Osceola, Iowa. KEN BELANGER JR. is professor of biology and associate dean of the faculty for Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. MICHELLE (SNITKER) BOLHUIS is certified in human resources management. She is reporting accounting clerk for the Weld County Department of Human Services in Greeley, Colo. KATIE (LINDEN) BOURGET is director, municipal bond research for Travelers, in St. Paul, Minn. MICHAEL BRANDT teaches art at Westfield Elementary School in Robins, Iowa.

Four decades of Luther alumni performed the Brahms Requiem and a world premiere by English composer Giles Swayne in the Wisconsin Chamber Choir in Madison, Wis. Front row: ROBIN SCHEU EDMISTON ’08, LINDA PALMER ’76, KARA (COGSWELL) NOAH ’90, REBECCA SCHINKER ’07, CARYN MAHAFFAY ’91. Middle row: WILLIAM ROSHOLT ’90, EILEEN HANNEMAN ’73. Back row: MARK ANDERSON ’03, BRIAN LEEPER ’82, GREGORY BERG ’82.

Emilio Black, age 6, son of BONNIE BLACK ’89, sports his Luther gear at the Great Wall of China this past April.

KRIS (KISTLER) FORD is human resources and training manager for Caribou Coffee in Brooklyn Center, Minn. MARCIE (HAGEN) GIVENS is adjunct assistant professor of voice for the College of St. Benedict in St. Joseph, Minn. DEBRA (ROSENBERG) GONZALEZ is an application technical lead for Velocity Technology Solutions in Minneapolis. BONNIE GUNZENHAUSER is dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at Roosevelt University in Chicago.

DANIEL COLEMAN is commanding officer of Combat Logistics Battalion 26 at Camp LeJeune, N.C.

STEVE HANSON of Brentwood, Calif., is senior principal product marketing manager for CA Technologies.

HEATHER (REWEY) CONWAY is director of the Aging and Disability Resource Center for Pierce County, Minn.

LAUREL (KJOME) HILTON teaches fourth grade for the Mediapolis (Iowa) Community School District.

LYNN (GAUDETTE) and DAVID EIDAHL ’88 live in Delano, Minn. She is nurse executive for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics in Minneapolis. He is restaurant manager for Windsong Farm Golf Club.

DIANE (OLSON) HINDERAKER is prevention specialist at Youth and Shelter Services in Boone, Iowa. KATHRYN (HELGESON) JOHNSON is payroll coordinator for United South Central School in Wells, Minn.

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VICKIE JOHNSON is a music instructor for Jones County Junior College in Ellisville, Miss.

SCOTT SANDVIG is a principle business integration analyst for Rockwell Collins in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

SUSAN (HOWIESON) JYSTAD earned a master’s degree in education from Winona State University. She is an independent business owner in network marketing development. Jystad is also the general music specialist and choral director for KassonMantorville (Minn.) Middle School.

PAUL SEFFROOD is director, focus industries at Brenntag in Larkspur, Calif.

KATE (CONNER) KENNEDY is neurology nurse practitioner for Swedish Medical Center-Issaquah (Wash.). CATHY (BEGALSKE) KOEBRICK is associate director of human resources for the University of Iowa. She is also an adjunct faculty member at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. BARB (FAHNING) LAUER is senior director, services procurement for Kelly Services in Troy, Mich. PETER LAWRENCE is a trooper III firearms instructor for the Colorado State Patrol Training Academy in Golden, Colo. JILL (MCDONALD) LAWSON is the choir director for the Bangor (Wis.) School District. SARA (THIES) MENTZER is community programs manager for Healthways–Blue Zones Project in Marion, Iowa.

IDA (ANDERSEN) SIMMONDS is team leader, regulatory affairs for Leo Pharma A/S in Ballerup, Denmark. PAUL WENZ is statistics manager for Intel Corporation in Tempe, Ariz.


general manager at Greg’s Lawn and Landscape in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. KRISTIN (HOHNBAUM) KLEIN is a student teacher at Stanton School in Island Lake, Ill. BETH (ADAMS) and JIM OSTREM live in Lino Lakes, Minn. She is vice president of Farm Credit Foundation. He is senior software engineer for Hazelden Betty Ford Foundation.

Project Nepal becomes a mission for champion tennis player and coach Sujay Lama ’92 comes from tennis royalty in Nepal. After an extraordinary playing career, he went on to become a stellar coach, turning average teams into title winners and piling on coachof-the-year honors. But a promise to his mother when he left his homeland nearly 27 years ago gave rise to a philanthropic endeavor that’s become as important to him as coaching—and that’s raised more than $35,000 for schoolchildren in Nepal. The family game

Lama’s father was a pioneer of tennis in Nepal. He’d grown up in Burma, a British colony where tennis was popular. When he returned to Nepal and realized that only expatriots were playing the sport, he built five tennis courts. “So everybody in my family started playing, and they all became national champions,” Lama recalls. “And so I said, I better be a tennis player too!” After graduating in tenth grade from his boarding school in Darjeeling, India, he trained with a brother in Germany. Two years later, Lama ranked in the top 50 juniors in the world, but a knee injury the day before he was to leave for Wimbledon Juniors made him reevaluate. “I thought, I better have a backup plan,” he says.

EMBER SALVESON earned a master of education degree from Weber University. She is a teaching assistant at Soaring Wings International Montessori School in Park City, Utah. DIANE (JOHNSON) SMITH is a field cases manager for UnitedHealth Group in Centennial, Colo.

ANNE MEURER of Shakopee, Minn., is the owner of NBCS. KRISTEN (STAUFFACHER) NOVITCH teaches fifth grade for the Merrill (Wis.) Area Public Schools. BETH (DEHLI) PAPP is a registered nurse at Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waukon, Iowa. LOREN POFAHL is AVPcompensation, benefits, and recruiting for Orchard Supply Hardware in San Jose, Calif. KELLEY (KRUSE) PUJOL is director of music therapy for Easter Seals Midwest Autism Services in Cape Girardeau, Mo. She is also involved in mission work in Kenya, providing music therapy for individuals with autism spectrum disorder and other special needs. JANE (VAALER) ROETS is owner and director of Arts from the Heart in Ellington, Conn.


Luther Alumni Magazine

CHANEY (CARR) YEAST received the Excellence in Victim Service Award at a celebration in recognition of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. It was the first time this award was granted in Iowa and is the highest honor bestowed on an individual who is not in law enforcement. The award was presented by the U.S. Attorney’s Office to recognize Chaney’s exceptional leadership in developing the Regional Child Protection Center at Blank Children’s Hospital 13 years ago, as well as her continued advocacy for child abuse awareness and collaboration with numerous local, regional, and state entities. She is director of Government Relations

Lama fires up his players during a match last spring He enrolled in a second high school, for expats in Kathmandu, and one day his guidance counselor gave him a giant Peterson’s guide to U.S. colleges. While he was combing through the tome, he got word that a Dennis Johnson ’71 from Luther College was meeting prospective students at the Himalaya Hotel. “I remember him showing me the pictures of Luther, and I thought, That’s got to be one of the prettiest campuses in America. Obviously he didn’t show me the pictures of snow,” Lama jokes. While a Luther student, Lama won the Iowa Conference tennis singles and doubles titles and earned MVP all four years, being named All-American twice (he has since been inducted into Luther’s Athletic Hall of Fame). He also competed for Nepal in the 1990 Asian Games in Beijing (he was able to complete an indepen-

Alumni News Lama (center) encourages villagers in the Karnali district to send their children to a school supported by Project Nepal. dent study on the aftermath of Tiananmen Square in China while he was there). And he met his future wife, Lynne Tan-Lama ’90, a student from Malaysia with whom he has two children, Priya (15) and Siddhartha (10). From player to coach

The Lamas have been living in the United States for more than two decades, and Sujay has built an incredible coaching career. In his current post, at the University of North Texas, he took the Mean Green from last in the Sun Belt to first in just four seasons, becoming the program’s winningest coach in the process. As assistant coach at the University of Florida, his teams won four national titles and had three undefeated seasons. As head coach at the University of Illinois, he took the team from 75th to 16th in the country and second in the Big Ten. “I’ve been very competitive, and I love setting goals,” Lama says. “And the beauty of being in a college environment is that every year you set a new goal.” What Lama loves most about coaching tennis is mentoring student-athletes. “I’m really proud that my kids really have a great bond with me. That love and respect is very important, that connection is important. I try to connect every day, because if I’m connected, I can do a lot of good things.” A promise to give back

“My mom was a very wise lady,” Lama says. “When I left Nepal, she saw the writing on the wall: this kid is going to go, and he won’t be coming back. And she made me promise not to forget my motherland. To give back. So since day one, I’ve been always thinking What can I do? What can I do? What can I do? But you get busy with tennis, trying to start a career, and moving up the ladder, and then you feel guilty, and it gets bigger and bigger until it’s overwhelming.” But in 2003, after his mother passed away, Lama returned to Nepal to visit his father and sister, who had converted part of their house into a school that taught both paying students and five full-scholarship orphans. “I kind of gravitated to those orphaned kids. They were so happy—this was the high-

light of their day, coming to school and learning. I used to go for my morning runs, and I would see them walking, about five miles from the orphanage to school. One day, they were all walking holding hands, and they all stopped at once and said together, ‘Good mooorrrrrning, sir.’ And that was the defining moment of my life. I thought, You better do something now.” Lama returned to the U.S. still thinking about the kids. He asked his sister how much it would cost to sponsor one—just $200. Incredulous, he shared this with his assistant coach, JoAnne Russell (now a Project Nepal board member), who agreed straightaway to sponsor one. From there, funding fell into place like dominoes, with brothers and sisters and friends of friends all offering to sponsor a Nepalese student. Lama asked friend Ed Kellerman, a senior lecturer in communications with a background in education administration at the University of Florida, to help with the budding organization. In 2008, Kellerman, now codirector of Project Nepal, won a course development grant from UF’s Bob Graham Center for Public Service. He used it to evaluate the Lamas’ Nabha Deepti school in Kathmandu, where he found “strong leadership, committed teachers, and 72 students passing their exams.” Lama’s father is now 85 and his sister is legally blind, and in 2011 the Nabha Deepti school closed its doors. Project Nepal is now allocating $500 a year to hire a third teacher for 200 students at the Bhairabnath Primary School in the Kudari district, and they also

partner with Radha Paudel’s Action Works of Nepal charity. Lama, skeptical of charity organizations with which he has no firsthand experience, convinced Kellerman to scout out Action Works in person with him by traveling to the Sunnigaum district in the Karnali region of western Nepal. “We flew to Kathmandu, took two different flights, then a jeep that broke down, then an old bus, then hiked for a couple of hours to this remote part of western Nepal,” he says. “Radha is the most dynamic lady I ever met in my life, she is like Mother Theresa. And she’s doing work with education, nursing, healthcare, fighting chaupadi [a traditional practice that isolates menstruating women], and the school she is working with was fascinating for us. So we decided to focus on the education aspect and help rebuild schools and get teachers and books there. It’s such a good feeling to know from my end that our funds are going in the right direction and impacting lives out there.” “In life,” Lama says, “you need two ingredients. One is passion. I have passion for life, for my kids, for my work. I already have that. And you need a mission, something bigger than yourself. This—Project Nepal—has become my mission. When you have mission, there’s something that you’ll leave behind, a legacy. That’s what keeps me going.” —Kate Frentzel Learn more about Project Nepal at

