Endowed Professorships and Chairs
Luther College awards endowed professorships and endowed chairs to honor Luther faculty whose teaching careers and accomplishments have:
- Exemplified the philosophy and values of the liberal arts
- Enriched the intellectual life of students
- Enhanced the academic character of the institution
- Demonstrated leadership in the teaching professio
Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair
The Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair was established by Suzanne Birkestrand and Dennis Birkestrand ’64, former business owners who believe in and support the entrepreneurial spirit that drives our nation’s free-market economy, in recognition of the profound impact Luther College has had on their lives. The Birkestrand Chair shall be a strong teaching scholar dedicated to empowering undergraduates to achieve, who recognizes the importance of free-market friendly perspectives on economic theory, private enterprise, and good business practices.
The Birkestrand Economics and Management Chair for 2019–23, is Timothy Schweizer, Professor of Management. Tim, a Luther grad, joined the faculty in 1987. He earned his M.B.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Arkansas. He is an instructor for Edward de Bono’s Lateral Thinking and Six Thinking Hats. His recent research and publication have focused on teaching idea mapping, creativity, and problem-solving using data and logic.
Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics
The Bert M. and Mildred O. Dahl Chair in Economics 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. The Dahl Professor 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.
The Dahl Chair for 2018–23 is Professor Steve Holland. With a bachelor’s degree in economics and English from St. Olaf, Steve earned the J.D. from Georgetown University Law Center and the Ph.D. in applied economics from the University of Minnesota. Before joining the Luther faculty in 2005, he served as a policy associate at Macalester College. Professor Holland’s problem-based, cross-disciplinary approach to teaching explores the intersection of economics and public policy. His work with undergraduate students has included research in microeconomics, public policy, environmental economics, hunger and globalization.
Kermit O. and Jane E. Hanson Professorship in History
The Kermit O. and Jane E. Hanson Professorship in History is named in honor of Kermit O Hanson ’38 and Jane E. Hanson ’39, whose support for the college included an endowment gift to establish the Hanson Professorship. The award recognizes the value of educational opportunities and the quality of the academic program provided by Luther College and in recognition of dedicated faculty in the area of history who influenced the Hansons’ lives and careers.
The Hanson Professor in History for 2022–2025 is Anna Peterson.
Wilford A. Johnson Chair in Biblical Studies
The Wilford A. Johnson Chair in Biblical Studies honors the memory of Wilford A. Johnson and his son Herbert G. Johnson, in recognition of the value of Christian higher education and the quality of the academic program provided by Luther College. The Chair was established by resolution of the Board of Regents in appreciation for the significant support and commitment from its former member Herbert G. Johnson and his spouse Katherine G. Johnson, and in recognition of the interests of the donors.
The inaugural Wilford A. Johnson Chair in Biblical Studies for 2021–2024 is Robert Shedinger. Dr. Shedinger earned the Ph.D. from Temple University and joined the Luther Religion faculty in 2000. He teaches courses primarily in the areas of biblical studies, Islamic studies, and science and religion.
Dennis M. Jones Chair in the Humanities
Originally established through a challenge grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities as the Dennis M. Jones Distinguished Teaching Professorship in the Humanities, the Dennis M. Jones Chair in the Humanities is named in honor of former Luther College Professor of English Dennis M. Jones (1932-90) and 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.
The Dennis M. Jones Chair in the Humanities for 2021–2024 is Kristin Swanson. Dr. Swanson holds the M.T.S. from Trinity Lutheran Seminary and the Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. She has been a professor in Luther’s Religion Department since 1999, focusing on the study of the Hebrew Bible. Some of her course topics include Introduction to Biblical Studies, Archaeology and the Bible, and Religion and Sports.
Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music
This chair is named in honor of Weston Noble ’43, Professor Emeritus of Music, whose professional service of teaching, directing and conducting at Luther influenced the lives of thousands of students for over fifty years and whose dedication and service to the college also witnessed to the Gospel. Established by Ervin and Phyllis Johnson, the award recognizes the value of Christian higher education and the quality of the academic and music programs provided by Luther College. The Noble Chair will both enrich the education of students at Luther College and bring national attention to the college and its programs. The Weston Noble Endowed Chair in Music is Andrew Last.
