Class of 2009 Fall 2017 Letter

Fall 2017

Dear Classmate,

Lots has happened on campus since you received your spring 2017 class agent letter, and we hope you’ve been able to experience some of these events in person. For starters, RAGBRAI—the (Des Moines) Register’s Annual Great Bicycle Ride Across Iowa--came through Decorah July 28, and the Luther community enthusiastically greeted the estimated 15,000 riders with a large welcome sign, free Gatorade, water, and Norse cookies!

A short five weeks later, and the fall semester began for the college’s 157th academic year, welcoming 542 new students to campus. Acknowledging that these are turbulent times for our nation, Luther President Paula Carlson, in her Fall 2017 State of the College speech, urged us to “rededicate ourselves and our community to our founders’ vision of a more just society and to our namesake Martin Luther’s commitment to be true to conscience, to live by our core values and beliefs.”

Two facility dedication events were held in September: Legacy Field, the new blue synthetic turf system by AstroTurf that was installed over the summer in Carlson Stadium, was blessed in a special ceremony Sept. 9, part of a full day of Luther athletic events, which included a football victory over St. Olaf. Thanks to much-appreciated donor support, including a lead gift by Dennis ’64 and Suzanne Birkestrand, Luther now has one of the safest and most distinctive fields in NCAA Division III football. A week later, on Sept. 16, the college’s newly renovated 12 outdoor tennis courts were dedicated. The $1 million project—generously funded by an alumni couple who wishes to remain anonymous—has resulted in a more durable, stable, and consistent playing surface, making Luther’s outdoor tennis venues one of the best in the region. Many thanks to all of the donors who contributed to these projects.

Homecoming Weekend, Oct. 6-8, brought more than 2,000 alumni and friends to campus for 65 various events, including the annual alumni dinner Friday night, where a Distinguished Service Award was given to eight alumni. Play was suspended during the second quarter of Saturday’s football game due to lightning; after the game resumed, Norse player Cory Wirth ’18 went on to make a 25-yard field goal in overtime, leading his team to a 41-38 victory over Nebraska Wesleyan University. Go Norse!

Another highlight of Homecoming Weekend was the very well-attended official viewing, at Noble Recital Hall, of To This Day: Remembering Nordic Choir’s First International Tour. Aiden Spencer ’18 and Jacqueline Wilke, Luther professor of history, created this documentary film of Nordic Choir’s first international tour in 1967as part of a three-year student/faculty collaborative project.

Student/faculty collaborative projects are just one of the many ways learning happens beyond the classroom at Luther. Internships and externships are also vital components of a Luther education, as are study-away experiences, which are key to the global perspective Luther promotes.  Do you know high school students who could benefit from the kind of education Luther provides? If so, please refer them through the Alumni Ambassador Program, which awards $4,000 in scholarships to students who enroll after your referral. There was a form just for this purpose tucked in the pages of the Fall 2017 Luther Alumni Magazine, or you can submit one online at

The college’s year-long exploration of the Reformation—and celebration of its 500th anniversary—culminated October 31, 2017, with a day-long symposium and evening concert. The symposium—The Reformation of Everything, 1517-2017, Examining the Reformation and its Continuing Impact—looked at the impact the Reformation has had on Christianity, the Church, education, broader society, and culture; how it has shaped Luther College; and what its influence might look like in the future. Among the many distinguished presenters was Marty Haugen ’73, renowned composer of liturgical music. Later, the Reformation Commemoration Concert, where The Reformation Cantata was premiered, raised up the work of alumni and students. The cantata was anchored by four choral movements, composed by Luther alumni Daniel Kallman ’78, Sky Macklay ’10, Mark Petering ’95, and Daniel Raney ’92, and four instrumental interludes—composed by Luther students Pablo Gomez-Estévez ‘18, John Kuntz ’19, Caleb Linville ’19 and Hunter Prueger ’18—were interspersed throughout the work.

As you can see, it’s been a busy fall semester on campus, and we’ve only included some of the many happenings. Please keep Luther informed of what’s happening in your life and we will write again in the spring.


Justin Madsen
[email protected]

Julian Stanke
[email protected]


Allyson Czechowicz is a landscape architect at West 8 Urban Design & Landscape Architecture in New York City.

Laura Delikowski is academic advisor at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay.

Dana Franzen-Klein is a veterinary medicine resident and master’s student at the Gabbert Raptor Center of the University of Minnesota College of Veterinary Medicine in St. Paul.

Emily (Walk) Harris is retail credit supervisor for Hormel Foods Corporation in Austin, Minn.

Lindsey Johnson is associate registrar at the National University of Natural Medicine in Portland, Ore.

Kyle Lilly earned certification as a professional soil scientist and is a product manager and soil scientist for Timac Agro, a French-based sustainable agriculture company in Minneapolis.

Colton Long is the managing associate attorney specializing in labor and employment advising and litigation at Seyfarth Shaw, LLP, in Chicago, and is a board member for Chicago Volunteer Legal Services. He’s also a baritone in the Chicago Chorale.

Julia Mann is senior promo signing producer for Target in Minneapolis.

Kimberly (Hess) and Paul Meirick ’07 live in Nashville. Kim works in nursing informatics at the University of California, San Diego. Paul is primary care sports medicine fellow at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.

Aaron Peterson is assistant professor of instruction at Northwestern University in Evanston, Ill.

David Seiffert is a genetic counselor at Gundersen Health System in La Crosse, Wis.

Kristin Skaar is development and communications director for Habitat for Humanity Minnesota. She also is a board member and programming committee volunteer for Young Nonprofit Professionals Network of the Twin Cities.

Laura Thompson is a juris doctor candidate at Pepperdine School of Law in Malibu, Calif.

Joy Waughtal earned a master’s degree in public health from the Colorado School of Public Health in Aurora.


Maura Frana and COLTON LONG, June 14, 2014

DANA FRANZEN and Ben Klein, July 9, 2016

KIM HESS and PAUL MEIRICK ‘07, Sept. 4, 2016

LYDIA HUINKER and Brian Black, Aug. 13, 2016

MANDY INHOFER and Brett Johnson, Sept. 3, 2016

ELLIE MEYER and Andre Smith, Aug. 7, 2015

NATALIE (SCHULTZ) and Dante Barria, July 19, 2014

KATE ROE and Benjamin Hatten, May 14, 2016

JULIA SCHUMACHER and Jamie Utt, Jan. 15, 2017

JOY WAUGHTAL and Joshua Wise, Sept. 10, 201


ALICIA (WOLBER) and Daniel Grindle welcomed a daughter, Josephine Elise, in August 2016.

EMILY (WALK) and Brett Harris welcomed a son, Jacob Carrington, in January 2016.

MEGAN (HELDERMAN) and BLAKE HUMPAL welcomed a daughter, Haddie Jane, in December 2016.

STEPHANIE (BORGEN) and KEAGAN MEYER '11 welcomed a son, Louis, in November 2015.

JULIA (JENKINS) and JOE OLYNYK '10 welcomed a son, Leo, in April 2016.

KATIE (SACKETT) and Tony Stadheim welcomed a daughter, Coralyn Rose, in August 2015.

ALICIA (HALE) '10 and DAN ZACCARO welcomed a daughter, Aria, in February 2016.