Luther to award 10 alumni with Distinguished Service Awards

Luther College Interim President David L. Tiede will present the Luther Distinguished Service Award to 10 alumni Friday, Oct. 4, at the Celebration of Distinguished Service following the Jazz Orchestra concert at 8 p.m. in the Center for Faith and Life Main Hall on the Luther campus.

The Distinguished Service Award, one of the highest honors bestowed by the college, is given in recognition of success and achievements in professional fields, service to society, contributions to community and loyalty and service to Luther.

Recipients of the 2013 Luther Distinguished Service Awards are:

David Carlson, Decorah, Iowa, president of Randd Properties, Luther class of 1963, and Brenda (Landsgard) Carlson, Decorah, volunteer, Luther class of 1973

Gregory Hager, Baltimore, Md., professor and chair of the computer science department at Johns Hopkins University, deputy director of the NSF Engineering Research Center for Computer Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology, Luther class of 1983

Mike Kust, Brooklyn Park, Minn., chief marketing officer and managing director, Global Brand Launch at Aimia, Luther class of 1978

Nampua Nengola, Windhoek, Namibia, chief of public education and corruption prevention, Anti-Corruption Commission, Luther class 1998

Joel Ludvigsen, Brussels, Belgium, CEO of Induflex, Luther class of 1988

Selmer Norland, Silver Spring, Md., retired income tax preparer, Luther class of 1938

Kirk Stapleton, St. Louis Park, Minn., self-employed healthcare advisor, Luther class of 1978

Joan (Catlin) Totten, New Berlin, Wis., retired social worker, Luther class of 1963

Curt Wollan, St. Anthony, Minn., executive producer and director for Troupe

America, Inc., Luther class of 1973

David and Brenda (Landsgard) Carlson

David Carlson graduated from Luther in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in business administration. Brenda (Landsgard) Carlson graduated from Luther with a degree in elementary education in 1973. They are involved in the Decorah community, participating in church events, Nordic Fest and the Vesterheim Museum and are active with the Luther community.

The Carlsons sum up their lives' work with these words:

"As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord." Joshua 24:15. "We have been blessed with God's many gifts: our loving parents, six wonderful children and their spouses and 16 precious grandchildren, a home in a caring, diverse, small healthy community, many special friends here in Decorah and some far away, time and resources to be able to volunteer and serve our church and community as we are able, a loving church family, a relationship with Luther College that continues to nourish our minds and hearts, and most importantly, God's gift of His son, Jesus Christ, who died for our sins. To God alone the glory!" 

Gregory Hager

Gregory Hager, from Baltimore, Md., graduated from Luther in 1983 with a bachelor's degree in computer science and mathematics. He later received master's and doctoral degrees in computer science from the University of Pennsylvania in 1985 and 1988. From 1988-90, Hager was a Fulbright junior research fellow at the University of Karlsruhe and the Fraunhofer Institute IITB in Karlsruhe, Germany. He was a member of the computer science department at Yale University from 1991-99.

Since 1999, Hager has served as a professor of computer science with secondary appointments in mechanical and electrical and computer engineering at Johns Hopkins University. He also serves as the deputy director for the Center for Computer-Integrated Surgical Systems and Technology at Johns Hopkins. Hager has also served as a faculty member of the Graduate School of Informatics and Science in Health at the Technical University of Munich since 2009. His current research interests include time-series analysis of image data, image-guided robotics, medical applications of image analysis and robotics, and human-computer interaction. Hager is the author of more than 280 peer-reviewed research articles and books in the area of robotics and computer vision.

In 2006, Hager was awarded fellow of the IEEE for his contributions in Vision-Based Robotics. He has received Best Paper awards and nominations. His professional activities include being a part of the Computing Community Consortium Council, International Advisory Committee for the Conference on Computer Vision in Remote Sensing and International Federation of Robotics Research Board. Hager is presently on two editorial boards, the IEEE Transactions on Patter Analysis and Machine Intelligence and that of the "International Journal of Computer Vision."

Mike Kust

Mike Kust, of Brooklyn Park, Minn., graduated from Luther in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in speech communications and English. He has also completed the executive management program at the Kellogg School of Business, Northwestern University, Carlson School of Business and the University of Minnesota.  

