Historic Giving

In November, Luther received a historic $10 million gift from Michael ’92 and Nicole Gerdin and the Gerdin Charitable Foundation. It’s the largest individual gift in the college’s 162-year history and will serve as the lead gift toward the renovation of the Regents Center, home to Norse athletics and Luther’s center for sports and recreation.

At Luther, Mike studied management and was a member of the Norse men’s basketball team. He started his career as a teenager at the company his father founded, Heartland Express in North Liberty, Iowa, one of North America’s largest truckload transportation and logistics companies. He moved up the ranks to lead the company as chairman, president, and CEO.

In recognition of this historic gift, the facility will be renamed the Gerdin Fieldhouse for Athletics and Wellness. Among the highlights in the preliminary plans for the Gerdin Fieldhouse are an arena-style venue, a new entrance space for the public, a team meeting space, renovation of the locker rooms, and a new common area and study space.

Also in November, Luther celebrated a $2 million gift from Dennis ’64 and Suzanne Birkestrand to support renovations in the gymnasium of the Regents Center (soon, the Gerdin Fieldhouse). The gift ranks among the largest individual gifts to the college. In recognition, the facility’s court will be named the Birkestrand Family Court.

As a student-athlete at Luther, Dennis played football and ran track. Dennis and Suzanne spent 22 years in marketing and sales with Maytag before eventually founding Factory Direct Appliance. They endowed the Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair at Luther with a $1.5 million gift in spring 2016 and provided a lead gift toward Legacy Field.

“These gifts of support from our alumni show remarkable confidence in the future of Luther College,” says Luther President Jenifer K. Ward. “The recent investments in Luther by our graduates are symbolic of their journeys, and they call us toward our future. Mike and Dennis came to Luther in different generations, but they both received a broad-based education that grounded them in the ability to adapt and succeed. They share the same common thread of hard work up through the ranks, building their companies and careers, and now giving back so the next generation can benefit from that same Luther