Class of 1959 Spring Letter

Spring 2012

Dear Classmates,

Luther’s sesquicentennial year has passed, but good memories live on and the focus has returned to the future.

There is big news as we write our spring letter.  President Torgerson has announced he will end his tenure in the summer of 2013, after having served 14 years.  This will start a search process for a new president, which always brings much excitement to the campus, Decorah, and alumni. Rick plans to complete the current five-year strategic plan and the Sesquicentennial Fund before his term ends.  Walt and Dave believe Rick has delivered impressive results during his tenure as president and will leave Luther a stronger institution as a result of his service to the college.  More on this in the next issue of LUTHER.

Each February the Board of Regents meets for a workshop and invites former regents to join them.  Walt has prepared a summary of material shared at the meeting, and we include it for your perusal.  We hope you enjoy this brief peek into life at Luther and are very impressed with the situation at Luther, as it goes into the next 50 years on a high!

·       The sesquicentennial calendar year saw great celebrations and meaningful events.  They almost all paid for themselves.

·       The wind turbine to the west across the valley is now turning.  It will offset one-third of Luther’s electrical consumption.  Plans are in the works to provide a solar energy source for Baker Village, a set of residential townhouses for students. 

·       Luther’s sustainability goal is to be a national model eventually supported by a 50 percent reduction in carbon footprint and overall carbon neutrality. After 8 years, the footprint is 23 percent less; the wind turbine will reduce an additional 17 percent, for a 40 percent total. Goal is in reach!

·       The yearend endowment balance is $115 million.

·       Luther’s $50 million Sesquicentennial Fund campaign has passed the $45 million mark with less than a year to go.  LaCrosse/EauClaire area will be a target area this spring.

·       Christmas at Luther was oversubscribed and the performances were excellent. Public radio and TV broadcasts were well received. A visit to Decorah and Luther is a great kick-off for the Christmas season. (Dave welcomes all!)

·       Three alumni tours are planned for the summer: England & Ireland, Spain & Portugal, and Holden Village.

·       Overall, alumni giving is at 20 percent participation, as of Feb. 2012.

·       45 groups will use the campus during the summer. Lutherlag will be held for the 25th year—recommended by Walt as a great family time.

·       Admissions activity is holding up well. Luther is a leader among ELCA colleges in international students.

·       87 percent of the students used health services, more than most other campuses.

·       Last year’s full-time student equivalent was 2,296, but many more “bodies” are served with partial enrollment.

·       Iowans along I-35 will know that an emphasis has been ongoing there to market Luther as a brand to be recognized with quality.

·       Social media is a major consideration in all aspects of the campus, including student recruiting.

·       In January Term 345 students went off-campus: 18 abroad and 4 domestic trips with 24 faculty; 122 students had J-term internships for credit.  First-year students were on campus for a special seminar.

·       Mental health counseling is a big deal, affecting almost 14 percent of the students at some time in the year, over 15 percent of those are “emergencies” (meaning risk of suicide). 

·       Next summer Dieseth Hall will be renovated top to bottom.  This means all halls are up to par by the fall. Dorms are called residence halls these days, and there are four (+ Baker Village) that have been added since ’59.

·       The current comprehensive fee is $40,585.  The aggregate financial aid floats between 40 percent and 45 percent.  And 40 percent of $40,585 is $16,234.

·       Luther never closes. Over Christmas break, 150 students were in campus housing—athletes and international.

·       Winter’s mildness has contributed savings in many ways, less use and lower costs. Luther purchases natural gas via forward pricing with current price at 54 percent of 2008-9. A 10-cent change in natural gas price is $10,000.  It is a big item.

·       The total revenue budget for this year is almost $105 million.  After financial aid, the operating allowance is $68 million. (When Walt joined the Regents in ’86, he thinks the total was around $16 million.)

·       Last year Luther teams won the all-sport Iowa trophy.

·       The last two academic deans at Luther are now college presidents at St.Olaf and Concordia (Moorhead).

Liberal arts college presidential positions are tough jobs, but we expect the mail will be busy with indications of interest given the outstanding position of Luther today.  Congratulations to Rick and his entire team, both faculty and staff!

Dave writes: Over the past thirty years our classmate regents have contributed a great deal to the good things that happen at Luther.  No class has had as many regent members over the years as we fifty-niners.  Thanks to all of you—Ron, Ray, Shirley, Neal, Fran, Walt, and the late Gary Peterson. 

Class Giving—our class givers list for the 2011 calendar year is included with our letter.  Gifts to any Luther fund are included. Thank you so much for your generous and continued support for Luther’s students and mission.  If you have any questions, please let us know.