Dr. Andrew Last serves as the Director of Choral Activities at Luther College in Decorah, IA where he conducts the Nordic Choir, teaches conducting, serves as the Artistic Director for Christmas at Luther and Camp Director for the Dorian Summer Music Camps. Last holds a Bachelor of Arts from Luther College, a MM from Northern Arizona University, and a DMA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln. A frequent clinician and guest conductor around the United States and abroad, Last is a proud member of the American Choral Directors Association.
Orlando W. Qualley Chair of Classical Languages
The first endowed faculty chair established at Luther, the Qualley Chair honors Orlando W. (Pip) Qualley (1897–1988), who served six decades as a Luther faculty member and administrator. Qualley held positions of vice president, dean, professor of classical languages, registrar, basketball coach and football coach. Known for his firmness, directness and drive, he encouraged high academic standards and recruited a faculty devoted to education. The Qualley Chair for 2017–2020 is Professor Dan Davis. Davis succeeds previous Qualley Chairs A. Thomas Kraabel and Philip Freeman.
Dan Davis, Associate Professor of Classics, earned the M.A. in Anthropology (Nautical Archaeology) at Texas A&M University and the Ph.D. in Classics at the University of Texas at Austin. He joined the Luther faculty in 2011 and teaches all levels of courses in Classics and Greek and Latin language. He has also taught in our Paideia program. Perhaps one of Dan’s most notable accomplishments since coming to Luther has been his development, together with faculty from Vanderbilt University and the American School of Classical Studies in Athens, of a summer archaeological field school in Greece, giving students the opportunity to work at one of the most important sites of the ancient world. Dan Davis is recognized worldwide as one of the leading researchers and most prolific publishers in his field, and known on campus for the integration of his work into the classroom by involving students with his research and scholarship.
Marilyn Roverud Endowed Fellowship in Lutheran Studies
The Marilyn Roverud Endowed Fellowship in Lutheran Studies was established in celebration of our namesake, Martin Luther, and in honor of the inspired leadership of Marilyn (Haugen) Roverud ’66, alumna, regent, synod volunteer, mother, patron of the arts, friend, and more, by the Roverud Family. As a liberal arts institution and college of the church, Luther embraces a way of learning described by Dr. Darrell Jodock as the “third way” – committed to academic freedom to seek the truth, respectful of other faith traditions, and disciplined to seek whatever will truly serve the needs of the neighbor and make the world more trustworthy. It is the Roverud Family’s intent that this fellowship serve as a catalyst for lively and informed discussion about what it means to be a college of the church.
The Roverud Fellowship for 2022–2024 is awarded to Brooke Joyce.
Russell R. Rulon Endowed Chair in Biology
The Russell R. Rulon Endowed Chair in Biology honors Russell R. Rulon, Professor of Biology at Luther College from 1963 to 2000, whose teaching and mentoring skills helped numerous students advance to careers in medicine and established Luther’s biology/pre-med program as one of the best among liberal arts colleges. It is awarded to a Luther professor who has demonstrated excellence in teaching biology and dedication to serving as an advisor and mentor to students. The Rulon Endowment was created by the support of colleagues, friends, and alumni who were beneficiaries of Rulon’s teaching and mentoring skills. The Rulon Chair will devote part of his/her time to a project that will enhance the training of students in science.
The Rulon Chair for 2022–2025 is Stephanie Fretham.
Tomson Family Endowed Chair in Norwegian Language and Modern Nordic Culture
The Tomson Family Endowed Chair in Norwegian Language and Modern Nordic Culture serves as the academic foundation of the Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies, providing oversight for academic and co-curricular programs, preserving existing partnerships, and creating new collaborative initiatives with educational institutions and scholars in Norway. This endowed chair was established thanks to the generosity of O. Jay and Patricia A. Tomson, long-time friends of the college, and Marti (Tomson) Rodamaker, Luther class of 1984 and Regent Emerita.
The Tomson Family Endowed Chair in Norwegian Language and Modern Nordic Culture is Maren Johnson.
Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship
The Nena Amundson Distinguished Professorship honors the late Nena Amundson, a 1956 graduate of Luther College 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 funding for a selected research project, with particular focus on health and wellness issues for women.