In April, a 7.8-magnitude earthquake struck Nepal, killing more than 9,000 and injuring more than 23,000 people. Since the earthquake, Project Nepal has also focused on disaster relief. To date, it has raised about $10,000 toward helping the country’s most affected areas, which continue to need support.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

and Medical-Legal Project, and manager, Regional Child Protection Center at Blank Children’s Hospital/ UnityPoint Health in Des Moines, Iowa.

1993 BARBARA (COLE) and

JON CLEMENTS live in Russellville, Ark. They were soloists for Handel’s Judas Maccabaeus with the Iowa City Chamber Singers and Orchestra as part of the American Handel Society National Conference. Jon was promoted to associate professor of music at Arkansas Tech University, and Barb is assistant professor of music at the university. JOEL HASENWINKEL is senior vice president, shared services for naviHealth in Brentwood, Tenn. ANJIE SHUTTS was named a fellow of the American Association of Matrimonial Affairs (AAML). She is one of eight attorneys in Iowa who have been admitted to the AAML. Shutts practices family law in a variety of areas including prenuptial agreements, divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, and modifications. She is trained and certified by the Iowa Supreme Court, trained to practice in collaborative law, and mediates family law cases. She is an attorney with Whitfield and Eddy in Des Moines.

1994 KRISTIN SHURR is a senior managing partner with Great American Restaurants in Washington, D.C.

ASTRI WEE is head, merchant incentive program at World Police and Fire Games in Reston, Va.


is the managed service director, business relationship management at Thomson Reuters in Eagan, Minn. KRIS KINSEY is the psychology UG programs leader as well as a learning and teaching fellow for the University of West of England’s Department of Health and Social Sciences in Bristol, United Kingdom. ROBERT KLEINENDORST performed as a dancer in Paul Taylor’s Last Look at Koch Theatre in New York. Joan Acocella wrote about his performance in the New Yorker.


Luther Alumni Magazine

CHRISTINE LAVIK earned a bachelor’s degree from Metropolitan State University in St. Paul, Minn. KAREN RYBERG earned a Ph.D. in environmental and conservation sciences from North Dakota University. She is a statistician specializing in hydrology at the U.S. Geological Survey North Dakota Water Science Center in Bismarck.

1996 KARA (TESKE) BRAUER earned a master’s degree specializing in nursing education from Chamberlain College of Nursing. She is on the nursing faculty at Barton Community College in Great Bend, Kan.

ABDUL KNOWLES ’97 is an adjunct professor at Pyongyang Science and Technology University in Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea (DPRK). He also teaches business courses at Beijing University of Chemical Technology. Knowles is pictured with North Korean university business students during his teaching stint in Pyongyang, Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea in fall 2014.

KEVIN COOK of Ballwin, Mo., is software development manager at the Atlanta-based Open Edge.

acknowledges the many contributions of Wells Fargo Team members from each Technology Operations Group (TOG) line of business who consistently contributed to the 2014 goals and priorities through outstanding overall performance. The award is given to the top three percent of all TOG team members. Croll is AVPtechnology relationship manager at Wells Fargo in Des Moines, Iowa.

SCOT REISINGER was appointed dean of adult programs at Mount Mercy University in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. He oversees the accelerated bachelor, online, and graduate programs for the university. He had served as director of athletics at the university since 2006.

1998 J. BETH BJORLO is

leader, channel marketing at Ingersoll Rand in Tyler, Texas. PHIL HOOD is vice president of development and alumni relations and secretary of the college for Lake Forest (Ill.) College. TANYA (KRUSE) RUCK earned a DMA degree from the University of Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music.

1999 MICHAEL ANDERSON was named the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society’s Man of the Year. He raised a record amount of donations in Iowa—just under $140,000 in 10 weeks.

ERIN (BROOKS) CROLL received a Wells Fargo Top Performer Award for 2015. The recognition honors and

KARI (NORDLI) and GREGORY DOUMA ’98 live in Apple Valley, Minn. Kari conducted the ACDA of Minnesota 4-5-6 State Honor Choir in May 2015. She and Greg teach vocal music at Eastview High School. They are also the founders of the Allegro Choral Academy, a nonprofit organization serving children ages 6–15, and are celebrating its 10th anniversary season in 2015–16. MEGAN (MOLNAU) HELLING is production manager at Emerson, Rosemount in Chanhassen, Minn. AMIT JOHAL was appointed associate director, Department of Gastroenterology at Geisinger Medical Center. He is the director of endoscopy at Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa.


BAARDSETH of Minneapolis is a licensed staff psychologist at the Minneapolis VA Medical Center. He is also an adjunct assistant professor in counseling and psychological services at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota. MATT BROWN is the economic development coordinator for the City of Coon Rapids, Iowa.

BRANDON DEAN received the 2014 Swenson-Bunn Memorial Award for Teaching Excellence at Gustavus Adolphus College Honors Day Convocation in Spring 2014. KATHRYN GREEN is director of advancement operations for Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa. DARCY HENDRIKS teaches music at Concordia International School in Shanghai, China. STEVE HESTON of Britt, Iowa, is the director of choral activities for grades 3–8 for the West Hancock Community School District. MELISSA MORRISSEY GILKERSON and NATHAN GILKERSON live in Whitefish Bay, Wis. She is senior director of marketing and corporate communications for StayWell Health Management. He received the 2014 Dean’s Award for Teaching from the Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University, where he is assistant professor of public relations.


BAHN died of sarcoma cancer in 2013 at age 34, but her spirit lives on through the journal she kept from August 2008 until shortly before her death, which has now been published. Proceeds from sales of the book, titled Love, Abbey: A Memoir of an Undying Spirit, are going to sarcoma cancer research at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City.

Alumni News

MOLLIE BUSTA LANGE was inducted into the Iowa Polka Music Hall of Fame (Promoter category, 2015) by the Polka Club of Iowa.

ANGELA (AABERG) SHOCKLEY is quality control specialist for Omni Data Retrieval in Lakeville, Minn. MOLLY (KROL) and STEIG SANDGREN live in Cedar Falls, Iowa. She is an RN at Allen Hospital. He is a distribution center group leader for Target. ERIK VILEN is a medical doctor for the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs in Rochester, Minn.

STEPHANIE HEISHMAN is principal of Freya, a marketing, fundraising, and event partner and collaborator in Washington, D.C. LINDSAY (WEIER) HOLLINGSWORTH earned the Ed.D. degree in curriculum and instruction from Liberty University, Lynchburg, Va., and received the Liberal Arts and Education Outstanding Service Award from the University of Wisconsin–Platteville, where she is an assistant professor in the School of Education. JOHN MILLS is the emergency communications operator for Rice/Steele 911 Center, in Faribault, Minn. ANNA ROEDER is visiting professor of biology at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa. ARIANA (ANDERSON) WRIGHT is the PK–4 principal at Kasson/Mantorville (Minn.) Elementary School.


(CALDWELL) and DANIEL DRASHER ’01 live in Eagan, Minn. She is a finance manager for SuperValu. He is a senior quality assurance specialist, regulatory compliance for Ecolab. JOEL HAUGEN is vice president, consulting for Optum in Eden Prairie, Minn. MISSY (KNOTT) HUFF is branch executive director for the Scott County Family YMCA in Bettendorf, Iowa. TIM NEUMAN teaches English at Christian Brothers High School in Memphis, Tenn. KATYA OUCHAKOF contributed a short essay to the book There’s a Woman in the Pulpit (Cokesbury). She is pastor at Lake Edge Lutheran Church in Madison, Wis.

2003 JOSHUA KLAETSCH is an investment officer in real estate securities for Securian, Advantus Capital Management in St. Paul, Minn.

AMANDA LINDBERG-AGANGA is assistant public defender for the state of Minnesota in Rochester, Minn. BRONSON POWER earned an M.B.A. degree from Minnesota State University–Mankato. He is senior financial analyst for Mayo Clinic Health System in Mankato, Minn. JOSHUA SHANK was commissioned to write a choral piece for the Boston Gay Men’s Chorus trip to the Middle East. “Peace” is filled with powerful responses from the choral members about when they feel most at peace. The work was performed in Israel and Turkey, June 18–29, 2015. Shank traveled with the chorus on its Mideast tour to document the journey for another commissioned piece.


a commission services specialist and marketing consultant for CODAworx in Madison, Wis.

JENNIFER (MASON) SWOBODA is a clinical informatics analyst for UnityPoint Health in West Des Moines, Iowa.


