Grumbling vs. gratitude: Letters should perhaps begin with a catchy or uplifting story but this one will begin with a bit of grumbling, something I'm sure none of you ever do! Like always, I was looking forward to a fun Homecoming weekend... and then "the bug" stalked me and laid me out in a prone position. I celebrated Homecoming weekend this year in my bed at home. But with a bit of time, a shift happened in my thinking and my grumbling turned to gratitude. My situation was a temporary one and so many people have experienced personal and community losses over the last several months. I pray you, your families, and friends are well, safe, and experiencing many moments of gratitude.
Midwest living: Most of us were from Midwestern states when we began Luther. Today Luther alumni are spread throughout the country. Most alumni still live in Midwest states with Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, and Illinois topping the list. Even though these 4 states have 84.5 percent of living alumni, the next six states where Luther alumni live are Colorado, California, Texas, Washington, Florida, and Arizona. We Midwesterners are a hardy bunch, but I suspect that even those of us in the north central states may head for the warmer states sometime during the winter months.
Moving forward: Luther is never standing still. The strategic planning process is moving forward with approval of an implementation/action plan by the Board of Regents in February 2018. The framing questions guiding the process were "What do you want to be true of Luther in five years that is not true now?" and "What do you still want to be true?" Through many information-gathering techniques with a variety of Luther stakeholders, the following draft goals emerged:
- Luther College will be a national model for a 21st-century liberal arts education, bridging campus and world through a rigorous and dynamic approach to teaching and learning that prepares students for life, work, and service in a global society.
- Luther College will be a community of inspired, engaged, and resilient individuals empowered to serve and thrive in an ever-changing world.
- Luther College will champion an authentic culture of diversity and inclusion, fully embracing human dignity through the cultivation of empathy.
- Luther College will be a leader in financial sustainability among higher education, accelerating advances in access, affordability, and value.
For each of these goals, specific objectives have been drafted to ensure these goals are met.
Promoting Luther: We all want Luther to remain an incredible place of learning and the college of choice for many. Student recruitment today is a most challenging arena. All of us have an opportunity to join Luther in recruiting the next generation of students through the Alumni Ambassador Program. Some possible ways to join Luther's recruitment efforts are by contacting and referring a prospective student, hosting or attending Admissions student receptions, representing Luther at a college fair, or requesting information to distribute to your local schools and religious communities. Any prospective high school student referred for the 2018-2021 school years will receive a $1,000 scholarship for each of four years when they enroll at Luther. If you have questions about becoming
Congrats to Class of 1960: Thank you! It is exciting to share some good news about our class giving. For the first time in recent years, our class not only cracked the top 10 but came in 7th among all classes in the percent of class "participation" in giving to the Luther Fund (new name for Annual Fund). Alumni "participation" is significant in obtaining financial support from charitable foundations and corporations. If you are a regular supporter of Luther, your continued giving is sincerely appreciated. If not, it is never too late to make a donation of any amount at any time throughout the year. In 2016-17, there were 1,129 first-time alumni donors from all classes.
Browsing the past: Check out luther.edu/archives/research/resources if you are interested in poking into your days at Luther. You may browse digitally archived copies of the following publications:
*Luther College Chips, school newspaper (1884-2015)
*The Pioneer, annual yearbook (1911-2015)
*Agora, faculty journal (1988-2015)
Classmate request: Our classmate Jerry Buerer shared the following comments with me and has a question for all of us. "My first semester at Luther was overall the most enlightening and intellectual experience I had in four years of college and three years of graduate school. It was an eye opener. One factor was our English text Contrasts, edited by Robert Knoll of the University of Nebraska. I still have this great book and use it from time to time. Do any of you? In an attempt to keep my memory attuned in recent years, I've memorized some of the classic poems from the fairly large poetry section. When Dr. Bale and I discussed this book on occasion through the years, he mentioned that at least one other student spoke highly of this volume. If you also have fond memories of Contrasts and would like to share them, please let me know at [email protected]."
Final thoughts: Thanks to Jerry for a Luther remembrance and his request of us. Perhaps others of you have a Luther memory to share so please send it on to either Ken Melby or me, co-class agents. Your memories can trigger memories that others of us may have forgotten. Throughout this year of celebrating the Reformation, we have been reminded again and again that we live in grace. May your grace-filled days be ones of blessings and thankfulness.
1960 Class Agents:
Janet “Jan” (Olson) Iverson of New Ulm, Minn., died Oct. 8, 2016, at age 78 from injuries sustained in a car accident. Born in Albert Lea, she graduated in 1956 from New Richland High School before enrolling at Luther, where she majored in English. Jan married Michael Iverson on Aug. 4, 1962, in New Richland. She spent her career in education, as a teacher with the New Ulm Public Schools. In 1982 she received a master’s degree from Mankato State University. Jan retired after becoming ill with multiple sclerosis and became an active helper with Camp Courage. A devout member of Our Savior’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, she also participated in the church choir and shared her musical talents with the congregation for many years. Jan is survived by her sisters, Judy (Jim) Supalla, Jean Anne Eliasson, and Trudy Olson ’65, and brother, Russell “Rusty” Olson Jr. She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Michael Iverson in 2006; and sister, Christine Billiet.
Sharon (Finberg) Wilkinson of Chandler, Ariz., died June 29, 2016, at age 77. Born in Decorah, she majored in history at Luther and, after graduation, earned a master’s degree in library science at the University of Michigan. Sharon married Joseph Wilkinson in 1964, and they made their permanent home in Tempe, Ariz. She was active in Arizona State University’s faculty wives club and also volunteered at the Tempe Historical Museum. Sharon also spent many years working in the King of Glory Church library and adult education programs. She is survived by her husband, Joe; brother, Robert (Norita) Finberg; three sons, Mark (Yi) Wilkinson, Tod (Jill) Wilkinson, and Eric (Gayle) Wilkinson; and six grandchildren.