After his graduation in 1978, he worked as a general manager and faculty adviser at KWLC Radio and a Luther admissions counselor until 1984. He and his wife, Amy, Luther class of 1978, are currently members of President's Council and Presidentsråd and co-host a variety of Luther events in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. He has been a part of the Alumni Council for 14 years and served as the first two-term president of the Luther Alumni Council. He, along with his mother, Mary, and brothers Dave, class of 1980; Dan, class of 1982; and Jeep, class of 1984, established the Robert R. Kust Memorial Scholarship in 2011 in honor of their father.

Kust's professional career spans several industries. He held sales and marketing leadership positions in the event and sports marketing, public relations and digital publishing industries. He is currently the chief marketing officer and managing director, at Global Brand at Aimia where he is responsible for marketing, communications, public relations, and brand management on a global scale. He is an invited speaker to regional, national and international marketing conferences and author of numerous articles on loyalty market, brand management, knowledge management and communications.

Kust is the recipient of several industry awards, including the Silver Anvil and Public Relations Society of America's honor, and has been honored for all the charitable work done by him in partnership with the Minnesota Timberwolves and the NBA and MaxiFund for Juvenile Diabetes. He is involved on the boards of the Make-A-Wish foundation, and the Max McGee Memorial Golf Classic for Juvenile Diabetes and has been a past church council member and co-chair of the building fund for Prince of Peace Lutheran.

Joel Ludvigsen

Joel Ludvigsen, a 1988 graduate of Luther, holds a bachelor's degree in accounting, economics and Spanish. He also attended the Universidad de Salamanca in Salamanca, Spain, and received a diploma in Spanish philology. He received his master's degree in business administration from Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration in 1996 and received a certificate of the Doctoral Training Programme at the Universite Libre de Bruxelles – School of Economics and Management in Brussels, Belgium, in 2009.

Ludvigsen began his career in 1988 in Madrid, Spain, as a manager in Audit Information Technology Group for KPMG Peat Marwick. In 1996, he moved to Bain & Company, which has offices in Europe, Latin America and the United States, as a strategic management consultant. In 1998, Ludvigsen became the vice president of uBid International and president of uBid Europe for, a leading online retailer selling computers and consumer electronics. There he managed the explosive growth of the business from 20 to 450 employees in less than two years.

Ludvigsen then moved to Brussels, Belgium, in 2001 to serve as the director of marketing at S.W.I.F.T, a financial industry-owned co-operative supplying secure, standardized messaging services and interface software to more than 8,100 financial institutions in 208 countries and territories. He has worked as the company manager at Asia Alternatives Belgium since 2007 and as the CEO of Induflex since 2008.

Namupa Nengola

Namupa Nengola graduated from Luther in 1998 with a bachelor's degree in mathematics. She earned a master's in business administration at the Eastern and Southern Africa Management Institute in Arusha, Tanzania in 2007.

Nengola joined the Ongwediva College of Education in Namibia in 1999 as the senior lecturer in the mathematics and science department. In 2003, she was appointed chief for party for the Namibian Education Technology Alliance. She became a partner and Internet marketing consultant at We Simplify Internet dba Toya IT Solutions in 2007. She became the project coordinator of the University of Namibia's University of Central Consultancy Bureau in 2008.

Since 2009, Nengola has worked as the chief of Public Education and Corruption Prevention at the Anti-Corruption Commission. There she manages, plans and organizes activities of the Public Education and Corruption Prevention directorate and educates and advises the public on ways to combat corruption.

Selmer Norland

Selmer Norland graduated from Luther in 1938 with a bachelor's degree in English and history. He went on to receive a master's degree in history from the University of Iowa in 1942.

Norland started his career in the small town of St. Charles, Minn., as a high school teacher. He then went on to serve in the United States Army from 1942-46. He worked in the National Security Agency for 11 years after his active service in the military. In 1957, he worked for the United States Department of State in Oslo, Norway, for two years. He returned to the National Security Agency in Fort Meade, Md., from 1959-64. Norland traveled to London in 1964 to work in the office of the senior U.S. liaison officer, and returned to the National Security Agency in 1968. Norland became an income tax preparer for H&R Block in 1976 and then for Sebastian-Mosley accountants, working part time from 1977 until he retired in 1991.

Norland served in the U.S. Army Signal Corps in Arlington, Va., and received the title of second lieutenant. In 1943, he was transferred to the United Kingdom as a first lieutenant, where he became an honorary member of the Military Division of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. While in the United Kingdom, he was a part of a team that helped the allies break the Nazi code during World War II. Norland, among eight others, found a bag with a number of top-secret documents, including one that laid out the order of a battle and an order outlining the coordination and allocation of the work of the cryptologic service OKW/Chi. In 1945, he was transferred to Frankfurt, Germany to the Army Security Agency. Norland served as a member of the United States Army Reserve from 1946 until 1976 when he retired.