ARNOLD earned a doctor of podiatric medicine degree from Des Moines University–College of Podiatric Medicine and Surgery. She completed her residency at DePaul Health Center Foot and Ankle Surgical and is now a podiatric surgeon for Next Step Foot and Ankle in Edwardsville, Ill. ARIC ASPLUND is a district sales manager for Essendant in Dallas. GABRIELLE ATWOOD is an instructional designer for Connexions Loyalty in Eden Prairie, Minn. KIM BABINE of Minneapolis is director of government affairs for the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development. ANNI BOWERS is admissions director for St. Paul (Minn.) Preparatory School. RACHEL BREITENBACH-DIRKS is director of Kinderhaus in Decorah. NICOLE (WALKER) and NICK BUSCH ’06 live in Montrose, Minn. She is a noninvasive cardiology nurse for Nicollet Health Services. He is an alcohol enforcement agent for the state of Minnesota. HANNAH CARLSON and GEOFFREY OWUSU-APPIANTI live in Chicago. She is a self-employed therapist. He is a financial analyst for Coeur Mining.

JEROMY CARLSON is a business analyst for Optum in Eden Prairie, Minn. ANNA CIGRAND of St. Louis is a home and health hospice social worker for St. Luke’s Hospital and a graduate assistant at St. Louis University. JEFF CLEMENTS is an optometrist for Wright Vision Care in Sun Prairie, Wis. RONNIE COOPER is customer service supervisor for Hysitron in Eden Prairie, Minn. KRISTINA (STRUVE) COPLEY is repair program manager for Habitat for Humanity Seattle-King County in Renton, Wash. CHRIS DAHL earned a master of divinity degree from the Master’s Institute. He is the discipleship pastor for Lutheran Church of the Cross in Altoona, Iowa. LIZA (HANSON) DORMADY is a stay-at-home mom in Beaverton, Ore. ANNA (JOHNSON) EDEMKONG of Bellevue, Neb., is a social worker for DaVita Dialysis. LYDIA EHM earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from Mercy College of Health Services. She is an oncology registered nurse for Mercy Medical Center in Des Moines, Iowa. RACHEL FAUST is outpatient mental health therapist for Midwest Center for Personal and Family Development in Lake Elmo, Minn.

JOEL HOLLENBECK is project manager for Acterra Group in Marion, Iowa. TREVOR HUINKER is an IT pro consultant for Avtex in Minneapolis. KATIE KONRATH is a senior content strategist for Media Junction in St. Paul, Minn. ANDY MEYER received a Fulbright Award to teach in Norway for the 2015–16 academic year. In his position as a Roving Scholar in American Studies in Oslo, he will travel throughout the year offering presentations, guest lectures, and workshops in high schools for Norwegian students and teachers.

Luther psychology majors, left to right, ELIZABETH BOLINGER ’03, CARLO VELTRI ’02, and LESLEY (HIEBING) FRIEDHOFF ’05 met up at the 50th Annual Symposium on Recent Research in Minneapolis in June.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

MICHAEL FERRIS is a national account manager at MEDCO Tool in Rochester, Minn.

CHARLIE HOGSTAD is pastor of care and community for River City Church in Fargo, N.D.

PATTI (KAYE) LANGNER is case manager and supervisor for Tasks Unlimited in Minneapolis.

MICHAEL FLAHERTY is an attorney for Flaherty and Hood in St. Paul, Minn.

CODY HONL earned a doctor of osteopathy degree from West Virginia School of Osteopathic Medicine. He is an anesthesiology resident at the University of Minnesota–Minneapolis.

RYAN LEBEAU is employee benefits practice group leader for Associated Financial Group in Minnetonka, Minn.

BECKY FRANKLIN of Minneapolis is chair of the Minneapolis Arts Commission. She is also the managing director at Weavers Guild of Minnesota. THOMAS GETCHIUS of Eden Prairie, Minn., is vice chair, clinical practice guidelines component group for the Council of Medical Specialty Societies in Chicago. He is also director, clinical practice at American Academy of Neurology. SUSANNE GRAF is circulating nurse in operating room for Aurora Health Care in Burlington, Wis. GARRET GREV is a general manager-distribution and supply chain for Best Buy in Bloomington, Minn. BRANDON GRIMM earned an M.B.A. degree from the University of Iowa. He is FINRA licensed in series 7 and 66. He is the portfolio manager for Gilbert & Cook in Des Moines, Iowa. MARY (PENROD) GUESE earned a master’s degree in education from Walden University. She is a K–1 English-as-a-second-language teacher for the Postville (Iowa) Community School District. CHRISTINE (MUELLER) and MARK GUY live in Chanhassen, Minn. She earned a master’s degree in counseling and psychological services from St. Mary’s University and is a mental health practitioner for Su Familia Multicultural Counseling. He is CPA, manager for Eide Bailly in Minneapolis. ELAINE (STOERZINGER) HAUGER is librarian for the Granite Falls (Minn.) Public Library. RACHEL HEISE is in-store marketing manager for Kohl’s Corporate in Menomonee Falls, Wis. CHRIS HOEGH is supervisor, employer market for Securian Financial Group in St. Paul, Minn. PHIL HOESING is director of bands for Nampa (Idaho) High School. The GRAMMY Foundation recognized the band as an outstanding program.


Luther Alumni Magazine

MARY (PEDERSON) HOPPER owns Natural Plus Nursery in Clear Lake, Iowa.

JEFF LEIRNESS is a wildlife statistician for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration in Silver Springs, Md.

ERIK OLSON earned a master’s degree in school leadership from Northeastern Illinois University. The Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development recognized him as an Emerging Leader. He is international baccalaureate coordinator for Roald Amundsen High School in Chicago. JEFF PATZKE is customer service trainer for Charter Communications in Rochester, Minn.

ABBY (GLEW) HOVEY is a physical therapist at Genesis Outpatient Rehabilitation in Davenport, Iowa.

EMILY (OLSON) LINDHOLM is special projects and young professionals director for the Eau Claire (Wis.) Area Chamber of Commerce.

MARK PETERSON earned an M.B.A. from Hamline University. He is a business analyst for UnitedHealth Group in St. Louis Park, Minn.

LINNEA (MUELLER) HUINKER is senior clinical effectiveness specialist for Maple Grove (Minn.) Hospital.

SARAH (STEFFENSMEIER) LOPEZ is staff physical therapist for Genesis Rehab in Highland Park, Ill.

ZACH RODASTI is salvage coordinator for Farmers Insurance in Elizabeth, Colo.

KATE INGBER earned a master’s degree in human resources management from St. Mary’s University of Minnesota.

JENNY (HARTMANN) and ED MAUCH ’04 live in Osceola, Wis. She teaches for the Osceola School District. He earned a doctorate of osteopathic medicine and is a family medical physician at the Osceola Medical Center.

DUSTIN ROSS is director of development for the Des Moines (Iowa) Symphony & Academy.

JULIA (TODD) JONES is physician, internal medicine for the Iowa Clinic in Des Moines. HEIDI (ZIMMERMAN) KEEFER works in website administration and design for Lifetime Adoption Center in Grass Valley, Calif. GINNY KING is senior relationship manager/director of St. Charles County for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eastern Missouri. JULIE KNAPP teaches kindergarten for Northland Community Schools District in Remer, Minn. RYAN KNIGHT of Waunakee, Wis., is account manager for North Carolina–based Novozymes. RYAN KOCH earned an M.B.A. degree from Carlson School of Business at the University of Minnesota. He is global sourcing product manager for Target Corporation in Minneapolis. DAVID GERARD KRUPKE earned an M.A. in education from Morningside College in Sioux City, Iowa. ROSS KURTH of Decorah is operations director for DB Supermercados in Amazonias, Manaus, Brazil. KATE LAMB earned a master’s degree with honors in communication sciences and disorders from St. Cloud State University. She is a speech-language pathologist at the University of Minnesota Medical Center in Minneapolis.

LAUREN MAYFIELD is senior human resources generalist for Express Scripts in Tempe, Ariz. KATIE and JOHN MCCORMICKDEATON live in Flat Rock, Mich. Both earned doctorates of osteopathic medicine from A.T. Still University of Health Sciences. She is resident physician in psychiatry at the University of Michigan. He is resident physician in general surgery at Henry Ford Hospital. RACHEL MCCREIGHT earned a master of divinity degree from Luther Seminary. She is pastor at Gloria Dei Lutheran Church in Butte, Mont. KATIE (MINDRUP) MCKEAN is youth achievement program assistant for Two Rivers YMCA in Moline, Ill. ALISON MEIER and JOEL GENTES live in San Francisco. She is senior UX strategist and lead researcher for Gotomedia. He is senior project manager for Duarte. JOSH MINNES is section manager, machining operations for Caterpillar in Winston Salem, N.C. STEPHANIE MUELLER earned a Ph.D. in Hispanic studies from the University of Iowa. She is a visiting assistant professor of Spanish at Union College in Schenectady, N.Y.

MELISSA SASSAMAN earned a doctorate in musical arts from Arizona State University. She is a music appreciation instructor at Central New Mexico Community College and a freelance musician in Albuquerque and Santa Fe, N.M. BETHANY SCHIEFELBEIN and MATTHEW BURNS live in Spencer, Iowa. She is an RN–home, health, and hospice for Spencer Hospital. He works in the Major Crimes Unit for the Iowa Division of Criminal Investigation. DUSTIN SCHMIDT is captain, check airman for Compass Airlines in Minneapolis. AMANDA (BJORK) SCHULTZ teaches art for the Rochester (Minn.) Public Schools. SARAH (LAPOSKY) SCHWEGEL teaches second grade for Bagley (Minn.) Elementary School. MELISSA SERRES is account executive for the Harrington Company in Minneapolis. KRISTEN SNYDER earned a master’s degree in library and information science from Dominican University and CRM designation from the Institute of Certified Records Managers. She is an electronic records manager for MidAmerican Energy Company in Des Moines, Iowa. MIKHAL SZABO is senior accountant for HOPE International in Lancaster, Pa.

Alumni News

JACQUE (TALLEY) WOLF is senior human relations service partner for Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn. MATT YOUNG earned a Ph.D. in music theory from the University of Texas–Austin. He is director of choral activities at the Ohio State University at Lima Campus.

to China for the Montessori Model United Nations in Zhengzhou last fall. She was one of 123 teachers in the state nominated for 2015 Minnesota Teacher of the Year by Education Minnesota.

LISL (LEWIS) ZAMORA earned a juris doctor degree from William Mitchell College of Law. She is staff attorney for Justice for Our Neighbors Nebraska in Omaha.

