Endowed Professorships/Chairs

Luther College awards endowed professorships and endowed chairs to honor Luther faculty whose teaching careers and accomplishments have:

  • Exemplified the philosophy and values of the liberal arts
  • Enriched the intellectual life of students
  • Enhanced the academic character of the institution
  • Demonstrated leadership in the teaching profession

Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship

Maryna Bazylevych

    The Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship honors the late Nena Amundson, a 1956 graduate of Luther College who taught physical education and coached women’s athletics for more than 40 years, primarily at California Lutheran University. A pioneer in collegiate women’s sports programs, Amundson provided an estate gift to fund the endowment for the Luther wellness program. The Amundson Professorship Award provides funding for a selected research project, with particular focus on health and wellness issues for women.

    Maryna Bazylevych succeeds prior Amundson professors Betty Hoff, Nancy Barry, Lea Pickard, Wanda Deifelt, Karla Suomala, and Angela Kueny. Maryna came to Luther as Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Women’s Studies in 2010 from the State University of New York at Albany, where she completed both the master’s and doctoral degree programs in cultural anthropology. Her research examined medical systems and post-socialist change in Eastern Europe, especially her native Ukraine.

    Maryna’s Amundson project centers on Health and Wellness of Reproductive Age Women in Contemporary Ukraine. Stemming from previous research on vaccination anxieties in post-socialist Ukraine and distrust towards medical authorities, her project will contribute to anthropological scholarship that investigates social construction of risk and reproductive vulnerability.

    Center for Ethics and Public Engagement

    Greg Jesson

      The Center for Ethics and Public Engagement exists to enhance the liberal education Luther promises its students. By encouraging deep reflection about ethical matters and responsible citizenship, the center should help students learn something of what it means to live a good life. Specifically, the center promotes research, writing, and an ongoing conversation about the public choices confronting society and the role ethics ought to play in making those choices. The director of the center, appointed from the Luther faculty, guides both on-campus and external initiatives in keeping with its purpose.

      Greg Jesson succeeds inaugural director Dr. John Moeller, professor of political science, as the Center's second director. Professor Jesson earned a B.A. from the University of California-Los Angeles, M.A. degrees from the University of Southern California and the University of Iowa, and the Ph.D. from the University of Iowa in philosophy focusing on philosophy of mind, metaphysics, epistemology, phenomenology, and philosophy of religion. Dr. Jesson envisions the Center as a place where difficult ethical questions are explored and debated, and then acted upon.

      Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics and Business

      Steve Holland

        The Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics and Business is named in honor of Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl, business entrepreneurs whose support of the college included an endowment gift that established the Dahl Chair. This chair is awarded to a strong teaching scholar who is able to help students “develop sound analytical and critical thinking skills,” who can represent the discipline and department well at Luther and beyond, and who can make creative use of the funds available through the endowment. In fidelity to the endowment, the Dahl Chair will include in his teaching, where appropriate, an account of the “principles and benefits” of a free market. The Dahl Chair for 2011-2016 is Steve Holland.

        Professor Holland succeeds previous Dahl Chairs Ed Kaschins and Mark Lund. With a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from St. Olaf, Steve earned the J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and the Ph.D. in applied economics from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the Luther faculty in 2005, Steve served as a policy associate at Macalester College. Professor Holland’s problem-based, cross-disciplinary approach to teaching explores the intersection of economics and public policy. His work with undergraduate students has included research in microeconomics, public policy, environmental economics, hunger and globalization.

        Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities

        Lisa Kildegaard

          Named in honor of Dennis M. Jones (1932-90), former Luther professor of English, the Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities is awarded to a member of the faculty who honors the values and traditions of the humanities, enriches the intellectual life of students, and provides academic leadership in the humanities. The Jones Professor devotes part of his/her professional time to a project that will enhance humanities education. The Jones Professor for 2013-2015 is Lise Kildegaard.

          Professor Kildegaard is the twelfth faculty member to be named to the Jones Professorship since its establishment in 1994.  With a bachelor’s degree in English from Carleton College, Lise earned the M.A. and Ph.D. in English at the University of Chicago. A member of the Luther faculty since 1993, Professor Kildegaard has taught in the college’s English Department and Paideia program, served on numerous college committees, and been an innovative teacher bridging the humanities and fine arts. A scholar of 18th century British literature and history and feminist criticism, Lise’s translations of Danish writer Louis Jensen’s works became text for Luther College’s theatre production, “Square Stories,” in November 2009. Professor Kildegaard has been a visiting scholar at the Danish School of Education; Center for Children’s Literature, in Copenhagen, Denmark, and at the University of Chicago, Center for Gender Studies.

          The Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music

          Allen Hightower

            This chair is named in honor of Weston Noble ’43, Professor Emeritus of Music, whose professional service of teaching, directing and conducting at Luther influenced the lives of thousands of students for over fifty years and whose dedication and service to the college also witnessed to the Gospel. Established by Ervin and Phyllis Johnson, the award recognizes the value of Christian higher education and the quality of the academic and music programs provided by Luther College. The Noble Chair will both enrich the education of students at Luther College and bring national attention to the college and its programs. The Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music is Allen Hightower.

