As I sit down to write this letter, it is a gorgeous, sunny day and our family is enjoying the leisurely pace that an August morning affords! The hustle and bustle of a school morning is still two weeks away; many books are being read, Lego creations constructed and bike riding and swimming are in full swing. My children, Lilly and Nathan, are still in the sweet spot (ages 5 and a newly-turned 11) of a summertime full of camps, activities and minimal academic and “life” expectations. I know that this season literally and figuratively cannot last forever and am reminded daily to take mental snapshots-relying on my senses to cement these moments in time.
It seems like we all are in a perpetual “season of change.” This year marks my 19th year of teaching elementary general music and the familiar butterflies of a new school year are making their way into my belly. Academic change is inevitable in our household as Lilly begins middle school and Nathan will begin kindergarten. I know many of you have similar configurations in your household with some heading off to high school or even college! Time does indeed march on. Next week Lilly and I will attend her middle school orientation and I am reminded of our Luther New Student Orientation that many of us had in the fall of 1996.
Although the small details of that weekend are a bit foggy, the overwhelming sensation of belonging and excitement is seared into my body. Sure, the nerves that go along with a new experience were present, but the larger-than-life feeling of arrival and acceptance is what I tend to reflect on. As I thought about my experience, I decided to read this year’s New Student Orientation packet and see what activities and experiences await the 2018 first-year and transfer students.
First and foremost, the required reading of The Odyssey, is an expectation this year! As the world continues to change it is comforting to know that this timeless story still connects Norse of the past and present. This year’s edition is the first English translation by a woman, Emily Wilson, and Ms. Wilson will be this year’s Opening Convocation speaker. An additional twist on our beloved Odyssey story will be presented by Joe Goodkin. Part lecture, part musical performance and part interactive discussion with the highlight being 24 original songs with lyrics inspired by Odysseus’ adventures. Wow! I wonder if those catchy songs would have enabled me to participate more confidently in Professor Edman’s discussions!
I hope that you still feel connected to Luther and think about your experiences and friendships from time to time. Perhaps you are looking forward to returning to campus for Homecoming festivities. I would like to share a few notable bits of information with you pertaining to this year’s schedule.
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..
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.
As I conclude this year’s letter, I want to leave you with the new Norse Creed. While reading the orientation packet, I was struck by the Norse Creed that all first-year and transfer students sign. I remember signing the honor code, but did not have any memory of this creed. After some research I learned that the Norse Creed was adopted by the student senate in this spring.
I am a Luther Norse.
I am a citizen of the world. I am inclusive and compassionate to all. We value and recognize all faiths. We are a diverse Community.
I engage in learning beyond my interests I display integrity through my actions. We hold ourselves and each other accountable. We project Leadership.
I am determined to make the world sustainable. I possess an open mind. We show reverence for individuals. We demonstrate Respect.
We are learning to be well rounded people. We are becoming more. We Are Luther.
Let’s all make a pact this fall to relish in the joyful youth of first year experiences. May the feelings of arrival and acceptance that welcomed you as a new student sustain you in your daily endeavors. We truly are Luther!
Jenn (Potter) Walker
2000 Class Agents:
Jenn (Potter) Walker
428 19th Street NE
Cedar Rapids, IA 5240
91 Lockwood Court
Hudson, WI 54016
Kelli (Punt) Bacon is a certified local government coordinator at Nebraska State Historical Society in Lincoln.
Kwadwo Bekoe is a realtor sales associate at Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices in Washington Township, N.J. and a staff pharmacist at Rite Aid Pharmacy.
Brandson Dean is the artistic director and conductor of the Gustavus Choir at Gustavus Adolphus College in St. Peter, Minn.
Sara (Donhowe) Goldberg is director of development for Humanity & Inclusion (formerly, Handicap International) in Takoma Park, Md. Sara hosted two Luther student interns over J-Term, Cheragh “Ali” Yazdani ’18, and Lauren Knuckey ’18, who helped the organization with the launch of the organization’s new name and website: www.hi-us.org.
Chris Hoden is operations manager of forestry for John Deere in Dubuque, Iowa.
Elizabeth (Kephart) Reisinger is communications and marketing manager for Hill Museum and Manuscript Library (HMML) at Saint John’s University in Collegeville, Minn. A recent episode of the CBS news program 60 Minutes featured HMML and its global preservation work.
Scott Vial is lieutenant colonel in the United States Army. He is assigned duty at the University of Minnesota where he is a doctoral student in environmental health.
Jenn (Potter) Walker, of Cedar Rapids, was selected to conduct the 2017 5th and 6th Grade Mixed Opus Honor Choir at the state honor choir festival held at CY Stephens Auditorium (Ames). During the 2017-2018 school year, Jenn’s Novak Elementary School choir, the Novak Notes was selected to perform at the Iowa Choral Showcase and Jenn was chosen as the "2018 Linn County Educator of the Year" and the 2018 East Central Uniserv District “Educator of the Year.”
TAMMY (SWENSON) '02 and KEVIN KAMPFE welcomed a son, Eli Evin, in May 2016.
Meleah and SCOTT NUMEDAHL welcomed a son, Milo Marc, in December 2017.