Current and former Luther soccer players met up a the World Cup in Winnipeg to watch the U.S. women’s national team play against Australia in the opening round. The U.S. won the match 3-1 with the Norse cheering them on. Pictured in the back row: KIRSTEN RUSSELL ’05, SHELBY STEELE ’14, REGGIE YOUNG ’16, KENDRA DORNFELD ’10, LILLY (STEINBERG) JENSEN ’07; front row: KAILA WILL ’15, MOLLY FORD ’13, JULIE SHOCKEY TRYTTEN ’01, and CHRISTINA SOWARD ’09. ERIC TEMPLE earned a doctorate in podiatric medicine from Des Moines University. He is a physician for University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. CARRIE THOMPSON earned a juris doctor degree from Northern Illinois University College of Law. She is assistant state’s attorney for the Dekalb County (Ill.) State’s Attorney’s Office in Sycamore. NICK TORGERSON earned a doctorate in osteopathic medicine from Lake Erie College of Osteopathic Medicine. He is an internal medicine resident physician for the Medical College of Wisconsin in Wauwatosa. TIA TOSO is a digital production designer for Novu in St. Louis Park, Minn. MEGAN (RONDEAU) TSCHUMPER is client service specialist for Cahill Financial Advisors in Edina, Minn. ANITA (KENT) URIO is a microbiology medical technologist for Physicians Reference Laboratory in Overland Park, Kan. ELEANOR VALETA is compliance testing for Transamerica Insurance in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. JULIE VAN SCOY of Oakland, Calif., is web and communications director for the University of California–Berkeley.

KATIE VAN WYNGEEREN teaches middle school art for the Dripping Springs (Texas) Independent School District. DANIEL WALLACE is a family medicine physician for Cambridge (Minn.) Medical Center.


staff physicist at California State University–Fullerton. He was selected by the College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics to receive the 2014 Staff Excellence Award. JONATHAN CURRY is division supervisor for Industrial Fabrics Association International in Roseville, Minn. JASMINE HIGH is an archeological laboratory manager for the Veterans Curation Program in Reston, Va.

KATHY (PATTEN) WARREN is a behavioral health consultant for Primary Health Care in Des Moines, Iowa.

ALEXANDER LASS earned an M.B.A. degree from the Kellstadt Graduate School of Business at DePaul University in Chicago.

RACHAEL WHITE is a recipe developer and food photographer for Set the Table in Wheat Ridge, Colo. She is the creator of a food blog, Set the Table,, where she shares her food photography, recipes, and stories of life in the kitchen.

TORI LUTHRINGER earned a master’s degree in TESOL (teaching English to speakers of other languages) from Saint Michael’s College. She teaches middle school humanities at the American School of Barcelona, Spain.

YAZ WILKINSON-MAMMAN is ethics and compliance, government agreement analyst for BP Oil in Houston.

TYLER MATTISON is assistant manager at Hy-Vee in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

KATIE (LANTZ) WILLIAMS teaches kindergarten for the Sun Prairie (Wis.) Area School District. SUSAN WILLIAMS earned a master’s degree in history from Miami University in Oxford, Ohio. She is a graduate student at Augsburg College in the master of arts education program, seeking licensure in secondary social studies, and is a K–12 homeroom literacy tutor for the Minnesota Reading Corps in St. Paul. NORA (RONNINGEN) WOJCIECHOWSKI teaches English and reading for the Shakopee (Minn.) Public Schools.

ELIZABETH MATZEN of Seattle earned a master’s degree from the University of Michigan’s School of Natural Resources and an M.B.A. degree from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. KELLY MOORE is a clinical psychologist for the Minneapolis VA Health Care System. RACHEL (MILLER) PALERMO is a patient care supervisor-NICU for Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota in St. Paul. LAURA (SCHUURMAN) RASMUSSEN is an upper elementary guide for Rochester (Minn.) Montessori School. She took a group of six middle school students

CHUCK STARK is senior instructor for the REI Outdoor School in Chicago. Stark returned to Luther this year to present “Exploring the World and Finding Our Place” to students in Valders Hall of Science. He discovered the joy of mountain biking on the trails in and around Decorah, took his first backpacking trip with Luther’s Backyard Wilderness Pursuits, and created his own individualized interdisciplinary major, environmental recreation, while at Luther. Stark is also a wilderness first responder, an American Canoe Association kayak and stand-up paddleboard instructor, and British Canoe Union three-star canoeist. He has taught and guided rock climbing, kayaking, backpacking, environmental science, and wilderness leadership trips around the country and in Costa Rica. EMILY WILCOX-FREEBURG is a K–5 music specialist for the Richland (Wash.) Public Schools. TIM YOURISON is defensive coordinator, defensive backs coach for Aurora (Ill.) University. ZACHARIAH ZUBOW is an assistant professor of music at Queens University of Charlotte (N.C.).


BERNDT is a financial analyst for John Deere Des Moines Works in Ankeny, Iowa. RAY BISSEN earned a master’s degree in education from Augsburg College. He teaches special education at Wilson Elementary School in Owatonna, Minn.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

HEMIE COLLIER earned a master’s degree in educational leadership from Concordia University–Ann Arbor. He is assistant football coach and academic resource center graduate assistant at St. Cloud (Minn.) State University.

LISA (HUINKER) and JASON RUDE live in New Hampton, Iowa. She is a component scheduler for Terex Cranes. He is a middle school social studies teacher and coach for the New Hampton Community School District.

PAM (BERG) HAMANN earned a health information technician associate degree from Rassmusen College. She is a client services representativemedical records for IOD Incorporated in St. Paul, Minn.

ALYSSA WEHR is an addiction counselor for the Pennsylvania Organization for Women in Early Recovery (POWER) in Pittsburgh.

EMILY HOLLEY is an Iowa caucus field coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Association in Des Moines, Iowa. DANA (NORRIS) KRUSE is a technology lead teacher for the Davenport (Iowa) School District.

REBECCA WESTPHAL is an enrollment and billing supervisor for Dean Health Plan in Madison, Wis.


is a financial representative for Northwestern Mutual in Washington, Iowa.

MICHAEL LINDSAY of St. Paul, Minn., is a talent buyer for Floridabased Babco Entertainment.

SARAH (VAIL) ANTONELLO is operations manager for Kyle House Group in Washington, D.C.

TOM LINDSLEY earned a Ph.D. in rhetoric and professional communication from Iowa State University. He is an interaction designer for Workiva in Ames, Iowa.

MATT COX is an exhibit developer for the Minnesota Children’s Museum in St. Paul.

NELLI (SALWOLKE) LOGAN is an administrative project specialist at Applied Ecological Services in Brodhead, Wis. CRAIG MYRUM is a postdoctoral fellow at the National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Aging in Baltimore.

MEGAN (STONER) CROSBY is director of music for Mount Carmel Lutheran Church in Minneapolis. BETSY EVANS of Boca Raton, Fla., is a graduate student at Florida Atlantic University. DYLAN FLUNKER is research and policy manager for Rainbow Health Initiative in Minneapolis. He was named to the 2015 Trans 100 List, which aims to provide an overview of the breadth and diversity of work being done in, by, and for the transgender community across the United States. HEATHER (ELWOOD) GIERUT is community relations specialist for Tanager Place in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. ETHAN GREV is senior consultant for Allianz Life Financial Services in Minneapolis.

Among the Luther alumni who ran in the Boston Marathon in April were (left to right): HEIDI SKILDUM ’08, ADAM FRYE ’07, ELISE BENNETT ’10, SHARON HEYER ’11, MICHELLE BOURSIER ’12, and ASHLEY MATTHYS ’12. Alumni runners not pictured included SARAH LUNDINE ’11, NATE CANTON ’02, and MARK THOMPSON ’99.


Luther Alumni Magazine

TYLER HENDRICKSON is the Piano Department head at the Talent Education Suzuki School (TESS) in Norwalk, Conn. Recently, he presented “Enabling Community: Creating Pianists with Great Ensemble Skills” at the 16th Biennial Suzuki Conference in Minneapolis. He continues to perform as a soloist and a collaborative pianist. SCOTT JENNINGS is a police officer for the University of Maine in Farmington.

JORDAN JENSEN is a business partner at Dr. Beth Westie in the Minneapolis–St. Paul area. DAN MCADAM of Minneapolis is a biologics sale specialist for Orthofix. MEGAN (CRAVEN) MCCREESH earned a master’s degree in administrative leadership and policy studies from the University of Colorado in Denver. She teaches French and is coordinator of the World Language Department of the Cherry Creek (Colo.) School District. BETSY (GILBERTSON) MEEHAN is assistant to the president at Veridian Credit Union in Waterloo, Iowa. ERIC MOHLIS was named artistic director for the Iowa Youth Chorus, Iowa’s premier youth choral organization, serving more than 200 singers across central Iowa. He recently earned a master’s degree in choral conducting at Western Illinois University and also serves as director of choral activities at Dallas Center– Grimes (Iowa) High School. CALE NELSON was named an associate of the Casualty Actuarial Society. He is senior actuarial analyst at the Travelers Companies in St. Paul, Minn. MIKE OWENS is web development manager for the Fabricators and Manufacturers Association in Rockford, Ill. ANDREW SMEBY is a design intern at HCM Architects in Seattle. KRISTEN (LEARMAN) STENGL is a key spouse for 56th RQS at Royal Air Force, Lakenheath, Suffolk, United Kingdom. KAITLYN VASKE-WRIGHT and J.J. WRIGHT ’04 live in Chicago. Kaitlyn earned a master’s degree in nursing (women’s health nurse practitioner) from the University of Illinois–Chicago. J.J. is the logistics manager at Get Fresh Produce. AMANDA WEBER earned a master’s degree in music from Yale University. She is a doctoral student in conducting at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. CARL WESTPHAL is a special assistant to the undersecretary of the U.S. Department of the Treasury in Washington, D.C.


teaches orchestra for Camelot Intermediate School in Brookings, S.D. His fifth-grade orchestra students produced their own album to raise money for the music program. JOHANNA BERGAN of Decorah is the executive director of Youth MOVE National. ALYSON GANGSTEE is a financial analyst for the Toro Company in Minneapolis. BROOKE HALEY teaches fifth grade at Clearwater Middle School for the Waconia (Minn.) Public School District. EMILY (WALK) HARRIS is a cost accountant for Hormel Foods in Austin, Minn. EMILY IRONSIDE is an attorney for the Central States Health, Welfare, and Pension Funds in Chicago. TED MOORE is a composer, sound designer, and educator for Ted Moore Music in Minneapolis. Moore is also an artistic codirector for Spitting Image Collective. ANDREW PAA earned a master’s degree in violin performance and chamber music. He is a graduate assistant for music events and arts administration at the University of Akron (Ohio). KRISTIN (JOHNSON) SJOBERG is a music therapist for Rehabilitative Rhythms Music Therapy in Aurora, Colo. JAMES STANSFIELD of DeForest, Wis., is a lead character artist for Creative Kingdoms. CAMERON WEBB is an iOS Engineer for Wahoo Fitness in Des Moines, Iowa.