            Professor Hightower earned his Bachelor of Music in Music Education from Sam Houston State University, the Master of Music in Choral Conducting from the Eastman School of Music, the Master of Music in Orchestral Conducting from Baylor University, and the Doctor of Musical Arts in Conducting from the University of California-Los Angeles.  Professor of Music and Director of Choral Activities since 2010, Dr. Hightower directs Luther’s choral programs, conducts the Nordic Choir, is artistic director for Christmas at Luther, and teaches classes in conducting and choral methods. He reflects on the power of music to “change lives for those who sing and for those who listen,” and strives to create a learning environment of respect, humility and trust. Professor Hightower frequently serves as guest clinician and guest conductor, including work as guest conductor with the National Lutheran Choir in Minneapolis, the Arkansas All-State Mixed Choir, the National Festival Chorus in New York City, and the Lutheran Summer Music Concert Choir.

            Orlando W. Qualley Chair of Classical Languages

            Philip Freeman

              The first endowed faculty chair established at Luther, the Qualley Chair honors Orlando W. (Pip) Qualley (1897-1988), who served six decades as a Luther faculty member and administrator. Qualley held positions of vice president, dean, professor of classical languages, registrar, basketball coach and football coach. Known for his firmness, directness and drive, he encouraged high academic standards and recruited a faculty devoted to education. The Qualley Chair, Professor Philip Freeman, succeeds previous Qualley Chair A. Thomas Kraabel.

              Freeman, a graduate of the University of Texas, holds the doctoral degree from Harvard University. An internationally recognized specialist in Greek, Roman, medieval culture and Celtic studies, he is the author of numerous books including "Alexander the Great" (Simon & Schuster, 2011); "The Philosopher and the Druids" (Simon & Schuster, 2006); "St. Patrick of Ireland" (Simon & Schuster, 2004); "War, Women, and Druids" (University of Texas Press, 2002); "The Galatian Language" (Mellen Press, 2001); and "Ireland and the Classical World" (University of Texas Press, 2001).  Before joining the classics department at Luther, Freeman taught at Boston University and Washington University. He has been a visiting scholar at the Harvard Divinity School, the American Academy in Rome, and the Center for Hellenic Studies in Washington, D.C. A frequent speaker and presenter, Freeman has given talks on the ancient world at the Smithsonian Institution and interviews on National Public Radio.

              Russell R. Rulon Endowed Chair in Biology

              Kirk Larsen

                The Rulon Chair honors Russell R. Rulon, professor of biology at Luther 1963-2000, whose teaching and mentoring skills helped numerous students advance to careers in medicine and established Luther's biology/pre-med program as one of the best among liberal arts colleges. The Rulon Chair is awarded to a professor who has demonstrated excellence in teaching biology and dedication to serving as an advisor and mentor to students. Appointed for three years, each Rulon Chair devotes time and resources to a project that enhances the training of students in science. The Rulon Chair for 2013-16 is Kirk Larsen.

                With a bachelor’s degree in biology from Calvin College, Kirk earned his Master’s of Science in entomology from Michigan State University and the Ph.D. in entomology from Ohio State University. On Luther’s biology faculty since 1993, Professor Larsen teaches and conducts research in the areas of insect biology and behavior, marine biology, prairie ecology, biodiversity, and restoration ecology. He is widely recognized for involving students as research collaborators and coauthors, has an extensive record of presentation and publication, and has brought in over $165,000 in extramural research grants. Dr. Larsen serves on the Iowa State Preserves Advisory Board for the Department of Natural Resources. This past year he was awarded the Distinguished Achievement Award in Teaching by the North Central Branch of the Entomological Society of America.

                Kermit O. and Jane E. Hanson Professorship in History

                Robert Christman

                  The Kermit O. and Jane E. Hanson Professorship in History is named in honor of Kermit O Hanson ’38 and Jane E. Hanson ’39, whose support for the college included an endowment gift to establish the Hanson Professorship. The award recognizes the value of educational opportunities and the quality of the academic program provided by Luther College and in recognition of dedicated faculty in the area of history who influenced the Hansons’ lives and careers. The inaugural Hanson Professor in History is Robert Christman.

                  Professor Christman earned his Ph.D. from the University of Arizona in 2004, where his focus was on Early Modern Germany and the Reformation. His dissertation, "Heretics in Luther's Homeland: The Controversy over Original Sin in Late Sixteenth-Century Mansfield," blends intellectual and social history by studying conflicts over religious doctrine in a small German Lutheran territory during the latter part of the Reformation period. Robert's recent work includes a book, "Doctrinal Controversy and Lay Religiosity in Late Reformation Germany," published by Brill. A member of the Luther faculty since 2005, Christman was previously a Visiting Scholar at the Universität Leipzig in Germany and taught at the University of Arizona and Wright State University. Dr. Christman is an innovative and challenging teacher, the author of several scholarly articles and conference papers, and current membership secretary for the Society for Reformation Research.