Norland is a member of the National Cryptological Society and an enrolled agent of the Internal Revenue Service.  He is also a member of St. Luke Lutheran Church in Silver Spring, Md.

In 2002, Norland received the Knowlton Award, given to individuals who have contributed significantly to the promotion of Army Military Intelligence in ways that stand out in the eyes of the recipient's superiors, subordinates and peers. Norland also received the Distinguished Service Award at Waldorf College in 1987.

Kirk Stapleton

Kirk Stapleton graduated from Luther in 1978 with a bachelor's degree in management. He went on to receive a master's degree at the University of Iowa, in health administration and planning.

Stapleton has served in the health care world for more than 30 years. In 1982, he became a consultant in the Tribrook Group. He then moved in 1986 to Charter Med (United Healthcare) to be the director of provider networks. From 1988-96, Stapleton served as the president of united resource networks for United HealthCare. He served as the chair, CEO and founder of Vida Healthcare from 1996-2000. He then served two years as a general partner and consultant for the Inglewood Group. From 2002-12, Stapleton worked as a senior vice president position for three different companies.

He currently is working as a general partner and consultant for the Inglewood Group. There, he advises new revenue and business development, strategies, product design, financial modeling, sales and business development adapted for legacy health business. He serves on the board of directors in an advisory capacity, overseeing strategy governance, and interim management roles for smaller operating companies.

Joan (Catlin) Totten

Joan (Catlin) Totten graduated from Luther in 1963 with a bachelor's degree in sociology in 1963. She has also completed course work in gerontology at Madonna University in Detroit, Mich.

Totten's career has centered on social work, serving for several years as a caseworker in military hospitals with the American Red Cross. In 1990, she began working as a geriatric social worker in private practice in Farmington Hills, Mich., until 1995 when she moved to Southfield, Mich., to work at the Area Agency on Aging.  She began her role as a social worker for Marquette Apartments in 2000 and remained there until she retired in 2007.

Totten is a lifetime member of Our Savior's Lutheran Church. She has held volunteer leadership positions throughout her years there including congregation president. She was also chair of the Refugee Resettlement Committee of Lutheran Social Services. Totten is presently volunteering at the Aging and Disability Resource Center in Waukesha County, Wis. She, along with her husband, David Totten, established the Catlin-Totten Scholarship at Luther College in October 2003. 

Curt Wollan

Curt Wollan is a 1973 graduate of Luther and holds a bachelor's degree in speech and theater. He received a master's in fine arts from the University of Iowa in 1976.

Wollan has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 20 years. He served as artistic director at Stage Two Productions, 1979-87, and Chimera Theatre Co., 1985-87.

Wollan serves as the director of Dollywood Entertainment, Inc. He recently wrapped up directing Dolly Parton and the Parton family in a new production called "My People." This October he will direct Parton in "A Christmas Carol" where she will appear as a hologram ghost.

He also serves as the owner and producing artistic director of Stage West Entertainment, Inc., and the executive director, producing artistic director and owner of Troupe America, Inc., based in St. Paul.

Most recently, Wollan's production of the musical revue "Ring of Fire: The Music of Johnny Cash" was performed at Luther's Center Stage Series of performing arts events in September 2013.

Wollan has also co-produced three national tours of Forbidden Broadway and directed many national tours as well, such as "The Odd Couple," "Moon over Buffalo," "The Sunshine Boys," and many more. Each summer, Wollan produces and directs the summer-long "Medora Musical" in the badlands of Theodore Roosevelt National Park.

Wollan has served as the secretary of the Twin Cities Tourism Attractions Association and is involved in the Southeastern Theatre Conference and the United Professional Theatre Association. He also is a past board member for the Northern Sign Theatre for the Deaf.

Wollan has received many awards for his direction and productions. Awards include the Minneapolis Theatre Critics' Kudos award for best director in 1981, for "Diamond Studs"; the Association of Performing Arts Presenters Award for Best Small Touring Production in 1992, for "Driving Miss Daisy"; the Boston Addison award for the best production of "Sunshine Boys," in 2005; the International Association of Amusement Parks and Attractions Award for best large production in 2006 of  "Babes in Toyland" and the IAPPA Edutainment Award in 2007 and 2008.

10 alumni were recipients of the Distinguished Service Award