Dear Fellow Class of ’85,
While attending the Chicago Humanities Festival, I had the good fortune to hear Ta-Nehisi Coates speak. In case you aren't familiar with him, he is an award-winning author, a national correspondent for The Atlantic and a MacArthur Fellow.
Based on the central question “What do we mean by belief?”, Coates explored the topic through a lens that focused on this dramatic era in politics, activism, and culture that has reshaped this country and its public discourse.
Coates reflected on his own university experience, saying that he learned to calibrate himself. He didn't need someone to hold his hand. And as a result, if he didn't know the answer, he would “catch up.” He could figure it out. He theorized that those who received a good education didn’t need someone to hold their hand. The ability to calibrate is how he now navigates being a black man in a white society.
When asked what advice he would give students looking for hope, he said that he would reframe the question. One should look for enlightenment and exposure to the world - the freedom to understand. He underscored that the most important thing education does is provide the tools to understand. He stressed that is not hope, but instead it provides focus.
When I reflect on our time at Luther, I believe it provided that very enlightenment Coates referenced. We were given the exposure and opportunity – it was up to each of us to determine how to use it. Luther gave us the tools to think critically. I know personally that is my greatest professional strength. From the first moments of Paideia to music theory to microbiology, our professors opened the doors to the world.
I feel extremely privileged for the education that we received, the friends we made, and the future we forged.
Last week, someone posted a picture from 33 years ago on Facebook. This is one of those pictures, you hold your breath until you can confirm the hideousness of your hair and the cringe-worthiness of your clothes. But there, in living color, are seven bright-eyed women in a semi-circle beaming with joy. There are a lot of things going on in that photo. Yes, it was before an Alpha Psi dance and we were just happy to be all together. But there was a sisterhood, a friendship and bond that is unique to Luther.
I proudly shared this photo with my daughters. We were on the cusp of conquering the world. Luther was preparing us... all in our own fields, a cardiologist, a lawyer, a nurse, a businesswoman, etc., with the tools, faith, and enlightenment to be able to calibrate ourselves.
Thanks to all of you for your continued support to Luther and its programs. As we all know, it takes money to keep the college going and Luther has several ways to contribute to the Luther Fund:
· Online: givenow.luther.edu
· Phonathon ($50,406 in the first seven sessions)
· Class Agents
· Reunion Giving
· Senior Giving Program
· Mail Appeals
· Faculty Staff Campaign
· Roots & Wings (campaign for current Luther parents)
· Matching Gifts
The average alumni participation rate last year was 25.75 percent and faculty and staff participation was 50 percent.
For me, the easiest way to give is by a monthly deduction from my bank account as it is simple, quick, affordable, and easy to do. The point is, there are several options and ways you can give back to Luther. Let's get the participation rate up to ensure our college remains the best it can be.
Soli Deo Gloria!!
1985 Class Agents:
Jane (Bakker) Theodore
Judy (Huedepohl) Collins is a special education teaching assistant at North Chicago (Ill.) High School.
Karen (Slattum) Dyson is a behavioral technician at Melrose Center in Saint Louis Park, Minn.
Greg Gerber of Salt Lake City is senior talent acquisition partner at CarrerKarma360.
Charles Hoven is director of sales for Inspired Catering & Events by Karen and Gina Stefani in Chicago.
Janet (Sandquist) Jans teaches vocal music at South View Middle School in Edina, Minn. She recently received the Middle Level Educator of the Year Award from the Minnesota Middle School Association (MMSA). Jans has taught music at South View for nearly 30 years. She currently teaches vocal music, but over the years has taught classroom music, choir, and band. Janet was nominated for the honor by her colleagues. In supporting letters of reference, she was praised as a “master of her subject area,” a collaborator with staff, parents, and community, and a leader. Principal Tim Anderson wrote that Janet is “someone who embodies the notion of going the extra mile… she serves as an advocate for students and families and is known by her colleagues as someone who works for inclusion and success for all learners.”
Jeffrey Barry of Marion, Iowa, died Dec. 11, 2016, at age 53. Born in Iowa City, he and his family lived in Salt Lake City, Utah; Owyhee, Nev.; and Iowa City, Sioux City, and Cedar Rapids, Iowa, during Jeff’s formative years. He graduated in 1981 from Washington High School, where he received varsity letters all three years in cross country, wrestling, and track. Jeff majored in computer science at Luther, and, following a stint in the business world, he returned to school at the University of Iowa, where he earned an MBA in 1989. He married Kalah Mocker in 1993 in Illinois, while employed at IBM. Jeff enjoyed fishing, hunting, shooting, geocaching, reading, board games, giving advice, and playing cards with his daughter, Bridget. He was talented in the kitchen and at painting great Halloween faces. A thoughtful gift giver, Jeff especially loved Christmas Eve. He is survived by his daughter, Bridget; parents; and siblings, Julia Weston and Jonathan Barry, and their spouses and children.