The Nena Amundson Distinguished Professor for 2020-22 is Jane Hawley. Professor Hawley came to Luther in 2000. Her research, Movement Fundamentals® Liberating Practices for Dance Artists | Movement in Life and Art began in 1996 and was distinguished by Dance Magazine as “radically somatic” and “a groundbreaking dance curriculum culled from somatic and scientific movement studies.” Fostering the Future: Dance Curriculum Development Sessions sponsored by NYU Tisch School of the Arts and NYC Movement Research featured Movement Fundamentals® as “one of twelve dance curricula in the nation already in place for 2050.” Today, Hawley continues to reinvent dance training by exploring and researching the relationship of self to the body for the realization of identity and selfhood.
Hawley’s Amundson project, Sensing Identity, will apply practices from the Movement Fundamentals® paradigm as a focal point for listening to the body while identifying personal practices for self-care, selfhood, and wellbeing. This research recognizes the body as a primary source for the investigation of bodily knowing within the community. This phenomenological data will add to over twenty years of Luther data initiated from the results of an Academic Administrative Assistantship (AAA) with Kalie Debelak ’21 focusing on how Movement Fundamentals® benefits those who practice physiologically and psychologically relating to human evolution. Hawley’s Amundsen project launched in September with the DAN 185 first-year seminar and 21 students. This embodied research will continue both on and off-campus over the next two years.
Center for Ethics and Public Engagement
The Center for Ethics and Public Engagement exists to enhance the liberal education Luther promises its students. By encouraging deep reflection about ethical matters and responsible citizenship, the center should help students learn something of what it means to live a good life. Specifically, the center promotes research, writing, and an ongoing conversation about the public choices confronting society and the role ethics ought to play in making those choices. The director of the center, appointed from the Luther faculty, guides both on-campus and external initiatives in keeping with its purpose.
The Director of the Center for Ethics and Public Engagement for 2022–27 is Andrew Hageman, associate professor of English.
Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching
The Center for Excellence in Learning and Teaching (CELT) promotes student success by supporting faculty and staff in the reflective practice of innovative and inclusive pedagogy and by providing a space for interdisciplinary collaboration and professional development grounded in the latest research on learning and teaching.
The Director of the CELT is Kate Elliott. Kate joined the Luther faculty in 2010, teaching a range of Art History courses and serving as Curator of the Fine Arts Collection. She earned her master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Iowa. Recent research projects have focused on Herbjørn Gausta, a late nineteenth-century Norwegian-American painter, who immigrated to America in 1867, and on artist George Catlin’s series of paintings depicting La Salle’s travels through North America and the statements his pieces make about Native American culture.
Center for Sustainable Communities
Environmental sustainability is an important focus and strategy for examining modern day issues and challenges as we prepare students for a complex and interdependent world. The Center for Sustainable Communities serves as a catalyst for change and an educational resource for the region, giving students opportunities to explore and then apply learning in ways that affect positive change with respect to energy, sustainable foods and wellness, environmental education, and land stewardship. The Director of the Center, appointed from the Luther faculty for a three-year term, will guide both on-campus and external initiatives in keeping with its purpose.
The CSC director is Jon Jensen, professor of Philosophy and Environmental Studies. Jon holds the Ph.D. from the University of Colorado and joined the Luther College faculty in 2002.
Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies
The Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies was established in recognition of the Luther College sesquicentennial and more than 150 years of treasured ties to Norway, and with the generous support of a lead gift from O. Jay and Patricia A. Tomson. 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, appointed from the Luther faculty for a five-year term, will guide both on-campus and external initiatives in keeping with its purpose.
The inaugural director of the Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies, for 2018-2023, is Maren Johnson, Assistant Professor of Scandinavian Studies. Maren earned both the M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Washington. She came to Luther in 2014 as a specialist in contemporary Norwegian literature and Henrik Ibsen, and teaches courses including Norwegian language and Nordic literature and culture. Maren creates strong connections with students and actively engages with them in research. During one such collaborative project Maren and her students researched Reacting to the Past, an interactive simulation-style learning method developed by Barnard College. Their simulation was set in 1836 in Norway, when the Parliament was trying to decide how to collect all the folk tales and create a national canon, and the curriculum they developed is now being used in class, where students act out this complex scene in Norwegian, gain new language skills, and have a little fun at the same time.