Class of 1996 Fall 2019 Letter

Fall 2019

Dear Class of 1996 Alumni,

I’m thinking of the our new President Ward’s words, “Being both grounded in Decorah, Iowa with a face to the world” right now.  I still think of Luther when I think of where my closest friendships and the depth of my love of music were developed.  I still have the opportunity to spend time at Luther every now and then and I still enjoy reminiscing about the Whippy Dip and Mabe’s, but when I really think about Luther, those were not really where I spent any time.  I spent my time in Valders, bent over a book or sitting in a lab.  I spent my time in Jenson, in a room by myself or in a room with lots of people.  I spent my time going to and from the Caf.  I spent my time in Larsen, Main, and the CFL.  Those are the places where my face spent most of its time at Luther.  And now, even more than 20 years later, my face still carries Luther with me.  I don’t have children of my own, but the children of my friends are beginning to look at Luther as they consider their college experience.  I hope that they will find the same kind of grounding experience I had in 1996 from 2019 Luther of today and will choose to put their faces there.

It promises to be an exciting year for Luther. In November, the college inaugurated its eleventh president, Dr. Jenifer K. Ward. President Ward joins the Luther community with more than three decades of experience as an educator, scholar, and academic leader after serving, most recently, as provost and dean of the college at Centenary College in Shreveport, Louisiana. Prior to joining Centenary, President Ward served in several leadership roles at Cornish College of the Arts in Seattle, Washington, including dean of the college, interim provost, and associate provost. She was also a faculty member at Gustavus Adolphus College, where she taught German. 

In a message to the Luther community, President Ward said, “Our work together must be strategic, collaborative, creative, and—most importantly—must articulate what it means to be both grounded in Decorah, Iowa with a face to the world, and set goals for how we can adapt Luther’s past and present for a sustainable future.” 

A self-described extrovert and lover of art, film, and literature, President Ward started her duties at Luther July 1, and her official inauguration took place November 1–3.

Learn more about President Ward—including her thoughts on food, art, Twitter, Decorah, and higher ed—on Luther’s YouTube channel (, then search “Luther College President Ward”) or in the fall issue of the Luther Magazine:

Also, while you’re at it, use this checklist to up your Luther social media game:

❏     Follow Luther College on Twitter: @LutherCollege
    Follow Luther College on Instagram: @LutherCollege
    Follow the Luther College Alumni Facebook page:

And, finally, keep in mind that Christmas at Luther takes place December 5–8. This year’s theme is Whom Angels Greet with Anthems Sweet. Luther would be happy to see you there!

Ami (Shoup) Patra


1996 Class Agents:

Andy Sassaman
2365 Allan Drive Road
Decorah, IA 52101-7576
[email protected]

Ami (Shoup) Patra
6212 South Dover St.
Littleton CO 80123-3218
[email protected]

Jessica (Kettles) Pearson
2835 Hartford Avenue
Grand Junction, CO 81503
[email protected]



Heather (Hendrickson) Allyn is director of compliance and innovation at Grandma’s Place in Brooklyn Park, Minn.

Marti (Zacher) Crosby is vice president of strategic growth and business development at The Disruptive Element in Minneapolis.

Milt Hendrickson was named director of football operations for the Green Bay Packers in Green Bay, Wis.

Sarah (Voorhees) Hershberger is pastor of Grace Evangelical Lutheran Church in Shamokin, Pa.

Erin (Blagsvedt) Jorgensen is director, publishing and managing editor of Rental Management Magazine, the official publication of the American Rental Association in Moline, Ill.

Jonathan Larson is senior motion designer at LendingClub in San Francisco.

Ray Melton is partner at SmithAmundsen in Rockford, Ill.

Jill Osier is the 2019 winner of the Yale Series of Younger Poets Prize. Yale University Press will publish her collection, The Solace Is Not the Lullaby, in April 2020.

Eric Scott is a board certified vascular and endovascular surgeon at The Iowa Clinic in West Des Moines, Iowa.

Hans Steine of Cedar Rapids, Iowa, is an anesthesiologist with Linn County Anesthesiologists.


AMI (SHOUP) HALL and Pavan Patra, Feb. 24, 2019