Although you'll be receiving this letter in early fall, I'm writing it in the sweltering heat and humidity of the summer of 2018 in the Midwest. Perhaps like me, you are waiting for the sunny, yet crisp, days of fall. For most of us, this year is one of celebrating 80 years of living. When I was at Luther, 80 wasn't even on my radar as a possibility and seemed, oh, so old. Can you believe our 60th class reunion will be in 2020? It's time to mark your calendars for October 9-11, 2020...hope to see you then!
Homecoming 2018: Homecoming is later this year (October 26-28) and is the reason you're receiving this letter earlier than usual. Homecoming 2018 will celebrate two important milestones. First, the Black Student Union (BSU) commemorates its 50th anniversary this fall. There are several events planned during Homecoming and throughout the year to celebrate the founding of this organization, including forums, lectures, a brunch, and a BSU reunion. Also, Luther’s Nursing Department observes a birthday—its 40th—this fall. Kris Dreifuerst ’85 will lead a workshop for nursing educators and deliver the Ironside Distinguished (Alumni) Lecture in Nursing, which will be followed by an open house at Luther’s simulation lab. These two milestones illustrate the ways in which Luther has grown in opportunities and diversity.
It would be great to see you during Homecoming weekend. If you can't attend, check out the Homecoming schedule online and participate in some events that are streamed live such as the Sunday Festival Eucharist (10:00 a.m) and the Sunday Homecoming Concert (1:30 pm).
Join the freshman class? It’s the start of a new school year at Luther, one that promises to be as wonderfully action-packed as ever. In August, the college welcomed 575 new students to campus. Over the summer, they read a book you may remember from your past: The Odyssey. This year’s edition comes with a twist in that it’s the first English translation by a woman, Emily Wilson. By all accounts, it’s a vivid, engaging, and sprightly retelling of the classic homecoming story. If you’re up for reading what Luther freshmen read, you can find the reading guide at the following location: luther.edu/paideia/program/summer-reading/the-odyssey. I have to be honest and say I'm glad I didn't have to do any reading before beginning Luther. Expectations for students at all levels have certainly changed over time.
Or perhaps you'd like to be a sophomore: In a recent letter from President Carlson to the Luther President's Council, she noted that the second year can be challenging for many students. With that in mind, Luther is actively exploring new ways to engage sophomores more effectively and assist them with potential obstacles. There will be a first-time gathering this fall for returning sophomores who will be joined by faculty and staff for a special dinner on the Farwell Clearing (Library Lawn). Luther will also be implementing a recently-funded pilot program of peer mentors and alumni mentors that will initially serve first and second year students.
Retirement of President Carlson: You may have heard that President Paula Carlson will retire at the end of the 2018–19 academic year. Among other things during her time at Luther, President Carlson added several academic programs to the college, renewed outdoor facilities, expanded Luther’s Career Center services, developed and launched the “Next Steps for Sophomores” program, added a dean of institutional equity and inclusion to Luther’s staff, and achieved Luther’s goal of reducing its carbon footprint by 50 percent by the end of 2015. Luther’s Board of Regents is taking the necessary steps in the presidential search process with the hope of transitioning leadership over the course of next summer and having a new president in place for the 2019–20 academic year.
Luther enrollment: Enrollment is a concern for most small, liberal arts colleges, especially in the Midwest. As Luther constantly evaluates its strategies, it is embarking on an initiative to clarify its brand strategy. The goal is to define Luther in a straightforward and genuine way that resonates with prospective students. A Brand Advisory Task Force of faculty, staff, students, alumni, and Board of Regents members has been formed to take on this task.
Diversity: When I was at the Luther Housing Office this summer, I asked the three students working there where they were from. The answer was: Rochester (MN), Afghanistan, and Nepal...and later I met the friend of one of them who was from Pakistan. When I looked at the 2017 incoming student data, I learned that 9% were international students and that 13% were U.S. students of color...positive changes since we were at Luther.
Special connections: Reunions and celebrations with family and friends are often highlights of our summers. It is also wonderful to stay in touch with our Luther classmates and many of you have gotten together over the years in person, by phone, or by email. Several of us who lived in Larsen Hall our freshman year got together on Nordic Fest weekend this past July to get reacquainted and share fun times. Many things stand out from that weekend...the shared memories, the laughter, visiting old and new "haunts", the serious conversations as well as the great food and entertainment of Nordic Fest. It was truly a heart-warming weekend. The conversation continues as emails fly back and forth among us since we were together.
We have so much in common and the years fade away once we connect again many years later. If you want to locate a Luther friend from the "old days", the Luther Alumni Directory can be a place to start: luther.edu/alumni/directory. Hope you can make a connection!
Supporting Luther: Thanks for your continued support of Luther in a variety of ways. Our class in 2017 continued its generous financial support with 43.23% participation of giving to All Funds with a total amount of $266,600.88. This support is crucial to students who choose Luther as their college home. In 2017, 98% of students received some form of financial assistance (need-based or academic). Sixty-six percent received need-based assistance with an average package of $39,240. Eighty-five percent received academic scholarships.
What's new with you? While changes are afoot at our alma mater, Luther also holds tight to its traditions, like keeping in touch with valued alumni. Ken Melby and I look forward to hearing from each of you about what is happening in your life. Feel free to contact us for any reason. A contact I got from one of our classmates after the fall 2017 class agent letter ultimately led to the get-together several of us had at Luther this summer.
Best wishes for a fall that's as beautiful as it is in the Oneota Valley.
1960 class agents:
2820 Mickelson Parkway, #304
Madison, WI 53711-6482
705 Serenity Drive
Decorah, IA 52101
Carol (Anderson) Haubrich was inducted into the Pipestone (Minn.) Area Schools Instrumental Hall of Fame for her work as a piano teacher.
Lydelle M. Bentz of Seneca, Ill., died Jan. 23, 2018, age 79.
Shirley A. (Wermager) Eiken of Winona, Minn., died May 28, 2018, age 79.
Norman J. Hanson of LeRoy, Minn., died Feb. 18, 2018, age 82.
Brad Hustad of Marana, Ariz., died Feb. 23, 2018, age 81.
Lois (Steffenson) Johnson of Rochester, Minn., died July 7, 2018, age 80.
Edna (Rolfs) Miller of Marion, Iowa, died Dec. 17, 2017, age 83.
Beverly (Hoops) Solberg of Madison, Wis., died May 31, 2018, age 79.
The full obituaries of classmates listed in this letter can be found on the Luther College website at: luther.edu/in-memoriam/
If you would like a printout of the obituaries listed above in their entirety mailed to you, please contact us at: [email protected], or 563-387-1509.