Class of 1997 Fall 2018 Letter

Fall 2018

Greetings ’97 Alum!

I just returned from my annual long weekend trip that I take with several women I met at Luther 25 years ago. Every year we get together to celebrate our friendship that began as residents in freshman dorms designed to encourage meeting new people and creating lifelong friends.  I had no idea then how the intentional community design would ring so true. At last year’s reunion during Homecoming Weekend, I heard many of these types of lasting friendship stories.  If you are interested in helping a young person you know in attending Luther, check out the Alumni Ambassador Program. You can play a direct role with the Admissions Office in recruiting the next generation of Luther students creating lifelong friendships. Every student referred receives a $1,000 scholarship each year should they enroll at Luther.  Visit to learn more.

Speaking of homecoming, 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.

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. Using social media is another way to stay connected with Luther’s campus. Go to for links to Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn, etc. 

Best wishes for a fall that’s as beautiful as it is in the Oneota Valley.

Sara Isbell Cunningham


1997 class agents:

Sara Isbell Cunningham
5145 Washburn Avenue S.
Minneapolis MN 55410
[email protected]

Jodi (Nelsen) Dettman
2210 21st Avenue SE
Rochester MN 55904-5995
[email protected]

Geoff Pesanka
411 E. Indian School Road
Apt. 1035
Phoenix AZ 85012
[email protected]


Val (Yelton) Baul is a domestic paralegal at Kansas Legal Services in Kansas City, Kan. She is also a Kansas Supreme Court approved mediator. 

Jennifer Boomgaarden is president and CEO of the Omaha Symphony in Omaha, Neb.

Julie (Bush) Buerman of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was named the Iowa Golf Association (IGA) Women’s Player of the Year. Buerman posted numerous top finishes and was the Forever 39 Match Play in 2017. She also was medalist at the IGA Women’s Club Team event, a semifinalist in the IGA Women’s Match Play and finished in third place at the IGA Women’s Four-Ball (with partner Janelle Carter). Julie teaches chemistry for the Cedar Rapids Community Schools and is head girls’ golf coach at Kennedy High School. 

Betsy (Clink) Candler is a lecturer at U.C. Hastings College of the Law in San Francisco. 

Rockne Cole is an attorney at Cole Law Firm PC in Iowa City, Iowa.

Chris Harris is senior wealth advisor at Hawkins Wealth Management in North Liberty, Iowa.

Turena Johnson Lane of Baton Rouge, La., was inducted into the U.S. Track & Field and Cross Country Coaches Association’s NCAA Division III Track & Field Athlete Hall of Fame.

Beth (Ramsey) Shumate of Clancy, Mont., was selected as the state parks administrator for the State of Montana by Montana Fish, Wildlife, and Parks. Shumate oversees Montana’s 55 state parks and five outdoor recreation programs.