Luther College awards endowed professorships and endowed chairs to honor Luther faculty whose teaching careers and accomplishments have:
The Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship honors the late Nena Amundson, a 1956 graduate of Luther College who taught physical education and coached women’s athletics for more than 40 years, primarily at California Lutheran University. A pioneer in collegiate women’s sports programs, Amundson provided an estate gift to fund the endowment for the Luther wellness program. The Amundson Professorship Award provides funding for a selected research project, with particular focus on health and wellness issues for women.
The Nena Amundson Distinguished Professor for 2016-18 is Anita Carrasco. Professor Carrasco succeeds prior Amundson professors Betty Hoff, Nancy Barry, Lea Pickard, Wanda Deifelt, Karla Suomala, Angela Kueny, and Maryna Bazylevych. Anita came to Luther as Assistant Professor of Anthropology in 2011 from the University of Arizona, where she earned both the master’s and doctoral degrees. Her research has included conducting ethnographic fieldwork in northern Chile, exploring the impact of the mining economy on indigenous communities. Anita’s Amundson project is titled, “Healers, Sorcerers and Misfortune: Indigenous Women’s Strategies for the Protection of their Health and Wellness in Northern Chile.”
The Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair was established by Suzanne Birkestrand and Dennis Birkestrand ’64, former business owners who believe in and support the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our nation’s free-market economy, in recognition of the profound impact Luther College has had on their lives. The Birkestrand Chair shall be a strong teaching scholar dedicated to empowering undergraduates to achieve, who recognizes the importance of free-market friendly perspectives on economic theory, private enterprise, and good business practices.
The inaugural Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair, for 2016-19, is Timothy Schweizer, Professor of Management. Tim, a Luther grad, joined the faculty in 1987. He earned his M.B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. He is an instructor for Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking and Six Thinking Hats. His recent research and publication have focused on teaching idea mapping, creativity, and problem-solving using data and logic.
The Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics is named in honor of Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl, business entrepreneurs who supported the college with financial gifts, including an endowment gift to establish the Dahl Chair. The award recognizes excellence in teaching economics and the relationship of international political, social and economic issues to world markets. The Dahl Professor will encourage students to develop sound analytical and critical thinking skills, become active participants in community and civic activities, and understand the importance of incorporating personal responsibility into their work and their lives.
The Dahl Chair for 2016-21 is Professor Ramona Nelson. She succeeds previous Dahl Chairs Ed Kaschins, Mark Lund, and Steve Holland. Mona holds the M.B.T. degree from the University of Minnesota and is a licensed C.P.A. She joined the Luther Economics and Business faculty in 1990 after working for the Henkel Corporation in Minneapolis. Mona’s scholarship has centered around teaching, specifically the incorporation of teaching of writing and ethics into the accounting curriculum. She has a long history of leadership in the Luther and Decorah communities as well as the academic accounting world outside of Luther.
The Center for Ethics and Public Engagement exists to enhance the liberal education Luther promises its students. By encouraging deep reflection about ethical matters and responsible citizenship, the center should help students learn something of what it means to live a good life. Specifically, the center promotes research, writing, and an ongoing conversation about the public choices confronting society and the role ethics ought to play in making those choices. The director of the center, appointed from the Luther faculty, guides both on-campus and external initiatives in keeping with its purpose.
The Director of the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement for 2016-20 is Victoria Christman, Associate Professor of History. Victoria earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Arizona before joining the Luther faculty in 2005. In addition to teaching in History and in Paideia, Victoria has served as Director of International Studies and has co-led the semester program in Münster, Germany. Victoria is a scholar of the Reformation, including studies of publication or religious materials and persecution of Lutherans.
The Kermit O. and Jane E. Hanson Professorship in History is named in honor of Kermit O Hanson ’38 and Jane E. Hanson ’39, whose support for the college included an endowment gift to establish the Hanson Professorship. The award recognizes the value of educational opportunities and the quality of the academic program provided by Luther College and in recognition of dedicated faculty in the area of history who influenced the Hansons’ lives and careers.
The Hanson Professor in History for 2016-19 is Richard Mtisi, Associate Professor of Africana Studies and History. Richard came to Luther in 2005 and is the second to be named to the Hanson Professorship, following Robert Christman. Richard earned his master’s degree at the University of Zimbabwe and the Ph.D. from the University of Iowa. He is currently working on a book manuscript on Wildlife, War, and Rural People in the Borderzone of Southern Mozambique and Southeastern Zimbabwe, 1920-2002. Richard’s teaching centers on African history, and his scholarship focuses on the tension between game conservation and traditional rural life of African peoples.
The Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities, named in honor of former Luther College Professor of English Dennis M. Jones (1932-90), is awarded to a member of the Luther faculty who honors the values and traditions of the humanities, enriches the intellectual life of students, and provides academic leadership in the humanities. The Jones Professor devotes part of his/her professional time to a project that will enhance humanities education.
The Jones Professor for 2016-18 is Professor Nancy Barry, whose predecessors with this honor include John Moeller, Mary Hull Mohr, Ruth Caldwell, Bradley Hanson, Robert Larson, Carol Gilbertson, Diane Scholl, Lori Stanley, David Faldet, Storm Bailey, Mark Muggli, and Lise Kildegaard. Nancy earned both her master’s and doctoral degrees from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She came to the Luther English Department in 1990 and in addition to teaching, has served as Assistant to the Dean for Advising and Academic Support. Nancy’s leadership on campus includes membership on countless committees and task forces, director of the writing festival, worship leader, and chapel speaker.