2010 JOHN DELANEY earned a Ph.D. in ecology and evolutionary biology from Iowa State University’s Science and Technology Graduate School in Ames.

BRAD FORESMAN earned a master’s degree in crop sciences from the University of Illinois, UrbanaChampaign. STEPHANIE (SUTTON) FROMM is the director for Winneshiek County Development in Decorah.

Alumni News

Whipple ’09 awarded major scholarship toward gerontological research In July, Mary Whipple ’09 was awarded a $100,000 scholarship by the National Hartford Center of Gerontological Nursing Excellence. It was the only such award that the center bestowed this Mary Whipple ’09 year. As the 2015–17 Patricia G. Archbold Scholar, Whipple, a nursing Ph.D. student at the University of Minnesota School of Nursing, is recognized as a promising leader committed to gerontological nursing with a strong research plan and a dedicated mentoring team at the nursing school. Whipple’s plan is to study barriers to exercise in older adults who have diabetes and peripheral artery disease. “I want to see

MICHAEL KIENTZLE earned the juris doctor degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He is an associate for the litigation practice group at Arnold & Porter in Washington, D.C. ERIK MALMQUIST is the artists services coordinator for Zemsky Green Artists Management in New York, N.Y.

if these barriers are related to falls and fear of falling, with the hope that the next step would be figuring out what we can do about it,” she says. Part of Whipple’s interest in gerontological nursing came from personal experience as a caretaker for her grandmother, who had diabetes and had suffered a fall and adverse complications. Whipple began exploring her interest in chronic conditions in older adults as a clinical research coordinator for five years in Mayo Clinic’s Fibromyalgia and Chronic Fatigue Clinic, her first job after graduating from Luther. At the clinic, she says, “I was involved in writing research protocols, getting the approval for studies, identifying and recruiting participants, going through the consent process with participants, collecting data, data entry, data analysis, and helping write abstracts and papers.” Some of the research at the clinic was conducted in collaboration with her former mentor at Luther, Loren Toussaint, associate professor of psychology. “While I was at Luther,”

MICHELLE SAWYER is a renal social worker for Sanford Health in Sioux Falls, S.D. KATHERINE THOSTENSON teaches ninth- and tenth-grade English for the Clarke Community School District in Osceola, Iowa. BENJAMIN ZAMORA-WEISS earned a master’s degree in library and information sciences from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee.

Whipple says, “I worked with Loren, and seeing his passion for research helped further my interest in continuing to do research.” Toussaint and Whipple were both involved with studies at the clinic and subsequent papers about forgiveness in women with fibromyalgia and variability of symptoms of fibromyalgia over time. Whipple went back to school to earn a bachelor of science in nursing degree while working at Mayo. “I really enjoyed being a research coordinator, but I also wanted to have some patient care opportunities, and nursing seemed like a really nice fit,” she says. At the University of Minnesota School of Nursing on the Rochester campus, she was in the honors program and wrote a thesis looking at the effect of a walking exercise program on the quality of life in older adults. That led to her decision to work toward her Ph.D. She plans to conduct research and teach at a university after completing the degree. —Ellen Modersohn

He is assistant grocery manager for Mississippi Market Natural Foods Co-op in St. Paul, Minn.


DAHLKE is a substitute teacher for the Omaha (Neb.) Public Schools. LAURA (FORST) AND DANIEL DALY live in Hutchinson, Minn. She earned an M.A. in music education from the University of Southern Mississippi and teaches music at Central Elementary School. He earned a doctorate in chiropractic medicine from Logan University and is a chiropractor at Caspers Chiropractic Center. ASHLEY DENISEN is an intervention specialist for the Rochester (Minn.) Public Schools. MITCHELL DIETZ is an operations specialist for Verizon Wireless in Bloomington, Minn. BRITTA DOSLAND earned a medical doctorate from Creighton University School of Medicine. She is completing an anesthesiology residency at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha.

Showing their Luther blue at the Masada Fortress overlooking the Dead Sea are, left to right, JIM LOOFT ’85, MARTHA (ANDERSON) LOOFT ’83, CHAD NELSON ’09, EMILY (LOOFT) NELSON ’10, RONALD ANDERSON ’57, LORNA (HAUGLAND) ANDERSON ’60, ANNA (LOOFT) FETT ’12, and RYAN FETT ’12.

KATIE (ALTHOUSE) DRINKALL earned an M.B.A. degree from

Capella University. She is the transportation coordinator at Cabela’s in Sidney, Neb. SONJA ECKLUND is a health adviser for RedBrick Health. She is also a yoga instructor and stationery designer in Minneapolis. JAMES FEINSTEIN is a special assistant at Overseas Private Investment Corporation in Washington, D.C. TYLER FOSTER earned a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Des Moines University. He is completing an anesthesiology residency at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City. HALEY GIBBONS directed the West Des Moines (Iowa) Valley High School choir in a performance for Mack Wilberg, director of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir. RYAN DEIGNAN ’10 accompanied the choir, which got high marks for preparation and musicianship. NICOLE (WILSON) GOETZL of Denver is a senior inventory operations analyst for DISH Network. REBEKKA (WILLIS) HARKINS is a camp coordinator for the Greenway Foundation in Denver.

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

CODY KIRKPATRICK is a chiropractor for Bollingberg Chiropractic in Austin, Minn. RYAN KLOMPENHOWER is a rural carrier for the U.S. Postal Service in Rochester, Minn. MOLLY (MORRISSEY) KURTZ works in real estate development and property management for Lombardo Investments in Minneapolis. JORDAN LANG is an aftermarket sales support manager for Deere & Company in Miami, Fla. KATHERINE MCDONALD of Denver is a seventh-grade learning team support interventionist for High Point Academy. AUNG YE NAING works in IT Advisory Services (FSO) for Ernst & Young in Minneapolis. DUSTIN NOBLE earned a juris doctor degree from Drake University Law School. He is an attorney with Hopkins and Huebner in Des Moines, Iowa. MICHAEL OLSON is an outside sales consultant at Tredroc Tire Services in Downers Grove, Ill. CHARLIE RASMUSSEN earned a master’s degree in cello performance from the University of North Carolina and completed a Suzuki training certificate at the University of Denver. He is a Suzuki cello teacher for Talent Education Suzuki Schools in Norwalk, Conn.

JUSTIN TIGERMAN earned a master of divinity degree in biblical studies from the Lutheran School of Theology in Chicago. ALEX ULFERS earned a doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from A.T. Still University’s Kirksville College of Osteopathic Medicine. He was promoted to captain in the U.S. Air Force and is completing his residency training at St. John’s Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway, Queens, N.Y.

ALEX ANDERSON ’11, JASON LEVENHAGEN ’95, KAREN (ANTONS) SINDELAR ’85, LAUREN FLADLAND ’11, and CHAD SONKA ’12, left to right, performed in Rodgers and Hammerstein: Classics in Concert, a joint production of Theatre Cedar Rapids and Orchestra Iowa. Levenhagen and Sonka were also featured soloists in the production.


earned a master’s degree in speech-language pathology from the University of Iowa. She is a speech-language pathologist for the University of Minnesota Physicians, Lions Voice Clinic in Minneapolis.

ERIN DAVIS is on the audit staff for Ehrhardt, Keefe, Steiner, and Hottman in Denver.

SYDNEY BEAN is the unit secretary for the ICU at St. Luke’s/Mercy Hospitals in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.

ALYSE EGGEBRECHT is assistant director, alumni annual fund at Carleton College in Northfield, Minn.

AMY BEHRMAN is a baker for Della Dolce Bakery in Clive, Iowa.

ANNA (LOOFT) FETT is an expert tutor at Inspirica in Cambridge, Mass.

DAN BELLRICHARD is regional beef marketing manager at JBS in Decorah.

BRIAN GERIKE teaches at Lincoln School in Guadalajara, Mexico. JONATHAN GRIEDER teaches eighth-grade American history at Eleanor Roosevelt Middle School in Dubuque, Iowa.

ADAM BOGH is development officer for the Des Moines Metro Opera in Des Moines, Iowa. LIZ BOUMA is a composition QA specialist for Pearson Government Solutions in Iowa City, Iowa.

MAX MOLZAHN of Des Moines, Iowa, is an energy assessor for CLEAResult. SEAN PARVI is department manager-petroleum for Coborn’s in Big Lake, Minn.


JENNA POLLOCK is executive director for the Clayton County Conservation Board in Elkader, Iowa.


Luther Alumni Magazine

BAZAN WILLIAMS ’11 live in Bellevue, Wash. She is a CRM analyst for Tommy Bahama. He earned a master’s degree from the University of Minnesota and is a software engineer for Microsoft. ADAM BRADLEY won one of three scholarships from the California Women’s Chorus. He is a graduate student in vocal performance at the University of California–Santa Barbara. (See also TYLER REECE.) CHARLIE BRUER is a strategic pricing analyst at Target in Minneapolis.

JENNIFER (WINDER) and BENJAMIN KOST live in Oskaloosa, Iowa. She teaches Spanish for the Eddyville Blakesburg Fremont CSD. He is the music director for First Presbyterian Church.

BAILEY RAE CAHLANDER is program associate at the Hennepin Theatre Trust in the Minneapolis– St. Paul area.

