Class of 2015 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Classmate,

Lots has happened on campus since you received your spring 2017 class agent letter and we hope you’ve been able to experience some of these events in person. For starters, RAGBRAI—the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa--came through Decorah July 28, and the Luther community enthusiastically greeted the estimated 15,000 riders with a large welcome sign, free Gatorade, water, and Norse cookies!

A short five weeks later, and the fall semester began for the college’s 157th academic year, welcoming 542 new students to campus. Acknowledging that these are turbulent times for our nation, Luther President Paula Carlson, in her Fall 2017 State of the College speech, urged us to “rededicate ourselves and our community to our founders’ vision of a more just society and to our namesake Martin Luther’s commitment to be true to conscience, to live by our core values and beliefs.”

Two facility dedication events were held in September: Legacy Field, the new blue synthetic turf system by AstroTurf that was installed over the summer in Carlson Stadium, was blessed in a special ceremony Sept. 9, part of a full day of Luther athletic events, which included a football victory over St. Olaf. Thanks to much-appreciated donor support, including a lead gift by Dennis ’64 and Suzanne Birkestrand, Luther now has one of the safest and most distinctive fields in NCAA Division III football. A week later, on Sept. 16, the college’s newly renovated 12 outdoor tennis courts were dedicated. The $1 million project—generously funded by an alumni couple who wishes to remain anonymous—has resulted in a more durable, stable, and consistent playing surface, making Luther’s outdoor tennis venues one of the best in the region. Many thanks to all of the donors who contributed to these projects.

Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 6-8, brought more than 2,000 alumni and friends to campus for 65 various events, including the annual alumni dinner Friday night, where a Distinguished Service Award was given to eight alumni. Play was suspended during the second quarter of Saturday’s football game due to lightning; after the game resumed, Norse player Cory Wirth ’18 went on to make a 25-yard field goal in overtime, leading his team to a 41-38 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan University. Go Norse!

Another highlight of Homecoming Weekend was the very well-attended official viewing, at Noble Recital Hall, of To This Day: Remembering Nordic Choir’s First International Tour. Aiden Spencer ’18 and Jacqueline Wilke, Luther professor of history, created this documentary film of Nordic Choir’s first international tour in 1967as part of a three-year student/faculty collaborative project.

Student/faculty collaborative projects are just one of the many ways learning happens beyond the classroom at Luther. Internships and externships are also vital components of a Luther education, as are study-away experiences, which are key to the global perspective Luther promotes. Do you know high school students who could benefit from the kind of education Luther provides? If so, please refer them through the Alumni Ambassador Program, which awards $4,000 in scholarships to students who enroll after your referral. There was a form just for this purpose tucked in the pages of the Fall 2017 Luther Alumni Magazine, or you can submit one online at

The college’s year-long exploration of the Reformation—and celebration of its 500th anniversary—culminated October 31, 2017, with a day-long symposium and evening concert. The symposium—

The Reformation of Everything, 1517-2017, Examining the Reformation and its Continuing Impact—looked at the impact the Reformation has had on Christianity, the Church, education, broader society, and culture; how it has shaped Luther College; and what its influence might look like in the future. Among the many distinguished presenters was Marty Haugen ’73, renowned composer of liturgical music. Later, the Reformation Commemoration Concert, where The Reformation Cantata was premiered, raised up the work of alumni and students. The cantata was anchored by four choral movements, composed by Luther alumni Daniel Kallman ’78, Sky Macklay ’10, Mark Petering ’95, and Daniel Raney ’92, and four instrumental interludes—composed by Luther students Pablo Gomez-Estévez ‘18, John Kuntz ’19, Caleb Linville ’19 and Hunter Prueger ’18—were interspersed throughout the work.

As you can see, it’s been a busy fall semester on campus, and we’ve only included some of the many happenings. Please keep Luther informed of what’s happening in your life, and we will write again in the spring.


John Dahl
[email protected]

Maggie (Steinberg) Hagen
[email protected]

James Odegaard
[email protected]


Neal Abbott is director of K-8 faith formation and youth ministry at the Church of St. John the Evangelist in Rochester, Minn.

Alex Barker is account executive of membership sales for the Minnesota Timberwolves in Minneapolis.

Anna Dieter teaches 7th and 9th mathematics for the Hopkins (Minn.) Public School District. 

Quinn Foley is customer account manager for Epicor Software in St. Louis Park, Minn.

Paige Harne is the framing manager at Michael’s in Rochester, Minn.

Emma Hartmann teaches music at Traylor Fundamental Academy in Denver.

Laura Hayes is a reporter and photographer for the Winona (Minn.) Post newspaper.

Marlon Henriquez teaches kindergarten at Pilsen Community Academy in Chicago.

Andrew Herder teaches math at Parkers Prairie (Minn.) High School.

Kayla Herman is an HR generalist for Evergreen Bank Group in Oak Brook, Ill.

Dietrich Jessen is admissions manager for the Lutheran Music Program in Minneapolis.

Ashley (Sweet) Kaiser is social work care coordinator for Genesis Medical Center in Davenport, Iowa.

Sarah King is an analyst at Rabbit LIVE Intelligence, LLC, in Minneapolis.

Bailey Kampa is senior assistant at Securian Financial Group, Inc., in St. Paul, Minn.

Cody Kliethermes is senior financial analyst at Northern Trust Corporation in Chicago.

Alex Kokkinen of Bloomington, Minn., is account coordinator at CH Robinson.

Heather (Marking) Moechnig of Theilman, Minn., is an audit for CliftonLarsonAllen.

Maryanne McNutt is museum staff at Port Huron (Mich.) Museum.

Britta Nyberg is manager in training at Anthropologie in the Mall of America in Bloomington, Minn.

Nana Ama Odame is an individual master data management business analyst at Optum - UnitedHealth Group in Eden Prairie, Minn.

Meghan Owens is a teaching assistant at Scottsdale (Ariz.) Children’s Institute.

Jennifer Schmidt is farm manager at Hale Akua Garden Farm in Haiku, Hawaii.

Nicole Schmidt is an administrative assistant at the Princeton Review in Minneapolis.

Aldon Severson is territory sales coordinator at Korn Ferry Hay Group in Minneapolis.

Robert Starr teaches 8th grade science for the Douglas County Schools in Castle Rock, Colo.

Emily Stumpf is volunteer and program coordinator for the Minneapolis Bicycle Coalition.

Nikki Thompson is assistant registrar at Cornell College in Mount Vernon, Iowa.

Kolin Walker is a lab technician for Trecora Chemical in Pasadena, Texas.

Charles Weathers is an advertiser account representative at CJ Affiliate in San


Anna (Burke) and Aaron Weckwerth are both graduate students at the University of Glasgow in Scotland.


LINDSEY BJORGE and Barrett Winrick, Oct. 24, 2015

SYDNEY GEHRT '16 and ALEX HAIN, June 24, 2017

HEATHER MARKING and Josh Moechnig, Sept. 24, 2016


MAGGIE STEINBERG and Nikolaj Hagen, July 30, 2016