Senior Letter

Spring 2016

Dear Parents of Luther Senior Students,

Can you believe it? In less than two months, our students will be graduating! Congratulations to you and your student! On March 5th we attended our final Parents Council meeting. As always, it was packed with information, updates and progress reports. Here are a few highlights: In her opening remarks, President Carlson shared her appreciation for the ‘Hopes and Dreams’ we contributed to the discussion at our fall meeting, noting these have resonated with Luther alumni and parents across the country, and are very similar to those they once had for themselves and their students. She also shared her appreciation for us—as senior parents—and our students, who will join 35,000 other Luther alumni across the country and world, serving with distinction for the common good. President Carlson commented that she—along with Luther faculty and staff—will be thinking of and praying for us and our students as they move on out into the world.

We extend our congratulations to Sandee (Neitzel) Joppa ’87, who, along with her spouse, Jon ’85, serve as senior representatives on the Council—Sandee is now a member of Luther’s Board of Regents. Other exciting news from President Carlson was that the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AAC&U) invited Luther (one of only 13 invited, out of 1,300 AAC&U member schools) to be profiled in a book on integrated applied learning. Luther’s signature Paideia program is what prompted the invite. Luther also was contacted by the American Council on Education to be included in a study of schools that have stable and strong fiscal foundations. These accomplishments relate directly to the Luther College 2016-18 Priorities list, which President Carlson also shared with us. You can find more information at

We learned from Scot Schaeffer, vice president for enrollment management, that significant changes to the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid) process have been made, and students will be able to file a 2017-18 FAFSA much earlier (as early as Oct. 1, 2016), and report income information from an earlier tax year. Scot also suggested that parents and students use the Data Retrieval Function Tool from the IRS when completing your FAFSA. 

Luther’s new registrar is Professor Kristin Swanson, a member of the religion faculty. She provided information to us about the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and reminded us that Luther is required to abide by federal laws regarding student and parental rights. Kristin recommended that we talk to our students about gaining access to their restricted information. The Registrar’s Office is a resource for parents as well as students and provides transcripts, transfer course pre-approvals, enrollment verification, and an online tool for program evaluation. More information can be found at

Ann Sponberg Peterson, director of development-principal gifts, and Maria Smith, director of annual giving, updated us on happenings in their department. Luther’s comprehensive fundraising totals for the past year show 2014-15 as the second-best year for fundraising in Luther College history. Despite the challenging economic climate, donors to Luther contributed $14.84 million. This is wonderful testimony to the distinctive value many of us have come to know in a Luther College education. The week after our meeting, Luther held its first-ever Giving Day, which you may have noticed on social media. Thanks to more than 1,800 gifts, from alumni, parents, and friends, $574,809 was raised for the Annual Fund that day, March 10. Thank you to all of you who contributed!

Todd and I have been privileged to represent parents of the classes of ’11,’13, and ’16 on the Parents Council for the past 9 years. We have witnessed the dedication and thoughtful care the college has given to ensure it remains in a strong financial position to survive and, in fact, thrive during a very challenging economic time. All of us, as parents of students and soon to be alumni, are in a position to significantly influence this strength. Every year that you say ‘yes’ to a student calling you during the annual Phonathon, or respond to a mailing, no matter the size of your gift, you are making an impact. Often, grants or matching funds are given to the college based on the percentage of parents or alumni who simply give. Another impact we are able to make is in the area of planned gifts to endowed funds, to ensure a strong financial foundation. Let’s continue to work together to ensure the strength of Luther College into the future, long after our students graduate this May. Speaking of graduation…stay up-to-date on graduation weekend details at  Congratulations again, and God bless and keep you and your student now and as they go forth to new adventures. Remember, once a part of the Luther family, we are forever a part of the Luther family.

Soli Deo Gloria!


Dates to Remember  2016

May 16-19           Final exams                                       

May 22               Commencement                                 



Linda (Larson) ’84 and Todd Kluge

Jon ’85 and Sandee (Neitzel) Joppa ’87                                    

Alan Hecht ’80 and Kristin Swanson ’80

Brad and Laura Nielsen

Phil and Kathy Pielage                                                                                                  

Jill (Voss) Wachholz ’89




“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.