Junior letter

Fall 2014 

Dear Parents of Luther Junior Students, 

You might recall from the last Parents Council letter that we met last March and were greeted by a late winter snowstorm. The thoughts we had when we saw the snow and wind making its way down the valley to the lower campus, finally engulfing the main campus, most likely cannot be repeated here. What a difference six months can make! A beautiful, sunny fall day greeted parents and students for Family Weekend. It appeared that trips to the Whippy Dip and Dunning’s Spring were on the agenda for most people, and a large crowd enjoyed the football game, with Luther defeating Grinnell 49-21. Go Norse! 

The Parents Council meeting had a full agenda of speakers eager to share Luther news and updates. First was an introduction to Dr. Paula J. Carlson, Luther’s 10th president, who started July 1. Previously employed as a vice president at St. Olaf College--and prior to that having worked at University of Dubuque and Yale University--she is a St. Olaf grad, with two master’s degrees and a doctorate from Columbia University.  Dr. Carlson grew up in St. Paul, Minn., and Brooklyn, N.Y., the daughter of a Lutheran pastor, and she developed many ties to Luther. She shared with us her impressions of Luther grads and the holistic perspective they have in using all their talents, skills, and knowledge. That energy of engagement and creativity is a true characteristic of Luther. 

President Carlson addressed three challenges facing Luther College and higher education in general. First, curriculum innovation will be needed as student demographics change. Second, technology and its use for education is rapidly changing the learning landscape. And third, increasing costs need to be addressed. Continued strong financial stewardship and innovation will be needed to address costs. 

She also shared information about the very initial planning for renovation of two facilities: Main Building and the lower campus athletic areas. In Main the planning group has been discussing space and how to utilize the building to prepare for a dynamic, engaging experience similar to how Sampson-Hoffland is designed.  For the lower campus, planners are looking for improvements to space in support of the health education curriculum as well as Norse athletics (including increasing locker room space). We were all impressed with President Carlson’s energy and vision for Luther.  Our students are in very good hands! 

Diane Tacke, vice president for administration and finance (Luther’s “chief financial officer”), spoke next. Did you know that about 1,800 students (or 70%) work on campus? Diane also discussed the importance of deferred maintenance budgeting for Luther’s physical plant (streets, sidewalks, and buildings). Farwell Hall has had problems with mold in a few areas. The deferred maintenance budget is used to help solve these issues, with things like carpet removal and ventilator replacement. The ratio of deferred maintenance to all budget is steady at about 9 percent. We also learned some fun facts: Luther has more than 13 acres of roof and 7 miles of sidewalks to maintain. Diane will be retiring this year, moving to Park City, Utah, to be closer to her children and grandchildren.  Thank you, Diane, for your commitment to Luther! 

Maria Smith and Rachel Vsetecka, director and assistant director of annual giving, shared information about Annual Fund programs. We learned that Luther is above the median in alumni  participation in giving, with 26 percent donating to Luther. We also learned about student philanthropy efforts that create awareness of and provide opportunities for students to participate in philanthropic endeavors, such as the 34th annual Phonathon (between 300-400 students will participate this fall) and Senior Giving campaign.  

Scot Schaeffer, vice president of enrollment management, provided an Admissions Office update. While enrollment did not hit target this year (after three phenomenal years), the enrolled first-years are a strong class: 63 percent are from the top quarter of their classes. Also, Luther has its highest international student enrollment since 2001. Moving forward, there will be expanded efforts in the traditional four-state area (Iowa, Minnesota, Wisconsin, and Illinois) and in California, Colorado, and Missouri. 

The Panel for Parents session in Valders 206 completed our meeting, and we heard from faculty and staff who addressed a variety of topics, including Luther’s advising system, study abroad, and Career Center happenings. Our students have now completed half of their Luther education, and we are confident they are being well-prepared. We hope you will consider making a gift to Luther, to supplement the academic and co-curricular programs. It is truly a great cause and will further the education of our children.

Dates to Remember

Dec. 4-7            Christmas at Luther
Jan. 5-28           January Term 2015
Feb. 4               Spring Semester begins
Mar. 14-22        Spring vacation
Apr. 3-6            Easter vacation
May 18-21         Final exams
May 24              Commencement


Jon ’85 and Sandee (Neitzel) Joppa ’87
(763) 557-9752

Alan Hecht ’80 and Kristin Swanson ’80
(608) 781-7773

Linda (Larson) ’84 and Todd Kluge
(715) 386-1166

Brad and Laura Nielsen
(402) 593-7435

Phil and Kathy Pielage
(608) 845-3396

Jill (Voss) Wachholz ’89
(630) 629-0844


“There are but two lasting bequests we can give our children.  One is roots, the other, wings.”

Roots and Wings—how often we think about these gifts as we guide and nurture our children through those first years. As parents, we have a special mission.

The roots are planted as we help them establish a firm foundation for life, a definition of who they are and where they came from, the security of family and a sense of community.

The wings emerge as we gradually let them go, allowing them the freedom to fly—to take what they have learned and soar to new heights, to reach beyond existing boundaries, to seek and find their place in this world.

You should have a sense of pride. Under your watchful eye, your child has grown into a young adult with dreams and unlimited potential for the future. And now, you are allowing those dreams to live, by encouraging the opportunity for new growth at Luther College, an institution with deep roots and caring people to assist students as they pursue their dreams and realize their potential.

Please give your child “roots and wings.” Support the Annual Fund through the Luther College Parents Association and enhance learning opportunities for all Luther students.