This chair is named in honor of Weston Noble ’43, Professor Emeritus of Music, whose professional service of teaching, directing and conducting at Luther influenced the lives of thousands of students for over fifty years and whose dedication and service to the college also witnessed to the Gospel. Established by Ervin and Phyllis Johnson, the award recognizes the value of Christian higher education and the quality of the academic and music programs provided by Luther College. The Noble Chair will both enrich the education of students at Luther College and bring national attention to the college and its programs. The Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music for 2017-2020 is Juan Tony Guzmán.
Guzmán holds a Ph.D. in music education, a certificate in pedagogy of music theory, and a master's degree in music education from Florida State University. He has a Bachelor of Arts in music from Luther College and a degree in electromechanical engineering from the Universidad Católica Madre y Maestra in Santiago, Dominican Republic. Tony serves as director of the Jazz Orchestra and the jazz program at Luther. A sought-after conductor of all-state and honor choirs, concert bands, jazz bands and symphony orchestras across the United States, Guzmán has served as a clinician and presenter for the Dominican Republic National System of Youth Orchestras, the World Choral Symposium, the Music Educators National Conference, Associação de Regentes de Corais do Brasil, The Association of British Choral Directors and the Scottish Association for Music Education.
The first endowed faculty chair established at Luther, the Qualley Chair honors Orlando W. (Pip) Qualley (1897-1988), who served six decades as a Luther faculty member and administrator. Qualley held positions of vice president, dean, professor of classical languages, registrar, basketball coach and football coach. Known for his firmness, directness and drive, he encouraged high academic standards and recruited a faculty devoted to education. The Qualley Chair for 2017-2020 is Professor Dan Davis. Davis succeeds previous Qualley Chairs A. Thomas Kraabel and Philip Freeman.
Dan Davis, Associate Professor of Classics, earned the M.A. in Anthropology (Nautical Archaeology) at Texas A&M University and the Ph.D. in Classics at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the Luther faculty in 2011 and teaches all levels of courses in Classics and Greek and Latin language. He has also taught in our Paideia program. Perhaps one of Dan's most notable accomplishments since coming to Luther has been his development, together with faculty from Vanderbilt University and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, of a summer archaeological field school in Greece, giving students the opportunity to work at one of the most important sites of the ancient world. Dan Davis is recognized worldwide as one of the leading researchers and most prolific publishers in his field, and known on campus for the integration of his work into the classroom by involving students with his research and scholarship.
The Marilyn Roverud Endowed Fellowship in Lutheran Studies was established in celebration of our namesake, Martin Luther, and in honor of the inspired leadership of Marilyn (Haugen) Roverud ’66, alumna, regent, synod volunteer, mother, patron of the arts, friend, and more, by the Roverud Family. As a liberal arts institution and college of the church, Luther embraces a way of learning described by Dr. Darrell Jodock as the “third way” – committed to academic freedom to seek the truth, respectful of other faith traditions, and disciplined to seek whatever will truly serve the needs of the neighbor and make the world more trustworthy. It is the Roverud Family’s intent that this fellowship serve as a catalyst for lively and informed discussion about what it means to be a college of the church. The Roverud Endowed Fellowship in Lutheran Studies for 2017-18 is awarded to Wanda Deifelt, Professor of Religion.
Wanda Deifelt joined the Luther religion faculty in 2004 after earning the M.T.S. and Ph.D. degrees from Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Northwestern University. Her project is titled, “Luther’s Theology in the Public Square.” Wanda will apply her research directly in the Luther and Lutheranism class she teaches, in addition to presentations at national and international venues, particularly in connection with the 500th anniversary of the Reformation. An accomplished teacher and scholar, Wanda was named the Nena Amundson Distinguished Scholar for 2008-2010 for her interdisciplinary project, “Embodying the Student Body.”
The Russell R. Rulon Endowed Chair in Biology honors Russell R. Rulon, Professor of Biology at Luther College from 1963 to 2000, whose teaching and mentoring skills helped numerous students advance to careers in medicine and established Luther's biology/pre-med program as one of the best among liberal arts colleges. It is awarded to a Luther professor who has demonstrated excellence in teaching biology and dedication to serving as an advisor and mentor to students. The Rulon Endowment was created by the support of colleagues, friends, and alumni who were beneficiaries of Rulon’s teaching and mentoring skills. The Rulon Chair will devote part of his/her time to a project that will enhance the training of students in science.
The Rulon Chair for 2016-19 is Associate Professor Eric Baack. His Rulon Chair successors are James Eckblad, Kevin Kraus, Marian Kaehler, and Kirk Larsen. Eric earned the M.A. from Lewis & Clark College and the Ph.D. from the University of California-Davis. After doing post-doctoral research at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, he joined the Biology faculty at Luther in 2007. Eric’s work is on plant ecology and evolution, in particular the origin of new plant species, the consequences of hybridization, and genome size evolution. Much of his research is conducted on sunflowers, including studies of domestication, gene flow from crops to wild relatives, and species barriers.