Class of 1965 Spring 2019 Letter

Dear Luther Class of ’65 Friends!

Beautiful sunshine!  Some pristine snow! (and some not so pristine!)  COLD temps and BOLD North winds!  51 degrees below zero!  Will Spring come soon?

Transformed by the Journey – 150 Years of Luther College In Word and Image

By Wilfred Bunge (2011)

1861 - Who We Were

Luther began with the primary purpose of preparing young men (women were not eligible), for specialized theological study, leading to ministry in the Norwegian Lutheran Church.

1944 – Things are Changing!!!

“Bobby pins and Lipstick Keep Luther College Going,” a Des Moines Register article stated:  The journalism department no longer boasts of being the last impregnable male stronghold.  Bobby pins and lipstick are now the lifeblood of CHIPS!   Girls man(!) the controls as well as the mikes at the campus radio station KWLC.  And “coeducation has saved our college.” says Dr O.J.H. Preus, president.

2011 – Who We Are

1. Intellectual Inquiry

2. Community of Faith, Learning, and Vocation

3. Lutheran Emphases in Education

- Critical thinking

- The world as creation - Best possible use and care of all that is 

- Lords and servants – Everyone has a calling to respond to and shape work to service

4. Complications/contradictions – The grace of God is unconditional acceptance that can be both wondrous and dangerous for human beings

5.  Centrality of the Bible in Lutheran theology – The study of the Bible encourages an understanding of responsible human life as service for the common good 

6. Worship and song – music has a central role in worship and the “word” allows for a considerable variety of Christian or interfaith expression


Jerry Vallem, a self-proclaimed proud member of our Class of ’65, sent me an email last October.  I found his information interesting and want to share it with you.

He recommended the book Transformed by the Journey I quoted from above, available from the Luther Bookstore.   He also compiled the following information:

1.  Class year 1961-62, our freshman year, 1357 students.

- 1195 were Lutheran and the remaining 162 were members of a variety of Christian groups, including one Roman Catholic.  (“a brave soul,” Jerry commented.)

2.  He also gathered this information from our 1965 Commencement program:

- 270 grads

- 28 different majors listed (most frequent: #1 Elementary Ed., by a large margin as there wasn’t much else for females, #2. Business Administration, then English, History, and Sociology)

- 49 classmates had double majors

 - 4 Foreign languages - Spanish, French, German, and Norwegian

- 14 states were represented; Iowa led with 84, followed by Minnesota at 73, Wisconsin 60, and Illinois 29.

- 5 international classmates; 2 from China and 1 each from Tanzania, Norway, and Rhodesia.

 - 21 students came from the town of Decorah

I also received this current enrollment (2018-19) information from Luther College:

1.  2018 Fall Semester enrollment:

                  - 2005 students

                  - 554 first year students and 18 transfer students (572 total)

- 236 students of color (11.8%), 177 international students (8.8%)

                  - 451 first generation students (22.5%)

                  - 39 states and 74 countries represented in the total enrollment

                  - 38% report Lutheran as their religious affiliation

2.  J-term 2019 information:

- 365 students set off across the globe on 16 international and two domestic Luther faculty led courses

- Luther is ranked among the top baccalaureate colleges in the nation for the percentage of students who study abroad prior to graduation (see our scholarship recipient Britta Erie thank you below)

Our Class of 1965 Scholarship is supporting two current seniors at Luther.  Here are excerpts from notes I received from them sharing their thanks for the impact of your scholarship gifts:

Britta Erie ’19, from Gilbert, Minn.

I would like to send you my deepest appreciation for your interest.  Without your influence, my experience at Luther may not have been an option.  I’m very appreciative of your gift and the opportunities you give to others. 

As a senior, I will be graduating with a psychology major and Spanish minor, with an interest in pursuing occupational therapy.  As a junior, I had the experience of a lifetime by participating in the Nottingham Academic Year Program.  I traveled to 11 countries, learned of valuable cultures, and spread Luther love. 

There are no actions or words so meaningful to show my appreciation for this scholarship.  Thank you for supporting my Luther education and all the knowledge I have gained! 

Connor Murphy ’19, from Tiffin, Iowa

I am a senior management major. In addition to my studies, I am a member of the wrestling team and keep involved in the community of Decorah.  Thank you for the generous Class of 1965 Scholarship.  I accepted a job with GEICO starting this June in their management program so will soon be tackling my student loans!  Thanks again!!! 

We alumni can make a difference for current students at Luther!

Visit the Luther Alumni Ambassadors Program webpage for instructions on how to recommend prospective Luther students to the Admissions Office.  Each student you refer will receive a $1,000 scholarship (in your name!) each year, for four years, should they decide to enroll at Luther.