JACOB PUTNAM ’15 displayed his paintings at the Emerging Artists booth of the Des Moines Art Festival in June. Putnam was a student of Ben Moore ’02, Luther associate professor of art.


ALLISON SCHNIER teaches K–4 general music at Park Lawn Elementary School in the Oconomowoc (Wis.) Area School District. ALEXANDRA WRENN earned a bachelor’s degree in nursing from South Dakota State University. She is a registered nurse for Sanford Health in Fargo, N.D.

MICHAEL CROWE is a multimedia journalist for WBIR in Knoxville, Tenn. DAVID FARES is owner of DSFares Consulting in Dallas. WILLIAM HAUGEN is a development associate for Lakeshore Players Theatre in White Bear Lake, Minn. COOPER JACKS is technical editor for Wapsi Valley Archaeology in Anamosa, Iowa. HEIDI KISTENMACHER is a physician assistant student at the University of Nebraska Medical Center in Omaha. ALYSSA LANDIN is a doctoral student in chemical physics at the University of Colorado–Boulder.

Alumni News

JULIA LATTNER is senior event coordinator for Marriott Hotels in Atlanta.

RACHEL STENHAUG is an audit assistant for Deloitte and Touche LLP in Minneapolis.

JEVITA POER of Eindhoven, The Netherlands, earned a master’s degree in entrepreneurship and innovation from the University of Amsterdam. She is a concept business architect for Philips.

2015 DARREN HILL is a

district sales manager for the Rochester (Minn.) Post-Bulletin newspaper. SHELBY NELSON is chief operating officer at CollectEd in Decorah.

TYLER REECE won one of three scholarships from the California Women’s Chorus. He is a graduate student and teaching assistant at the University of California–Santa Barbara. (See also ADAM BRADLEY) TORI SERRA earned a master’s degree from the University of Illinois. She is branch supervisor for the Rock Island (Ill.) Public Library. CALVIN SIMMONS of Letts, Iowa, is the boys and girls cross country coach for Louisa-Muscatine Community Schools. He also teaches English for the elementary school.


is volunteer facilitator for refugee services for Lutheran Social Service of Minnesota in Minneapolis. JAMES AYER is a sales account representative for Groupon in Chicago.

JAKE TREROTOLA opened as a DJ (Jake Terra) for the Spring Awakening Festival in Chicago.

JONATHAN WILLIAMS ’15, KAI ASHLAND ’14, and BEN HARNEY ’15 will ride bicycles through the northern border of Mexico to Ushuaia, Argentina. The “To the End of the Earth” trip will span approximately 5,000 miles, cover two continents and 15 countries, and last five and a half months. Their goal is to raise $20,000 for the journey, with $8,000 going toward the cost of the expedition and $12,000 going to Habitat for Humanity. TALIA BARBER is processing supervisor for Agilis Co. in Albert Lea, Minn.

SIBUSISO DLAMINI is an accountant for Waverly (Iowa) Utilities.

BRAD BEALE teaches vocal music at Charles City (Iowa) High School.

LUKE DOVRE is a youth crew leader for the Montana Conservation Corps in Kallispell.

TALLIE BERKVAM is a teacher for the Northfield (Minn.) School District.

CHELSEA HALL is office manager and event coordinator at Norway House in Minneapolis. GENE HALVERSON is a sales associate at Trail Fitters in Duluth, Minn.


DAVID NASBY and Linda Fisher, June 14, 2014

1967 DAVID OLSON and Richard Torres, July 11, 2014


and Marilyn Johnson, May 29, 2014

1978 JIM PECH and Ron Hankins, Jan. 15, 2015

1979 RON MEDDOCK and Patrick Stonebraker, June 6, 2015

ASHLEY HEFFERNEN of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, received the Fulbright Foreign Scholarship Award for 2015– 16 and will serve the program as an English teaching assistant in Mexico.

1985 BRAD LEWIS and Luis

MEGAN KRESSE is an account coordinator for News America Marketing in Minneapolis.

Shawn Foxhoven, July 25, 2015

WILLY LEAFBLAD is instrumental music director for grades 5–12 for the Spring Grove (Minn.) Public Schools.

In June 2015, Steve Holland, associate professor of economics; John Moeller, professor of political science; and Jon Lund, executive director of the Center for Global Learning, traveled to Vietnam to set up the college’s first January Term program in Vietnam. The course, Stability and Change in Vietnam, will be offered in January 2016. Twenty-four Luther students will join professors Moeller and Holland on the course. During the June visit to Vietnam, alumni, parent, and student receptions, sponsored by the Luther Alumni Office, were held in both Ho Chi Minh City and Hanoi. A total of 35 individuals participated in the receptions in both cities. Pictured at the reception in Hanoi are (front row, left to right): Steve Holland, HIEU NGUYEN ’14, John Moeller, Thu Nguyen (sister of Linh), Yen Kim (mother of Linh), and (back row, left to right) PHUC PHAN ’13, TAM VO ’13, Jon Lund, and LINH NGUYEN ’15.


BRITA MOORE is an editor for Ashdown in Kasson, Minn. She is also a musician for Gloria Dei Lutheran Church and the Rochester Pops Orchestra. NICK PEARCH is a certified athletic trainer at Winneshiek Medical Center in Decorah. ANDREW PETER is an assistant analyst for Securian Financial Group in St. Paul, Minn.

Leon, Oct. 4, 2013

1988 TODD FJESTAD and ALANA KNUDSON and Roland Gamache, May 25, 2014

1989 TROY KNOX and Stacey Monteith, May 9, 2015

MARY LOWE and Tom Alger, Aug. 23, 2014

1996 JEN DAVIS and Bryan Telfer, Feb. 17, 2014

2000 STEVE HESTON and Stacy Olmstead, April 25, 2015

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News

LUKE KLECKNER and Anna Briggs, Aug. 31, 2014

2009 ANNIE DALY and

2001 AMANDA HAMP and


Matthew Simpson, June 12, 2015

2004 RACHEL FRIEDRICH and Mike Harken, Oct. 10, 2013

MELISSA FROMMELT and Jordan Weber, April 18, 2015

2005 ARIC ASPLUND and Jennifer Peterson, April 11, 2015 HILLARY FOSTER and Doug Ramaker, March 27, 2015 KELLY GIERLUS and Randy Giddens, June 5, 2015 ANDY RUMP and Danielle Holland, Dec. 30, 2013 SARAH STEFFENSMEIER and Alan Lopez, Nov. 1, 2014 KRISTINA STRUVE and Doug Copley, Sept. 21, 2013

2006 BRIE CORFMAN and Nick Taralson, May 15, 2015

AMANDA PAYNE and Glen Bramstedt, June 20, 2014 MAGGIE SCHNEIDER and Justin Hoekstra, Feb. 14, 2015 ERIKA STRANDJORD and Taylor Hayes, June 27, 2015 LAURA TONKIN and Michael Van Vertloo, July 11, 2015

2007 AMY HILLESLAND and Andrew Chatfield, Oct. 23, 2014

HEATHER JOHNSON and David Trachte, July 12, 2014

NATHAN LESCH ’07, July 6, 2013

ELLE KROGH and ANDREW WITHERS, June 28, 2015 EMILY STONEKING and J. Dwight Seiler, June 5, 2015

ANDREW DYRDAL, April 19, 2014

ROBBIE KJELLAND and Nathan Wanderman, Jan. 31, 2015 TYLER POWELL and Kori Feuerstein, Jan. 2, 2015

2011 LAURA FORST and DAN DALY, June 20, 2015

MEGAN KLUGE and Keith Franklin, Sept. 27, 2014



Kimberly and JEFF NETZEBAND, a daughter, Payton Best, Jan. 2015


Liz and KRIS KINSEY, a daughter, Rose Elizabeth, Sept. 2014

ALLISON MOEN and WES GREGG ’10, June 6, 2015

Annie and MARK PETERING, a son, Henry Mark Varkey, Sept. 2014

MOLLY MORRISSEY and Ryan Kurtz, Oct. 17, 2014


ERIK MORTENS and Steffanie Chojnacki, June 21, 2014

KRISTI (LENNING) and Jimmy Dean, a son, Landon, Dec. 2014

MERITT SUCHOMEL and Tim Kallaus, June 6, 2015

KATIE (SCHIEBE) and Michael Johnson, a daughter, Hattie Jean, Jan. 2015

2012 SYDNEY BEAN and Kyle


Fortney, May 23, 2015

STEPHANIE DREWES and JIM PENNING ’13, July 11, 2015 HILARY GARRINGER and ALEX KLYN ’14, June 27, 2015 KAELA STUART and Scott Parrigon, June 6, 2015

2013 KIKI CAVANAGH and Josh Keeney, May 24, 2015


HALLIE (HITE) and NATE EVANS ’96, a son, Asa Gray, June 2015 HELENA (RIMSOVA) and Simon Ramsay, twin daughters, Annabel Hannah and Nella Juliet, April 2015 GRETCHEN (LUND) and JEFF WEISS ’98, a son, John Dietrich Lund, Aug. 2013


JENNA (ZALK) and Peter Zalk Berendzen, a son, Samuel Robert, Nov. 2014


ANNE PERSHALL and Scott Stevenson, June 28, 2014


PAMELA (TROLLOPE) and Derek Mohr, a son, Gavin, Nov. 2014



and Jack Wheeler, June 6, 2015

LAURA SOUBA and GARETT MCKINESS, May 9, 2015 ZACH WALROD and Carly Billings, June 20, 2014


Luther Alumni Magazine

Amy and JEREMY OWEN, a daughter, Audrey May, March 2015, deceased June 2015

RACHEL HAUG and KEITH ROOT ’09, July 18, 2015

JESSICA (PUHRMAN) and Michael Mann, a son, Levi Simon, Jan. 2014

DANA NORRIS and Mark Kruse, May 9, 2015

SARAH MAXWELL LECKBAND and Jesse Leckband, a son, Miles, Jan. 2015

Joshua Rudesill, June 27, 2015

COLBY ENGEL and Jeff Supernaw, June 6, 2015

2015 SAMMY BARRON and Joseph Russell, May 28, 2015

JEN (FOLLSTAD) and Grant Popp, a daughter, Zoe Amelia, Feb. 2014


NIKKI SCHIMKE FLYNN and Ryan Flynn, a daughter, Shannon Elizabeth, Nov. 2014 JULIE (VANO) and Brian Gruber, a son, Theodore, Aug. 2014