Memory Brain Teasers

  1. When Ron Calgaard presented our plea to be excused from finals our senior year, who gave the faculty response?
  2. Who managed the bookstore during our years at Luther?
  3. Who directed the admissions program and recruited us to Luther?

A brief obituary is included for our classmates Stan Wierson and Arthur Hoium.

Please keep us informed about interesting events happening in your life.  Wishing you happy gardening and a great summer.

David J. Roslien
1959 Class Agent
[email protected]

Walt Rugland
1959 Class Agent
[email protected]                                         

PS.  It's not too late to purchase a copy of Transformed by the Journey: 150 Years of Luther College in Word and Image. Richly illustrated with more than 350 photographs, Transformed by the Journey was compiled and written by Wilfred Bunge '53, professor emeritus of religion and classics, with assistance from Mary Hull Mohr, professor emerita of English, and Dale Nimrod, professor emeritus of chemistry.  Contact the Luther Book Shop at, or call 1-888-521-5039 or email [email protected] to place your order.

Arthur Hoium of Fargo, N.D., died Dec. 15, 2011, at age 81. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy after high school, serving from 1951-55, and on two different ships during the Korean War. After graduating from Luther, Arthur earned a bachelor of divinity degree from Luther Theological Seminary in St. Paul, Minn., and later earned a master's and doctor of divinity degrees. He was ordained into the Lutheran ministry of the American Lutheran Church in 1963.  Arthur served parishes in Osnabrock, Tower City, Buffalo, and Bottineau, N.D.; Revillo and Freeman, S.D.; and Marietta and Delavan, Minn. He retired in 1999 and moved, with his wife, Esther (Schoenecker) Hoium ’55, to Fargo, where they were members of First Lutheran Church. In retirement Arthur served as an interim pastor for parishes in Fargo, Walle, Grand Forks, Harwood, Lidgerwood, and Hankinson, N.D. He is survived by his wife, Esther; children, Joanna Schwindt, Paul Hoium, and David Hoium; nine grandchildren; and siblings, Donald Hoium, Sterling Hoium, and Ann Marie Hoium.  

Stanley Wierson of Marion, Iowa, died June 3, 2011, at age 74. After graduation from Luther, he attended the University of Wisconsin-Madison to further his studies in public school education and attended the annual summer pastors school at Emory University's Candler School of Theology in Atlanta. Stanley taught instrumental and vocal music school at Desoto (Wis.) Union High School for 15 years, touching the lives of many students, and served for four years on the regional board of the Western Wisconsin Educational Association. He was also an organist and choirmaster at First United Methodist Church in La Crosse, Wis., and served as a part-time lay pastor in Bloom City, Gillingham, and Woodstock Methodist churches near Richmond Center, Wis. Stan moved to Iowa to teach school in the Kanawha Independent School District; he also served part-time as a lay pastor for United Methodist Churches in West Fork, Hansell, Crystal Lake, and Buffalo Center/Woden, Iowa. In June 1971 he was ordained into the Iowa Conference of United Methodist Churches and served full-time as a pastor at Buffalo Center. Stan later served as an associate pastor at First United Methodist Church in Newton, Iowa, for eight years and at Carlisle (Iowa) United Methodist Church for six years. For the next 13 years he was senior pastor at First United Methodist Church in Marion, Iowa, retiring in 2003. In retirement Stan served as interim pastor for churches in La Porte City, Walcott, Coggon, and Anamosa, Iowa. He also worked as an intern to Governor Terry Branstad for two years, serving on state boards of review for family, youth, and child services; juvenile justice; and foster care. Stan was an honorary colonel of the Iowa State Militia (Iowa National Guard) and received the Denman Evangelism Award from the Iowa United Methodist Conference. He also founded Summer Games International, serving as the organization's director for 30 years. Stan is survived by two brothers, Phillip Wierson and Paul Wierson ‘65. He was preceded in death by a brother, Jack Wierson.

Don't forget your Annual Fund giving! 
Each year nearly 10,000 alumni, parents, and friends support the Annual Fund with gifts from $5 to $50,000. Strong support from alumni helps Luther secure additional funds from foundations and corporations, and your gift each year helps us reach our goal of 30% alumni giving.  Here’s how your class—and surrounding classes—did in 2011: 

Class of 1958 total giving in 2011:  $40,252 from 41% of the class
Class of 1959 total giving in 2011:  $127,189 from 44% of the class

Class of 1960 total giving in 2011:  $148,064 from 41% of the class

Your gift can boost the impact your class has on current students!  Please use the enclosed envelope or visit to show your support.   Thank you!

Baseball 2012