Closing excerpts from Transformed by the Journey, reminding us of the experiences Luther provided that sustain our friendships and inform the life choices  we make each day - “Lutherness”:

1.  A wide variety of academic disciplines that allowed the exploration of the six “Who We Are” listed at the beginning of this letter

2. A community of shared traditions and values among individuals having a variety of interests and concerns

3. Friendliness (different from niceness), a basic to the Luther spirit of each of its members.  “A friendly community treats all members with courtesy and respect – everyone is welcome.”

We are privileged to have graduated from a highly-respected academic college coupled with Christian values and respect for the worth of others and the readiness to support that worth when needed.   Over 50 years later, we are still spreading that “Lutherness” we enjoyed at our beloved Luther College.

Soli Deo Gloria!

Lori (Wogen) Haaland
1965 Class Agent
12245 Edison Street NE
Blaine, MN 55449-5719
[email protected]

Welcome Back Norkie and The Sacred Cow!


Hello to all my Luther pals from the magnificent Class of 65. Can we have a hallelujah moment! Norkie is glad to be back writing to my favorites once again.  After the last ember of Homecoming burned out, Norkie took an alumni trip to India for 20 days. The sights and sounds of India are dramatic and of great contrast.  Where else can one go in a city of 14 million and see sacred cows walking in the streets and parks, completely free to do whatever.

On the return trip home of 19 hours, an old memory suddenly flashed through the Norkster’s mind about sacred cows. There was a time in the days of your class that Luther celebrated its own sacred cow. Lets go back to those thrilling days of yesteryear to recall the Luther sacred cow.  The year was 1965 and the Upper Iowa River had flooded and disgorged a dead cow on the riverbanks of Luther, below the student union. The sad condition of the cow, after all it’s dead, led some in your class to seek a way to honor the dead cow, provide an honorable send off, and free its soul for the next life.

A small group from your class gathered together over a few cold ones to discuss this very serious matter. The solution that came to them, in an- ah ha moment; they would bring the cow from the riverbank to the front of the union and lay its poor body in a hole that already existed next to the front door. It seemed like a great idea at the time!

The execution phase was conducted in three parts and at night. First, a sheet of plywood needed to be borrowed from a dorm construction site. Then the sheet of plywood was taken for modification to the home of Erling’s Naeseth’s (Dean of Men), parents’ home so that some of their tools could be used to cut a hole in the plywood. This was accomplished and a good size chain was strung through the hole in the plywood to be hooked to a vehicle.

Second, timing is everything in these matters, and so the trek down to the cow in a pickup truck did not start until after the midnight hour. First, a stop at the construction site to pick up enough plywood sheets to make a road down to the riverbank. A chain was hooked around the cow, she was pulled onto the plywood sheet, and off the crew went pulling the cow and sheet of plywood back to dry land. At each interval a stop was made to load up the plywood highway and return it all to the construction site.

The third phase was to haul the sacred cow to the hole. Because the cow and plywood were being dragged over the road, it raised quite a noise.

All of a sudden, the lights went on in the dorms. By that time the cow and the crew were at the hole. Students started to pour out of the dorms heading for the hole. With all the strength they could muster the crew got the cow off the plywood and into the hole. Said a blessing over the cow, dropped some sacred alcohol on the cow and hastily left the scene. The students screamed that they could identify who the crew was! The crew responded with their own epithets, something about how the students knew squat.

Next day, Erling stopped some of the crew on the way to campus. He wanted to personally thank them for saving Luther a bunch of money by not having to pay someone to remove a sacred object.  Great how your class always looks out for what is best for Luther! Well, that’s the memory and I’m stickin to it!

To borrow a golf analogy, we are all playing the back nine of life hoping for a playoff and a few more holes. Stay well! See you when you boogie into Decorah.



Larry Peterson has worked on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota for 30 years and lived there for 17. He spent the past four years living at Outlaw Ranch and serving as a full time volunteer helping with programs that connect campers with Native American people living on the Pine Ridge Reservation and in North Rapid City, S.D.

We are pleased to announce Dr. Jenifer K. Ward as the 11th president of Luther College! For more information about President-elect Ward, visit

As you may remember from your Fall 2018 Class Agent letter, Luther has recently completed an extensive brand strategy research process.


As a result of our research and in collaboration with members of the Luther community, we have developed several statements that will guide future communications.

We know that you, our alumni, are often asked about your alma mater. What you say to prospective students and their families about Luther College can have a huge impact on their decisions to visit campus, apply and, hopefully, enroll.

You know Luther well. You matter to us and we’re interested in hearing from you.

We invite you to take a few minutes to preview some of our new statements and share your thoughts. The example statements, as well as a response survey, are available online:

Many thanks!

If you have any questions please email Catherine Dyer, Brand and Marketing Director at [email protected]