JORIE (PIETSCHER) and Jason Shire, a daughter, Ruby Jean, Feb. 2015

2000 Anna and LUKE

KLECKNER, a daughter, Lily, March 2015 ELISSA (MAGEE) and Jake Richmond, a daughter, Magee, Jan. 2015 CRISTIN (GRANT) and Bob Waterbury, a daughter, Anna Ruth, Nov. 2014


MINDY (MOORE) and BRENT EBLING ’99, a son, Kellen Joseph, Sept. 2014 KATIE (ANDERSEN) and ROB GERDTS ’02, a son, Nolan Andersen, May 2014 ALLISON (CHURILLA) and Alex Liuzzi, a daughter, Hazel Winter Grace, Jan. 2015 JESSICA (SIME) and Ben Singer, a daughter, Rachel Anne, Feb. 2014 GWEN (MOWRY) and CHRIS VAN GERPEN ’02, a daughter, Brynn, April 2015 ROBYN (SIEDSCHLAG) and AARON WANGBERG, a daughter, Ruby Johanna, March 2015


VICKI (CALDWELL) and DAN DRASHER ’01, a daughter, Samantha, Sept. 2013 TIFFANY (SELLNER) and JOE ECKBERG ’01, a son, Bertram Clark, May 2015

Alumni News

MANDY (BOCK) and Dietrich Flesch, a son, Charles Rapp, Dec. 2014

ANNE (PETERSON) and Jeff Murphy, a son, Asher, March 2015

MISSY (KNOTT) and Shane Huff, a daughter, Harper Sue, Feb. 2015

JEN (MASON) and Derek Swoboda, a son, Mason Terry, born Jan. 2015, adopted March 2015

JULIE LUTZ and Michael Dobrynio, a son, Roman Robert, June 2015 MOLLY (KROL) and STEIG SANDGREN, a daughter, Bente Charlotte, March 2014


CASSANDRA (KLUTZ) and Thomas Abeln, a daughter, Katherine, Dec. 2014 HANNAH CARLSON and GEOFFREY OWUSU-APPIANTI, a son, Micah, Oct. 2014

ANNA (HAUG) and Javier Pena, a daughter, Elenor, Feb. 2015 LISA (SMESTAD) and BEN SACQUITNE, a son, Odin Benjamin Haakon, Jan. 2014 AMANDA (LUDWIG) and Thomas Severson, a daughter, Alexandria, May 2015

ANNA (NORBY) and STYLO OKRAH, a son, Isaac Kwaku Obeng, Nov. 2014 KATIE (SAUTER) and KRIS WILLIAMS, a daughter, Isla, Dec. 2014 Lauren and ZACH ZUBOW, a son, Beckett Joseph, March 2015

CARRIE (KUNDE) and MARK THOMPSON, a daughter, Malin Kunde, March 2015 KATHY (PATTEN) and Ben Warren, a son, Arlo Robert, Aug. 2013 RACHAEL (CAHILL) and BRAD WHITE ’06, a son, Braden, Jan. 2015 JACQUE (TALLEY) and BRYON WOLF, a daughter, Blakesly Charlotte, Dec. 2014

Katy and KARL SCHWEITZ, a daughter, Rosalie Kathryn, Dec. 2014 ANGIE (WHITE) and Hans Swolfs, a son, Henri Charles, March 2015

MEGGIE (SATHER) and MATT YOUNG, a son, Oliver Armand, March 2014 SARAH (ROUSE) and BRIAN CLARK, a son, Lars David, May 2015


KIM (HUFF) and ELIOTT KRANZ, a daughter, Adeline Constance, May 2014

LAURA (AMUNDSON) and ALEX SMITH, a son, Brandt Alexander, June 2015 CHERILYN (HYNDMAN) and DAVID WICKS ’04, a son, Wyatt, May 2015


ANNA (HANSEN) and Adrian Bonaro, a son, Asher Hansen, Feb. 2015 KELLY (JONES) and Brian Larson, a son, Matthew Thomas, March 2015

ERIN (BROWN) and DAVID LENNINGER, a son, Ayden Walter, Jan. 2015 (Shown above with sister Katherine and brother Collin.)


AMANDA (PAYNE) and Glen Bramstedt, a son, Monte, May 2015

SARAH (OLSON) and Robbie Cutcliffe, a son, Olson Theodore, Oct. 2014 JENN (SHIMAK) and Rick DeLaRosa, a daughter, Charlotte Ruby, born May 2013.

LYNNEA (PFOHL) and Joseph Cynor, a daughter, Jozsa Tess, July 2014

SARAH (GIBSON) and MICHAEL ELLIOTT ’02, a son, Jackson Joseph, June 2015

JOCELYN (HUNERDOSSE) and BRIAN DEEGAN ’05, a daughter, Decorah Bay, June 2014

ERIN (RADKE) and MIKE FLAHERTY, a son, William Richard, March 2015

SARAH (SCHULTZ) and Brian Doyle, a son, Fitzpatrick John, Dec. 2014

Kristyne and GARRET GREV, a son, Christian Devereaux, Dec. 2014

EMILY (POWERS) and Chase Feldmann, a daughter, Margot, April 2015

STEPH (SCHMIDT) and DAN JOHNSON ’03, a son, Anders Stephen, March 2014

MEGAN (ANDERSON) and JOE BEATTY, a son, Ryan Jeffrey, April 2015 PAIGE (BRANT) and PATRICK BURZLAFF ’08, a daughter, Nora Margaret, Nov. 2014

SARAH (TWEDT) and JONATHAN CARLSON ’07, a son, Keaton Jonathan, May 2015

Meghan Ferol and JUSTIN SANDS, a daughter, Finlee Ferol, Aug. 2014


MARISSA (BRENGMAN) and Joe Hansen, a son, Leo Edward, Oct. 2014

KATIE (MCCORMICK) and JOHN MCCORMICK-DEATON, a daughter, Hailey Miyako, June 2014

HOLLY (WONDER) and Ted Hoene, a daughter, Madelyn, Aug. 2013

JENNY (ANDERSON) and Ryan Melchior, a daughter, Maggie, April 2014

LACEY (CURTIS) and ERIK IVERSON ’08, a daughter, Thora Mae, March 2015

LAURA (MCNAMARA) and Andrew Filiposki, a son, Thomas, Dec. 2013 ERIN (O’DELL) and David Gochenouer, a daughter, Claire Anne, June 2014 JADA (BAHLS) and Nikita Kargalskiy, a daughter, Veronika Faye, May 2015 MERIDETH (SMITH) and Chris Koehn, a son, Rory, March 2015 CARLY (ELMGREN) and Daniel Kragthorpe, a daughter, Mabel Rose, Oct. 2014 NELLI (SALWOLKE) and J.D. Logan, a daughter, Helen Frances, May 2014 ASHLEY (THOMPSON) and Jason Morehouse, a daughter, Sofia Mae, March 2014 REBECCA (WESTPHAL) and CHRIS SORENSON, a daughter, Nell Celeste, Jan. 2015 ERICA (SVIEN) and MIKE SWENSON ’06, a son, Lars Edward, April 2015 LINDSAY (LANDSNESS) and Steve Tremlett, a son, Owen, March 2015

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine


Alumni News





ROCHELLE (FECHT) and Matthew Edge, a son, Liam Elliott, April 2015

JACK LAYTON of Tucson, Ariz., died July 3, 2015, age 97.

VICTOR BERNELL “DOC” ROSSING JR., of Oshkosh, Wis., died Jan. 27, 2015, age 90.

RICHARD “DICK” CADWELL HEFTE of St. Paul, Minn., died May 31, 2015, age 84.

LAURA (ANDERSON) and GREG COCHRANE, a son, Liam James, Feb. 2015

JAMIE (HUIBREGTSE) and CRAIG KEISLER, a son, Nolan Huibregtse, Jan. 2015

1940 JANICE (ROSHEIM) ELLICKSON of Plymouth, Minn., died June 28, 2014, age 93.


KATE (WESTBY) and ABE CAMPOS ’10, a son, Jacob Leander, June 2014 CATHERINE (DOCKEN) and Jake Dyer, a daughter, Sanna Louise, June 2015

1944 J. NORMAN ELLISON JR., of Minot, N.D., died April 9, 2015, age 92.

2010 RACHEL (BARKEL) and ANDREW DYRDAL, a daughter, Rosalie Holland, March 2015

STEPHANIE (SUTTON) and Zach Fromm, a son, Wally, Jan. 2015 LAURA (BRINEY) and Jeremy Wight, a son, Ethan Jay, July 2014

2011 Kathy and CODY

KIRKPATRICK, a daughter, Julia Jo, Feb. 2015

MADISON MCMULLEN and CURT WORZALLA ’09, a son, Ethan Jeffrey, May 2015


HALEY (CLARK) and CALVIN SIMMONS, a son, Finnick Oliver, Sept. 2014


SUZANNAH (OGDEN) and ROBERT PATINO, a daughter, Aria, April 2015


Read full obituaries online at

1945 MILDRED (NOKLEBY) LAEGER of Gardnerville, Nev., died Nov. 21, 2014, age 90.


Luther Alumni Magazine

1950 GENE BEAVER of Costa Mesa, Calif., died Aug. 8, 2014, age 86. NELS FORDE of Golden Valley, Minn., died May 12, 2015, age 89.

MARK LEUM of Rockford, Ill., died July 17, 2015, age 88.

HARLAND SWIGGUM of Madison, Wis., died May 17, 2015, age 92.

1954 ROBERT MILTON BENDER of Spearfish, S.D., died June 21, 2015, age 87. BARBARA (WALHUS) STREET of Rockford, Ill., died May 29, 2015, age 80.

1947 IRVING “IRV” BURTON ROSHEIM of Ames, Iowa, died June 30, 2015, age 93.

1948 JOHN BRUCE HARSTAD of Columbia, Md., died April 3, 2015, age 88. KERMIT HENDRICKSON of Decorah died May 28, 2015, age 91.

