Professor Johnson named director of Luther College's new Center for Nordic Studies, Professors Holland, Peterson and Thompson named to existing leadership positions

Four Luther College faculty were named to endowed positions at the college's Opening Convocation Thursday, Aug. 30.

Maren Johnson, Luther College assistant professor of Scandinavian studies, was named the director of Luther's new Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies; Steve Holland, Luther professor of economics, was named the Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics; Anna Peterson, Luther assistant professor of history, was granted the Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship; and David Thompson, Luther professor of Spanish, was granted the Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities. The four have already begun preparing for these new roles. 

Maren Johnson, Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies Director

Johnson joined the Nordic studies department in 2014 as a specialist in contemporary Norwegian literature and Henrik Ibsen. Her Luther coursework includes Norwegian language and Nordic literature and culture. She holds a bachelor's degree in Norwegian language and literature from Pacific Lutheran University and master's and doctoral degrees in Scandinavian language and literature from the University of Washington.

"Maren's passion for and dedication to her work make her a fantastic choice for the first director of the Center for Nordic Studies. I know the students are excited to explore this expanded educational area with her," said Kevin Kraus, Luther vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college.

The Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies was established in recognition of the Luther College sesquicentennial and more than 150 years of the college's ties to Norway, and with the generous support of a lead gift from O. Jay and Patricia A. Tomson, long-time friends of the college. The Tomsons are the parents of Marti (Tomson) Rodamaker, Luther class of 1984 and Regent Emerita. 

The Center provides a programmatic vision to build on the strengths and resources already available on campus in order to forge new ties with Scandinavia, attracting students who want to connect their interest in Nordic studies with a range of disciplines, including environmental science and sustainability, immigration and multiculturalism, peace studies, health care, banking, political science, economics and social work. 

The director of the Center for Nordic Studies, appointed from the Luther faculty for a five-year term, will guide both on-campus and external initiatives in keeping with its purpose. 

Steve Holland, Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics

The Chair is named in honor of Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl, business entrepreneurs who supported the college with financial gifts, including an endowment gift to establish the Dahl Chair. The award recognizes excellence in teaching economics and the relationship of international political, social and economic issues to world markets.

Holland has been a professor in the department of economics, accounting, and management since 2005, focusing on the topics of microeconomics, environmental economics and public policy. He holds a bachelor's degree in economics and English from St. Olaf College, a Juris Doctorate from Georgetown University Law Center and a Ph.D. in applied economics from the University of Minnesota.

As the Dahl Professor, Holland will encourage students to develop sound analytical and critical thinking skills, become active participants in community and civic activities, and understand the importance of incorporating personal responsibility into their work and their lives.

Holland will serve as the Dahl Chair through the 2022-23 academic year. 

Anna Peterson, Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship

Peterson joined the history department in 2013 as a specialist in modern European history. Her current coursework includes European history from 1648, Russian history, Scandinavian immigration history and the history of the Holocaust. She received her bachelor's degree from Concordia College in Moorhead, Minnesota, her master's degree from the University of North Dakota and her Ph.D. from The Ohio State University.

Peterson will serve as the Amundson Professor through the 2019-20 academic year. Her Amundson project will explore gendered ideas of health and wellness at the Norwegian-American-run Bethany Indian Mission School from 1884-1934.

The professorship honors the late Nena Amundson, a 1956 graduate of Luther who taught physical education and coached women's athletics for more than 40 years, primarily at California Lutheran University. A pioneer in collegiate women's sports programs, Amundson provided an estate gift to fund the endowment for the Luther wellness program.

The Amundson Professorship Award provides a faculty stipend, a student stipend and funding for a research project. The award is competitive, based on the selection committee's evaluation of project proposals, particularly those focusing on health and wellness issues for women.

David Thompson, Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Humanities

In honor of former Luther College Professor of English Dennis M. Jones (1932-90), the Jones Professorship is awarded to a member of the Luther faculty who honors the values and traditions of the humanities, enriches the intellectual life of students, and provides academic leadership in the humanities. 

Thompson began teaching at Luther in 2004. He says one of the best parts of his job is having the opportunity to lead January Term study abroad courses to Spain and Latin America, where his students immerse themselves in the local culture and build their proficiency in Spanish. He holds a bachelor's degree in Spanish from Wabash College and a master's degree in Spanish and doctoral degree in Hispanic languages and literatures from Washington University.

The Jones Professor devotes part of his/her professional time to a project that will enhance humanities education, supported by funds from the Jones Distinguished Professor Endowment. Thompson is beginning work on a project promoting inclusive teaching and learning at Luther as part of his new role.

Thompson will serve as the Jones Professor through the 2019-20 academic year.

Continuing Endowed Chairs and Professorships

The following Luther faculty are continuing in their current chair and professorship roles:

Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair, Timothy Schweizer, 2016-19

The Kermit O. and Jane E. Hanson Professorship in History, Richard Mtisi, 2016-19

Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music, Tony Guzman, 2017-20

Orlando W. Qualley Chair in Classics, Dan Davis, 2017-20

Marilyn Roverud Endowed Fellowship in Lutheran Studies, Wanda Deifelt, 2017-19

Russell R. Rulon Chair in Biology, Eric Baack, 2016-19

Center Directors

The following Luther faculty are continuing in their roles as directors of centers:

The Center for Ethics and Public Engagement, Victoria Christman, 2016-20

The Center for Sustainable Communities, Jon Jensen, 2013-present

A national liberal arts college with an enrollment of 2,050, Luther offers an academic curriculum that leads to the Bachelor of Arts degree in more than 60 majors and pre-professional programs. For more information about Luther visit the college's website: http://www.luther.edu.

Maren Johnson
Steve Holland
Anna M. Peterson