Senior letter

Spring 2014

Dear Parents of Luther Seniors,

WOW – that’s the first thing that comes to mind when we reflect back on the Parents Council meeting held Saturday, March 1, at Luther. Despite blowing snow and frigid temperatures, we had a great group come together and discuss what is going on at Luther College. It was probably one of the most informative and interactive meetings we’ve attended.

Let’s start off with a bang! We learned from Jeanie Lovell, director of corporate and foundation relations and a member of the presidential search committee, that Dr. Paula J. Carlson was elected as the 10th president of Luther College. Dr. Carlson is presently serving as vice president for mission at St. Olaf College, and she’s had a distinguished career in the classroom and in administration for a number of colleges and universities. She will assume her duties on July 1.

The Council was briefed by Keith Christensen, vice president for development, about the activities of the Development Office and the gifts received from alumni, parents, and friends of the college. He was especially excited to note the increase in foundation giving and two new grants in particular: one to help fund a simulation lab for the nursing program and the other for campus sustainability initiatives. He also spoke of the process they use to determine the wants and needs of the various departments in the college. That information will be shared with Dr. Carlson when she arrives, to assist her in developing her vision for the future of the institution.

Although it would have been easy to have taken this past year off, following the departure of Dr. Torgerson, and allow Luther to assume a status quo position, such was not the case under the interim leadership of Dr. David Tiede. He came in with an agenda to continue Luther on a forward path and has done so admirably. His vision was that Luther should not only survive, but thrive during the interim period, and the college has done so. Luther College is forever grateful for his leadership and vision of what a Luther education is all about.

Dr. Tiede underscored the significance of the meeting – he started us thinking about the “WOW” we mentioned earlier – by addressing the ROI of a Luther education. The Return On Investment is not necessarily addressed when thinking about higher education. But, our children’s education has been an investment, and we have a right to know how that investment is being grown. He addressed the disruptors of higher education: those things that are forces of change and that are complicating the task of educating our future leaders. Education is not the same as it was just a few years ago. The costs, the technology, the changes in student profiles, the changes in communities, and the changes in learning patterns have all contributed to a different college setting. Luther has been looking at how they address these factors.  He spoke about how students graduating from a liberal arts institution may not have the same starting salaries as the first-year engineer, but after 10-15 years, Luther grads are “leading the show” and rising in their fields. It’s more than technical training, it’s the sense of purpose Luther hopes to instill in our students.

Dr. Tiede spoke to the importance of students looking at their role as a college student as the beginning of their “first great job.” He said it is here where you determine who you are and how you can serve. Our children are here among those like them and those who are unlike them. Through these relationships, our children become better able to step into the working world with an ability to communicate and to develop good working habits with people of all types. Luther will help our children find their sense of purpose and help them establish their core principles. How to survive in the working world is a real challenge, and Luther has the goal of equipping our children with the ability to see their vocation as a calling and to bring their whole sense of self to the work place.

Following lunch, the council heard from Brenda Ranum, the director of the Career Center. Brenda reinforced Dr. Tiede’s pledge for providing a return on investment. She spoke to the center’s efforts to work with our children to prepare them for life after Luther. She presented facts from a recent study of Luther 2012 grads and their status a year after graduation: 90 percent were employed or pursuing grad school or additional certification. These figures were based on a 95 percent response rate. Also reported was that a large percentage of respondents were pleased with their place in life.

The Career Center is very busy providing counseling and advising, coordinating experiential learning experiences, providing a resource library, coordinating career fairs, arranging mock interviews, and developing alumni and friend connections. Brenda also spoke about their “Beyond the Bubble” programs, a series of free seminars that prepare students for the future. With topics such as “Healthy eating on a budget,” “Workplace communication,” and “Your life, your money” being offered, she said they hope to better equip students with life skills for when they leave here. Again, the Luther effort to ensure our return on investment was emphasized.

Scot Schaeffer, vice president for enrollment management, addressed our group and spoke about a number of programs that have been initiated to increase the number of students enrolling at Luther. He said the number of potential students in the Midwest, which traditionally has been the source of the majority of Luther students, is declining, so efforts are being made to ensure we are doing what we can to encourage those students who are here in the Midwest to consider Luther and improving our outreach past the contiguous states. Scot said that the top draws for students have been academic reputation, faculty who are knowledgeable in their fields, and good career preparation.

As senior Parents Council members, it has been an honor to work on your behalf these past four years. We are confident that the education our children have received over the past four years has been meaningful, and we are equally confident that Luther will continue to provide an education that is based on the foundation of service to God and to all people.  Please consider making a gift to Luther. Our continued support, now and in the future, is graciously appreciated.

Dates to Remember

May 19-22        Final examinations
May 25             Commencement


Chris and Jean Nolte
(515) 462-2248

Tim and Pam Alpers
(507) 281-1199

Alicia Anderson ’86 and Bob Skelly
(814) 861-6366

Pete and Sandy Cochrane
(952) 922-7750

Dan and Wende (Bunger) Douglas ’81
(712) 732-5480

Kristi (Wahlberg) ’79 and Kevin Josephson ’79
(608) 783-6321


“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.