His Excellency Ambassador Wegger Chr. Strømmen of the Royal Norwegian Embassy in Washington, D.C. has the honor of announcing that the Royal Norwegian Order of Merit will be conferred on President Richard Torgerson of Luther College. President Torgerson will be awarded the Order by Norwegian Honorary Consul Quentin Boyken on behalf of His Majesty King Harald V of Norway as part of a program of events to take place on the Luther College campus in Decorah, Iowa on Friday, May 3, 2013.
The Royal Order of Merit, founded by H.M. King Olav V in 1985, is awarded to foreign nationals who have performed exceptional service in the promotion of Norway and Norwegian interests abroad. President Torgerson will receive the award in recognition of his efforts to maintain, foster and strengthen Luther's close relationship with Norway during his 14-year tenure as President of Luther College.
For the past 151 years, Luther has honored its treasured ties to Norway. As the first college in America founded by Norwegian immigrants, Luther’s heritage is a source of great pride. Luther has stewarded its Norwegian heritage in many ways, including:
· Hosting eight visits by members of the Norwegian Royal Family, including the October 2011 visit by Their Majesties King Harald V and Queen Sonja.
· Active involvement in Decorah, Iowa’s annual Nordic Fest.
· Collaboration with and support of the Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum in Decorah.
· Co-sponsoring the prestigious Nobel Peace Prize Forum for 25 years.
· Coordinating the Scandinavian Summer Institute for 48 years.
· Active engagement in the Norwegian American Historical Association.
· Bringing a variety of Norwegian musicians, scholars and government officials to campus.
· Maintaining close ties with Luther College’s sister ELCA Norwegian Colleges in academic and co-curricular endeavors.
President Torgerson has served as a dedicated, visionary leader of Luther College for the past 14 years. He has improved all aspects of the college, including its ties to Norway. The most recent example of how President Torgerson has promoted Norwegian interests is the announcement by the Luther College Board of Regents that the Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies will be established at Luther College.
This new Center will build on strengths and resources already available on campus to forge new and stronger ties with Norway and other Scandinavian countries, and will serve students who want to pursue Scandinavian studies in connection with their other fields of interest. The Tomson Family Endowed Chair in Norwegian Language and Modern Nordic Culture will serve as the academic foundation of the center. The Torgerson Center will also support Vesterheim’s Museum student internships, academic and research travel to Scandinavia for Luther College faculty, and visiting scholars-in-residence from Scandinavia.