Luther College names Paula J. Carlson as 10th president

Paula J. Carlson, vice president for mission at St. Olaf College in Northfield, Minn., has been elected the 10th president of Luther College, the college’s Board of Regents announced today.

A scholar of medieval literature and modern American literature, Carlson was formerly vice president and liaison to the St. Olaf Board of Regents and, at the University of Dubuque in Iowa, director of the Wendt Center for Character Education and associate dean for academic affairs.

"After an engaged search process including key representation from our board of regents, faculty, staff and students, we are thrilled to welcome Dr. Carlson as our 10th president. Dr. Carlson's broad experience in liberal arts and strategic leadership will be key in continuing the mission of Luther College," said Paul Torgerson, chairperson of Luther's Board of Regents and co-chair of the presidential search committee.

Regents vice-chairperson Sandy Lee, who with Paul Torgerson led the search committee, said, "We want to thank the search committee for their efforts to develop an effective recruiting process that enabled us to bring the right leader for our future."

Carlson's appointment at Luther is effective July 1, 2014. She succeeds David Tiede, Ph.D., who has served as interim president of the college since Luther's ninth president, Richard L. Torgerson, ended his term of service on June 30, 2013.

"I am deeply honored to become Luther's next president. I look forward to working with students, faculty, staff, regents and the wider Luther community to continue building Luther's strengths as an excellent, vibrant and thriving liberal arts, residential college of the church." Carlson said.

Carlson brings to Luther great depth in academic leadership skills and experience. A 1976 Phi Beta Kappa graduate of St. Olaf, she holds a Master of Arts degree, a Master of Philosophy degree, and a doctorate in English and comparative literature from Columbia University. As vice president for mission at St. Olaf, she leads initiatives related to students' discernment of their vocations, to staff and faculty fulfilling their vocations at the college; and to St. Olaf's identity as a college of the church.

Prior to joining St. Olaf, Carlson led the development of the Wendt Character Initiative at the University of Dubuque. The initiative includes interdisciplinary programs in ethics and character formation in the college, graduate school and seminary. Carlson also led the development of a new college core curriculum at the University of Dubuque.

Her teaching experience ranges from first-year college writing classes to graduate seminars at St. Mary's College, Notre Dame, Ind.; Yale University; the University of Wisconsin–Platteville; and the University of Dubuque. Carlson specialized in 14th-century English poetry and contemporary American prose, focusing on religious themes, characters, questions and issues. She is a contributing editor of the series "Listening for God: Contemporary Literature and the Life of Faith," published by Augsburg Fortress Press.

Carlson grew up in St. Paul, Minn., and New York, where she attended Hunter College High School. Her husband, the Rev. Dr. Thomas Schattauer, is a professor of liturgics and dean of the Chapel at Wartburg Theological Seminary in Dubuque. They have two children, Peter and Anna.

As Luther’s 10th president, Carlson follows Richard L. Torgerson (1999-2013), Jeffrey D. Baker (1996-99), H. George Anderson (1982-95), Elwin D. Farwell (1963-81), J.W. Ylvisaker (1948-62), Ove J.H. Preus (1932-48), Oscar L. Olson (1921-32), Christian Keyser Preus (1902-21), and Peter Laurentius (Laur.) Larsen (1861-1902).

A campus-wide event to welcome Carlson will be held this spring, before her official start in July.

A Phi Beta Kappa institution, Luther is a residential liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,500. The college offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and preprofessional programs. More information is available at

Dr. Paula J. Carlson