1955 1951 WILLIAM H. KLAUSEN of Minneapolis died June 19, 2015, age 89.

LUTHER D. MONSON of Edina, Minn., died June 25, 2015, age 87.

KENNETH TRINRUD of King, Wis., formerly of Amherst, Wis., died Jan. 17, 2015, age 87.


1935 CHARLOTTE E. (DRAGVOLD) LARSON of Mabel, Minn., died June 24, 2014, age 98.

LAURAYNE RENORA (HELGERSON) SOLBERG of Stoughton, Wis., died Oct. 20, 2014, age 91.

ARLEIGH ELLSWORTH LUND of Glenwood, Minn., died June 7, 2015, age 92.

ALBERT V. “VINCE” SCHRODER of St. Paul, Minn., died March 16, 2015, age 87.

RONALD E. EVENSTAD, 82, of Westby, Wis., died July 26, 2015, age 82.

1958 DUANE HENRY ENGELHARDT of Springfield, N.J., died March 30, 2015, age 78. GLORIA M. (RUSTAD) RUEN of Lanesboro, Minn., died Feb. 26, 2015, age 76.

1961 LYNN ARTHUR STEEN of Northfield, Minn., died June 21, 2015, age 74.

Alumni News

CHANDLER HOWARD VOORHEES of Park Ridge, Ill., died July 28, 2015, age 76.


1967 ORDELL SORUM of Decorah died June 4, 2015, age 69.

1968 CLIFFORD “KIP” JOHNSON of Decorah died July 21, 2015, age 70.

1969 SHIRLEY (HAAG) LEWIS of Shell Lake, Wis., died March 22, 2015, age 68.

ROBERT GRANRUD of Golden Valley, Minn., died July 9, 2015, age 91.

1975 DAVID A. KLAUSEN, of Sebring, Fla., died June 17, 2015, age 61.


DIANE L. (HANNA) CHRISTNAGEL of Hastings, Minn., died Monday, June 15, 2015, age 70.

Regent Emeritus

NANDA NAIDU of Bangalore, India, died May 25, 2015, age 20.

LEE A. HENDERSON of Minneapolis died April 30, 2015, age 59.

KENNETH THEODORE “TED” KJOSA JR. of St. Charles, Minn., died March 20, 2015, age 78.



RHYS ERIC ROSHOLT of New York City died June 17, 2013, age 63.


GERD FLOLO of Brooklyn, N.Y., died May 22, 2015, age 75.

MARGARET (GULSVIG) LUNDE of Rockville, Md., died April 29, 2015, age 72.


DENISE (PIERCE) MCCALL of Chicago died Jan. 30, 2015, age 61.

1981 JAMES ALAN OPHEIM of Dorchester, Iowa, died May 19, 2015, age 80.

1982 KIMBERLY “KIM” D. (LOMMEN) HAINES of Maple Grove, Minn., died Aug. 5, 2015, age 55.

1983 ERIC F. BREKKE of La Crosse, Wis., died June 30, 2015, age 54.

1994 SHERYL KAY HAUG of Urbana, Iowa, died June 28, 2015, age 42.

Professor emeritus of sociology Cliff English dies Cliff English died June 21, 2015, at Hock Family Pavilion Hospice, Durham, N.C., of cancer. He was born in Silver Creek, N.Y., July 25, 1937, to John W. and Ruth (Joshua) English, but claimed Detroit as his hometown. Graduating from Inkster High School in 1955, he tried college and a few occupations before becoming an insurance claims adjuster. He married Martha Mendenhall in 1959, and they had four children, opening their home to foster children as well. While taking night classes, sociology became his passion. English earned a B.A. and M.A. in sociology from Eastern Michigan University, teaching classes at the university and at a prison at the same time. He was awarded a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in 1970. In 1971 he began his Luther career. He and Martha divorced, and the children spent summers with Cliff. He instilled in them a love of camping, storytelling, and education. At Luther, he married Rose Jensen, later divorcing. He held the National Institute of Mental Health Fellowship, taking him to Duke University in Durham, N.C., from 1979 to 1981. English also was a clinical sociologist in the Cedar Rapids Family Practice (1987–88). In Decorah he was an original member of the Oneota Co-op and founded Trouble Line, a crisis center for troubled youth. In 1994 he married Sue (Brown) Livingston ’82, who survives him along with his children Lesley Cameron (friend Joe Wright), Decorah; Tristan (Deborah) English, Casper, Wyo.; Jane English (Jeremiah Minion), Durham, N.C.; children by marriage Brittany O’Malley (Adam Hook), Durham, N.C.; Glenn Livingston (Heather Mather Livingston), Edgewood; Leah McCrea (Jeff), Decorah; and Jim Livingston (Deb), Norfolk, Neb.; 12 grandchildren; and nine great-grandchildren. Preceding him in death were his parents; in-laws Sadie and Leland Brown; and daughter Tanya English. A family mass at Grace Episcopal Church preceded a memorial service Aug. 2 at Peace Dining Room at Luther. Memorials may be directed to the Luther Sociology Department, National Alliance on Mental Illness, Hock Family Pavilion Hospice, or Friends of Pool No. 9 (Lansing, Iowa).

Fall 2015 Luther Alumni Magazine




Classic Beauty, collage, by Lauren Anderson

Collage of ideas Found objects and paint combine to become artwork in the hands of Lauren Anderson, Luther assistant professor in Africana studies and history. She has been creating collage paintings over the past five years to give creative outlet to the images that fill her mind. In a recent interview with she says: “I take what time I can to play with paint and glue. I am always picking things up from the ground or saving bits back from the trash that I think might make interesting shapes for collages. Art is a way for me to enter a mind space totally occupied by the moment of creation.” Anderson’s collage painting, Classic Beauty, above, was based on the Vermeer painting Girl with a Pearl Earring. “I very specifically named the image Classic Beauty,” she says, “because so many people I know and have read about leave black women out of the idea of classic beauty.” Read more of Anderson’s interview at See more of her work at


Luther Alumni Magazine

Calendar Reunion Launch Summit

Des Moines Area Lunch Connection

Saturday, September 19 Luther College

Friday, February 12, 2016 Windsor Heights (Iowa) Community Center Windsor Heights, Iowa

Family Weekend Friday, September 25— Sunday, September 27 Luther College

Board of Regents Meetings KIRK JOHNSON ’82

West Central Minnesota Gathering Thursday, October 1 Johnny O’Neil’s Restaurant Spicer, Minnesota

Twin Cities Lunch Connection Friday, October 2 Center for Changing Lives Minneapolis

Alumni Council Meeting Friday, October 16 Luther College

Homecoming Friday, October 16— Sunday, October 18 Luther College

Board of Regents Meetings Friday, October 23 —Saturday, October 24 Luther College

Aurora Choir Performance and Reception Sunday, October 25 Luther Seminary St.Paul, Minnesota

IAICU Alumni Relations Conference Thursday, November 12— Friday, November 13 Luther College

Luther alumni, parents, and friends gathered for Chicago White Sox baseball in June. First up was a barbecue picnic at Reggie’s Trainwreck Rooftop Deck. Then the group took a free ride on the Reggie’s bus to the afternoon Chicago White Sox vs. Texas Rangers baseball game at U.S. Cellular Field.

Des Moines Area Lunch Connection Friday, November 20, 2015 Windsor Heights (Iowa) Community Center Windsor Heights, Iowa

Christmas at Luther Thursday, December 3— Sunday, December 6 Luther College

In the Footsteps of Egeria: A Holy Land Pilgrimage to Places, Peoples, and Peace Monday, January 4— Wednesday, January 20, 2016 Sponsored by Luther and Wartburg Theological Seminary Hosted by the Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer

Nordic Choir Performance and Reception Friday, January 15, 2016 St. Mark’s Episcopal Church Seattle, Washington

Mid-Winter Community Day Saturday, January 16, 2016 Luther College

San Francisco Area Gathering with President Paula Carlson Sunday, January 17, 2016 Menlo Circus Club Atherton, California

Vietnam and Cambodia: A Cultural Adventure Tour Friday, January 22— Monday, February 8, 2016 Hosted by Ann Highum, vice president and dean for student life emerita, and Jerry Freund

Blessed to Be a Blessing Retreat Monday, January 25— Tuesday, January 26, 2016 Spirit in the Desert Carefree, Arizona

Symphony Orchestra Performance and Reception Friday, January 29, 2016 Faith Lutheran Church Clive, Iowa

Twin Cities Lunch Connection Friday, February 5, 2016 Center for Changing Lives Minneapolis

Friday, February 19– Saturday, February 20, 2016 Luther College

Twin Cities Lunch Connection Friday, March 4, 2016 Center for Changing Lives Minneapolis

Evening Prayer Service Friday, March 18, 2016 Tuscany Falls Golf Club at Pebble Creek Goodyear, Arizona

Kent Finanger ’54 Golf Classic Saturday, March 19, 2016 Tuscany Falls Golf Club at Pebble Creek Goodyear, Arizona

Phoenix Area Reception and Dinner with President Paula Carlson Sunday, March 20, 2016 Location TBD

Tucson Area Reception and Dinner with President Paula Carlson Monday, March 21, 2016 Location TBD

Twin Cities Lunch Connection Friday, April 1, 2016 Center for Changing Lives Minneapolis

Alumni Council Meeting Saturday, April 9, 2016 Luther College

Luther alumni events are open to all alumni and friends of the college, including parents and other family members of graduates and students. Please note that some dates listed are tentative; specific information about upcoming events will be mailed or emailed to alumni, friends, and parents who live near the event sites. If you need more information or if you’re interested in planning an event in your area, call the Alumni Office at (800) 225-8664. We’d love to hear from you!

Nonprofit Org. U.S. Postage PAID Cedar Rapids, IA Permit No. 214


Luther College, 700 College Drive, Decorah, Iowa 52101-1045

Understanding the value of a Luther education. At Luther students get the academic challenge, resources, and support needed to map their own future, and to develop the discipline of work and the habit of critical thinking. Read more about the value of a Luther education on pages 29 and 30. Above, faculty advisers work one-on-one with incoming students during a Registration, Orientation, and Advising Day in June.  

Luther Alumni Magazine, fall 2015

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