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 that many Luther grads will remember from Paideia: The Odyssey. This year’s edition comes with a twist: it’s the first English translation by a woman, Emily Wilson, and by all accounts it’s a vivid, engaging, and sprightly retelling of the classic homecoming story. If you’re up for a return to your Paideia roots, you can join the fun through Luther’s reading guide to the book: luther.edu/paideia/program/summer-reading/the-odyssey.
Speaking of homecomings, this year we’ll celebrate two important milestones during Luther’s Homecoming Weekend, October 26–28. 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 the organization—including forums, lectures, a brunch, and a BSU reunion—so mark your calendars. Luther’s Nursing Department also observes a birthday—its 40th—this fall. Homecoming Weekend, 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.
In addition to Homecoming lecturers, Luther will welcome other notable speakers to campus this season. On October 23, social psychologist Jonathan Haidt will deliver the Farwell Distinguished Lecture, “The Coddling of the American Mind: How Good Intentions and Bad Ideas Are Setting Up a Generation for Failure.” His book of the same name, published earlier this month, explores how the cultural climate of “safetyism” on college campuses across the U.S. interferes with the healthy development of students. He argues that recent social and cultural trends are setting children up to fail as healthy, autonomous, adaptable adults. If you don’t have time to read the book, you can get a snapshot through Haidt’s Atlantic article: theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2015/09/the-coddling-of-the-american-mind/399356.
The school year brings so many new beginnings – it’s such an exciting time for everyone. I do need to draw attention to one new beginning that also has a significant nod to the past. On July 21st, I (Jane Bakker Theodore ’85) married Mike Smutny ’85. What is most remarkable about a nuptial 30+ years after graduation is the groundswell of support and love from our Luther friends. There is something so magical about our time at Luther and then add the lottery luck to realize that your soulmate was right there all the time. Yes, it is the start of a new school year, but for Mike and me it is a new lease on life and I feel very fortunate that Luther played such a pivotal role in so many ways!
Finally, most have heard that President Paula Carlson will retire at the end of the 2018–19 academic year. 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, among other things. 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.
While changes are afoot at our alma mater, Luther also holds tight to its traditions, like keeping in touch with valued alumni. We hope you’ll let us know what’s new in your life too! Until then, best wishes for a fall that’s as beautiful as it is in the Oneota Valley.
Jane (Theodore) Bakker
1985 Class Agent
409 Division Street
Oak Park, IL 60302-1438
1985 Class Agent
5841 N. Kenmore, # 1
Chicago, IL 60660
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