Class of 2011 Fall 2018 Letter

Fall 2018

Dear Classmate,

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:

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:

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.

Kelsey Leppert
2011 Class Agent
2732 8th Avenue SE
Altoona, IA 50009
[email protected]

Alex Ulfers
2011 Class Agent
501 W. 47th Street, Apt. 3E
New York, NY 10036
[email protected]

Kelsey Wauters
2011 Class Agent
5225 Black Friar Lane
Minnetonka, MN 55345
[email protected]


Jeni Arbuckle is director of sales at Backpacker, Climbing, and Ski magazines for Active Interest Media in Boulder, Colo. 

Rachel Barclay is advancement associate at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, D.C.

Andrew Bhagyam earned a doctor of dental surgery degree from the University of Minnesota and is an oral and maxillofacial surgery resident at UTHealth in Houston.

Eric Boyken is a regional information security officer at Catholic Health Initiatives in Omaha, Neb.

Jesse Bunge earned a master’s degree in music education from the University of Kansas, was a guest lecturer at Wartburg College, and is a former board member for the Iowa Choral Directors Association. Jesse is director of vocal music at Eagle Valley Schools in Gypsum, Colo., and is also a director of honor choirs and an active clinician. 

Peter Burleson is an account technician at Allianz Global Corporate and Specialty in Minneapolis. 

Felecia DeJong earned a master’s degree in education/culturally responsive leadership and instruction from Drake University and teaches special education for the Des Moines (Iowa) Public Schools. 

Brett Epperson earned a master of music degree in choral conducting from Michigan State University. He is artistic director and conductor of Lincoln Lutheran Choir in Lincoln, Neb., and is a vocal music director at Lincoln East High School. He received the Lincoln Public Schools Inspire Educator Award in 2016.

Nicole (Wilson) Goetzl is senior consultant at Comcast Cable in Englewood, Colo.

Michaela Hill is the program coordinator for Teach in Spain with the Council on International Educational Exchange in Andalucía, Spain.

Kim Horner earned the master of science degree in migration studies from the University of Oxford, receiving distinction on her degree as well as on her thesis which was a qualitative study focused on the experience of dreamers under the Trump administration.

Abigail Igo is a service automation business analyst for the Americas at 3M in Maplewood, Minn. 

Christine Kennedy is an ESL teacher for the Minneapolis Public Schools.

Grant Klacan is a chemist at Pace Analytical in Oakdale, Minn.

Adam Kobler is CEO and lead consultant at Protagonist in Minneapolis.

Will Layton earned a master of divinity degree from Wartburg Theological Seminary and became an ordained ELCA pastor in 2017. He is pastor at St. John’s Lutheran Church in St. Donatus, Iowa, and St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in La Motte, Iowa.

Camille (Stenhaug) McVenes of Shoreview, Minn., is a stay-at-home-mom.

Ryan Monroe earned a master’s degree in exercise and sport science from the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse and a master’s degree in business administration and management from Chadron State College. He is manager of corporate and community health and wellness at Vernon Memorial Healthcare in Viroqua, Wis., and Illinois state coordinator for Action for Healthy Kids. 

Erik Mortens completed family medicine residency and is a physician with Unity Point Clinics in Des Moines, Iowa.

Katie Nichols is a physician assistant at Denver Health in Denver.

Nick Nienhaus is a residential estimator and contract sales representative at Superior Building Center in Monona, Iowa.

Bethany (Van Sloten) and Dustin Noble live in Decorah. She is a reading support teacher at Allamakee Community School District in Waukon, Iowa. He is an attorney at the Anderson, Wilmarth, Van Der Maaten, Belay, Fretheim, Gipp and Zahasky law firm. 

Joshua Patterson of Rockford, Ill., is co-founder of Wabongo Leadership Council and was selected as one of the Register Star newspaper’s “People to Watch” in 2018.

Erin (Daniels) Rubach of Bettendorf, Iowa, is co-owner of R&R Family Dentistry.

Rachel Rudeen is events coordinator for the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis. 

Ellyn (Phearman) Schaupp earned a master’s degree in physician assistant studies from Carroll University in Waukesha, Wis.

Kelsey (Leppert) Sjoblom is associate attorney at Duncan, Green, Brown & Langeness, P.C. in Des Moines, Iowa.

Steven Yang is an actuary at New York Life in New York City.

Rachel (Albert) Yim is a visiting research specialist at the Learning Sciences Research Institute at the University of Illinois in Chicago.


LAURA (DAVIS) and Nathan Dahlke welcomed a son, Rhett Willard, in January 2018.

Steffanie and ERIK MORTENS welcomed a daughter, Sophie, in January 2017.


ZACH HALL and Katie Elliot, July 16, 2016

ADAM KRUSE and Ashley Turk, Aug. 26, 2017



Adam Voss of Decorah died July 11, 2018, age 27.

The full obituary of the classmate listed in this letter can be found on the Luther College website at:

If you would like a printout of the obituary listed above in its entirety mailed to you, please contact us at: [email protected], or 563-387-1509.